Jason Momoa Scrunchie Edition
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And what you don't and it should take about fifteen minutes to complete. Just visit slate dot com slash podcast survey to participate. We appreciate your feedback. The following podcast contains explicit language. I'm Stephen Metcalf in this these lake culture gabfest, Jason momoa scrunchy edition. It's wednesday. February twenty seventh two thousand in nineteen on today's show. Spike Livia that ghosts of Don, Shirley, and Freddie, Mercury on and on we discussed this year's briskly presented, but still controversial Oscars. And then the other two is a breakout sitcom, I think it's a breakout seventy sitcom on comedy central about to life stranded siblings of Justin Bieber like pop star and finally letter, boards, Instagram and social media spillover. Hopefully, Julie Turner will tell me what those things mean in the course of our segment. Joining me today is Julia Turner who is the deputy managing editor of the LA times. Julia hello. This is a rare can fig I'm actually in the Brooklyn slate studios in the flash face to face. Visa visa avec with Dana Stevens in your remote? Yeah. Yeah. It's one of the permutations one of the rare mutations popped into place. We'll see how it changes the ambiance proton neutron and electrons that are us every configured. Dear I love it. And and of course, the nucleus known as Dana, Stephen Tae. Dana. She sleeps film critic. All right. Well, let's see that's a perfect place to dig into the Oscars where to begin though. Well, been a first off Louis, I think we should acknowledge. It was a year of proliferating controversies about the ceremony itself who would host who would be cut from the actual broadcast where it would be abbreviated on and on. Anyway, they came in. They went finally as they always do some richly deserving recipients finally breaking through obviously, spike Lee's, some upsets, some sad, but inevitable winners and some snobs Dana choose where you want to begin. I'm curious to know, what leaped out of you. I mean, I think an interesting thing to say about the Oscars in general over the past couple of years. I guess I would say since oscarssowhite, however, long ago that was but not only because of that issue is that the Oscars have become more interesting to talk about as they've become more. Controversial, right? I mean, it used to be so predictable the kind of movies that would win everything would seem so for ordained. You always felt like it was the old. Conservative white guys who are in charge. And there was sort of a sense for me, at least as a film critic covering it. Every year of like, the hopeless log through sameness of they're still a very long slog in Oscar campaigning season. And there are still a lot of hidebound things and ways the Oscars is not changing fast enough. But there's so many things that do change that it makes people more interested in talking about it. And by people, I guess, I mean, this small niche of people that are interested in talking about culture at all. Because of course, the viewership of the Oscars is dropping, although I believe it did better this year and ratings than it did last year at least yet bounce back up by twelve percent. See that's that's that's a significant bounce after having been down twenty odd percent. I think the year before so right? I mean general in the general long-term view is still a declining viewership, obviously. But even all of these Mackin Asians at the academy has tried to do to make the ceremony shorter that then got pushed back against right. They were going to not present some of the tech awards the big tech awards like cinematography, and because of a huge outcry. You know, signed by people like Martin Scorsese, the entire entertainment industry rose up and said, no we have to recognize these awards. So they've put them back in right? They were going to do that best popular movie movie category. Push back. They took it out. They were going to have to have an art the host pushback, they took him out. They were going to not perform any of the best songs except for. I think that the lady Gaga fest push back, they perform them. All right. So that alone. I think made it somewhat interesting is that we were all sitting down to say, what is the Oscars? What do we want it to be? Why are we upset that it isn't the thing that used to be when we always complained about what that thing was, you know, and and that in itself to me seems interesting I realized that I haven't even gotten to any twenty nineteen movies or words yet. But that to me made this year a little bit fresher, even though the ceremony had plenty of moments that felt stale. Okay. We'll do this plane still at seventy thousand feet, so. Julia R of Brittany bring me I mean, I love Dane his plane at any altitude that was fantastic. But does bailing out. Julia bring me back to mother earthier wet what leaped out at you. Specifically. I'm trying to bring it down from that plane. I mean, I do I do think that all of the changes this kind of awkward stutter steps around this year's show, which left many in the culture discussing community of which we are charter members saying why? Are also a symptom of the broader efforts of the academy to change and to diversify its membership into think about what it should be into think about how it should be relevant in an era where movies no longer place to central role in culture and watching television on Sunday nights for collective events is no longer as big of an activity. I I will also say though that the award dis themselves were a surprising and great group. Like, just if you if you judge every awards by who actually won. Did you expect them to win where you rooting for them to win where you rooting desperately for them not to win. It was like a very lively potpourri. We had you know, the glorious victories of the two African American to first African Americans ever to win for production designer costume design on a beach ler who one for production design for Black Panther was the first African American ever to be nominated in that category. At all ever, you had over the course of the night, the most individual black winners of Oscars that there have ever been in a given night. That's a new record since twenty sixteen. You had Spike Lee winning his first ever competitive. Oscar leaping to straddle Samuel L. Jackson. It is in my top three moments. Top-three moments Spike Lee hug with Sam Jackson. You had then this was sort of tragic inglorious at the same time. The total shock of Glenn Close who arrived in like a golden statuette of again with encrusted with four million bugle beads and a glorious Cape not winning best actress as everyone had predicted and the delightful Olivia Colman winning instead and being just charmingly fostered in British in her speech in the in the way that only British awardees can you had the kind of creeping doom of a bunch of awards for behin. Rhapsody, including editing, which is crazy. You had among the short winners a series female directors. I think there were female filmmakers of all of the winning shorts, including a short film about menstruation