“Allen v. Farrow” Edition

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S1: Slate plus members, it’s survey time again, which means this is your chance to tell us what you think about Slate plus and Slate, it’ll only take a few minutes and you can find it at Slate Dotcom Survey. Thanks.

S2: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate plus membership.

S3: I’m Stephen Metcalf and this is the Slate Culture Gabfest, Balanda Farrow edition. It’s Wednesday, March 3rd, 2000. Twenty one on today’s show. Alan Vivero is a four part HBO documentary about the child molestation allegations against Woody Allen. It features the direct testimony of Dylan Farrow, both then made in the immediate aftermath of the alleged incident. And now we’ll be joined for that segment by Slate’s own Sam Adams. And then the Golden Globes, where this past Sunday, the famously lush ceremony was retooled for locked down. But it also unfolded under the shadow of various scandals. It’s being called out for self dealing and the gross underrepresentation of people of color, both in its own ranks and among nominees.

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S4: And finally, we discussed the improbably long life and career of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet, bookstore owner, patron saint of the Beats will discuss his remarkable life and legacy with Al Filreis of the University of Pennsylvania. Joining me today is Julia Turner, the deputy managing editor of the L.A. Times. Hello, Julia. Hello. Hello. You’ll sort of be in and out on the program today, but you’ll be joining us later to talk about the Golden Globes and for the plus segment endorsements anyway. Welcome. Thanks. Yupp. And of course, Dana Stevens, who’s Slate’s film critic.

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S5: Hey, Dana. Hey. Hey.

S2: Among many other things, Allan V. Farrow, the four part documentary on HBO right now, is a surprisingly intimate portrait of a family. The family in question, of course, is that of actress Mia Farrow. It’s made up of seven biological and adopted children. And as the story unfolds, it begins to accommodate the presence of a new boyfriend, the legendary comedian, writer director Woody Allen. The early parts of the documentary feature home movies and extensive family interviews. It’s, you might say, voyeuristic. That’s probably putting it a little too strongly, not in a bad way. It’s a peek into an upper bourgeois bohemian paradise in Manhattan and at a lake house, an absolutely dreamy lake house in Connecticut. And then, of course, everything about that world is shattered. It’s revealed that Woody Allen has been having an affair with Farrow’s adopted daughter. Suneet may have started as early as her senior year in high school. And then comes August 4th, 1992, and this infamous 20 minutes. The nub of this whole documentary really what appears to be an unaccounted for 20 minutes at the lake house when Woody Allen allegedly absconded to the attic with his seven year old daughter, Dylan, and molested her. In the clip you’re about to hear, the first voice you’re going to hear is Dylan Farrow, followed by Mia Farrow and then various friends of the family every time he showed up at the apartment.

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S6: Like a magnet, he would just come straight to me. Intense affection all the time. In time, what it became was there was nobody but the two of them, and he began just an incredible amount of focus on her. He didn’t want to see the other kids. He wanted to see her. It was just so one track. If he was there and we were there, Dylan did not play with the other children, he would take her to tell her story or take her for a walk or so we would most time leave because there was no point. He followed Dylan or she went, we’d be playing Dylan, me and Ronan and I would look up and I would just see him standing there watching silently. And once Dylan noticed it and she would say, Go away, daddy, go away. This is Priscilla time. Go away.

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S4: All right. Well, we’re joined for the segment by Sam Adams, who’s senior editor at Slate for Culture. Sam, welcome back to the show. Thanks for having me, Sam. There’s a lot in this documentary. It goes over what I think most people will already know that Alan was supposedly cleared by a child abuse clinic at Yale New Haven Hospital. It casts doubt on the legitimacy of that investigation. But there is one central thing, I think at the heart of this documentary, I think we need to discuss up front, which is that in the immediate aftermath of the alleged abuse, Mia Farrow taped a seven year old Dylan, asking her to describe the incident. And for the first time, those videotapes have been aired publicly in this documentary. What did you make of this show?

