Arya, Lady Gaga and Avengers: The great escape

(CNN)A glittering gala celebrating the campiest fashion, a superhero flick that shattered box-office records, a fierce and mythical TV world of ice and fire — and Meghan and Harry’s new arrival, Archie. As Rob Picheta wrote, “The internet reveled in dissecting and poking fun at the most eye-catching fashion statements — and no one received the social media treatment more than Lady Gaga,” who displayed four different looks. “Avengers,” which Internet Movie Database says has grossed $2.3 billion worldwide and could eclipse “Avatar” as the biggest film of all time, certainly falls in the escapism category. But “Avengers” — and the Marvel cinematic universe — also reflects a historical arc, wrote Aaron Freedman. (Warning: A film spoiler lurks below.) When “Iron …

Arya, Lady Gaga and Avengers: The great escape

(CNN)A glittering gala celebrating the campiest fashion, a superhero flick that shattered box-office records, a fierce and mythical TV world of ice and fire — and Meghan and Harry’s new arrival, Archie. As Rob Picheta wrote, “The internet reveled in dissecting and poking fun at the most eye-catching fashion statements — and no one received the social media treatment more than Lady Gaga,” who displayed four different looks. “Avengers,” which Internet Movie Database says has grossed $2.3 billion worldwide and could eclipse “Avatar” as the biggest film of all time, certainly falls in the escapism category. But “Avengers” — and the Marvel cinematic universe — also reflects a historical arc, wrote Aaron Freedman. (Warning: A film spoiler lurks below.) When “Iron …

The word that made history this week

(CNN)Every presidential investigation gives us new phrases that stick. “What did the President know, and when did he know it,” Sen. Howard Baker asked during the Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon. “Snitty” turned out to be an apt word for much of the reaction to this week’s events. Our legal analysts couldn’t have differed more strongly on what it all meant. Paul Callan wrote, “Barr did not deserve Mueller’s snit nor any of the snitty abuse heaped on him for doing his job. His interpretations were a defensible analysis of a report that was poorly written.” Elie Honig painted a much different picture. He called Barr’s testimony before a Senate committee “a master class in obfuscation, backtracking …

NRA has a huge mess on its hands

(CNN)Think you had a busy weekend? At the same time, the New York Attorney General’s Office announced it was investigating the gun rights group, while a gun safety group said it filed a complaint about the NRA’s tax-exempt status. And all on the same weekend that a 19-year-old used an AR-type weapon to attack worshippers at a synagogue outside San Diego. Got all that? Let’s take a step back. Since its founding by two union officers after the Civil War, the NRA has morphed from its mission to teach marksmanship and gun safety to becoming a political powerhouse, fundraising off fears about gun control and enflaming the culture wars. In recent years, the NRA has been credited with stopping legislation …

Arya Stark’s sexual awakening on ‘Game of Thrones’ is a big deal

(CNN)A sex scene on “Game of Thrones” doesn’t normally constitute news. Sex is practically punctuation for the HBO series — more noticeable in its absence than its presence. And still others expressed surprise that the keen assassin even wanted to have sex at all — isn’t she satisfied by all that killing she seems to enjoy so much? Arya, HBO assures us, is now 18. She’s spent most of her time in Westeros until now taking brattish, bloody vengeance on her enemies. Were she male, the audience might assume that a virile young warrior would want to kick back and indulge between executions. It shouldn’t be surprising that Arya can contain more than one urge in her human body. But …

Silencing Kate Smith is not the answer

(CNN)Oh for the love of James Weldon Johnson! So now they’re dragging out the corpse of singer Kate Smith to be pilloried because nobody in the upper reaches of popular culture had the humanity and common sense more than 80 years ago to acknowledge African Americans as anything but “darkies” and “pickaninnies.” To review: It was disclosed last week that two of the songs from the 1930s heyday of the Virginia-born Ms. Smith, who died in 1986 at age 79, contained racist imagery — even in their title: 1931’s “That’s Why Darkies Were Born” and 1933’s “Pickaninny Heaven.” (Trust me. The lyrics are even worse, and no amount of retrospective irony can shave off such an accumulation of sticky, rotten …