and the Pixar short bow which is the first Pixar film of any kind directed entirely by a woman, an Asian woman, obviously, but Asian themes, and then Ellen you had you had throughout the night offense Acquarone picking up three statuettes for his work on Roma. And then finally you had a sock dowager of a conclusion with the shock of green book taking best picture after all of these somewhat exciting developments, and I mean just for drama good night. Well, however it was chosen and whether it was sadly enough edible or sort of a shocker was sucks, but at one right, isn't it? Well, we can get into that. I mean, I guess for me. Questions about the Oscars are always I are they meaningful and second. Are they fun to watch like so the actual, you know, awards themselves then the ceremony itself? So breaking those down. Are they meaningful kind of has an aim be right? A is a to the winners correspond. In other words, you get to a point where it was. So meaning OB like the Golden Globes look who wins or who doesn't win is really trivial. I mean, you that that in some sense are are a shared sense of excellence about the Motion Picture Arts would so deviate from how the award gets awarded that that in some sense who wins who loses would be irrelevant. I don't know that we're quite there yet. There's this weird thing where like Koran kind of like, I feel like director or screenplay. These these kind of still have meritorious validity to them in a way that best picture may be doesn't that best picture somehow symbolic released hated or result of politics, or or imagined politics? But then the second is our. A especially among chattering types, like us going to talk about them in a way that they don't talk about, you know, even the Grammys or even the Emmys, and I think that that's still sort of true. But it's like to me, then it's going this direction of I kind of give less and less as shit every passing year, and it's starting to converge with the Golden Globes. And to me, it's like scarcely more meaningful who wins these awards as a function not only of the lack of merit, but the lack of certain kind of filmmaking where excellence and commercial, you know, a Arctic emission and commercial performance come together adequately in a single picture deliver something like the old Hollywood, you know, the the absolutely distinctive thing that Hollywood can deliver. It used to be able to deliver in in a motion picture and the community of of of movie people wanna reward for that. I mean to me I cannot understand how stars born with seemed to me to fall into exactly back category. Got. It's not. I mean that Dana you're nodding your head. We'll just because there's something I want to say about that. And let's separate this not because you agree with. Well. No, no. Because I have something to say about a star is born divorced from whether or not it should have one or whether I wanted it to win. I I was on a radio show yesterday on WNYC doing like the Oscar breakdown with some other critics, and I got asked directly the question. Why did star is born, you know, fall so quickly in the kind of firmament of Oscar competition. It's certainly didn't fall in popularity did incredibly well at the box office. It has a number one hit song from the soundtrack other songs have charted from the movie as well. It's created all these means. I'm really well reviewed right? It's not as if people soured on a star is born it just stopped being the thing that was going to be the juggernaut for the Oscars. And why is that? And I had no real answer for that. Except us to say never listened to early prognostications because it's all going to change over the course of award season. But besides that general piece of wisdom. I had no numeral ideas about it. And then after of course, I had rediscovery coming out of the WNYC building. And thought about one possible theory for it. Which is that star is born is a melodrama, you know, in some way, it's a women's picture. I can sort of imagine there being kind of Oscar voter who wanted there to be seriousness and heft and politics of a sort. But maybe not, you know, politics that were to edgy who sort of who sort of decided to certain point. Oh as well done. A star is born is it's an old Hollywood property is only about a love affair, right? It's it's only kind of melodrama, and that there was a sort of diminishment of it for that reason. I I would say that there's a part of me that loves exactly that about that movie. And I think that the high point of the Oscars in terms of just emotional. I think everyone would agree. Just kind of emotional engagement was the performance of of Bradley Cooper and lady Gaga at the piano, which we should talk about later, the whole staging of it. The fact there was no introduction. And they just came up from the audience so old Hollywood so glorious the way it was filmed like a movie, I almost feel like Cooper might have made the camera placement choices and the moment that he comes around the piano and sits with her. And then, of course, creates a. Thousand gossip chains about you know, whether they're actually in love, which is this hilarious, meta Hollywood moment that is just glorious. Also, I wanna point out that she was wearing Audrey Hepburn diamond necklace from breakfast at Tiffany's. I mean talk about old Hollywood, right? That moment was just glorious. When we find the gooey heart of Dana Stevens while doing the show I like her theory about why stars born disappeared from consideration. But the flip side of that is that green book somehow satisfied those requirements for what like, you know. Okay. So some huge percentage overwhelmed percentage of the academy voters are white and male that has descended in recent years, but still preposterously over two thirds, I think both white and or male an older, right? It's it's aging. They're trying to make it younger as well. Which is almost as important in. Some respects is something about an older white male academy voter who thinks they're striking a blow for social Justice as they can see that. And for the cause in the cause of race relations in the era of Trump by voting for green Bookham. It's just seemed so improbable to me that it's in seep into that consciousness that this movie really belonged in as Mark Harris. I think I said in New York said in New York magazine, really belongs in nineteen eighty six. Six not in two thousand eighteen but anyway, Julia, would what do you think, you know? I don't think they were voting for it knowing that it feels like a kind of racial fuck, you that's of a piece with the state of racial conversation in America twenty nineteen the people who placed it second or third or fourth on their preferential ballot and kind of kept giving it a wellspring of support that led to this result. I he think that those people really liked it thought great performances, you know. Love that scene where they were driving in the car also other one where they were in the car, and then the then the jail and they call Bobby Kennedy, gosh, great movies. You know, like, the I don't think they were voting for it is a blow against racial progress. I think I think, you know, the