One Year After The First Step Act 2019-12-23


The Hey it's the takeaway on December twenty third I'm WNYC's Shumita. Basu in for tenzing Vega Today on the podcast one year After the passage of a bipartisan criminal justice reform at a look at what the measure has achieved. I think the first APP actually opened a door and the eyes is of many people for those who are incarcerated formerly incarcerated plus with Christmas just days away. We'll hear how non-christians in the United States are celebrating reading at this time of the year in their own ways putting the Havana history proves that we are one and the solidarity and this kindness and this love is in a way a form of a little resistance and itself and why some Lgbtq fans have a bad feeling about a brief moment of queer representation. Listen in the new star wars it makes them get to seem progressive without actually having to be progressive and that's kind of the way that they play their publicity game all right. Let's get into it. We start with the first step act one year ago president. Then trump passed a law that promised criminal justice reform across the country. We call it the first step back. I sort of like the idea of just calling. Criminal Justice. Justice reform the bipartisan first. Step at authorized the early release of federal prisoners who were convicted of low level drug offenses and have worked through rehabilitation programs and one year later. More than three thousand inmates have been released. One of them is Nora. Yahya I did ten years in Danbury and then lowered my security level to camp and from there I was released upon the F. Essay which put me out out March eleventh two thousand nineteen which took off approximately three years of my sentence. Nora was in for possession and intent to distribute cocaine. Oh Kane I think one of the excitement of the first act is that people could get closer to the families and continue that Bonn for Nora besides sites being away from her children incarceration meant enduring painful health issues with no relief while I was incarcerated. My leg start hurt. Sunni in I also had like two lumps in my legs so one night I couldn't even get up. They actually had a call to amraams but it was only after her release this year that she was finally able to undergo back surgery completely. Change all the pain in my legs. I feel like one hundred percent percent like the person I was prior to all even after the long-overdue medical treatment for Nora re entry was challenging it. It was very hard not just technology wise. That's that's something in its own south. That was hard and very challenging also started out in a new state which which is New York but I had to start over with my children. Who are who aren't children? Who are adults now but the first step act led her to criminal final justice reform organizations that helped guide her post incarceration life? They introduced me to a computer round. There was just the basics of surf. The Internet are net things that are just totally foreign to me. They also helped me with my medical assistance because I hadn't had the proper medical treatment and I also took a program. I'm to become license for food handler. Now Nora works as an advocate for people who are incarcerated. I think the first step actually opened the door in the eyes of many people for those who are incarcerated for me incarcerated for more on the first step act and where it is one year in. I'm joined by Jonathan Terry Policy Advisor at John. Jay College of Criminal Justice and Louis L. read national organizer for cut fifty a bipartisan initiative. To cut crime and incarceration in half across the country. Thanks to both of you for being here on the show. Thanks for having me on Jonathan. I tell us how the first step act is intended to work when it comes to early release so the first step back includes several provisions for Federal Prison Reform it eliminates the three strike rule which is a law wow that was originally meant to provide harsher punishments for those who have several federal convictions so previously you could get a life sentence. Thanks for having three convictions. Convictions that's been reduced to twenty five years. Since it also extends the two thousand ten Fair Sentencing Act which which reduced the disparity that could be given in a sentence for selling crack cocaine versus powder cocaine also brings people closer to home. Ideally really five hundred. Miles is now limit that people are supposed to be allowed to be away from home wind and the federal prison it includes a lot of other quality of life you might right say provision for federal prisons as well so women who are pregnant are no longer able to be shackled juveniles longer able to be put in solitary confinement Also expanded re entry programs which was mentioned a little bit before so the process of going back into society after prison is a AH arduous one and so the first step act Apportioned millions of dollars for a lot of those programs to help people as they enter. It was also meant to create risk assessment tools which look at someone record and various other factors to decide whether whether or not they are arrested society and that way Ideally we are able to look at people allow them to exit from prison. And no because this person isn't going to be arrested anyone we feel okay letting them out even potentially earlier. Let me ask you about sentence reduction because as I mentioned just a minute ago more than three thousand awesome people have been released now under this act. Can you explain what the process looks like for them to have gotten their sentences reduced right so a lot of the the people who are having their sentences reduced were originally sentenced in the seventies and eighties as part of the war on drugs and so the first step actor. It just says that since we sentence people differently now We are going to look at those instances that were given before and if they are no longer in line with what we