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S7: I mean, I think we should also say to start off, that this is the four part series by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, who’ve been making movies about sexual assault for about a decade now, beginning with The Invisible War, which is about rape in the military, the hunting ground, which is about college campuses. And last year on the record, which is the movie about the music producer, Russell Simmons. So they have a lot of experience in this area. Amy Ziering is, you know, particularly good at sort of, you know, building rapport with survivors and understanding how to treat their stories sort of delicately and with respect. It was suggested to them that they make a movie focusing on incest and that kind of brought them around to the idea of focusing on Dylan Farrow. I’ve spoken to the directors about this, and there’s a whole long story of how they kind of met with her and built that rapport and they, you know, shot the interview and Dylan and had this tape that Mia Farrow made of her when she was seven for, you know, years. Mia had kind of given it to her to do whatever she wanted with including, you know, destroy it or anything else. And they were well into production before Dylan decided that it was kind of appropriate to give them this. We went into your room and went to be honest him, if you’re looking for like what’s new in this documentary, that is sort of the new thing. This tape has been aired before in the sense that it has been part of, you know, various court cases, but it’s never been made public.

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S2: Did you go into watching an agnostic? Did you go in with a set of priors? Did you find your feelings about this case reaffirmed or changed in any important way?

S7: I mean, I believe Dylan Farrow I, you know, wrote a piece saying as much in 2014, you know, when she published her now famous op ed in The New York Times. So I wasn’t looking to have that kind of confirmed or denied. I think if you’re going in agnostic and certainly if you’re going in disbelieving her, I don’t know if this documentary is going to change anybody’s minds. I wonder if that is even possible at this point. But I think it does really lay out kind of how this case evolved so much in in the public mind, how much Woody Allen’s reputation played into it. Often I think that the detriment of kind of everyone involved and I think it also gives you a sense for me the real bombshell in this as much as the Dylan videotapes, are there some audiotapes in the later episodes of phone conversations between Woody Allen and Mia Farrow, where he is basically, you know, sort of straight up threatening her and just to hear his voice? There is really the first time that I’ve kind of been taken out of that familiar persona that we all know so well and really heard, you know, I believe Dylan Farrow for a long time. But that was the first time I felt like I heard the person who could have done this on those audiotapes.

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S2: I just want Dana, before we get to you, I want to say very quickly this this movie changed my mind. I went in kind of, I would say agnostic in a way, or just so sad for all of the circumstances and all of the participants, almost no matter what. And and I came out completely convinced that that that girl was not coached. She was telling the truth. I mean, the girl on that videotape, Dana, to me, is is not a coached child. She’s she’s saying what happened to her?

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S8: Right, I think maybe like you, Steve, I went in feeling not so much agnostic as just that there was a cloud of unknowing around this case that would be impenetrable. So I guess the question would be, do you think this four hour documentary reveals what’s within that cloud? And although this documentary lays out, as Sam puts it in his writing about it, the case for the prosecution very strongly, it is at once exhaustive, four hours long and frustratingly blinkered in some ways. I mean, if you followed this case even somewhat closely over the years, especially since it became back in the news again around 2014, you’re waiting for some some shoes to drop that the filmmakers never drop. And I think that there’s something about this documentary and this is not, you know, me believing or disbelieving or issuing any kind of apologies. But there are so many things that are omitted from the story that it feels to me sometimes like an authorized documentary coming from the Farrow family. We hear very little. Well, this is it in part because they refuse to participate. But we hear very little from any of Mia Farrow’s kids who either disbelieve the story, including Moses Farrow, who refused to participate, but who also has this extensive. Sam, I’m sure you’re familiar with it, an extensive blog post in which he details abuse allegations against Mia Farrow, which are never mentioned in the documentary. And I was just sort of waiting for there to be some acknowledgement of facts that are so well known that, you know, even if you followed the story only slightly, you you remember them. There’s something that Sophie Gilbert wrote for The Atlantic on this documentary, which I identified with very strongly, where she says that when she when she found herself remembering these things that had been omitted, the abuse allegations against Mia Farrow, et cetera, that she felt guilty about remembering them. Right. Because you you want to believe, Dylan, you watch this documentary and feel that she is credible. But I think some of the legal complications of this story are are glided over very quickly.