critique on it is that it's a it's a square and dated. You know, I don't care if you're purple green or black or Brown view of racial progress. And so, you know, people people who liked it might have thought like, yeah. And you know, what I do believe in racial equality in connection between races. I don't think the people who voted for green book thought, they were, you know, voting for because of its retrograde racial politics. That's what's so slippery about it to be clear. That's not what I was saying. I just thought which outrageous that they would vote for it as if it were not I mean as if it were somehow racially progressive yet. But I think that's the whole point is that if you don't get the racial politics. Green book are retrograde, you might think the progressive and. Inc. An you know, what this is a good year to vote for that movie about how people from all races can be friends at the hang out long enough in a car. The thing I want to talk about with you guys is the show. How did you think the show worked without a host? I mean, I guess it was somewhat surprising. How hard it was to notice that. There was no host. You know, we did have the nice combo of Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and my Rudolph kicking off with a little routine. And really if there had been two more spots, maybe two more moments where they popped up to crack some jokes and assurance that. It would all be over one day would have felt like it was a hosted show. So I don't think it made a huge difference. I mean, this kind of goes back to the very first thing I was saying about how we are. Rethinking what the Oscars are. Now, it seemed like it was a big mess when Kevin Hart backed out, and it wasn't going to be a host. And my God. What are we gonna do? And then you realize the whole thing is always sort of a disorganized shambles. Anyway. So if you just throw up a couple of people in nice clothes at the beginning to introduce the show, it sort of feels the same that said, I mean, I I would still look forward to the institution of who's going to be chosen for Oskar host next year. And I hope they don't phase it out completely. I don't know. I feel like goodbye host. I thought this was radical great. We didn't analysis at the only times where we went back and watched the nine most recent Oscars, plus the one in nineteen eighty nine with no hose and found that of you know, the three to four hour shows for the last few years host banter takes up something like thirty odd minutes every year. It averages out around thirty. That's like a lot of show to give Jimmy Kimmel like delivering sandwiches, or whatever the heck he does. And that's you're gonna thing. And the thing that I thought was really clever about this was that actually what they did was have a bunch of host bits without having host. So the the there were a couple of places where a set of comedic presenters got a little bit more time to entertain us. But there was novelty in what they were doing and it just kind of worked. There was one vertiginous MoMA. -ment after queens kind of protests too much. We will rock you opening. It's like emulates the Oscars. You're not gonna rock us that much. And then there was like a weird bad montage where it felt like oh, God, we're going to be hosted by film, MC montages. This is going to be so unnerving imen-. We got soothed and calmed by Tina and crew coming out and then throughout the night. There was that great moment where Melissa McCarthy came out with Brian Tyree. Henry and crazy elaborate costumes to present the production awards, and then key Michael key descended from the ceiling with an umbrella elementary Poppins, which was just sort of charming, and he was well cast in that role. And I think there was one other. Humorous duet towards the end the cut like a little bit more time, and it just worked it moved right along. I thought it was pretty snappy. I also thought that the choices of the presenters was kind of inspired like I I basically felt like every single duo that came out. I was ready to watch the buddy comedy that starred them. Stenberg? We'll we'll putting them in the position of introducing green book was tough. But yeah that was, but I you know, I actually kinda think they pulled it off. And that if a different movie had had one the night, there would have been a cry of triumph, and I also think between this host Louis Oscars. And then the the job that Alicia Keys did hosting the Grammy's where she kind of presided over it like an actual party host host rather than an MC host where she was just like aren't we excited to be at this Lovin for music? I don't know it feels like the the man and the tux cracking jokes frantically. Model is going out the window and good riddance. No, definitely feels as though the format needs some serious refreshing for new generation, just a very quick note about speeches. I love that Olivia Colman won the award lovers and actress I thought our performance was great at those the best thing about that movie. Certainly among the best performances. I saw by an actor all year. I thought her speech was very charming. But I do Dana for me. It has gotten a little wrote to have a person get up there pretend to be completely shocked. I know she may have been shocked, but but to perform shocked nece and humility impart by not having a speech prepared, and I and fake kind of fake crying like kind of like, the tears of sort of in their throat the whole time like, oh, you're going to this kind of you know, and I just I'm of the Jodie Foster school. When Jodie Foster got up for the. Accused and delivered one of the most powerful and moral statements. I've ever heard of human being give and no one thought she was arrogant for having one prepared in case she did win. I thought spike was in the Jodi mold when he won for adapted screenplay. He got up he talked about four hundred years of of the existence of African Americans, you know, origins in sixteen nineteen of the first stolen kidnapped Africans. Brought to the new world. What do you think that is an interesting take on speeches in general? I agree with you that I prefer people to have a speech of some kind or at least prepared remarks or a couple of talking points. I think it looks sort of immature ditsy not to have that Olympia Coleman got away with it. And gave you know. I think one of the high point speeches of the night because she has I don't know comic improv experience. I think he was legitimately surprise. Glenn Close was the strong favourite agree. I mean, it was between the two of them could have been more of an upset, but it wasn't upset and somehow. Because of her, you know, sort of delightful stage presence, she managed to pull off a very cliche thing. Which is, you know, the the disorganized speech where you just don't know who to think, and I don't think her crying or her moved Innis were fake at all. It was something genuine in sparkling about that speech in general. I agree with you that I do not love an unprepared. I sort of feel like, you know, your industry has just given you the highest recognition they can offer. And you know, you can you can write a couple talking points