Step inside the confession booth of Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham, two culture writers for The New York Times. They devour TV, movies, art, music and the internet to find the things that move them — to tears, awe and anger. Still Processing is where they try to understand the pleasures and pathologies of America in 2019.
Jennifer Lopez is having a triumphant 2019. From her Motown tribute at the Grammys to the success of “Hustlers” to the announcement that she’ll be performing at the Super Bowl halftime show, she seems to be enjoying the fruits of her labor from about three decades in show business. So we want to know: is Jennifer Lopez finally getting her due?
Discussed this week:“How Jennifer Lopez’s Versace Dress Created Google Images” (Rachel Tashjian, GQ, Sept. 20, 2019)“Hustlers” (directed by Lorene Scafaria, 2019)Jennifer Lopez’s Motown Tribute at the 2019 Grammy Awards“Jennifer Lopez Talks Engagement, Diddy’s Instagram Comments, Bonding With Cardi B + More” (Breakfast Club, Apr. 10, 2019)“‘Hustlers’ Has a Strong Opening at the Box Office” (Gabe Cohn, The New York Times, Sept. 15, 2019)“Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez Announce Their Engagement” (The Associated Press, March 9, 2019)“Selena” (directed by Gregory Nava, 1997)“Movies (And Other Things)” (Shea Serrano, 2019)“Waiting for Tonight” (Jennifer Lopez, 1999)“1999” (Prince, 1982)“Out of Sight” (directed by Steven Soderbergh, 1998)“Monster-in-Law” (directed by Robert Luketic, 2005)“The Wedding Planner” (directed by Adam Shankman, 2001)“Maid in Manhattan” (directed by Wayne Wang, 2002)“Gigli” (directed by Martin Brest, 2003)“Jenny from the Block” (Jennifer Lopez, 2002)“Play” (Jennifer Lopez, 2001)“Rap Performer Puffy Combs Is Arrested After Shootings at Times Sq. Nightclub” (William K. Rashbaum, The New York Times, Dec. 28, 1999)“El Cantante” (directed by Leon Ichaso, 2006)“American Idol” (Jennifer Lopez as judge in Seasons 10-11 and 13-15)
Comedy is changing. Dave Chappelle’s latest Netflix comedy special, "Sticks & Stones," makes us wonder if he can keep up.
Discussed this week:"Dave Chappelle: Sticks & Stones" (Netflix, 2019)"Aziz Ansari: Right Now" (Netflix 2019)"A Black Lady Sketch Show" (HBO, 2019)"My Favorite Shapes" (HBO, 2019)"Ramy Youssef: Feelings" (HBO, 2019)
We’re in love with MTV’s dating-reality TV show “Are You the One?”
Discussed this week:Jenna Wortham. "How Queer People Brought Some Actual Reality to Dating-Reality TV" (The New York Times Magazine, Aug. 28, 2019)Wesley Morris. "Rom-Coms Were Corny and Retrograde. Why Do I Miss Them so Much?" (The New York Times Magazine, April 24, 2019)"Are You the One?" (MTV, Season 8, 2019)
How "Old Town Road" gave us hope without making us cringe, and became our song of the year.
Discussed this week: Joe Coscarelli, Alexandra Eaton, Will Lloyd, Eden Weingart, Antonio de Luca and Alicia DeSantis. "Diary of a Song — ‘Old Town Road’: See How Memes and Controversy Took Lil Nas X to the Top of the Charts" (The New York Times, May 10, 2019)Jon Caramanica. "The Short Rise and Long Tail of Lil Nas X" (The New York Times, Jun. 26, 2019)Jade Jolie"Shut Up & Sing" (directed by Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck, 2006)BriMalandro.tumblr.com
Remember that beer test? It’s not enough. That’s why this election season, we bring you: Still Processing’s Rubric for Leadership and Democratic Excellence.
Discussed this week:Astead Herndon, Jon Caramanica and Jon Pareles. "What Do Rally Playlists Say About the Candidates?" (The New York Times, Aug. 19, 2019)Clara Guibourg and Helen Briggs. "Climate change: Which vegan milk is best?" (BBC News, Feb. 22, 2019)The AP reporter Alexandra Jaffe’s post on Twitter that Senator Kamala Harris drinks oat milkMatt Flegenheimer and Sydney Ember. "How Amy Klobuchar Treats Her Staff" (The New York Times, Feb. 22, 2019)Carl Zimmer. "Elizabeth Warren Has a Native American Ancestor. Does That Make Her Native American?" (The New York Times, Oct. 15, 2018)Adrienne Keene, Rebecca Nagle and Joseph M. Pierce. "Syllabus: Elizabeth Warren, Cherokee Citizenship, and DNA Testing" (Critical Ethnic Studies, Dec. 19, 2018)Thomas Kaplan. "Elizabeth Warren Apologizes at Native American Forum: ‘I Have Listened and I Have Learned.’" (The New York Times, Aug. 19, 2019)Matt Stieb. "Where Does Marianne Williamson Actually Stand on Vaccines?" (NYMag, Aug. 4, 2019)Glenn Thrush. "Obama and Biden’s Relationship Looks Rosy. It Wasn’t Always That Simple." (The New York Times, Aug. 16, 2019)
We celebrate Whoopi Goldberg from her days as a boundary-pushing stand-up comedian in the early ’80s to her current role as professional curmudgeon on “The View.”
Discussed this week:“Whoopi Goldberg” (Ottessa Moshfegh, Garage magazine: Issue 16, Feb. 19, 2019)“Whoopi Goldberg: Direct From Broadway” (directed by Thomas Schlamme, 1985)“The Color Purple” (directed by Steven Spielberg, 1985)“Jumpin’ Jack Flash” (directed by Penny Marshall, 1986)“Burglar” (directed by Hugh Wilson, 1987)“Fatal Beauty” (directed by Tom Holland, 1987)“Clara’s Heart” (directed by Robert Mulligan, 1988)“Ghost” (directed by Jerry Zucker, 1990)Whoopi Goldberg winning the best supporting actress Oscar for her role in Ghost (1991)“Sister Act” (directed by Emile Ardolino, 1992)“The Fine Print: Danson in the Dark” (Louis Theroux, Spy magazine, February 1994)“The Associate” (directed by Donald Petrie, 1996)
The Jussie Smollett investigation has captured America’s attention — and ours. We take a look at the support for as well as the doubts about Smollett’s claims, and try to make sense of the charge that Smollett staged his own attack. In an era in which personal trauma and victimhood are often leveraged for cultural capital, we consider the long-term repercussions of the Smollett case.
Discussed this week:“Jussie Smollett Timeline: Mystery Remains as Actor Is Charged With Faking His Assault” (Sopan Deb, The New York Times, Feb. 17, 2019)“Lee Daniels Shares Powerful Words for Jussie Smollett After Racist, Homophobic Attack” (Alex Ungerman, ETOnline, Jan. 29, 2019)April Ryan asks President Trump what he thinks about the alleged attack on Jussie Smollett (C-Span, Jan. 29, 2019)“Jussie Smollett speaks to Robin Roberts in ABC News exclusive interview” (Good Morning America, Feb. 14, 2019)“Can the Grammys Please Anyone?” (Ben Sisario, The New York Times, Feb. 7, 2019)“Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened” (Netflix, 2019)“Fyre Fraud” (Hulu, 2019)“Breaking Bad” (AMC, 2008-13)“Where’s All This Energy for the Attacks on Black Transgender Women?” (Raquel Willis, Out, Jan. 31, 2019)“At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance — A New History of the Civil Rights Movement From Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power” (Danielle L. McGuire, 2011)“Prada, Gucci and now Burberry: Are brands under fire for offensive designs doing it on purpose?” (Rachel Leah, Salon, Feb 20. 2019)“Former Goucher Student Faces Four Counts of Hate Crime Charges for Racist Graffiti” (WJZ, Dec. 5, 2018)“Revisiting a Rape Scandal That Would Have Been Monstrous if True” (Retro Report, The New York Times, June 3, 2013)“Why You Always Lying” (Nicholas Fraser, Sept. 14, 2015)
"Becoming," the best-selling memoir by the former first lady, Michelle Obama, is a study in what happens when the ways we see ourselves don't always line up with the ways that society sees us. In reading about her journey from high-achieving, self-possessed child in Chicago to the fraught glamour of her life in the White House, we marvel at the ways she balanced herself and her image in service of the country. And we discuss how Michelle Obama's memoir fits into a powerful lineage of black women navigating entirely new circumstances with curiosity, strength and grace.