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S4: Mm hmm. Another thing I found very convincing about the documentary, Sam, was the testimony of I think it’s at least two New York Times reporters who covered the case at the time who now are willing to kind of break with gray lady protocols and share something of their own and her feelings about what they had been covering. Both seem entirely convinced that Allen is guilty. But one of them voices, something I think that’s very critical to this, and you say it as well in your wonderful piece about the documentary, which is that there’s a level of identification with certain kinds of artists. It begins, I think, with how much of what appears to be themselves is poured into their work. And Woody Allen, the film, filmmaker and persona, groomed us. I think one of the cultural critics interviewed for the documentary says words to that effect. And it’s remarkable now going back, even if there had never been any of these controversies, right. If he were still happily married to Mia Farrow, there would be a reappraisal of his work. Dana, I would think, vis a vis his screen characters relationships, obsessively getting into sexual romantic relationships with with significantly younger, like really dangerously younger women. I mean, obviously, Manhattan is the great example. And Dana, that’s like talk a little bit about, like the blinds, the cultural blind spot, or put another way that the vastness of the shift in public sensibilities around this, that that movie for most of my adult life was regarded as, you know, along with The Godfather films and a taxi driver in the Scorsese. He films easily, Annie Hall and Manhattan. You know, a movie about a man in his 40s having a relationship with a 17 year old is regarded as one of the auteur masterpieces of the era, with scarcely anyone mentioning just how utterly fucking creepy it is.

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S8: One of the episodes of this documentary, I believe it’s the third one mainly is is is devoted not completely, but largely to telling these stories through his work and to looking at this ongoing, you know, this ever yawning age gap between his heroes and his heroines as his career went on. And it doesn’t make a point, which is something I’ve always thought about Woody Allen’s work since then, since 1991, 92, when the scandal came out, is that that seems like precisely the moment when his work could have gone in one of two directions when he was starting to mature as a filmmaker and make movies about about adults in a more complex way. Crimes and misdemeanors came out around then, as did Husbands and Wives, his last movie with Mia Farrow, which was made and I didn’t realize this until watching this documentary, you know, after all this had happened and when Mia Farrow was still trying to work with this person that she thought had, you know, essentially destroyed her daughter and brought two of her daughters and brought ruin into her family. So he was making these movies very briefly that were grappling with these more complex moral questions and, you know, really having some heroes that were dark, you know, and doing bad things. And then I feel like he slipped into this era that he’s been in ever since of increasing complacency, of increasing kind of self repetition and these more and more absurd age gaps in his relationships, even when he stopped being in his own movies. Right. I mean, he’ll he’ll still cast it with it, with those sorts of dynamics. And it just has always seemed to me that there’s an unconscious guilt being played out in the movies that he made in those years and that you can trace his decline as a filmmaker almost precisely to that to that beginning of that moral decline. And that’s whether you believe the Dylan allegations or not. I think that the Sunni Previn story alone kind of marks the beginning of that time.

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S9: Yeah, I mean, this maybe gets into sort of over interpretation a little bit. But I yeah, I always felt that, you know, after husbands and wives and like you, I did not, you know, realize that Mia Farrow kind of went back and shot, you know, half that movie after, you know, finding that, you know, X rated Polaroids of Sunni Previn, which is just like staggering and horrifying, but also like just what strength on her part to go and do that. But I do. Yeah, I felt like something kind of went out of Woody Allen’s movies at that point. And they become a lot they feel a lot less personal, as if he’s kind of, you know, holding something back at that point. And whether that’s proof positive or not, I don’t know. But it is. And that’s coupled with using clearly using some of the movies to kind of strike back in ways I had sort of forgotten until looking at the timeline around this movie that the first movie he made after Dylan Farrow’s op ed was published in 2014 was Irrational Man, which is sort of a Crime and Punishment riff in which Joaquin Phoenix, his character, kind of proves his existential bona fides by murdering a corrupt family court judge who’s made a bad custody decision, which is just great to that character, eventually falls down an elevator shaft. So perhaps his actions are fully endorsed. But, boy, that seems awfully direct.

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S2: You know, this raises when you mention that movie and Joaquin Phoenix and it just raises again, Sam, that for a long time it was clearly a status symbol to appear in a Woody Allen movie. I still remember the poster from 1977 of Annie Hall, and it was this long list of names of the people who of people who appeared in the film, like Paul Simon has this cameo and it just sort of cramming all of these boldface names onto the onto the poster. And, you know, ever since then, it’s just been a thing like, you know, have you been in a Woody Allen movie or haven’t you kind of like one of the marks of distinction on a Hollywood acting KVI?