on a card, but I didn't judge Livia for it in in this case. Julia, well, how do you feel about the speech or no speech? Do you think it's a moral imperative to have m- remarks prepared? I feel like the speech game could be raised a little bit. My favorite was the hair and makeup designers who won for vice which was truly extraordinary thing to make Christian Bill. Look like Dick Cheney, you know, and that was one of the words that was supposed to be relegated to the commercial breaks. And they were just a disaster. Like a non charmingly. It almost felt like a troll like they were like, you know, what we're gonna take our time on the main stage, and we are going to say nothing in the wrong. Order at great length. I was into it. All right. Well, gauze always interact with us on Twitter. We want to hear what you thought about the Oscars in two thousand eighteen let's let's move forward. We are co writers co-directors married. So coz in everything in life. We're talking to Samantha buck and Moorish Schliemann about their new film sister, Amy, which is premiering at the twenty nineteen Sundance film festival. It's that in nineteen twenty six when this famous evangelist can no longer perform she could no longer heal. And she's looking for a way to escape the inspiration is a real character sister. Amy, simple McPherson who did indeed in nineteen twenty six disappear for a while. We thought it would be interesting to take these big John RAs that felt relevant to her and the time and kind of mash them together, we have a little bit of western. We have a lot of screwball comedy their musical elements. We wanted everybody to communicate and everybody to be on the same page for very practical reasons, but also creative reasons dropbox was pretty essential in terms of all of our. Departments being able to communicate with each other. Our costume designer wanted to know exactly what the sets were looking like our choreographer tied to be able to understand what the space the sets were looking at. We've really tried to start that communication process super super early on. Everyone was able to see in real time. How those things were shifting, and they all kind of influenced each other learn more about how your team can use dropbox to bring great ideas to life at dropbox dot com slash flow. Before we go any further. Dana am to have some business. Indeed, we do first of all we wanted to tell you about the slate culture newsletter, which is a way to keep up with all slaves culture. Coverage is a newsletter that arrives twice a week in your Email inbox to tell you about slates coverage of movies, TV books music, my reviews, of course, little narcissistic plug there anything that you want to follow ons late in the world of culture. So if you're interested in subscribing to the newsletter, go to slate dot com slash culture news. Secondly insulate plus today, we are going to be talking about Steve's favorite topic. Oscar fashions because we didn't get our main such segment on the Oscars. We're going to have in slate zone, Christina coda rucci who wrote about the runway fashion this year. I think there's a lot to say about it. I can't wait for that segment to hear segments like that. And to get at free podcasts. You can sign up, of course, for slate plus our membership program purchase thirty five dollars for your first year, you can cover the cost of producing the culture gabfest and your other favorites late shows. And in return, you will get extended ad free versions of those shows and many other wonderful benefits. So if you want to support the culture gabfest, go to slate dot com slash culture, plus and joined slate plus today. Okay. Stephen back to the show to siblings millennials living there, not best life New York City. One a struggling actor the other a couch surfing kind of colluded semi deluded ill put together charmer. I guess I don't know how to describe her, but pretty standard set appropriate comic. Sep the Cadillac catalytic event of their thirteen year old younger brothers, suddenly hitting it big with the viral video and song and launching him on his way to becoming another Justin Bieber, and this brings the quote unquote, other to face to face with what life hasn't has not given them the show stars, drew Tarver and lane or Helene. I'm seeing that with the accident zone. I would say Helen, would you say Lynn fit that a good. And if you said that I will say to Elaine York, let's listen to a clip. Music industry are already calling him the next big white kid. And that's why we are. So lucky to have them in the studio with us today for his first ever live TV interviewees. Welcome chased dreams and his mother, Pat. I have you with us today. You so much for having us. Well, so walk us through this. Okay. Did you always want to be famous singer? I actually never really saying before I just made this one video for fun in does lots of people like, yeah, they sure did so mom does this kind of talent run in the family. You have other kids, right? Yes. His older brother carry is an actor here in New York City is really good. Wow. What kind of work does? He do. Hi, I'm Carey do Beck. And I'm reading for the role of men at party who smells fart. Great party. Thank you. Okay. Great. Let's go again. But this time I think the far is just bigger and better. That makes sense. All right. Julia. I'll start with you. This is this shows taken off a little bit countered it land with you. I would describe myself as well-named by the show neither over nor under. I think I'd had a fair amount of hype coming into watching it people said, oh, this is really good. It's one of the hot shows of the season. So far. It is a good show. The premise is intriguing. The performances are fun. I enjoyed some of its themes. I don't know. I I I'm we're reduced a stammering. I I liked it. I don't know. Maybe I was slightly more more well-named than Julia. Was. I mean this in a way gets us back to the Russian doll description. We had a couple weeks ago where I was saying thank God. There's finally a show that short and compact this show does have that going for it of the four and a half shows I've seen so far. I would say this doesn't have that kind of compactness. And it doesn't have that kind of, you know, the Matic depth and intensity, but it does have the blessing of being short and sweet and joke dense, so you get Twenty-one funny minutes, and you're done. And usually the twenty one minutes. Make you wanna hear Twenty-one more funny minutes. I would say that on the scale of just good joke writing, the the two creators are former SNL head writers, and and good basic characters to to build on this show has something going for it. It's not breaking a ton of new ground in the subject matter because it is about the entertainment industry. I have a feeling Steve the desk going to be something. You don't like about it. Of course, it is actually exploring a part of the entertainment industry. We don't hear about a lot. Which is you know, YouTube tween stars a very good point. I am not part of it. I kind of liked I mean to the extent that it may be rooted in what that world is actually like, but here, so I was well-named too. I