Discussed this week:“Becoming” (Michelle Obama, 2019)Beyoncé singing “At Last” at Barack Obama’s 2008 inauguration“Lean In” (Sheryl Sandberg, 2013)“Complete Writings: Phillis Wheatley” (Phillis Wheatley, 2001)“Thick: And Other Essays” (Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom, 2019)“Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower” (Dr. Brittney Cooper, 2018)“Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds” (adrienne maree brown, 2017)
The new Netflix show “Sex Education” feels so refreshing because for the longest time, there has been a dearth of cultural properties that specifically deal with the realities of sex. Sure, there’s sex in film and TV, but in recent history, there has been an absence of content that treats sex (and the complicated feelings that it can bring up) not as an aside, but as the main event. From “Fatal Attraction” to “Sex and the City” to “Knocked Up” to “Black Panther,” we trace the history — on screen and off — of how we went from lots of bad sex to no sex to hopefully some good sex moving forward.
Discussed this week:"Sex Education" (created by Laurie Nunn, 2019)"Fatal Attraction" (directed by Adrian Lyne, 2019) "Basic Instinct" (directed by Paul Verhoeven, 1992)"Color of Night" (directed by Richard Rush, 1994)"The Witches of Eastwick" (directed by George Miller, 1987)"Sex and the City" (created by Darren Star, 1998-2004)Bill Clinton denying his sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky (1998)"Knocked Up" (directed by Judd Apatow, 2007)"X-Men" (directed by Bryan Singer, 2000)"Black Panther" (directed by Ryan Coogler, 2018)
This week we pay our respects to the late, great Aretha Franklin. A legendary singer, writer, arranger, pianist, performer and more, Ms. Franklin channeled both the difficult and beautiful aspects of American culture to make the songs that have scored our lives. From her breakout hit “Respect,” to her performance of “Dr. Feelgood” at Fillmore West in San Francisco, to her rendition of “My Country, ’Tis of Thee” at former President Barack Obama’s first inauguration, she left a legacy of virtuosity and swagger that will live on — both online and off.
We’ll be taking some time off, but you can expect us back in your headphones sometime in the fall."Respect" (Aretha Franklin, 1967)"Respect" (Otis Redding, 1964)"I Never Loved a Man [the Way I Love You]" (Aretha Franklin, 1967)"Dr. Feelgood" - Live at Fillmore West (Aretha Franklin, 1971)"Think" (Aretha Franklin, 1967)"Think" - The Blues Brothers version (Aretha Franklin, 1980)"Rocksteady" (Aretha Franklin, 1972)Aretha Franklin performing "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" at former president Barack Obama's first inauguration (January 20, 2009)Aretha Franklin performing "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors"A Different World" theme song (1988)
This week, we realize we have two black klansmen on our hands — one on the big screen in the form of Spike Lee's new film "BlacKkKlansman," and one on the small screen in the form of America's most notorious reality show villain turned ex-White House employee, Omarosa Manigault Newman. Both the film and person showcase black people infiltrating hostile white institutions and coming out the other side to tell us about it. We question, however, if the message they're bringing us was worth the journey.
Discussed this week:"BlacKkKlansman" (directed by Spike Lee, 2018)"Unhinged: An Insider's Account of the Trump White House" (Omarosa Manigault Newman, Gallery Books, 2018)"The Apprentice" (NBC, 2004)"Donald J. Trump Presents The Ultimate Merger" (TV One, 2010)"The Bitch Switch: Knowing How to Turn It On and Off" (Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth, Phoenix Books, Inc., 2008)
This week, our friend and colleague, Taffy Akner, chats with us about her viral article, "How Goop’s Haters Made Gwyneth Paltrow’s Company Worth $250 Million." We trace some similarities and differences between Gwyneth and fellow mogul, Oprah, and ask why the wellness industry, ironically, can make us feel bad. Taffy helps us understand how oftentimes, when our current healthcare systems fail to take the pain and suffering of women and gender non-conforming people seriously, Goop can offer a seductive alternative — that comes at a price.
Discussed this week:"How Goop’s Haters Made Gwyneth Paltrow’s Company Worth $250 Million" (Taffy Akner, The New York Times Magazine, July 25, 2018)"Our First Podcast: GP Sits Down with Oprah" (The Goop Podcast, March 8, 2018)
This week, we celebrate summer and present to you our 2018 Summer Faves. From tech to treats, tunes to TV, and of course, summer looks, we make some recommendations to help you live your best life in these warmer months.
Special thanks to James McCombe of Maple Street Creative and Taylor Wizner for remote recording support.
Discussed this week:Native Land app (by Victor Temprano, 2015)"Mission: Impossible — Fallout" (directed by Christopher McQuarrie, 2018)"Vida" (Starz, 2018)"Freeway of Love" (Aretha Franklin, "Who's Zoomin' Who?", 1985)"Lucid Dreams" (Juice WRLD, "Goodbye & Good Riddance," 2018)"Afro-Harping" (Dorothy Ashby, 1968)"The greatest five-minute tomato pasta on earth" (Francis Lam, Salon, 2010)"A burger, but better" (Samin Nosrat, The New York Times Magazine, 2018)
This week, we trace the evolution of black American cinema from blaxploitation in the 1970s to what we’re calling "blaxplaining" in 2018. While blaxploitation sought to showcase black actors in dramatic, action-packed films, today’s blaxplaining centers on the challenges of being black in America. We examine three films — "The Hate U Give," "Blindspotting" and "Sorry to Bother You" — and ask if they accurately depict aspects of contemporary black life, or instead merely seek to make some black experiences more palatable to white audiences.
Discussed this week:"The Hate U Give" (directed by George Tillman Jr., 2018)"Blindspotting" (directed by Carlos López Estrada, 2018) "Sorry to Bother You" (directed by Boots Riley, 2018)"Coffy" (directed by Jack Hill, 1973)"Slaves" (directed by Herbert Biberman, 1969)"Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song" (directed by Melvin Van Peebles, 1971)"The Devil Finds Work" (by James Baldwin, 1976)"Lady Sings the Blues" (directed by Sidney J. Furie, 1972)"Mandingo" (directed by Richard Fleischer, 1975)"Jaws" (directed by Steven Spielberg, 1975)"Hammer" (directed by Bruce Clark, 1972)"Truck Turner" (directed by Jonathan Kaplan, 1974)"Shaft" (directed by Gordon Parks, 1971)"Blacula" (directed by William Crain, 1972)"Proud Mary" (directed by Babak Najafi, 2018)"The Equalizer 2" (directed by Antoine Fuqua, 2018)"White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism" (Robin DiAngelo, Beacon Press, 2018)"Super Fly" (directed by Gordon Parks Jr., 1972)"Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde" (Directed by William Crain, 1976)"Cotton Comes to Harlem" (Directed by Ossie Davis, 1970)"Mahogany" (Directed by Berry Gordy, 1975)"Dancing in the Moonlight" (Still Processing, 2016)
It’s the 20th anniversary of the release of Ms. Lauryn Hill’s 5-time Grammy-winning debut solo album, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” Still very much a part of our contemporary musical landscape — being sampled by everyone from Drake to Cardi B to Kanye — her prophecies on fame, artistry and the music industry reflect her own career trajectory and serve as a cautionary tale for other artists on the rise. We take a closer look at “Miseducation,” alongside her follow-up “MTV Unplugged No. 2.0” album, and try to understand both her meteoric rise, and what she means when she says it “all falls down.”