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S4: And, boy, it really took forever. I mean, I really almost feel like it’s been since ME2 that finally people are saying, I regret having done it or saying I will never do it.

S9: Yeah, I mean, for me, one of the most, you know, viscerally just gutting passages in the documentary is when you get to the fourth episode and it’s going over the Golden Globes tribute to Woody Allen in 2014. And that was sort of the one run running. Farrow tweeted, You know, I miss the tribute. Did they put the part where a seven year old girl accused him of molesting him before or after Annie Hall? And and that just kind of, you know, opened up the whole subject again, led to Dylan’s op ed in The Times. And the documentary kind of replays that tribute effectively from Dylan’s point of view, like intercutting clips from it where, you know, Diane Keaton and Cate Blanchett are all talking about how wonderful he is with Dylan, talking about how profoundly violating it felt to watch that. And that’s just. I feel complicit in that somehow or that that feels like something that we we could have had the power to stop somehow. And it just reminds you how recent a lot of this is and how, you know, the part that venerating the work has played. In a sense, you’re kind of victimizing Dylan Farrow over and over again all through these years.

S2: All right. Well, Sam Adams is culture editor at Slate. Sam, it’s always a pleasure to have you on the podcast.

S5: Thanks so much for coming back on to talk about the sorry state of affairs. Yeah, thank you, Steve. Thank you, Dana.

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S2: All right, before we go any further, this is typically where we talk business. Dana, what do we have to do?

S10: All I have, Steve, is to tell our Slate plus listeners what our bonus segment is going to be today in the spirit of keeping up with important developments in the world of culture. We are going to talk in plus today about Mr. Potato Head or Potato Head, the age old Hasbro toy, which has just been rebranded as a genderless potato head. We will talk about that change and about the backlash to it and about our own experiences, sticking features into plastic potatoes in our segment this week. If you are a slate plus member, listen for that bonus segment at the end of the show. And as always, if you’re not a slate plus member, you can sign up at Slate dotcom culture. Plus, it’s only a dollar for your first month to join. And when you do, you get podcasts with no ads, special content like us talking about potato heads and all kinds of other benefits. Again, you can learn all about it and sign up at Slate dot com slash culture plus. And if you are already a slate plus member and there is a topic or question you’d like us to discuss in one of our future bonus segments, you can always send us an email at culturist at Slate Dotcom. We love to hear from you.

S2: All right, well, I think of the Golden Globes as something of the anti Oscars, they give awards to both TV and film. The ceremony is a boozy gala format. It’s more intimate, less pompous, a bit loose. The whole thing is just way less self-important. So much so, it scarcely matters who wins or loses, who cares, right? It’s just a party we get to see, you know, Jack the paws on Jack Nicholson’s face. But nonetheless, it’s been beset by scandal. And to help explain it, Julia, I’m going to turn to you because your paper has done an investigation into what’s going on with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and the awards ceremony.

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S11: Yeah. All right. Well, so let me just start with the basics. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is a group of international entertainment journalists who started giving awards out nearly 80 years ago and who have been beset with scandal. There’s a widespread perception that their awards or at least their attention can be bought or at least swayed with lavish perks, lunches, trips to foreign locales, gifts. Occasionally, a specific gift gets called out. They had to return a bunch of 400 dollar watches a few years ago. They’ve been kicked on and off of television. In 1982, they gave Pia Zadora an award for essentially best new artist or emerging talent after accepting a trip from her husband that was pretty lavish. And the show was bounced off of a network then and came back on. In recent years, the has been really working to combat the perception that they’re just a bunch of Brandos and have stepped up their charitable giving, have have donated a lot of money. But the Globes have taken on this strange position of being the televised kickoff to award season, an award that most people in the industry acknowledge is kind of fluky and random and, you know, not necessarily a rigorous determination of the best work of any given year. But nevertheless, everybody dresses up and shows up and buys ads. And we at the L.A. Times cover it extensively. And it’s it’s it has an importance that is not in accordance with the randomness of the institution behind it. And two terrific reporters on my team, Josh Rottenberg and Stacy Perman, have spent the last few months digging into this institution in the wake of a lawsuit filed last summer from a Norwegian journalist who alleged that she was being kept out unfairly. And they published an investigation about 10 days ago, now revealing a few things about the institution. One that, you know, the 87 journalists within it, not all of them are currently practicing journalists at established outfits, too. There are a bunch of journalists at more established outlets who have trouble getting in. Three among those 87 journalists are no black journalists whatsoever. For as the group has earned more money from a more lucrative deal with NBC, which it renegotiated a few years ago, it has started setting up more and more internal committees and paying its 87 members from its nonprofit coffers to sit on those committees. So there is an archive committee, a history committee. There’s a travel committee that pays twenty three hundred dollars a month, which continued issuing monthly payments to the members on it, not to arrange travel, just to approve who goes on what trips throughout the pandemic, despite the fact that trips were all but nonexistent. And, you know, they’re among their sources where a number of current members who are dissatisfied and feel that the group needs more widespread reform. And in the wake of that investigation, various groups around Hollywood, including Time’s Up, the Directors Guild and others, seem to latch particularly on to the lack of diversity in the organization and launched a hashtag Time’s Up Globes to encourage them to no longer have no black members. They seem to have not had a black member for more than 20 years. One of the recent presidents couldn’t remember who that member was or when they had one. So it’s not been a area of extensive focus for them. So that was all the precursor to Sunday night’s Globes, where all of these charges and claims and counterclaims were somewhat addressed on stage. But that’s the that’s the back story.