hope this doesn't make for a well-meaning segment that we're all three of us kind of just well-named. But it's joked dense, I think it's important that it's written by to accomplish SNL writer. So they know how to set up and deliver a joke, but they not do that in a certain context, which is s now. Right. I mean, you know, an an sitcom is different this one presumes a lot on the kind of. Underlying melancholy or bittersweet sweetness of its premise, which is you know, what happens when? Fluke Alie, but also kind of totally world, historically, like, you're a close friend or Societa relative suddenly becomes huge Lee famous like Vialli globally blow up famous and everything changes for them. It's it's very built around disdain for show business, which I think the show contempt really for show business and the kinds of people that are really super invested in being in show business, especially as middle men and women, right? So anyone who's in agent or a, you know, kind of modeled whatever marketing executive or whatever is treated as kind of as a piece of shit. I mean, I disagree with that. Actually, I mean, they're treated as somewhat incompetent, bumbling fools. But I'm thinking, for example of Richard kind. Everybody's favorite character, actor I love what you're kind in anything. But he plays the agent of the the the brother the older brother who we just heard additioning for the FARC commercial. I don't know what that would be a commercial for by the way. I guess. Sort of like a anti anti-gas medication, but the whole joke with Richard kinds character is that he's having to multitask in the gig economy. And I think you there's actually a lot of sympathy for him the joke over and over zero on the phone saying, I'm a busy agent. I got places to go. And then he hangs up and he's delivering pizzas the handlers. Who I mean because the force of the satire is is, you know, directed at all of the people who begin orbiting around this kid who's gonna make everyone rich and all of those people are portrayed as shallow and stupid and self serving. So not that not as exploitative as they could be. I mean, this show could be very close to going to a super dark place right about a thirteen year old boy who's being sexualizing kind of turned into a heart throb, and so far it has not gone to that place. And to the extent that they are characters that seem to be going to that place. There's a moral bulwark against them, which is the older brother and sister who have a clear, then then the then the stage mother does I guess so so my point is that the contempt is kind of yoke to of to kind. Kind of credulous nece and actually quite intensive interest in show business that if you don't feel the satire of the contempt actually strikes you is somewhat empty like if you don't already feel this kind of inner gravitational pull towards fame and showbiz like this kind of vivisection of it doesn't really land with you. And for me, Julie what what was missing from me is I thought they were very small gestures towards the humanity of the older siblings. Krant like relative to the density of the joke making and relative to the kind of dripping -ness of the of the contempt. I thought that those were small either I thought they were real I thought they were pretty good. I think that the performance can can perform that can enact that. But I just didn't to me. It's not in any way, shape or form. The real story of these two people coming to grips with like, you know, being old and kind of. Oh, look older relative for their brother and sort of losers. And it's just kind of one Har Har after after another kind of exhausting and was not that psyched to why I watched four of them. I just not going to watch another one ear your first time reason, you're wellm slipping to under wellm is causing my contrarian streak to remind me of the things I did admire about the show. So let me let me try to articulate my state of wellm slightly more. Precisely the things that I think there are two admire here are a lot of dense gnarly themes that get explored both lightly with some sophistication that have the potential to really deepen over time. So this is a show about fame. This is a show about different generational relationships to fame and show business. There's also show about grief. I won't spoil. Exactly why. But this family is. Dealing with death in ways that are not necessarily saying and puts the obsession with fame and publicity in kind of that darker human context of like, why do we want to be known? Anyway, isn't it sort of about immortality and trying to fight the plans of time it gives it gives gravity to some of those questions. There are there's a lot of plot that is driven by sexuality. But in the way, where if you tell stories about more different kinds of people, you get more interesting stories and not in the way, where the show is waving tans and telling you that it's doing a very special episode, patting itself on the back it treats, the character as an interesting human with interesting human conflicts that it's going to present to you. And I think some of that works really, well, I love how love owned the course of correcting me this went from to citizen Kane, but L. No, no, no, no. It's not citizen Kane. But and then and then I think also the performances are all. Strong like I think the two older siblings are strong. And of course, there's Molly, Shannon as the mom. So there's the the the combination of that sort of target rich structure for a show with the rigor of it being actually a comedy central show that has to deliver jokes at an SNL pace in twenty one minute increments, and isn't gonna just sort of flabby turn into a thirty five minute net. Flicks comedy, there's an interesting explosive potential there. And I think the show could build and could turn into something more. But it, but it for the moment the first four still felt like more potential greatness than already realized greatness, you know, the show it reminded me of just in the kind of moral university creates it's not as good yet. But is your the worst which we've talked about on the show, and is one of the rare shows that I kept up with after we talked about it. I think the relationship between the older brother and sister who are both, you know, at this moment that they feel. Like flops in life, just as they're twin brother is becoming a superstar kind of reminds me of the central romantic relationship. And you're the worst in that, you know, it's two people that are just making bad choice after bad choice in their own lives. But that truly love each other and care about each other, and sort of very very gradually work their way toward being slightly better people over the course of the episodes. I've seen so far. We'll the show's called the other two we split on a little bit becomes Twitter. Maybe toes what you think of it. Okay. Moving on. All right. So for our final segment, we're gonna talk about Instagram, and how it spills over into all of our lives. How we stage ourselves are living environments, everything about our personalities in order to appear eventually on social media. We got into this Jillian odd way. There was