Culture Gabfest

The Culture Gabfest “Grasping at Straws” Edition

Slate’s Culture Gabfest on Leave No Trace, Who Is America?, and plastic straws.

Sacha Baron Cohen as Col. Erran Morad and Billy Wayne Ruddick Jr. in Who Is America?

Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Showtime.

Listen to Culture Gabfest No. 513 with Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens, and Julia Turner with the audio player below.

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On this week’s Slate Plus, Dana, Julia, and Stephen debate the importance of reading a book before seeing the movie based on that book.

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This week, the critics discuss Leave No Trace, directed by Debra Granik, about a veteran with PTSD who has been living off the grid with his daughter. They unpack the movie’s scarcity of dialogue, its absence of villains, and the performances of Ben Foster and Thomasin McKenzie. Next, Sacha Baron Cohen is back with a new show, Who Is America? How does his comedy play during the Trump presidency? Finally, the gabbers weight in on Starbucks’s plastic-straw ban and wonder whether it will actually make a significant environmental impact.

Links to some of the things we discussed this week:


Dana: The Jerusalem Post’s article “World’s Oldest Bread Found at Prehistoric Site in Jordan

Julia: “Ancient Romans Hunted ‘Sea Monsters.’ Were They Whales?” in the New York Times and The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte

Stephen: Bartlett House in Ghent, New York, and Slow Burn

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This podcast was produced by Benjamin Frisch.

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