Discussed this week:“The Score” (The Fugees, 1996)“The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” (Lauryn Hill, 1998)“MTV Unplugged No. 2.0” (Lauryn Hill, 2002)“Ooo Baby Baby” (Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, “Smokey Robinson and the Miracles LIVE!,” 1969)"They Won't Go When I Go" (Stevie Wonder, "Fulfillingness' First Finale," 1974)“All Falls Down” (Kanye West, “The College Dropout,” 2004)“Dave Chappelle’s Block Party” (Directed by Michel Gondry, 2006)
Jenna's back in New York after spending last week at the Tin House Summer Workshop in Portland, Oregon. An explosive moment at the workshop prompted us to consider what it means for an institution — from a writing workshop to a TV network to a social media platform — to really commit itself to inclusion, and whether inclusion is even enough.
Discussed this week:Tin House Summer Workshop"The Danger of a Single Story" (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, TED, 2009)"Oscars 2016: Here's why the nominees are so white — again" (Rebecca Keegan and Steven Zeitchik, The Los Angeles Times, 2016)"Hannah Gadsby: Nanette" (Netflix, 2018)"A Canadian Museum Promotes Indigenous Art. But Don’t Call It ‘Indian.’" (Ted Loos, The New York Times Magazine, 2018)
Correction: In this episode, the story read by Wells Tower that was the subject of controversy at the Tin House Summer Workshop was misidentified as having appeared in "Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned," a collection of short stories. The piece in question was a nonfiction article, "Own Goal," published in Harper's Magazine in 2010.
This week, we take a deep dive into "Pose," Ryan Murphy's new show on FX, and unpack the role of queer chosen families in pop culture. We dissect some of our favorite scenes — featuring Blanca Abundance Evangelista (Mj Rodriguez), Elektra Abundance (Dominique Jackson), and Angel (Indya Moore) — and celebrate the nuanced stories told of queer and trans characters of color by queer and trans people of color. Are we free to create chosen families that support who we are and who we're trying to be, or are we destined to replicate the burdens and blessings of our biological families?
Discussed this week: "Far From the Tree" (dir: Rachel Dretzin, 2018)"Won't You Be My Neighbor?" (dir: Morgan Neville, 2018)"Whitney" (dir: Kevin MacDonald, 2018)"Review: ‘Whitney,’ a Pop Music Tragedy, Is Sad, Strange and Dismaying" (Wesley Morris, The New York Times, July 5, 2018)"Three Identical Strangers" (dir: Tim Wardel, 2018)"Whack World" (Tierra Whack, 2018) "Pose" (FX, 2018)"Queer Eye" (Netflix, 2018)"My House" (Viceland, 2018)
It’s the second installment of our two-part series on anti-Asian racism. Once again, we hand over the mics to our Asian-American colleagues, friends and listeners to hear about their experiences with dating, work and more as they relate to race and identity. We hear varied and nuanced perspectives — from the writer Jen Choi, the musician Simon Tam, the podcaster Andrew Ti and others — on what it feels like to be a part of the diverse community of Asian-Americans, which makes up almost 6 percent of the United States population. If you haven’t already, check out last week’s episode for Part 1 of this series.
This week and next, we’re doing something different. After witnessing an awful instance of anti-Asian racism at a movie theater, we couldn’t stop thinking about how this type of racism is rampant in American culture, both on the screen and off. At first, we wanted to talk about it. But then, we realized that we needed to listen.
For the next two episodes, we hand the microphones over to our Asian-American colleagues, friends and listeners to hear about their experiences with racism. From Pablo Torre (of ESPN) to Emily Yoshida (of Vulture) to Parul Sehgal (of The Times) and more, we hear about childhood traumas, politicization, pop culture and hierarchies of oppression as they relate to Asian-American identity. The ideas are varied and complicated, conflicting and nuanced — which makes sense for a hugely diverse community that makes up almost 6 percent of the American population. We’ll bring you the second part of this two-part series next week.
Beyonce and Jay-Z. Donald and Melania. Kim and Kanye. Harry and Meghan. We're compelled by the performance of marriage in culture. And with The Carters' new surprise album, "Everything Is Love," we wonder what it means for our beloved Beyonce -- and Jay-Z -- to position their marriage as a black cultural institution -- akin to the Huxtables or the Obamas -- that everyone should believe in. From writing their legacy into The Louvre in their "Apes**t" video to documenting the turmoil and triumph of their relationship in "Lovehappy," The Carters remind us that marriage, like everything, is performance -- and that matters.
Discussed this week: "Everything is Love" (The Carters, 2018)Zerina Akers' InstagramVince Aletti's Interview with Madonna in Aperture 156 (Summer 1999)Deana Lawson, PhotographerJohn Edmonds, PhotographerCarrie Mae Weems, Photographer"Consecration of the Emperor Napoleon I and Coronation of the Empress Josephine in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris on 2 December 1804" (Jacques-Louis David)
After watching the blockbuster hit "Ocean’s 8" and BBC America’s cat-and-mouse drama "Killing Eve," we noticed some similarities in these leading women - they’re all “bad.” They’re indulgent and driven. They care about their work more than your feelings. They perform for each other more than they do for men (do they even perform for men?). They’re complicated and that’s why we like them. So we wonder: is our current cultural climate — specifically around this #MeToo moment — making space for more dynamic women characters?
Discussed this week:
Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins uses signs to advocate for criminal justice reform
Actor Ari'el Stachel delivers moving speech at the 72nd annual Tony Awards
"The Man Behind the Music of 'Broad City'" (Stacey Anderson, The New York Times, March 22, 2016)
"This is America” (Childish Gambino, 2018)
"All Mine" (Kanye West, 2018)
"Why 'You are loved' & 'please reach out' are crappy things to post after someone has died by suicide" (Deanna Zandt, Medium, June 8, 2018)
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 800-273-8255
"Dykes to Watch Out For" (Alison Bechdel, 1983-2008)
"Ocean's 8" (dir: Gary Ross, Warner Bros., 2018)
"Killing Eve" (Sid Gentle Films, 2018)
Almost one week after Kanye West released his eighth studio album, "Ye," we wonder what to do with artists who displease us. Going back to 2004, we take a closer look at Kanye, the artist, who questioned the role of higher education, called out former president George Bush after Hurricane Katrina on live television, and publicly grieved over the untimely death of his mother. We also examine Kanye, the problem, and try to understand how the same person who seemed to champion black solidarity in the early 2000s is now calling slavery a choice and aligning himself with President Trump. From "The College Dropout" to "808s & Heartbreak" to "Yeezus" to "Ye," we've kept listening to Kanye, but we ask ourselves: what will make us stop?
Discussed this week:"Ivanka Trump, Samantha Bee, and the Strange Path of an Ancient Epithet" (Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, June 1, 2018)Rebecca Traister's tweets about Samantha Bee calling Ivanka Trump the C-word (2018)"Running Up That Hill" (Kate Bush, 1985) "The Man Who Ate Everything" (Jeffrey Steingarten, 1998)"Julián is a Mermaid" (Jessica Love, 2018)"O Superman" (Laurie Anderson, 1982)Kanye's comments about former president George Bush after Hurricane Katrina (MTV, 2005)"Ye" (Kanye West, 2018)"The Life of Pablo" (Kanye West, 2016)"Yeezus" (Kanye West, 2013)"My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" (Kanye West, 2010)"808s & Heartbreak" (Kanye West, 2008)"Graduation" (Kanye West, 2007)"Late Registration" (Kanye West, 2005)"The College Dropout" (Kanye West, 2004)
When actor Jessica Walter said fellow co-star Jeffrey Tambor verbally harassed her on the set of "Arrested Development," the show’s lead, Jason Bateman, jumped to Tambor’s defense -- and we noticed. This week, we suss out what this interaction -- documented in sound -- shows us about the subtle and not-so-subtle ways that we're taught to minimize the experiences of women. We juxtapose Jessica Walter's quiet, composed anger with Asia Argento's seething indictment at Cannes, and interrogate the stakes that make women -- and other marginalized groups -- temper their rage. What would happen if our culture allowed these groups to more fully occupy their anger?
Plus, we talk about the cancellation of ABC's "Roseanne," because even though on some level justice has been done, we're still mad.