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S4: Hmm. All right. So. Dana, there was an award ceremony that got handed out to me one of the great pleasures of the Golden Globes is if you decided not to ignore them, you could be thrilled that something you admired won and you could be completely dismissive of something you didn’t admire did win. You just you kind of could pick and choose just matter. The stakes were so low in some sense compared to the pomp of the Academy Awards. Let’s briefly just say any big surprises or, you know, snubs or or especially meritorious wins from this past ceremony?

S1: I don’t know. I mean, honestly, especially going in with the with the story from the times that Julia just talked about. I mean, that was that had just broken and was fresh in my mind, you know, as these globes were airing. And so it was really even harder than usual to to approach the show with that sort of analytical, critical idea that, you know, let’s let’s talk about the surprising snubs. Everything seemed suddenly to me like it must be somehow shady and corrupt. But at the same time, as you say, it’s always good to feel good when one of your faves wins. I noticed that, too. Stephen Metcalf favorites Jason Sudeikis of Ted LASO and Catherine O’Hara of Schitt’s Creek both won for, by the way, best performer in a musical or comedy.

S12: I greased a lot of palms, but I had a hard time focusing on any of the value of any of the wins.

S1: Just I mean, the Globes, as Julia started off by saying we’re already something of a laughing stock in the industry and hard to take seriously. And awards shows in general for me, even when you get to the more prestigious ones like the Oscars are just it’s very hard for me to either cheer or boo or talk about snubs because it all feels like it’s part of an artificial game that has to some degree to do with, you know, payola and marketing, et cetera. Although I didn’t really know until this story broke how how extreme that payola structure seems to be in this this particular organization. But I mean, for an example, if you want one of a shocking omission, I may destroy you, which I think all of us probably would agree is one of the best shows we talked about over the past year on this show. Got no recognition at all from from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, while Emily and Paris, which I mercifully never had to see. But when I was away one week, I remember you all trashing on this show was nominated. So, I mean, there’s there’s obviously there’s no such thing as an objective, quality scale of what should or should not be nominated. But I feel like those kind of oversights are so common in the Globes that we barely need to remark on them anymore.

