It’s rare I watch a video on Facebook to the end. My online attention span has been whittled to a husk by a crowd-pleasing parade of clips of babies doing funny things with peanut butter and dogs being very good boys, and there are only so many seconds of that before you get the idea. But when I clicked on the video of Elin Ersson halting the deportation of an Afghan asylum seeker from Sweden on a flight to Turkey, I watched right until the final moments. Then I watched it again. I found that I had something in my eye.
When a British man, annoyed by the delay to his flight, began to tell Ersson to sit down, that she was frightening children – I know who I would have found more intimidating – I thought I knew how the story would go. Instead, there was a surprise ending. The subsequent debate about her actions has followed the same pattern as it did on the plane. Some passengers were irritated, but others offered their support. The flight attendant got her phone back when the British man took it away. You can hear another man telling her that what she’s doing is right. Towards the end of the clip, a football team at the rear stands up. The kindness makes Ersson cry. The asylum seeker was taken off the plane and Ersson has used the focus on her to ask people to question how we treat refugees. “I think we can do better, especially in a rich country like Sweden,” she said.
Another protest, less noble, perhaps, but similarly calm and measured, took place on Fox News on Monday. Morning show Fox & Friends had invited Ann Kirkpatrick, a Democratic congressional candidate in Arizona, to discuss her support for the immigration-enforcement agency ICE. But it accidentally booked Massachusetts state senator Barbara L’Italien instead. L’Italien took the slot without correcting them. “I’m actually here to speak directly to Donald Trump,” she began, then launched into an eloquent attack on border separations of families. After giving her more than enough time to make her point, the confused hosts splutter: “Who is this?” and she’s cut off. “I’ve always fought for vulnerable people,” L’Italien said, later, on Twitter.
Like Ersson’s commitment to standing up, L’Italien took her chance to do the right thing. To watch both acts of protest, in favour of decency, against inhumanity, was a glass of cold water on a stifling hot day.
9 to 5 is, at last, one remake that is deserved
Jane Fonda has confirmed that the original cast are working on a sequel to 9 to 5, the 1980 film about sexism and sexual harassment in the workplace. Leaving aside the prospect of Dolly Parton returning to the big screen for the first time since Joyful Noise, a gleefully bad film that thought it could get away with a food fight featuring Queen Latifah, it’s little wonder it feels right for the women of Consolidated Companies to return.
“I’m sorry to say the situation is worse today,” said Fonda. “Today, a lot of the workforce is hired by an outside company. Who do you talk to if you have a problem?” A combination of late-stage capitalism and the #MeToo movement does seem to give the 40-year-old film the contemporary relevance it needs.
Usually, I find Hollywood’s never-ending torrent of reboots and revivals to be wearying. They stifle new ideas and pander to nostalgia and it’s often worse if it’s an old favourite getting the unnecessary makeover treatment. I still can’t bring myself to watch Heathers, the TV show. But along with 9 to 5, last week brought news of other remakes that sound like potentially smart takes on their source material. Kristen Stewart has joined the cast of the Charlie’s Angels reboot of a reboot(Drew, Lucy and Cameron forever), to be directed by Elizabeth Banks.
More intriguingly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer has been slated for a comeback, though to calm irate fans, showrunner Monica Owusu-Breen had to confirm that it would be a sequel, not a reboot. “It could be time to meet a new Slayer,” she tweeted. I remain cautious about the revival machine, but when it comes to the prospect of more Buffy, I am willing to be convinced.
Jonathan Gold, the critic who knew his onions
I have been devouring the many brilliant tributes to the Los Angeles Times food critic, Jonathan Gold, who died of pancreatic cancer last weekend, at the age of 57.
Every obituary popped with details of his extraordinary life, from a performance art piece with a chicken to the nickname given to him by Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg (“Nervous Cuz”). He famously disliked the word “ethnic” as an adjective (“Everybody is ethnic, though nobody will call a French restaurant that”) and one quote, particularly, came up again and again: “I’m trying to democratise food,” he said. “I’m trying to get people to be less afraid of their neighbours.”
The local site LAist published a tribute that mentioned a packed Taiwanese restaurant, where Gold found he did not like the food. But he recognised that the flavours were unfamiliar to his palate. “I realised that the food wasn’t like this because they were bad cooks. My ideas of it were because of my cultural relativism,” he said. So instead of writing a bad review, he went back, 16 or 17 times, he said, to work out why its customers enjoyed it. It’s a wonderful detail and a lesson that could be applied to more than dining out.
• Rebecca Nicholson is an Observer columnist