Discussed this week: "'Reparations Happy Hour' Invites White People to Pay for Drinks" (Daniel Victor, The New York Times, 26 May 2018)"El Anillo" (Jennifer Lopez, 2018)"Shades of Blue" (Kelsey Lu, 2018)Agnes Varda and Cate Blanchett at Cannes 2018Asia Argento at Cannes 2018"'Arrested Development:' We Sat Down With the Cast. It Got Raw." (Sopan Deb, The New York Times, 23 May 2018)
With Rita Ora, Janelle Monáe, Kehlani – and even fictional characters like Lando Calrissian – embracing bisexuality, pansexuality, queerness, and more, we wonder: what does it mean to publicly declare your sexual identity as something outside the gay/straight binary in 2018? And what did these declarations look like in the 80s and 90s, when we were growing up? We compare the sincere loneliness of R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion" to the frustrating inauthenticity of Rita Ora's "Girls," and celebrate the thoughtful portrayal of the queer relationship featured in the new film, Disobedience. Plus, we break down what's wrong with sex scenes between women – with the hope that directors and cinematographers take note – because depictions of non-binary sexualities should reflect the humanity of the people who occupy them.
Discussed this week:"The Hand That Robs the Cradle" (Ellen; Season 1, Episode 6; 1994) "Girls" (Rita Ora feat. Cardi B, Bebe Rexha, and Charlie XCX, 2018)"PYNK" (Janelle Monáe, 2018)"Curious" (Hayley Kiyoko, 2018)Kehlani's Tweets about her sexuality (2018)Kristen Stewart's SNL monologue (NBC, 2017)Disobedience (dir: Sebastián Lelio, Braven Films, 2017)"Losing My Religion" (R.E.M., 1991)Cruel Intentions (dir: Roger Kumble, Columbia Pictures, 1999)Blue is the Warmest Color (dir: Abdellatif Kechiche, Quat'sous Films, 2013)
This week, shortly after multi-hyphenate artist Donald Glover blew up the internet with the video for his song "This is America," Wesley and guest host Rembert Browne (New York Magazine, Grantland) explore Glover's career, and how he evolved from a likable comedian to a cultural provocateur and authority on blackness. We like Glover's brain and the music and TV he is making, but we also wonder about the speed with which he's been anointed a "genius." Who gets left out when we apply that label so liberally to men? What do women have to do to be considered geniuses? More specifically, why aren't we using that term for black women? And is there such a thing as black male privilege?
Jenna will be back next week.
Discussed this week: Magic Mike XXL (Warner Bros., 2015)"I'm Not Black, I'm Kanye" (Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic)"This is America" (Childish Gambino)"That Hump" (Erykah Badu)"How I Got Over" (Aretha Franklin)"For a Black Artist to Win Album of the Year, They Have to Make an Album of the Decade" (Rembert Browne, Vulture)"Miss Independent" (Ne-Yo)
This week we're talking about white culture, and what it is trying to tell us about itself on TV, at the movies and in books. We're noticing that white people are anxious--consciously and unconsciously--about their place in the world, and it's fascinating to unpack. First, we look at the new season of Roseanne, a show that explicitly embraces its whiteness and thumbs its nose at anyone who would challenge that. Then, we talk about the hit horror movie A Quiet Place, which explores dystopia in a way that reveals submerged white fears of a brown invasion (we liked the craft of the movie a lot, but it’s got some problems it’s not aware of). We pose the question: what would a self-aware interrogation of being white look like?
Plus, we celebrate JaVale McGee's incomparable stank face, worry about Kanye's tweets (we recorded this episode before his most recent tweets in support of Trump, which we'll have to address another time), and bring you our very first nominee for Song of the Summer...!
One last thing: we're bringing the show to Australia, and we'll be back with new episodes in a couple weeks. Till then, keep stuntin'! Keep shinin'!
Discussed this week:
JaVale McGee (NBA player, Golden State Warriors)
"The Legacy of Childhood Trauma" (Junot Diaz, The New Yorker)
"I Like It" (Cardi B, Bad Bunny and J. Balvin)
Kanye's recent tweets
A Quiet Place (directed by John Krasinski)
White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America (Nancy Isenberg, Penguin Books)
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis (JD Vance, HarperCollins)
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (Matthew Desmond, Broadway Books)
Green (Sam Graham-Felsen, Random House)
We were so blown away by Beyoncé’s performance at the Coachella music festival that we decided to scrap our previous plans and dedicate this week’s entire episode to it. We think her performance will go down in the annals of American pop music as one of the greatest live shows ever.
We close read some of our favorite moments, including her beautiful rendition of the black national anthem, “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” and how she turns the swag surf into a dance for royalty. And we talk about the ways Beyoncé continues to shape-shift and grow as an artist, reinterpreting her own musical catalogue and making it richer, more sonorous and more black. We think about the ways black American music has always been misappropriated, and the ingenious way Beyoncé is pushing against that history, making music so skillful it can’t ever be replicated.
Discussed This Week:
“Kendrick Lamar Wins Pulitzer in ‘Big Moment for Hip-Hop’” (Joe Coscarelli, The New York Times)
As a break from the onslaught of traumatic news, this week we're talking about what makes us feel good about ourselves. Really good. We start by exploring what has been lost with the recent closure of Craiglist's personal ads section: a unique place, so distinct from Tinder or Grindr or Bumble, where you could search honestly for your own sexiness. Then we share some our personal tips for maintaining and nurturing that feeling once you find it. Finally we jam out to some of our all-time favorite songs of seduction, from k.d. lang to Beyoncé to Cardi B, and explain why exactly they make us feel the way they do. And finally, here’s a link to all of our favorite jams to turn it up by yourself: Still Processing Presents: The Autoerotica Mix (Spotify).
Discussed This Week:
The Magicians (SyFy)
“We need to talk about how Grindr is affecting gay men’s health” (Jack Turban, Vox)
“‘I Am Super Straight and I Prefer You be Too’: Constructions of Heterosexual Masculinity in Online Personal Ads for “Straight” Men Seeking Sex With Men” (Chelsea Reynolds, Sage Journals)
“Missed Connections: Craigslist Drops Personal Ads Because of Sex Trafficking Bill” (Niraj Chokshi, The New York Times)
“A Field Guide to Getting Lost” (Rebecca Solnit, Penguin Books)
“Sexiness: Rituals, Revisions and Reconstructions” (Tamara Santibanez, Discipline Press)
Still Processing Presents: The Autoerotica Mix (Spotify)
This week, we commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s death. While MLK’s birthday is celebrated on a national level, we spend time processing why his death holds a significant importance as well. We examine the months leading up to MLK Jr.’s death, including his iconic speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” and discuss the ways in which his ideals shifted after his “I Had A Dream” speech. MLK day is a celebration of King’s birthday, and we suggest that maybe what we should really be marking is the day of his assassination.
Discussed This Week:
“My Life with Martin Luther King Jr.” (Coretta Scott King, Henry Holt & Co.)
“They Push. They Protest. And Many Activists, Privately, Suffer As A Result” (John Eligon, The New York Times)
“Linda Brown, Symbol of Landmark Desegregation Case, Dies at 75” (Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times)
A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. (Martin Luther King Jr., HarperCollins Publishers)
This week we're talking about why we're stressed out, why the country is stressed out, and whether anxiety has become a permanent condition. We consider the role technology has played in driving us to this point, from push alerts — so many push alerts — to Twitter to the "algorithmic gaze." Then we come back to culture and focus on a few works that either encapsulate the chaos of 2018 or offer a possible path for moving ahead.
Discussed This Week:
“The Middle” (Zedd, Maren Morris, Grey)
“The Comfort in Stockpiling Dried Beans” (Tejal Rao, The New York Times Magazine)
“The Man Who Knew Too Little” (Sam Dolnick, The New York Times)
Annihilation (Paramount Pictures)
“Southern Reach Trilogy” (Jeff VanderMeer, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Ready Player One (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Downsizing (Paramount Pictures)
Angels in America (Tony Kushner)
Angels in America (miniseries; HBO)
This week we pay homage to aunties, in our own lives, in politics, and in pop culture. But first we have to define what an aunty is, so we play a little game called "Aunty or Nah-nty," naming aunty candidates from television shows and movies to refine our criteria for who is and isn't one. We examine the historical relevance of aunties, and think about portrayals of women who are not-quite-our mothers, fiercely independent and repositories for our secrets. Can the "aunty" label be a caricature, or is it strictly an honor? Have on-screen "aunties" changed the way we view childless women in our culture? And can white women be aunties?