Notre Dame fire strikes at the soul of France

(CNN)The vast fire that ripped through Paris’ venerable Notre Dame cathedral has struck directly at the soul of France. Indeed, the very name of the cathedral translates to “Our lady of Paris.” And for centuries it has been just that — a symbol of all that is good and nurturing, both for its faithful and for the millions of tourists who pour through its doors every year from every corner of the world. The present structure dates to the 12th century of medieval France, but its religious roots date far further into France’s past. The cathedral itself is located in Paris’ fourth arrondissement, at the eastern end of the Ile de la Cité, one of two islands where the Seine …

I fell in love with this language…on ‘Sesame Street’

(CNN)“I sometimes dream in Spanish,” wrote Bakir Brown. “I was first introduced and fell in love with the language by watching ‘Sesame Street.’ I just loved how the words just literally rolled off the tongue. It was beautiful. I still remember (how) the skit from so long ago taught me my first Spanish words, “abierto” and “cerrado” — “open” and “closed.” Bakir Brown, Richmond, Virginia The melting pot exists only on the surface I came here from Italy in 1991, and besides a few vacation trips and one nine months’ stretch in 2007, I have been living in Central Texas for the last 28 years. Yes, I still have my Italian accent, and still struggle to some extent. Even though …

A look back at Clinton’s impeachment reveals the GOP’s searing hypocrisy

(CNN)There’s an old saying in American politics that a Democratic crook is just as bad as a Republican crook. It’s a good, solid principle. And it seems almost impossibly quaint, because the search for the truth in the Trump investigations is breaking down along partisan lines. Sign up for our new newsletter. Join us on Twitter and Facebook There’s precious little evidence of that now. One of the first Senate Democrats to publicly condemn Clinton’s behavior — although he did not vote for his removal from office — was Joe Lieberman, and his independence earned him a spot on the Democratic ticket as Al Gore’s running mate in 2000. Looking at the GOP’s approach to Clinton’s impeachment trial 20 years …

I pray Chris Pratt will be an ally to LGBTQ Christians

(CNN)In response to criticism from actress Ellen Page for attending what she called an “infamously anti-LGBTQ” church, Chris Pratt, who spoke in a recent TV appearance about being a member of Zoe Church in Los Angeles, defended himself and his church. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” he posted on Instagram. “I go to a church that opens their doors to absolutely everyone.” Zoe Church, which Pratt attends, does not state its views on homosexuality on its website. (By contrast, a growing number of churches across the country explicitly affirm LGBTQ people.) While Pratt’s church instead has no public stance on LGBTQ equality, there are strong signals that raise questions about whether Zoe Church is fully inclusive. Sign up …

Howard Schultz: Americans need more opportunities

(CNN)It is difficult to find Americans who believe the government is working for them. Luckily, I inherited my mother’s optimism that I could make a better life for myself. I also grew up at a time when access to education and a first job helped me earn success. After I became the first in my family to go to college, I got a job in sales, where I learned what it means to be accountable. Since then, and throughout my career, I have worked with teams of talented people to address many of our country’s challenges by making opportunities like access to health care, jobs, and education available to more people. Over its history, Starbucks has employed some 3 million …

Did Trump pull a switcheroo? Roundup of SOTU commentary

(CNN)CNN asked commentators for views on President Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday night. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the authors. View more opinion articles on CNN. But alas, we have seen, heard, and read the tweets of the unscripted Trump. Just a few hours before this speech, he hosted a lunch with TV anchors where he, according to a New York Times report, attacked Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren and John McCain — a national hero who has been dead for over five months. Then there was the part during the speech where he railed against illegal immigration, which he said results in lower wages for the American working class. Has he …