a wonderful piece on slate by Heather sh wiggle. How letter boards took over America? There's an interesting relationship that she get that in peace between. You know, social media, which is nothing if not post modern and nothing is postmodern if social media and Instagram isn't postmodern, and yet it has the kind of gravitational pull towards things that are pre postmodern and in some sense. I don't know tweezers. Not exactly the right word artisanals. Not exactly the right word. But and yet somehow the perfect thing the perfect example of this is a letter board. So why don't you talk a little bit about what a what a letter board is about the wonderful sleep piece. Well, you guys have seen letter boards. I mean, they used to be the most efficient way for stores to put up signs there. Those. Boards sort of you know, like a bulletin board type structure with little rows of felt grooves. And then there's a little plastic letters with prongs that you can pop into them. So you can put a message and say the dish soap is on sale or you know, whatever else you might have wanted to say that that the hamburger cost ninety nine cents and the cheeseburger cost one ninety nine or or whatever else you could imagine these signs being used for. So it's an old sign technology and as a lover of signs new an old something I find fascinating. And the thing I love about Heather's pieces that it reports out. How exactly this old science technology became new again and something that lots of people have in their homes and on their Instagram's in us, and I think it opens up onto a larger conversation about what types of aesthetics. We choose to propagate when we are sharing things on Instagram what their relationship is to the technology were used. To doing that sharing the thing. I love about this. This felt letter board story is that there is a sensually a couple who thought people like to post baby pictures with you know, one month to month, three, months, whatever. And wouldn't it be cool if these felt letter boards, and they worked with one of the few remaining American letter board manufacturers to to manufacturer a letter board and set of letters that would be the appropriate size for such an activity and of made a mint and become a major revenue stream for this old American manufacturing company, helping people celebrate life events on Instagram, which is just sort of comical economic after effect of the social media boob. I do not have a letter board in my home. I don't have a coherent way. The the other way you see letter board sometimes in home, design, magazines and context is people like leaving messages in their kitchen. Whether it's like bless this mess. It's the equivalent of what you. Put in a needlepoint or something or I don't know. He's supposed to leave each other notes. Good luck today. Trevor type things I I I don't know how my family talks to it self. But it's not that way, nor do we post pictures of ourselves on social media. I think I'm the only one with any social media, and I don't share images of my family, but I can sort of understand the appeal. I mean, it's very satisfying. I think to push those prongs into the felt groups for for one thing like, it's just a satisfying old tactile technology. And then I think the letter board satisfies a couple of things you want novelty. So this is a technology and an image. You haven't seen in this context before it's practical, you don't have to make much of different signs. You have one tool you can use for many purposes it adds a little bit of an analog for sewn into your digital tout. King of your glorious bouncing babe. So I I think the fact that it has become popular seems sensible to me Dana. What what do you think do you have? Or would you have a letter board in your well, the thing that I wished that? I I'd gotten a letter board when my kid was Littler, it seems like a really fun tool to have when your kid is learning to read. I mean, maybe you should get one for that reason because it's just it's another form of letter blocks to rearrange something like that. So playing with a letter board seemed fun, but I have to say that this interview with the couple the entrepreneurs who got the letter board craze started because of their own baby picture just made me feel kind of depressed about Instagram. I mean, the reason I got on Instagram in the first place it didn't appeal to me as a social media outlet. And I feel like I already spent too much time on Twitter. So why would I get on another social media program? But somebody said to me, oh, the nice thing about Instagram is that you it's it's is the visual element. And the fact that you see what your friends see? And that's the Instagram that I like is seeing what my friends see not seeing my friends themselves insult fees. I mean, I have nothing against the. Asional selfie if you're going out, and you love your outfit, or whatever. But I don't really scroll through Instagram to look at pictures of people's faces that I already know I kind of want to see the world through there is the fact that there's this same buying affect that. Everybody's baby picture has to be, you know, with the letter board next to it because it's the new thing or you know, you've got to see your feet against this one tiled floor. I think one of the one of the pieces we linked to or maybe it was Heather's piece itself was talking about bad about sort of Instagram ready environments in in restaurants, museums and things like that that are coming becoming more popular and the idea that we're all, you know, marching to the to the same place and taking the same kind of picture because it looks cool on Instagram. Just seems to me to kind of X out the only thing that made Instagram interesting in the first place another depressing thing that the couple the entrepreneur couples says is oh when you're scrolling through Instagram, you need something that really catches your eyes. So we try to get all the information in the image. So I guess rather than having to laboriously move your eyeballs down to the caption and see like this is our baby Sam he is six months old, or whatever you just. See the baby in the letter board together in the same space with all the information and that catches your eyes. So you look at Sam longer, but I guess just the idea that, you know, you're you're desperately peddling, your baby pictures more people look at it seems kinda sad. And I mean, I'm going to be torn down now by somebody who goes to my own Instagram and says like well, see a picture of your kid, blah, blah. You know, I mean, I'm not saying I'm using his to Graham in some fabulously, original way. But just the idea that there's a visual trend, and I'm going to get in on. It makes the whole thing seemed like a closed silo to me that I don't wanna be in anymore. I mean, you know, it's funny. The segment it's a couple of things. I didn't really know. What of what what letter board was? I didn't know I didn't know the thing was called a letter board. So it was letter board. What's that Google? And of course, the one plausibly hipster restaurant in Hudson New York has its, you know, specials up on a letter board. And it seems