Discussed This Week:
Mystic Pizza (The Samuel Goldwyn Company)
“Snapchat Lost $800 Million After Rihanna Criticized Its Offensive Ad” (Emma Stefansky, Vanity Fair)
“LGBTQ Brazillian Councilwoman Assainated” (Saurav Jung Thapa, HRC)
“Bridging The Racial Divide in a Middle School Friendship” (Jonathan Miles, The New York Times)
“Lionel Richie Wants to Teach You How to Be a Real ‘American Idol’” (Alex Pappademas, The New York Times)
Eve’s Bayou (Trimark Pictures)
This week, we discuss "A Wrinkle in Time," Ava DuVernay's attempt to take the audience on a magical adventure with Meg Murray as she searches for her father through multiple universes. Our time traveling experience ... wasn’t as magical as we hoped. But this is good news. We explain why the film's shortcomings do not impact the upward trajectory of Ava DuVernay career or black filmmaking in general, but actually work to highlight the progress of black filmmakers and encourage black artists to take bigger risks. We dive deep into what it means to criticize black works of art and express what gets lost when we decide it’s beyond criticism.
Discussed this week:
O.J. Simpson described ‘blood and stuff’ in hypothetical scenario (Jean Casarez, CNN)
“How to raise a Boy; I’m not sure what to think about what my dad tried to teach me. So what should I teach my sons?” (New York Magazine, Will Leitch)
Fathers and Sons and Privilege (The Brian Lehrer Show, WNYC Studios)
“In My View” - Young Fathers
“For Decades, Our Coverage Was Racist. To Rise Above Our Past, We Must Acknowledge It” (National Geographic, Susan Goldberg)
A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L’Engle, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1962)
A Wrinkle in Time (Walt Disney Studios)
Black Panther (Marvel Studios)
“The Sounds, Space And Spirit of ‘Selma’: A Director’s Take” (NPR, Fresh Air)
“Black Kids Don’t Want to Read About Harriet Tubman All the Time” (The New York Times, Denene Millner)
Lemonade (Beyonce, Parkwood Entertainment)
Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color (Kimberly Crenshaw, 1991)
Small Doses with Amanda Seales (Starburns Audio)
How To Get Away With Murder (ABC)
Mo’Nique Calls For Netflix Boycott Over Alleged Gender and Race Pay Disparity (Deadline, Dino-Ray Ramos)
We went to the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. to look at the recently installed portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama. The paintings--Barack's by Kehinde Wiley, Michelle's by Amy Sherald--prompted both rapture and controversy when they were unveiled in February, and we wanted to see them in person to try to evaluate our own responses. As we traveled through the gallery from George Washington to Obama, we discussed what portraits can tell us about presidential power. And then we lingered at Barack and Michelle's portraits, admiring their beauty, trying to decipher their meaning, and allowing ourselves to be deeply moved. Come linger with us.
Discussed this week:
“MoviePass launches a new division to acquire and distribute movies” (Lizzie Plaugic, The Verge)
“Jordan Peele’s X-Ray Vision” (Wesley Morris, The New York Times)
“Jordan Peele Dedicates Original Screenplay Oscar To Those ‘Who Raised My Voice’” (Dawn C. Chmielewski, Deadline)
“What’s An Inclusion Rider? Here’s The Story Behind Frances McDormand’s Closing Words” (Colin Dwyer, NPR)
“Tiffany Haddish and Maya Rudolph, 2019 Oscar Hosts?” (Sopan Deb, The New York Times)
This week, we examine four of the Best Picture Oscar-nominated films—“Call Me By Your Name”, “Get Out”, “Shape of Water”, and “Phantom Thread”—to ask whether we are entering a new phase of romance films. By diverging from conventional norms and stereotypes, these films have created on-screen relationships that are reminiscent of our own relationships. We then look to the history of romantic dramas and comedies to see how this new version of romance-on-screen came to be and what it potentially communicates about the way men and women are relating to one another.
Discussed this week:
“Why the Trump administration's new SNAP proposal is hard to swallow” (Devra First, Boston Globe)
Janelle Monae - Make Me Feel
Maybe It’s You - The Friend Zone Podcast
The Shape of Water (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Phantom Thread (Focus Features)
Get Out (Universal Pictures)
Call Me By Your Name (Sony Pictures Classics)
“Luca Guadagnino Had a Good Reason for Not Showing the Sex Scene in ‘Call Me By Your Name’” (Jude Dry, Indiewire)
Gone With the Wind (Loew’s Inc.)
Beyond Borders (Paramount Pictures)
The English Patient (Miramax Films)
Blade Runner 2049 (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Ingrid Goes West (Neon)
Wonder Woman (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Thelma (SF Studios)
Leap Year (Universal Pictures)
Pillow Talk (Universal-International)
This week we're looking for a thread running through three seemingly disparate moments: the release of Clint Eastwood's new film "The 15:17 to Paris," the Olympics in South Korea, and the tragic death of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. We use these events to discuss how culture can act as a smokescreen for reality and a way to avoid our fears. Plus: Jenna defends her surprising position that spoilers are actually good.
Discussed this week:
Queer Eye (Netflix)
“Emma González Leads a Student Outcry on Guns: ‘This is the Way I Have to Grieve’” (Julie Turkewitz, Matt Stevens and Jason M. Bailey, The New York Times)
“Whole Lot of BS” Funkadelic (Maggot Brain, 1971)
"Fergie’s National Anthem Draws Criticism" (ESPN)
“Letter of Recommendation: Spoilers” (Jenna Wortham, The New York Times Magazine)
“The Sixth Sense” (Hollywood Pictures)
“On the Evolution of Hollywood Films” (James Cutting, Cornell University, 2010)
“Pulp Fiction” (Miramax)
"The 15:17 to Paris" (Warner Bros. Pictures)
“American Sniper” (Warner Bros. Pictures)
“Sully” (Flashlight Films)
GOP Rep. Brian Mast on Florida School Shooting (Rachel Martin, NPR)
Andre Bauer on State of the Union (CNN)
It's going to be one of the biggest opening weekends in movie history. But "Black Panther" is about so much more than the box office. This week we're putting Ryan Coogler's new film in the full context it deserves and demands, with a little help from our friend Ta-Nehisi Coates.
There's no episode of Still Processing today, but Wesley and Jenna are cooking up something special — a whole show on "Black Panther" with special guest Ta-Nehisi Coates. Check your feed Friday morning!
This week, we take the Oscar-nominated film "Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri" as a starting point for a discussion about a new sense of placelessness in film and TV. Over the last year, we've been seeing stories set in ambiguous spaces--the limbo between heaven and hell, distorted models of our world, towns that look like no place we recognize as American. We talk about "The Good Place," "Westworld," "Downsizing," and the Sunken Place from "Get Out" to try and figure out how we lost a sense of where we are. Then we look to shows like "Atlanta" and "The Chi" to think about how we might find our way back.
Discussed This Week:
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
“Riverdale” (The CW)
Hot Topic "Riverdale" Merchandise
“Dennis Edwards, Former Temptations Lead Singer, Dies at 74” (Daniel E. Slotnik, The New York Times)
"Don’t Look Any Further" (Dennis Edwards)
"'Three Billboards’ Production Designer Inbal Weinberg on Martin McDonagh’s Unique Approach To Screen Language" (Matt Grobar, Deadline)
“The Good Place” (NBC)
“Stranger Things” (Netflix)
“Black Mirror” (Netflix)
“Get Out” (Universal Pictures)
“Dunkirk” (Warner Bros.)
