Culture Gabfest

The Culture Gabfest “Fractal Badness” Edition

Slate’s Culture Gabfest on The Disaster Artist, The Room, and Fiona the hippo.

Listen to Culture Gabfest No. 481 with Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens, and Julia Turner with the audio player below.

And join the lively conversation on the Culturefest Facebook page.

On this week’s Slate Plus, Stephen, Dana, and Julia answer the question: “What’s in your bag?”

Go to to learn more about Slate Plus and join today.

This week, Slate’s culture editor Forrest Wickman joins the critics to discuss The Disaster Artist, James Franco’s new film exploring the making of the cult classic The Room. They debate whether Franco’s movie, which is part buddy comedy and part behind-the-scenes featurette, can stand on its own as a piece of art. Then, Culture Gabfest producer Benjamin Frisch helps the gabbers unpack audiences’ fascination with The Room and instructs them in how to handle Tommy Wiseau’s many bizarre intellectual and artistic choices in the film. Finally, the critics turn their attention to social media sensation Fiona the hippo.

Links to some of the things we discussed this week:


Dana: The Stabat Mater by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi performed by Elisabeth and Andreas Scholl, and the frozen chocolate croissants from Trader Joe’s

Julia: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Stephen: Jerry Fodor’s writing in the London Review of Books, including his essay on Aida.

Outro: “The Room – Battle With Chris R Theme”

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This podcast was produced by Benjamin Frisch. Our intern is Daniel Schroeder.

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Update, Dec. 6, 2017: This page has been updated to include additional videos among the links discussed on this week’s episode.