what sentence you currently we are going to reduce those sentences Many of them. Those incidences are reduced through petition. Some are reduced dramatically There is also an expansion in of good time. Which says that if you are incarcerated? But you're taking part in programs that are meant to rehabilitate you. Whether that's job training or drug treatment or something of that sort you can have time taken off of your sentence and so there are different provisions to allow people to reduce their sentences and about a thousand seven hundred people have gotten Martin reductions in their sentence Since the first step back into law and there's a reduction of about six years average for people who have that reduction Lewis. Let me bring you into the conversation. Jonathan just mentioned the war on drugs in the seventies and eighties. This act is mainly aimed at people who were arrested. During at that time period many of them were black men. What do we know about the demographics of the people who've been released under the APP so far you for decades the criminal justice a conversation tation among our political leaders especially both on the state and national level could be characterized as a race to the bottom? It was a competition for who could be the toughest on crime who lock up the most people in throw away the key It was also a conversation that was defined by dangerous rhetoric with no regard for empathy. The or second chances. In essentially a dehumanized people I was one of those individuals that was in that conversation in two thousand. I was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of one hundred eighty eight months and for our listening audience I don't want to Belabor the point in terms of you using your fingers and toes trying to figure that out. Oh that's approximate deaths. Approximately sixteen years. I served almost fourteen years off that sixteen year. Federal prison sentence for White collar related offenses most of the individuals by whom I was incarcerated with were not individuals that had got caught up in the war on drugs. It's in the seventies and eighties. In fact these individuals Were caught up in the mid ninety two the early two thousands Especially after after the nine hundred ninety four Clinton Crime Bill Ninety one percent of the individuals that were released under that particular provision at Jonathan talked about as as it relates to the crack cocaine provision ninety one percent of those individuals were African Americans. So let me just quantify these numbers of for you for second to dates seven thousand people total have been released under the first step act I should say seven thousand people. Total have have received significant can't reductions And they have been released under the first step back. Ninety one percent of those individuals happen to be African. American who African Americans who were sentenced under those draconian of crack cocaine laws Particularly pointing back to nineteen eighty seven moving up to nine hundred ninety four and and Up to date until about approximately two thousand ten that has totaled that seven thousand number that has totaled approximately seventeen thousand years of human freedom that have been restored back to our community. Now think about this in the Christmas. Season Jesus was crucified. Approximately approximately two thousand years ago. And if we look at the numbers that actually places us back into B. C.. So I think that this is something that a significant I am literally Pulled over on the side of the road Twenty minutes away from MDC Brooklyn where. I am going to be with family. Who is going to have their loved? One Return back to them In this Christmas season after having served twenty years on a life sentence in that individual is going to be released as as a result as a result of the first act and that's as a result of the advocacy With people such as myself to. PK Sam David. Sylvian Cut Fifties co-founder Van Jones and Jessica Jackson and the many other advocates and organizations that was in his Bipartisan coalition and. Make sure that we got this bill across the finish line. Louis let me ask you something. Because one of the acts major provisions as John mentioned earlier was to place incarcerated individuals within a five hundred mile radius of their families that they would be closer to them. Why was that such an important part of this legislation? Yes so the reason why. The five hundred mile provision is significantly the important within the first step act is because it does one of several things number one in make sure is that individuals are connected with their families and that those relationships are cultivated between parents and their children number two it brings about a level of proximity to the individual individual who was incarcerated and also to the community and number three it actually reduces the probability of individuals who are incarcerated from from participating and issues that very well could bring about institutional infractions so for instance if an individual is in proximity to of their last last known address and they know that they are potentially going to see their mother their father the family members a significant others etc.. They're going to be less likely early. To be an engaged in fights assaults you know in the likes thorough Jonathan. The acts when it was passed last year it was hailed by president. Trump is a huge chief. -Ment in being able to bring the two parties together as Lewis mentioned. It was largely a bipartisan effort. Why did this act appeal to politicians on on both sides of the aisle so criminal justice reform brings people together in part because there's a strong moral Push for it. It's hard to to argue and a lot of cases that someone who may have made a mistake should be put away for such a long time It's also incredibly expensive. We spend billions of dollar incarcerating people Especially here in the United States. We have the world's largest prison