to me were were trapped in a semi semiotics. Prison. Right. Where you're either you're either gonna conform to some trend on Instagram or you're going to go against it that that we're all so adept at reading what the what photographs and what images signify online now that you can't escape imputed intent, right? You're they're going to do the expected thing. And that's going to be interpreted in some way. Or you're gonna do something else which is going to be interpreted relative to the dominant thing. That's being done yourself is not really free to self express itself on social media without one having already internalized all the possible responses to it. Yeah. I mean, I have this to like I am thinking about this. And and thinking both ladder birds, look fun. I kind of wish I would have one in my house and actually someone just gave my children a light box version of this. I don't know exactly what you call it. But. A little light box that has for metal grooves. And then little plastic transparency letters, you can slide in which is a different archaic signed technology, and they had fun, you know, writing themselves happy sixth birthday message. They just turned six. I can't believe I have six year olds. I know. You know? So on the one hand, I understand the the appealed the technology in the other hand, you're like I don't want to put something on my feed that everyone else is putting on their feed, but I- Dana even in the quest to show. I like that you like seeing what your friends see I always tried to post that kind of photo on Instagram something beautiful or interesting intriguing that I've observed rather than just pictures of myself, and the people around me and part of that's for privacy reasons and part of it's I don't know lame. I remember editing a piece by Simon dune in praise of the selfie. That was just like your people wanna see you don't think you're too good to just duck face it up and smile at your friends and show them where you are. They don't want your friggin already sidewalk cracks. And I was like oh my God. I literally post already sidewalk crafts it. You know? It's like whichever direction you go. You're going down one groove of visual cliche in the human brain the time when I have the most agony about this actually is photo. Owes from airplanes. So allow me to have a slightly tangential soapbox for like do. I have Dr discretion from the judges to go on tangential soapbox for minute. Yes. Tangential soapbox it up. The thing where you go on airplanes and the windows are all closed because everybody wants to watch was ever on their seat back or their screen, and where when you actually open the window in order to see the fucking miracle of flight, and the fact that you can look at the geologic contours of the earth and all that humanity has wrought upon them in whatever, you know, glory of light time of day time of evening, you happen to be in the air the notion that opening the window is considered it in front to other passengers. And sometimes they will ask you to shut the window as the natural state of the plane is at the windows should be shut. And you are some kind of lunatic for wanting to look out at the glory of the world in the miracle of flight is the. A single gravest sign about the state of humankind that I have encountered like what the goddamn hell. It is crazy that we can fly, and it is so beautiful inglorious that we can look out onto the world and see its glorious. It's the closest any of us will ever come to being astronauts, except for those of you who are astronauts astronaut listeners apologies for leaving you out. And and I don't know exactly. When this creeping trend began of like, well, you get into a plane in it's all shut it doesn't matter what time of day or flying or where you're going like the windows are down. I it is a travesty. So I always open them, and I open, you know, as far forward and backward as I can reach an I always glare anyone who asks me to shut it in refuse and. I love taking pictures out the plane window. I I just I cannot get enough of that vista. I love flying so much love to see what's out there. I love to see the ground. I loved to fly over the weird little slumps of the alleghenies and love to see the strain countries of Detroit. And I am now obsessed with going to southeast Utah because flown over it enough times to wonder why the hell it is so poky and read, but. I'm aware every time I post a photo from a plane that I am just a garbage cliche. And I don't know how to reconcile that that like the the basic -ness of my visual curiosity and also just there's a reason we like to look at babies and sunsets. And and vistas from planes. They're like the images the show us the miracle of life. Oh my God. Julia I've never loved you so much. I'm getting on a plane to your city later this afternoon, and I'm gonna I'm gonna live that tangential soapbox rant while on the plane and gloriously look out the window. I completely agree. Always get a window seat. Love looking out take off and landing. And, you know, just seeing the houses get smaller never gets old geological formations seen from the sky. And I don't know that that kind of photo doesn't bother me at all. It's fun. It's a way of the person telling you where they're going. You're right. You learn a little something about their life. Hell I like cloud in sunset pictures. If people want to show me that that's part of the world that they're looking at right, then and honestly to tell you the truth. P pictures of people can be great to the main reason, I stay on Instagram is the babies the animals and things like sunsets. And clouds seen by people who who is I would like to get behind. So I don't think you should worry about cliche at all. You're not doing duck faces. So I'm good. All right. Well, the articles how loader boards over America by other Shwegu to check it out. It's on dot com. Right now is the moment in our podcast where we endorse day. Not. What do you have Stephen this week? I have a cleansing endorsement once in a while I like to bring these so as not to clutter up people's brains with more movies to see and more shows to watch just something that is a little bit simple cleansing, sometimes those are my favorite farm animal Twitter feeds, and I know that before in the past. I've endorsed a really short podcast called bird note that that is just sort of a very short piece of birdsong and explanation about the bird who's making it unlike Julia, I don't actually know anything about birds or go out and look at them through binoculars or anything like that. I just like the way they sound and look and like to think about them so bird note is not my -dorsements because it's one from the past. But the bird note people who come out with a new podcast, that's even more cleansing and interest. Even will scorn the hippyish -ness of it. But it's really beautiful. It's called sound escapes. And it's it features this wonderful scientists to I've heard before I believe he was interviewed on on the on being podcast named Gordon. Hampton, who's an? Kucic ecologist. So he's a scientist who specializes in sound and soundscape and has spent his career traveling