“Downsizing” (Paramount Pictures)
"Instravel - A Photogenic Mass Tourism Experience" (Oliver KMIA, Vimeo)
“Singin’ in the Rain” (MGM)
“Queen Sugar” (OWN)
“Atlanta” (FX Networks)
“The Chi” (Showtime)
“Black Panther” (Marvel Studios)
"Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience" (Yi-Fu Tuan, 1977)
"Place and Placelessness" (Edward Relph, 1976)
Super Bowl LII Commercials
“Ram Trucks Commercial with Martin Luther King Jr. Sermon is Criticized” (Sapna Maheshwari, The New York Times)
2018 Kia Stinger - Steven Tyler Big Game Ad - Feel Something Again
Blacture Super Bowl Ad
Amazon Alexa Loses Her Voice - Super Bowl LII Commercial
This week, in light of Justin Timberlake’s upcoming Super Bowl performance, we revisit his infamous 2004 “wardrobe malfunction” halftime show with Janet Jackson. We dissect the public reaction to “nipplegate,” why Janet (and not Justin) took the fall, and how the controversy changed the course of both artists’ careers. We consider Justin’s new musical direction in the context his history of appropriating other cultures. And we offer Janet the forgiveness she deserves, realizing that her sexual experimentation led to some of our favorite moments in music history.
Discussed This Week:
“Is ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ the Most Radical Show on TV?” (Jenna Wortham, The New York Times)
Evidentiary Bodies (Barbara Hammer at the Leslie-Lohman Museum)
“The Lunar Eclipse and Super Blue Moon Are Here. Watch it Before Work.” (Nicholas St. Fleur, The New York Times)
“The Color of Kink” (Ariane Cruz, 2016)
“How Jesse Williams Stole BET Awards with Speech on Racism” (Katie Rogers, The New York Times)
Man of the Woods (Justin Timberlake)
History of Rap (Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake, “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”)
Janet Jackson (in Tyler Perry’s “Why Did I Get Married”)
This week, we examine the outrage that is expressing itself in all corners of the culture. In the process, we found unexpected connections between events and ideas that might seem unrelated: Ed Sheeran being left out of all the major Grammy categories as a (possible) way to avoid controversy, the heated debate over an account of a bad date with Aziz Ansari, the testimony at the sentencing of Dr. Larry Nassar from hundreds of gymnasts who had been sexually abused, and year two of the women's march. We're thinking about why women's anger is feared, and what it means to dole out punishment against men. Whose anger counts, what kind of anger is healthy, and is there solidarity to be found in anger? Our conversation took us to places we didn't know we'd go--including becoming enraged ourselves.
Discussed This Week:
“Dolores O’Riordan, Lead Singer of the Cranberries, Dies at 46” (Christine Hauser, The New York Times)
“2018 Oscar Nominations” (Brooks Barnes, The New York Times)
“2018 Grammy Nominations” (The New York Times)
“Electric Dreams” (Amazon)
“How Ed Sheeran Made ‘Shape of You’ The Years Biggest Track” (John Pereles, The New York Times)
“The Grammy Awards Voting Process” (Recording Academy)
“I went on a date with Aziz Ansari. It turned into the worst night of my life.” (Katie Way, Babe.net)
“Modern Romance” (Aziz Ansari, 2015)
“I Used to Insist I Didn’t Get Angry. Not Anymore.” (Leslie Jamison, The New York Times Magazine)
“Banfield slams Ansari accuser in open letter” (CNN)
“One After Another, Athletes Face Larry Nassar and Recount Sexual Abuse” (Scott Cacciola and Christine Hauser, The New York Times)
The wait is finally over - we’re back for Season 3! This week, we look at the movie “Proud Mary” starring Taraji P. Henson as a jumping off point for the cultural moment that black women are having right now in pop culture. We run through a brief history of black women in movies and television and consider those who built the foundation for this moment. From Hattie McDaniel to Dorothy Dandridge to Whoopi Goldberg to Halle Berry, we consider what all of this means for how we discuss Oprah’s (possible) presidential run.
Discussed This Week:
“She’s Gotta Have It” (Netflix)
“The Case for the Subway" (Jonathan Mahler, New York Times Magazine)
Black Women Voters of Alabama
“Picturing Us: African American Identity in Photography” (Deb Willis)
Diahann Carroll (in "Julia")
Pam Grier (in "Coffy")
Oprah’s SNL Cold Open
“The Spector of Oprah Winfrey: Critical Black Female Spectorship“ (Terisha L. Stanley, 2007)
It’s our season finale! We’ve spent our second season keeping a critical eye on the unreality of America and dissecting the systems of power that uphold the status quo. Last week, a series of news articles reported that Harvey Weinstein, one of the most powerful movie producers in Hollywood, has been accused of sexually harrassing women for decades. Twitter is ablaze with other women and men sharing their own stories of sexual misconduct at the hands of the powerful, spawning conversations about power and fame, privilege and punishment. The aftermath has raised questions about the commonality of harassment — and has forced us to confront our own complacency. We were compelled to talk about the cultural petri dish that allows assault and abuse to perpetuate and about what might be changing, socially and technologically, that is encouraging survivors to come forward. We also discuss the recently released “Blade Runner 2049” which somehow felt lacking, as if science fiction can’t keep up with the reality of the moment we’re living through. And before we sign off for a few months, we relive some of our favorite moments from this season. Thank you for listening, and we’ll talk to you soon!
For months, the two of us have been trying to figure out a way to have a conversation about the experience of being biracial. This week we just go for it. First, we talk about the cultural and historical suspicion America still has of black-white interracial romantic relationships. It gives us an excuse to revisit the reason ‘‘Get Out’’ has been one of the year’s major movies: It articulates the previously inarticulable about race. Then we consider the offspring of interracial coupling — whether the possibility of occupying two identities (or more) is a choice, a luxury or a delusion; and what fears, doubts or envy nonbiracial black Americans might feel about biracial black Americans. We drop in on Spike Lee’s ‘‘School Daze’’ and the sitcom ‘‘Black-ish.’’ We consider our feelings about Rashida Jones, Drake and Vin Diesel. We unpack the writings of Zadie Smith and Barack Obama. And we kind of have to ask: Aren’t we all a little bit mixed?
Another day, another rant from Donald Trump. This time, the president took aim at Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who spent the majority of last season sitting or kneeling during the national anthem to draw attention to police brutality and racial injustice. Trump’s remarks — that the owners of football teams should fire anyone who followed suit — prompted a nationwide demonstration the following Sunday from players and team owners who knelt or linked arms. We talk about the language used by the president and his supporters and their expectations of black entertainers and athletes. We also investigate the history of the national anthem. What all did Francis Scott Key really invoke in the “Star-Spangled Banner”? Oh, and we also manage to work in a reference to “Get Out.” All kinds of people, including Stevie Wonder and celebrity chef Carla Hall, are joining the #TakeAKnee movement. Will it retain its integrity as it evolves away from Kaepernick?
Last week, a Silicon Valley startup called Bodega instigated an internet meltdown after a Fast Company profile made the company’s intentions clear. “Eventually, centralized shopping locations won’t be necessary, because there will be 100,000 Bodegas spread out, with one always 100 feet away from you,” said Paul McDonald, a co-founder, who used to work at Google. The outrage made moral sense. “Bodega” is name that’s asking for trouble, especially with people who frequent them. The outrage is also easy. Where’s the upset over the effect other, bigger companies – like Amazon, whose latest major acquisition, Whole Foods, has slashed prices – might actually have on bodegas? Being mad at Amazon is harder when it’s mixed up in so much of your life. We discuss the dilemma.
We also get into the horror at the movies (“It,” “Mother!”) and on TV (“American Horror Story: Cult”), and how it meets up with our times in surprising and hilarious ways — especially Darren Aronofsky’s “Mother!” with Jennifer Lawerence and Javier Bardem. It’s a mess and a half. But it’s a really fun mess.
Last week, we witnessed two extraordinary events: Venus Williams playing some of the best tennis in the last decade of her career (she lost in the U.S. Open, but with grace and style), and the rollout of Rihanna's new cosmetics line, Fenty Beauty, which was splashier than the launch of the new iPhone X. We learned something unexpected from both. Venus showed us what it means to lose, and yet somehow remain undefeated, and the Rihanna event gave us insight into the economy of social media “influencers” who are radically changing—and possibly democratizing—the beauty and fashion industries.