population we do. We have over two point one million people in prison in the United States leads And I think that whether regardless of where you fall politically you can see that we are wasting a lot of money on putting people in cages from those people could be contributing to the economy. Those people could Be With their families and so it really brings people together on either side. And of course Jared Kushner has a father who was incarcerated and so he understands some of issues that are being That are at play here and he was able to help assure along the the political coalition That pushed through the first step back and I think that we are also thinking a lot. About mass incarceration The fact that we do have so many people put away The draconian laws that were just mentioned have really torn apart communities. And we're able to you now fight that together and I think everyone can see the value in that Lewis. I know that you're very involved in communities where people are returning home from prison. Can you talk about some of the the biggest hurdles for them. Once they're out. Yeah absolutely so I think there are things that are obvious and show up in a stat sheets you know these are the things in terms himself. Employment Housing Insecurities ETC likes thereof. I think that one of the major issues Dad I act seeks to remedy is the simplicities of things such as not having an identification card Wanted to provision visions within a bill actually requires all federal people who are being released to make sure that they have access to appropriate identification when you think about that that may not necessarily seem like much quote unquote much but when you think about how an individual could potentially Have incidental contact with with police. A with Wi- with law enforcement and that individual potentially have their term of supervision Violated because of incidental contact because he or she may not may be in a place where they may be accosted by the police. They could be Riding as a passenger in a vehicle An officer ask for that individuals identification that individual can't produce it because he or she has not necessarily secured it because you need an ID a d just to get an ID and all the bureaucracy involved with that that individual could actually be you know a hauled into the local police department apartment just to check out who they who they are and when they are there that could potentially trigger a violation for police contact. So you know Vera things in terms of like employment yes people need to be back And or Not even back because most of the individuals who are actually incarcerated they they may not necessarily have had employment in the first place so they they need to enter into our workforce. They need to make sure that they have adequate housing. They need to make sure that they have access to appropriate health care treatment etc and so one of the things that we're doing it cut. Fifty is one of the several following. We have partner Wickliffe through our relationship with Kim Kardashian. They have given US ten thousand a free lift rideshare credits that we are distributing to individuals who are being released under the first step so that they can have access to You know just you know employment opportunities healthcare opportunities etc Healthcare appointments etc.. Say in addition we have also partnered with talk space. Talk space the online therapeutic a platform so that individuals can decompress from what I call The new PTSD in prison traumatic stress disorder. So that they can. Have you know a safe place just is to you know. Talk about the the TRAUMAS or indoor the vicarious trauma that they've actually observe as a result of being car serrated. Let Me Bring Jonathan back in here for just a moment because because this law I should mention affects people incarcerated at the federal level. It doesn't even touch the roughly one point three million people in state prisons. The sentence are we seeing similar reform movements at the state level. Jonathan the federal system incarcerates more than any individual state system but the state systems account for the vast majority of people in prison so the federal system is about ten percent of the total. US prison population. And so we. We are seeing some of these reforms being put in place Not all of them are prison reform. Some of them are broader criminal justice reforms but Where they are being put in place? really depends news on the state. New York is just past new bail laws which are going to affect shortly and twenty twenty year in the New Year and Other places are thinking about you know legalizing marijuana or thinking about how do we safely race past convictions. And some of that is happening through. Who advocate some of? It is happening through Progressive District Attorney's And so at the state level. Not only do you have more people incarcerated but you have in some ways a more complicated it system just because so many different actors are involved in making particular decisions And so we do. See these reforms but it'll be harder urge to push through in a lot of ways on the state level Just to get everyone on board. And let's talk about politics now on the federal level because many advocates have acknowledged the first step act is a major victory but they've also mentioned that the next step is focusing on those who've been found guilty of violent offenses and perhaps even rethinking policing on a grander scale. Would either of those approaches be able to gain bipartisan support in your opinion Jonathan. That's really hard to say a lot of previous bills that were not able to be passed. lost a lot of support. Because they were. They pushed the too far of advocates. Say That I didn't go far enough because it doesn't eliminate mandatory minimums Because it doesn't push far enough on good time credits We're wondering about what is electric monitoring do there is a new Thought Within Criminal Justice Reform Circle that we