around the world, just taping the sound in different places and lecturing about sound, and you know, what you can sort of learn from listening to a natural environment. Whether it's the Amazon or the desert or all, these different natural places, and the impetus for making this podcast is that Gordon Hampton is now losing his hearing. And so this man who has spent his life lecturing on listening and becoming one of the world's great listeners to the sounds of the earth is losing his hearing. And they've made this podcast with him where he brings some of his recordings from around the world and talks about what you can hear in these various soundscape there about twenty minutes long. I think there's seven episodes of the podcast, and I'm not sure it will continue after that. But it was a very cleansing, listen if as you're walking down, a busy city street, just looking at a pile of frozen garbage. It's really nice to have your ears. Just be in the Pacific northwest rainforest or the Amazon or someplace where you just hear things. Wind. Sounds animal. Sounds that. You've never heard before. So sound escapes the podcast from bird note is my endorsement for the leak zones vertical doesn't some to hippie. You would do it. Well when go that far. Julia. What do you have? I would like to endorse Emma Thompson and the letter that she wrote to sky dance animation the studio that just tired John Lasseter after he departed Pixar and Disney because of accusations of misconduct inappropriate hugging and making a unsafe work environment for women. It was reported a couple of weeks ago that she was pulling out of sky dances animated feature luck in which she was scheduled to be one of the voices. She shared with our columnist Mary McNamara. The letter that she sent guidance explaining her decision, which we published this morning, and as Mary points out it reminds you that one of the Oscars Emma Thompson has one is for screenwriting the woman can right in addition to all of the other things that she's very good at doing. And I would love to read just a short portion of it here. I realized that the situation involving as it does many human beings is complicated. However, these are the questions I would like to ask if a man has been touching women inappropriately for decades. Why would a woman want to work for him? If the only reason he's not touching them inappropriately. Now is that it says in his contract that he must behave professionally if a man has made women at his companies feel undervalued in disrespected for decades, why the women at his new company think that any respect he shows them as anything other than an act that he's required to perform by his coach his therapist and his employment agreement. The message seems to be I am learning to feel respect for women. So please be patient while I work on it. It's not easy much has been said about giving John Lasseter a second chance, but he is presumably being paid millions of dollars to receive that second chance how much money are the employee's. It's guidance being paid to give him that second chance if John Lasseter started his own company than every employee would have been given the opportunity to choose whether or not to give him a second chance, but any sky dance employees who don't want to. Give them a second chance to stay and be uncomfortable or lose their jobs. Shouldn't it be John Lasseter who has to lose his job if the employee's don't want to give him a second chance it goes on in that vein? And I think it's actually a pretty radical moment. John Lasseter being given a big job after the accusations. That came out about him Pixar was a pretty big big step backwards for time's up. I think and particularly to that point that Thomson made that bringing him into lead an existing company an existing team places, a huge burden on the men and women on that team is one that has been on my mind, like if if John Lasseter wants to set up his own animated shingle and say, hey, I'm going to try and do this on my own and people can decide to go work for him or not. And you know, we would see you that turned out to be like that. Sure. It's he can do that. That's fine. And and he can also sincerely try to figure out. You know, whether he wants to be a different kind of person. But the the decision to bring him in to oversee a group of people does feel to me like a really bad and difficult place to put your employees as in. And I just love that. She. Is putting her money where her mouth is and refusing to work with a company that does that to its employees. So I recommend that you read the whole thing will post a link to it on our Facebook page, but Emma Thompson is my hero. I really wanna read that letter love Emma Thompson as an actress, obviously. But also as a writer. She's also the star of them indicating movie late night that's coming out later this year, which was one of the big Sundance movies end. She's great in that. I'm just ready for this to be the year of Emma Thomson, who we gotta do that movie when it comes out. Yeah. I saw that letter on Twitter and incredible document. Oh my God. All right. So my daughter, and I do a lot of driving my sixteen year old daughter, and she introduces me to a lot of music. My one of my favorites. I've endorsed before girl in red who has a song. I think it's a new song of hers called four AM of love. That's only listen to it over and over and over again. And in a more pop domestic game. I really love the feeling apple collaboration with king Princess, which is just fucking amazing. It's so good and the singing is so beautiful. And it's great to hear failing Fiona apple saying, it's I think she's redoing a one of the big songs from her hit record. But in a new context just sound so fresh so good anyway. Thanks they enough. Anki stays nice. Julia. Hang Stephen, you'll find links to some of the things we talked about today at our show page at slate dot com slash culture fest. You can Email us a culture vested slate dot com. We have a Twitter feed its at slate cult. I our producers Benjamin fresher production assistant is out Barish for Dana Stevens to turn. Thank you so much going. Before we know this episode was brought to you by dropbox. The story sister Amy tells embarrass in scope and scale, it's not just a drama or comedy or a period piece. It's hard to pull off the filmmakers needed. Dozens of people on different teams to be on the same page in order to make the movies accessible as it was Android boxes. Collaborative. Communication tools. Made all that possible with dropbox and dropbox paper filmmakers can edit. Scripts manage timelines, annotate, videos, and whatever else they need for their team to do their best work, and it's not just for filmmakers. We use it here at late for podcasts. We took a straw poll producers here about whether they use dropbox and got answers that range from yes. For everything to everyone. Does we ask them why in heard that it super reliable and essential for collaboration? Among other things. That's because dropbox was created for teams teams like the one behind sister, Amy and slate and your own find out how you can use dropbox at dropbox dot com slash flow.