Listen to Culture Gabfest No. 547 with Isaac Butler, Benjamin Frisch, and Dana Stevens with the audio player below.
On Slate Plus, the hosts discuss their favorite documentaries.
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This week, Dana is joined by producer Benjamin Frisch and Lend Me Your Ears host Isaac Butler to unpack The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, Alex Gibney’s HBO documentary about the Theranos scandal. The fraudulent health care startup and its enigmatic founder, Elizabeth Holmes, are now the subjects of a best-selling book, a podcast, two documentaries, and a forthcoming feature starring Jennifer Lawrence. Why do we keep coming back to this story? Next, 11 seasons in, RuPaul’s Drag Race has evolved from cult phenomenon to international sensation. But how do you sustain a self-aware reality show, if that’s even possible? Finally, the gabbers discuss the recent controversies around Netflix, including its cancellation of the beloved One Day at a Time and its spat with Steven Spielberg. What happens when a brand’s carefully crafted social media “personality” comes into conflict with its overarching corporate agenda?
Links to some of the things we discussed this week:
• Alex Gibney’s The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley
• John Carreyrou’s Bad Blood
• The Dropout on ABC Radio
• Alex Gibney’s Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
• “The Culture Gabfest ‘Migrating Buns’ Edition” by Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens, and Julia Turner in Slate
• “ ‘Americans Have a Fascination with Fraudsters’: Alex Gibney on the Fall of Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes” by Julie Carrie Wong in the Guardian
• RuPaul’s Drag Race
• “How RuPaul’s Drag Race Went From Cult Favorite to Inspirational Teenage Dream” by Caroline Framke in Vox
• The Great British Bake Off
• Top Chef
• “Queens Are Questioning RuPaul’s Grip On Drag Culture After Controversial Trans Comments” by Michael Blackmon in BuzzFeed News
• The drag collective Switch n’ Play
• “One Day at a Time and Why Netflix Is Not Your Friend” by James Poniewozik in the New York Times
• One Day at a Time
• “Netflix Has a Message for Hollywood: Make Room for Others” by Doug Zanger in Adweek
• Naomi Klein’s No Logo
• The Netflix podcast Strong Black Legends
• “The Playwright Behind What the Constitution Means to Me on Questioning Our Founding Document” by Sam Adams in Slate
• “The Kavanaugh Conspiracy” by Isaac Butler in Slate
Dana: Film historian Steve Vaught’s blog Paradise Leased
Outro: “Good Jolly” by Chimney Givers
This podcast was produced by Benjamin Frisch. Our production assistant is Alex Barasch.
Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or interact with us at @SlateCultFest on Twitter. You can follow all of Slate’s culture coverage by signing up for our newsletter and liking our Facebook page. And come to our Slate Plus Anniversary Party to hang out with Dana, Ben, and Alex on April 3!