are moving towards e commerce ration- where People's information will be collected And where we'll know where someone is at all times we'll have a certain amount of information built up which is a different kind of Captivity Anyway and so there are a lot of sort of fights that that are yet to be had but violent crime in particular is a really difficult I think even For people on the left who are have been pushing for various various kinds of criminal justice reform for years Thinking about releasing someone who you know may have sold drugs at some point. It's very different from thinking about what do we do with someone who it might have heard someone on the street may have even killed someone And so those will be much harder battles and I at this. Point can't quite see receiving leaving bipartisan support. But the first step act was fantastic because it showed that there is some possibility I was once told doing this. Work that if you don't believe that you can make a difference in push forward. Then why are you doing the work at all so I'll stay optimistic. Jonathan Terry is a policy advisor at John. Jay College of Criminal Justice and Louis L. Read is a national organizer therefore cut fifty. Thanks to both of you for joining us. Thanks for having me on I everyone I'm Shumita Basu from. WNYC filling in for ten Zena Vega and this is the takeaway. Christmas is almost here. But I'm sure I didn't have to tell you that Christmas music has been playing in stores since November Colorful Christmas lights have been up for weeks and commercials featuring Santa Claus seemed to be on a never ending loop but there are millions of people in this country. Three who don't celebrate Christmas at least not in the traditional sense we asked you how you celebrate the season in your own way. Here's the story of why we put a hit job on our Christmas tree. That's Isabela a New Yorker who happens to be the roommate of takeaway associate producer Jamaica. Verma this year. She has chosen to decorate her Christmas tree with a hit job. It's kind of funny because growing up. I did celebrate Christmas in a way but not necessarily early religious. The more so culturally. I grew up in a mixed household of Christian Pakistan Muslim beliefs and my dad never felt completely comfortable being from August on not celebrating celebrating Christmas himself. Growing up never felt comfortable giving presents or decorating the tree but did so for solidarity of my mother now. Isabella lives in a household with other people from the South Asian diaspora and with political turbulence around the world and especially hostility toward Muslims. uh-huh she says lacing the job on the tree demonstrates two things pride in her upbringing and a kind of solidarity so something as simple as putting the hip hop on a Christmas Christmas tree when everything else was happening all over the globe with the South Asian diaspora trying to disconnect. Just trying to separate US prove that we are different. This putting avenue. Christmas tree proves that we are one and the solidarity and this kindness. This love is in a way form of a little resistance in itself all right so we invited you to tell us how you put your own twist on Christmas. And here's what you shared with us. Hi I'm Darla from Portland Oregon as a child who divorced I. I celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas so the side of my family that celebrates Hanukkah actually like American culture than emphasis on gift. Giving maybe spend more my mom and I exchanged a Hanukkah to get two meal every year. My Dog got twelve hundred. Plus my name is Collette O'Connor and I'm from Halifax Massachusetts. We celebrate Christmas at my my home during the day. We make sure to call relatives. Who can't be here so everyone is thought of and the remaining days for sharing gratitude which we do with a quiet meal together in conversation? Nina dual from Richmond. California my a reaction to Christmas is unsettled. I do you not feel like there's acknowledgement of other people celebrating other things we're just been bartered with red and wight Chris. This is hi. This is Rick Tomase from Needham Massachusetts. We enjoy the trappings of Christmas. But we do try to. Emphasize is the significance of the holiday from the religious aspects. THIS IS BILL IN NEW JERSEY. What we do this time of year? Is something called friends miss. It's a lot like friends. Giving it's a multicultural winter activity that's specifically nonreligious. Basically it's a night of fun. It's a night of multinational national and multi-ethnic foods and it's time to play games and hang out with the people that you really love. Thanks for sharing. All of your thoughts. I'll share with you now all my spin on the holiday. This is my first married Christmas. My husband and I did the thing. A few months ago in a nondenominational ceremony and I was raised in a house that it didn't really celebrate Christmas. My Dad is Indian and my mom is Iranian now. My husband coming from an Italian family was an is really big. Uh on Christmas so this year I added a little flair to our Christmas free. I strung up our read. Gold White Indian garland's the girl is that we exchanged changed as part of our wedding celebration. I think they make a very fitting addition to our tree this year and I imagine for years to come and remember you can always give us a call and share. Are Your thoughts at eight. Seven seven eight my take now. We'll look at other ways that the Christmas creep influences the whole month of December namely its impact on another religious holiday to help. I understand the history of how Christmas shape Hanukkah celebrations in America. We're joined by two guests. Emma Green is a staff writer at the Atlantic where she covers politics politics policy and religion. Emma welcome back to the takeaway things so much and Jonathan. SAARNA is a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University Jonathan within thank you for joining us joy to