Last month, NPR published a list of the 150 greatest albums by women. The list was debated. It was discussed. There were alternative lists of 150 additional albums not on the NPR list. But quibbling with the particulars misses an important concern about what it means to argue for a women-only canon. This week we discuss why it takes an all-women team at NPR to celebrate women musicians, and why women are glaringly missing from lists determined by both genders. We also revisit the song of the summer, a phenomenon that is ruled by male artists — but perhaps not according to us.
This summer, Dave Chappelle returned to the stage for an ambitious, monthlong residency at Radio City Music Hall in New York. We saw the show independently, on separate nights. What we witnessed inspired us to dedicate an entire episode to the legacy of Chappelle’s comedy as he works to re-establish his place in American culture. But much has shifted in the decade since Chappelle, through his much-loved TV show, “Chappelle’s Show,” brilliantly explored how black people are represented and misrepresented: Nowadays, he’s no longer interested in speaking on behalf of anyone else. We consider his past to consider where he might be headed and whether we still need comedians — and comedy, for that matter — to help us make sense of the present.
The events of the last few weeks have shown us that we are fully living in Trump's America, with a president who is slow to condemn the actions of white supremacists. The realization has been exhausting. This week, we take a step back to think about what the political moment is doing to our emotional and physical states. We discuss our routines of self-care — and investigate the origins of the phrase, and why it feels overused and even a little cliche. We also talk to Dr. Matthew Steinfeld, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine about our ailing country and get a few ideas for how to remedy ourselves, and perhaps each other.
What happened in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend was the largest public melee during a presidential administration that includes men with white nationalist ties. Three people were killed, dozens of people were injured and the country was thrown into a state of anguish and shock. The show was on vacation, but we came back early to do a special episode about Charlottesville. We talk about why the violence there isn’t surprising, what it means to remove totems of the American Confederacy and what a verbal apology from President Trump is really worth.
It’s been a summer of outrage over the question of who can tell stories about black history and black pain. We reckon with this question by examining Kathryn Bigelow’s film "Detroit," Dana Schutz's painting “Open Casket” and the recently announced new project from the "Game of Thrones" showrunners, an HBO drama called "Confederate." Without promising any answers, we also ask: Do stories about the American black experience belong to all Americans? Are there any criteria by which white creators can successfully make work about blackness?
The country was barely on the other side of a period of deep thought about the cultural meaning of O.J. Simpson, and then last week we found out that O.J. will be a free man this October. We explore the vexing empathy that racism toward him inspires in us. Second, we can’t believe how much fun we had watching "Girls Trip"! Comedies starring black women – in which they aren’t the butt of the joke – are virtually non-existent. We cheer the movie for giving us four fun, sexual black women without also denying their humanness.
2017 feels sort of like the End Times, and we’re leaning into science fiction TV shows and movies to imagine the outcome of our current political and geological climate. If science fiction functions as a cautionary tale, offering lessons in morality and asking us to consider our relationship with technology, what should our country’s leaders be watching? We discuss “War for the Planet of the Apes,” in which highly intelligent apes and plague-riddled humans battle for control of the Earth. Then, we serve up a list of sci-fi homework for ourselves and our elected officials.
“4:44” is Jay-Z’s first album since Beyoncé turned their marital trouble into a masterpiece called "Lemonade." On “4:44,” Jay-Z expresses regret for his infidelity and ruminates on the socioeconomic state of black America. The album is knotty and contradictory, especially when compared with the psychological clarity of "Lemonade." We spend the episode unpacking “4:44” as a work unto itself, and also in the context of “Lemonade.” We also discuss why the survival and performance of Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s marriage means so much to the culture and to us.
It’s barbecue season! But let’s be clear: We aren’t talking about throwing burgers and veggies on a grill. We’re talking about the rich culinary tradition of slow-cooking meat over a dirt pit, a cuisine cultivated by enslaved Africans in the American South. We both live in Brooklyn, where barbecue is gentrifying as quickly as our neighborhoods. To talk through our feelings, we invited two Southern food experts on the show: John Thomas Edge Jr., the author of “The Potlikker Papers,” and Nicole Taylor, a chef and the author of “The Up South Cookbook.” They help us remember the central role that African-Americans played (and continue to play) in establishing one of our country’s most signature styles of eating. Then we venture to a Carolina-style pit in the middle of Bushwick. It's a truly American tale.
What responsibility does a movie have to the details of history? In Sofia Coppola’s new film, “The Beguiled,” a remake of Don Siegel’s 1971 psychological thriller set in the American South during the Civil War, she omits a key character from the original film: a slave woman named Hallie. Is Coppola’s omission a correction of history or an act of artistic cowardice? Speaking of history and responsibility: We take a look at “All Eyez on Me,” which tells the story of the brief but remarkable life of Tupac Shakur. At a time when the safety of black men’s lives seems dubious, is there significance in people’s refusing to accept that Tupac is truly dead?
June is Gay Pride month: four weekends of parades, pageantry, and partying, all over the country. But now, a year after the Pulse nightclub shooting, people are asking whether Pride celebrations are sufficiently black, political and confrontational. We talk about the joy we feel during Pride, while also recognizing the limits of the parade and the gay rights movement in general. We also reckon with the racism in gay life, and where that leaves the two of us.
In a live-stream to promote her new album, “Witness,” Katy Perry put on an elaborate performance, giving a series of confessional interviews about her cultural missteps. We analyze all the reasons this was an experiment gone terribly wrong. We then turn to a much more sinister attempt by a celebrity to reshape his image by performing for the public: Bill Cosby pretending he is Cliff Huxtable at his trial for the sexual assault of Andrea Constand. The cross-examining of Constand strangely reminded us of Jim Comey’s testimony before Congress, leading us to a discussion of the different ways these two victims — one male and powerful, one female and powerless — were received in the culture.
Summer is here, and so are the superhero movies and hit pop songs that define the season. We discuss the politics of “Wonder Woman,” the first female-fronted and female-directed superhero blockbuster. We also search for the definitive summer jam of 2017 and try to define what makes a great summer song along the way.
Last week, the Baywatch franchise returned — this time on the big screen — with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Zac Efron leading a cast of tan, muscled lifeguards. But the film isn’t just a goofy romp; it presents the beach as a place of danger that needs to be patrolled, raising questions about who beaches are for. Jenna spends as much time at the beach as she can, while Wesley has always resisted going. As they try to untangle why that is, they discuss the history of American beaches and American beach movies, and the beach as a place of infinite possibility and mystery, as bearing the traces of racial segregation and as being one of the most liberating environments in the world.
In the last 30 years, blackness has migrated from the margins of American popular culture to its center. Right now, a bounty of television, movies, and music engages with the question of how people signal to each other that they’re down with blackness. And it isn't just white people doing the signaling. It's black people too, albeit in a different way. We’ll dig into Netflix’s new show “Dear White People,” and television and film from the 1980s and 1990s and try to understand: what does it mean to perform blackness?
Donald Trump has changed the way we watch TV, whether it’s the reality show within the White House, or the scripted dramas we can’t help but compare to our political situation. New Yorker television critic Emily Nussbaum joins us to analyze what Trump's persona in "The Apprentice" might tell us about how he wields power as president, and to talk about how living in Trump’s America changes the way we watch political television, including shows like "The Leftovers" and "The Handmaid’s Tale."
It has been five years since Whitney Houston died. She was one of the biggest pop stars of her time and a glorious singer — but we don’t properly remember her for that. Instead, she is considered a tragic figure who sacrificed herself to drugs and her marriage. This week, we felt a reappraisal of Houston was in order. It’s a chance to argue that the music is much more important than any of the scandal. So we listen to some of her best recordings and live performances. And yes, we walk through the bad years, but only to remind ourselves of who we actually lost: the greatest singer of the rock ’n’ roll era.
The ruthlessness of Silicon Valley companies like Uber is out of control, but why do we expect more from the tech industry than from corporations like McDonalds or Exxon Mobil? We also discuss the bloody rivalry between the big-screen queens Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, as depicted in Ryan Murphy’s FX drama “Feud,” and whether the show defies stereotypes or perpetuates them.