Byu. Jonathan many people assume that Hanukkah is one of the most important holidays Judaism because of its strong cultural presence since in the United States. But that's not exactly true right not exactly true. In early America you would have a hard time finding much evidence. It's the Jews talked about. Hanukkah the high holidays or important Passover is very important hannukah really emerges emerges in the nineteenth century they talk about in the eighteen seventies the revival of the Jewish wish national holiday of Hanukkah and gift-giving actually shifts from another holiday known as Purim to Hanukkah and and then of course Hannukah is magnified through the twentieth century in response to the magnification of Christmas. And let me let Emma cut in there. Because you've written about this as well. Why did Hanukkah become the Jewish response to Christmas in the United States? You see in the middle of the Twentieth Twentieth Century after the war when Jews are moving to the suburbs there starting these synagogues and trying to join country clubs and in general general. Have the American experience that we think of so stereotypically in the nineteen fifties and I think we see that today were Hanukkah has now been elevated to be kind of the equal and opposite reaction to Christmas something to give Jewish children feeling that they can fit in just like the Christian children who are celebrating Christmas at their schools us. How are those efforts met? In the United States it was common to find Jews. Even Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis had a Christmas Christmas tree and lots of Jews sang secular Christmas carols. It's not surprising that some of those carols roles were really written by Jews like Irving Berlin about A White Christmas of the feel of the lights lights and so on but the East European Jews some of whom had very negative associations with Chris Smith's in the lands that they came from Remembering that these were a days when they were frightened persecuted. They certainly certainly were not going to take on Christmas. And as we move through the twentieth century we see Konica. Aw arising as a kind of Jewish answer to Christmas Cindy there were some Jews who tried to tell their children. Oh you're so oh lucky. Hanukkah is eight days of gifts but the sense was. Let's have something that distinguishes us us Emma sitting across from me and nodding her head here. How was Hannukah celebrated before it started to grow in popularity here in the US as a response wants to Christmas well one of the interesting things about Hanukkah religiously is that it actually doesn't have that much of a starring role role in the Jewish calendar? There aren't that many obligations that go with Hanukkah and you don't have to spend that much time in synagogue especially relative to Yunky poor four or Russia. Shawna what's interesting to me about. Hanukkah is that it has been able to take this out size role in the American public imagination in part because Jews were free to go out and celebrate publicly. They could take their minora to a friend's house or have friends over to light the candles but it's also because is it's kind of a low-key holiday and so there's a lot of freedom and flexibility about how people celebrate. Jonathan maybe you can talk to us a little bit more about efforts by Jews in the United States early on to adopt Christmas as a secular holiday. Do you think that Hanukkah could become secular in a similar way. I I think that there are many Jews who observe Hannukah who do not view it as having in deep religious content might even have a hard time talking much about its history And and in that sense it has grown secularize up but at the same time. I'm very struck. By how recent is that. Hanukkah did move into the public square as late as the nineteen fifties store. Windows did not have Konica Konica even in New York and a you didn't see minorities out on the streets that's really a development that begins wins in the nineteen seventies with the Kabba religious organization. And they actually have several court cases in which sure they have to fight for the right to have a Hanukkah minora in the public square. That right is eventually confirmed by the Supreme Court which really says that the Konica Minora is in a way equivalent legally speaking to the Christmas tree. If one could in the public square the other can be in the Public Square in fact Jonathan. I want to jump in here because Emma wrote about this decision and you found actually but the supreme court treated aided Christmas trees in public a little bit differently than Minora's and public is that right. Well one of the questions that was at stake here and there have been a series of cases about out. This issue is whether something like the Nativity scene which we see in All sorts of public spaces is the equivalent of the minora weather weather that can be in a government building or a government owned park. And there's a a sort of differentiation here that the court uses or the legal legal thinking uses which is to say there's a difference between some sort of overtly religious symbol that seems to be an expression of what the government believes or supports ports versus these communal symbols. That we now see ubiquitously even at a courthouse building or add a government administrative building. You you see that kind of equality and equal weight give into something that shows a public expression of what these various groups in the United States celebrate at this time I feel. There's a lot of hand wringing over the commercialization of the holidays whether that's Christmas or Hanukkah. How would you say that gift-giving has or has ever been part of the tradition of Hanukkah one universal principle that I think guides Christmas and Hanukkah and maybe even holiday holiday celebrations around this time for families? That don't celebrate. Those two holidays is that we love consumer capitalism here in the United States and right now at this season we see from every corner stores and malls everyone trained to incentivize more more gift giving and this is something that's lamented seasonally. Everyone trying to say. Oh these holidays you have a deeper meaning about family or about faith not about gift giving but really million American culture we see that this all consuming force this incentive to buy stuff especially for your kids has been able to take over these holidays days so in some ways even though Hanukkah has been set apart as a separate holiday I separate people there really is a lot. That's overlapping about Hanukkah and Christmas Christmas. We've been talking mainly about what happens when Jewish populations from other parts of the world I came to America and were attempting to assimilate but are there other examples of people from other religions other faiths coming to America and sort of adapting their practices to the American Christmas culture. Sure Jonathan another example of this is what we've seen with the wally as something festival of Lights Celebrated in this season of the year and there are other groups. I think that have learned from Jews that you can simultaneously be part of the season and apart from it which is really what I think. The Jewish community has tried to do over the the last two decades. Emma I feel like we've spent a lot of this conversation. Framing this as if only negative things have come out of the Christmas vacation of other other holidays but what the positive effects is a good for all of us in the US to share celebrations at this time of year. You know I think the story of Christmas is a very American story in the sense that as we've been discussing it's become a shared celebration. That has a lot of secular meaning and takes over over our shopping malls in our streets but it just as much of an American story to have different groups of people whether their ancestors came over as Jews who's in the nineteenth century to whether their parents and grandparents are recent immigrants from the seventies or eighties or nineties. And I think that's such an American story because in some ways this is a country that's made up of people who come from all of these different places and traditions and who figure out their own spin on those traditions in the American in context. There's so much diversity here. Around this time of year you see Orthodox Christians who celebrate Christmas a few weeks later than Roman Catholics or Protestants artists in much of the United States. You see Muslims. who have figured out ways like going bowling or trying to avoid shopping malls of relating to the Christmas celebration Gratien and you have a lot of families who are both families so both Hanukkah and Christmas or Christmas and a little something else or Hanukkah and a little something else? All all of these stories to me are very much the Americanise of this time of year people trying to figure out how their particular identity should be in relation to to this Reason for the season that we call Christmas. Emma Green is a staff writer at the Atlantic where she covers politics policy and religion and Donovan. SAARNA is a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University. Thanks to both of you for joining me. Think so maverick you this is the takeaway from WNYC NPR wrecks in collaboration with W. G. B. H.. Radio in Boston Wjr this weekend. The third and final installment of the latest Star Wars Saga hit theaters. The rise of Skywalker ties together. The previous eight films news in just under two and a half hours and in that time it also managed to sleaze in something that those other films left out that there are LGBTQ TQ plus people in a galaxy far far away and in the case of the LGBTQ community. You know it was. It was important to me that people go to see the smooth. Feel that they're being represented in the film. Director J.J. Abrams during an interview with variety earlier. This month in the lead up to the film's release. He hinted there would the real LGBTQ representations in the rise of Skywalker but when the film premiered last week it was finally revealed that two minor her female characters kiss during split-second seen many are saying it's yet another example of a major Hollywood franchise teasing LGBTQ Hugh Representation and then not following through in a meaningful way joining me now is Kyle Buchanan pop culture reporter at the New York Times Kyle. Hi Hi thanks for being on the show having also with me is emily vander were critic at large for Vox Emily Hi welcome. It's so great to be here now. I don't I WANNA spoil too much for our listeners. Who Haven't seen the movie? So let's leave plot aside as much as we can but both of you have seen the movie kyle. Maybe you can start by telling us about the same sex kissing in the New Star Wars movie and why it's gotten such a big reaction. Sure I'd be happy to tell you. Because I think people who've actually wash the movie if they blinked might have missed it so let me fill them in as well. There is an extremely brief moment in the third act. Where a character? We're who has had at that point. Maybe two lines certainly wasn't named kisses her female partner in a victory celebration of sorts parts goes by extremely fast. And you know it's that had been a thing that people had seen in nineteen seventy seven say when the first star wars film came out. It would've been pretty pretty significant but I think the irony here is that especially this last film. The rights of skywalker is doing so much. Try to satisfy fan demands. But it's it's not really doing it in a visionary bold way that would satisfy anybody's asks and requests and so even though there have been fans who've asked for the characters actors played by John Boyega and Oscar Isaac to have some sort of romantic relationship in Star Wars. This is sort of the SOP to that. And I don't think it's going to satisfy all that many people. Now we just heard the director J.J. Abrams a few minutes ago. That