A conversation with the director of "Moonlight" about his cinematic style, his forthcoming adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s "Underground Railroad," his love of science fiction and, yes, that crazy night at the Academy Awards.
We discuss Kendrick Lamar’s new album, “DAMN.,” and listen closely to “XXX,” one of our favorite tracks. Is his latest project a breakup with America, or with an older version of himself? Then we speak to Valerie Jarrett, a former White House adviser, about what she and the Obamas have in store.
We’re back! And we’re picking up right where we left off: thinking about “Get Out.” Jordan Peele’s instant classic is the lens through which we’re seeing everything these days, from the hit podcast “S-Town” to that Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad the internet will never let us forget. We've got a grand theory about how it all connects.
We’re not over what happened at the Oscars on Sunday. You probably aren’t either. But we’re ready to move onto next year’s Oscars, where we fully expect to see “Get Out,” currently the No. 1 movie in America. We talk to its writer and director, Jordan Peele, about carving out space in the horror genre, how to deal with your liberal white friends and what it’s like to ask an actor to play a racist. Then, before the show takes month-long hiatus, we meditate on what we’ve learned doing Still Processing.
“La La Land” is probably going to win a lot of Oscars on Sunday. Perhaps even for best picture. But it’s O.K. Truly. We are joined by A. O. Scott, a chief film critic for The New York Times, to discuss our predictions and preferences for the Academy Awards. Since it’s the last week of Black History Month, we talk about a few of our favorite moments from the past week. And we play another round of Did They Vote for Trump? This time it’s the “Roseanne” edition.
It’s been five days, and we’re still trying to make sense of Beyoncé’s loss at the Grammys. It’s been 50 years, and we’re still learning from James Baldwin. The new Baldwin documentary “I Am Not Your Negro” touched both of us, and this week we interview its director Raoul Peck about why the Oscar-nominated film is so invigorating in this moment. Then we bring on our pal and New York Times food reporter Tejal Rao to talk about something we all need these days: comfort food. To take our survey, please visit nytimes.com/SPsurvey.
HBO’s “Girls” begins its final season this Sunday, and we discuss the show’s legacy before Jenna sits down for a live conversation with Lena Dunham, Allison Williams, Zosia Mamet and Jemima Kirke. They talk about the show’s early lack of diversity, why “Silicon Valley” gets off easy and what it’s like to have the public completely conflate a person and the character she plays. Plus: We debate whether deleting your Uber account actually has an impact and play a new game called “Did This Person Vote for Trump?”
We speak to three friends: Habab, a Muslim woman born in Sudan who was nearly detained after landing home at Dulles International Airport in Virginia this weekend; Rukmini Callimachi, our colleague who covers terrorism for The Times and immigrated to America at the age of 10; and Armida Lizarraga, a Peruvian who gives a history lesson on her country’s slide from democracy to dictatorship under Alberto Fujimori. Plus: our tips for how best to take a break this week.
It’s 50 degrees in New York in January, 2016 was the warmest year ever— and the words “climate change” no longer exist on whitehouse.gov. Time for a call to self-proclaimed climate hawk Eric Holthaus, co-host of the podcast “Our Warm Regards,” to give us some context about what this moment means for the planet. Next we talk about “Split,” the No. 1 movie in America, and the twist in M. Night Shyamalan’s career. Finally, Jenna tells Wesley whether or not Alexa is the future.
We start by debating one of the great questions of our time: should you or should you not use read receipts on your text messages? Jenna feels strongly one way, Wesley the exact opposite. So we call our pal Juliet Litman, managing editor of The Ringer, for a third opinion. Next, we consider the significance of shows like “The OA” and “Search Party” and what they mean for how young people are depicted on screen in 2017. Finally, Wesley takes a breath and says goodbye to President Obama.
We take a deep breath after President Obama’s farewell speech and talk about his future as the ultimate black dad. Next we call up our friend and New York Times media columnist Jim Rutenberg to help us make sense of the latest on Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia, “fake news” and the media’s role in reporting it all. To top it off, we revisit highlights from the Golden Globes, share our thoughts on “Hidden Figures” — not “Hidden Fences” — and consider the lasting impact of Meryl Streep’s speech.
We’re kicking off 2017 with a movie speed round to prepare for this weekend’s Golden Globes. We talk through our feelings about “La La Land,” “Fences” and a couple of the other films we saw over the holidays that made us laugh, cry — and sometimes cringe. Plus: Wesley serenades Mariah Carey after her New Year’s Eve debacle and we offer some cultural intentions for 2017.
This week, it’s our turn to take a look back on 2016 and share our picks for the most cultural moments that will stick with us. But before we do that, Ilena Silverman, an editor at The New York Times Magazine, joins us to talk about the people remembered in the magazine’s annual last issue of the year, “The Lives They Lived.” We also give one last listener some DIY gift advice.
This week on the show we're talking to some of our favorite people on Earth about the culture from 2016 — the movies, the music, the moments — that will stick with them. We've got Bill Simmons, CEO of the Ringer; Ezra Edelman, director of "OJ: Made in America"; and Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton, the hosts of BuzzFeed's "Another Round." Plus, we answer a voicemail from a very special listener.
Good news: Jenna’s back! And in the wake of this week’s Grammy nominations, she’s here to say that no matter how desperate the internet may be for a Beyoncé and Adele rivalry, it’s just not a competition. Next, New York Times tech reporter Mike Isaac helps explain what Facebook’s attempt to enter China means for the service and our lives. Finally, we help a listener solve a holiday gift dilemma.
Jenna is off road-tripping across Southern Africa, so this week Wesley reunites with Alex Pappademas, his old co-host on Grantland’s podcast “Do You Like Prince Movies?” Wesley explains why he found President Obama’s final Medal of Freedom Ceremony to be the most emotional cultural moment of the year, then he and Alex imagine the people who will be honored by President Trump. One artist they hope won't be on the list: the Weeknd, who after some debate Wesley and Alex decide is a phony.
Join our field trip to The Met Breuer, the Metropolitan Museum’s new space in New York dedicated to contemporary art, where we give you an audio tour of the painter Kerry James Marshall’s astonishing retrospective. We also have picks for movies to see this weekend. “Almost Christmas” is a film for the whole family; “The Handmaiden” is more of a solo midnight show.
To nourish your souls this week, we’re serving up some serious comfort food live from the kitchen of the New York Times food editor Sam Sifton. Sam literally wrote the book on Thanksgiving, and he walks us through how to make the perfect gravy, his tips for carving the turkey and his most important rules for the meal. And because this year’s Thanksgiving is going to be different for many families, we talk about how to navigate postelection tensions and practice radical acceptance. Plus: the case for replacing turkey with fried chicken and Jenna’s tips for traveling.
To combat the stresses of an election we want to end and the onset of winter, we’re offering a whole episode dedicated to things that make us feel good. We talk to the Times film critic A.O. Scott about “Moonlight,” a movie everyone agrees is perfect. We celebrate “A Seat at the Table,” Solange’s lusciously spare new album, in which she comes into her own as an artist. And we end with a few tips from Jenna on how to survive not only the next week but maybe the rest of your life.
This week we’re talking about penises. Specifically, penises on the big screen. There are more and more of them, but the penises deemed safe enough to see tend to be white ones. We talk about the role of black penises and black sexuality in popular culture. Plus, Jenna puts Barack Obama’s digital legacy in perspective, and then our boss, Jake Silverstein, joins us to discuss the one thing we never got from the president.
This week, we devote an entire episode to our favorite (and not so favorite) shows on TV, touching on “Queen Sugar,” “Westworld,” “Insecure,” “Empire,” and more. We give out superlatives, delve into the brilliance of Donald Glover’s “Atlanta,” and attempt to answer the question: Have we reached peak black TV?
This week we’ve got some questions. What show could possibly hold your attention for 24 straight hours? (Wesley found it.) Should you still feel obligated to see “Birth of a Nation,” even though Nate Parker is Nate Parker? (You most certainly should not.) And how differently would this country work with a woman in the White House? (Susan Dominus, who’s covering gender and the election for the New York Times Magazine, joins us to answer that one.) Plus: we answer a question from the last debate.