was him speaking during the press tour for the film and he mentioned Lgbtq Representation. He went out of his way to say it. In fact there are some critics who have called what he said now. A classic example of Queer Baiting. Emily maybe you can explain Ryan what that is so queer. Baiting is the idea that there is some sort of movie or TV. Show especially council happened with books or other forms of fictional media Where two characters who are presented as platonic friends within the text of the show then fans often become you know interested in the idea idea of them having a romantic relationship? An example of this from these new star wars movies would be thin and po who are not really presented as romantic partners nurse in that first movie. The Force Awakens but the Internet took that and ran with it and these future movies have sort of played to that interesting ways a far more egregious example was the TV show. Sherlock which recently aired with benedict cumberbatch and Martin Freeman and that show the fans started sort of shipping which means hoping to see two people. The end up together Sherlock and Watson on that show and Then yeah it did not did not transpire and it turned into like the creators of bathing. The those expectations without actually doing anything about it and you'll be really kind of a nasty way to deal with your phantom now to go back to star wars for a second and what Abrahams said during the press tour. Why the fake out? I guess it's easy to assume that dipping an ambiguous toe into LGBTQ representations is meant to appease certain audience who you want to see that representation without going so far as to anger more conservative audiences. How how much is it about that dynamic? It's definitely about out that dynamic like there is sort of this air of they're trying to sort of make the right people mad by which I mean the really extremist people who don't WanNa see any LGBTQ not queue representation and like you know if there's a two second kiss most of America's GonNa be like okay whatever but like they're also not trying to push the envelope in terms of that representation in ways that might force people to sort of rethink their preconceptions or their prejudices or anything like that. It's just like the least risky way eh to deal with this material but also in a way that gets them these headlines in you know publications that are like Oh bold new ground for the Star Wars Franchise when you see the movie and and it's literally nothing like that so it makes them get to seem progressive without actually having to be progressive. And that's kind of the way that they play their publicity game. I WANNA ask each of you. What meaningful representation would look like glad the LGBTQ media advocacy organization uses this metric that they made up? It's sort of similar to the back. Del Test they call it the Vito Russo test after glads co founder and to pass Vito Russo test. A film has to have a character that is identifiable. LGBTQ that character was not solely defined by their sexual orientation or gender identity and that character must be tied to the plot in such a way that their removal would have a significant effect. So emily why don't you start. Do those criteria sound right to you when we ask what is meaningful representation. Would you add anything to it. I certainly don't disagree with any of those criteria. I'm happy to have that sort of as a starting starting point but I think that you know there's room for stories about LGBTQ plus lives like that are actually about our lived experiences and it's not like they don't exist. There's plenty of great queer art made every year. It's just that it's not happening. In major studio franchise films I think if we're looking for a major studio franchise film to tell stories that you know fit that sort of glad description. It's not impossible but it's also like you know it's it's it's hard hard to talk about our identities and a nuanced way when aliens are invading the planet. Or something like that. So I I do think there is. There's room for improvement But a lot all the stuff that we're looking for is often happening like indie film and Television and you know stuff. That's supported by Patriarch by independent artists. I think emily is right. And I and I think that queer viewers just sort of gotten used to expecting looking for that representation elsewhere which is why it would be a significant new thing to see it in the form of the Superhero or science fiction spectacular and. I don't think it has to be you know as emily also said these films. Don't offense for very long to consider the you know the minutia of the characters in their lives but just the presence accounts for something. I mean. Events Endgame culminates with his finale. This orgiastic finale of dozens upon dozens upon dozens of characters. And you know wouldn't be so hard for just one or maybe a couple of those people to be on the spectrum somewhere That's how life is and if these movies are drawing from life and then making something super powered it just seems like a notable omission for the only only times for them to acknowledge that people exist is when they shuttle in a character for one sane. Kyle Buchanan is a pop culture reporter and award season in columnist at the New York Times and Emily Vander were is a critic at large for. Vox thank you both for joining us. And that's our show for today but we do WANNA keep hearing from our LGBTQ listeners. On this one. Do you feel represented in any Hollywood franchises. And how could the industry improve on clear representation. Send us a tweet at the takeaway or write to us on our facebook page and if you missed anything anything from today's show or you just want to listen back again check out our podcast. Thank you so much for listening. I'm WNYC's should meet the best. Sue Feeling very lucky to be in today A.. And tomorrow for Tanzania Vega this is the takeaway.

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