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S11: Well, and one other thing that the piece did report, which I forgot to mention, is the details of a junket that 30 of the 87 HIPAA members participated in in which they were flown to Paris by the EPA, which likes to stipulate that it does pay for its own airfare and then put up for two days at the peninsula in Paris, which is a hotel where the rack rates are started. Fourteen hundred bucks a night and treated to lunches around town. So, you know, 30 of Eighty-seven voters had ample opportunity in Paris to learn more about Emily and Paris, which may or may not have affected their voting. But yeah, I mean, I think one thing that that made the total lack of black members resonate was some of the oversights this year in recognizing work that centered black stories and black artists and black creators. So there are a number of ensemble films that were not nominated for best picture, including Judas in the Black Messiah, the Five Bloods, you know, the Morenae moreIn and Morenae good. I mean, I guess Chadwick Boseman won for actor, but yes, the film did not get nominated for Best Picture. And, you know, and then and then the oversight of I made a you in the limited series category was, you know, so, so surprising that it came in for criticism from Emily Empathises and one writer who wrote an op ed saying that that was crazy, that her show had been nominated and, um, and that I made a story you had not. So there is kind of a funny hologram quality to the story where if you tilt it one way to a certain fairly small set of people, the news that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has sort of exclusionary practices in its membership isn’t particularly focused on diversity, is out of step in various ways, and has some self dealing and questionable ethical practices is like not big news. But then there actually is a large group of people who just watch it on TV. And until this year, it had incredibly strong ratings for NBC and its ratings cratered, which it’s hard to know whether that has to do with the pandemic or people being sick of watching stuff at home or what, you know. But to all of those people who typically tune in, it’s just an awards show like, you know, there were various people who read the story internally who were like the the Golden Globes are much mocked, like, oh, yeah, they are much, much like it’s a funny like how how read in are you on awards. And it’s a very reasonable practice in modern American life to not care about them at all. But, um, you know, but I think this Stacey and Josh are the first reporters I know of to have gotten sourcing and financial records from within the institution to to show exactly where they’re spending their money. And I think the question now is, so they three HFA members did speak to the need for more inclusive membership on the show. They got three people up on stage to issue six sentences. And after the show, Time’s Up sent notes to the FBI and to NBC requesting to meet with people and suggesting that merely adding a few black members to the group or not will not be enough to solve its problems.

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S2: I mean, one thing I think we can all admire about the Golden Globes ceremony is they sure don’t seem to have the scripts of the presenters. I mean, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey were were pretty savage, correct in my reading of it. There was a high degree of, you know, candid excoriation when it came to the scandals.

S12: The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is made up of around 90 international no black journalists who attend movie junkets each year in search of a better life. We say around 90 because a couple of them might be ghosts. And it’s rumored that the German member is just a sausage that somebody drew a little face on.

S2: There is a kind of uninhibited, unedited quality to it, which, funnily enough, will probably get it practices cleaned up more quickly than the Oscars are just sort of carefully guarded, you know, pseudo institution in American cultural life.

S11: Well, and I think actually that speaks to, you know, one of the questions in this as well, if, quote, quote unquote, everybody knows this, that the age of pay is is a bit of a joke stipulating that that’s a very small everybody of Hollywood people. Why does the why does everybody still pay attention? Why does everybody show up? Why does everybody watch? And I think the answer to that really actually lies in the show itself, which has been produced by Dick Clark Productions for which is now deep, deep for many years. And they lean into it. It’s a little bit of an in-joke like the most frequent hosts are either Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who’ve done it a few times, or Ricky Gervais, who’s done it regularly in recent years. And they’ve done a great job putting on a great show. And that’s actually where some you know, the reason they’re able to give themselves all these comedy payments is because the show, the fee that NBC pays to to run the show has increased massively, massively. So they have money now both to give away to the Committee to Protect Journalists and to establish an increasing number of internal committees for which they pay themselves. You know, it’s the show. It’s a success of the show as a production itself that is the key to the power of the institution. And so we’ll see. NBC would be a group that would have some leverage to force real change.

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S2: All right. Well, we’ll link on our show page to the couple of pieces that your reporters did, Julia, at the L.A. Times and some follow up materials as well. People can check it out there. All right. Moving on. Lawrence Ferlinghetti died last week at the age of 101. He, of course, is one of the central figures in American literary culture of the 20th century. I think we can shorthand it very quickly by saying he was himself an extraordinary poet. He was the creator of the City Lights bookstore, which became a center of San Francisco culture and literary culture for seven decades now. And of course, he was something of he was to the beats what Ezra Pound was to the modernists, both a participant himself in the art of poetry and creating a new kind of poetry, but also a patron saint of it and a patron of it both. We’re joined by Al Filreis, a dear friend of mine, a upend professor and the genius behind the Kelly Writers House, one of the truly great institutions in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania. Al, welcome back to the podcast.

S13: Thanks, Steve. Hi. Hi, Dana. Hey. How are you doing now?

S2: I’m well, Al, it’s always great to have an excuse to talk to you and to talk about poetry. Ferlinghetti lived one of the great literary lives of the 20th century. I have to talk a little bit about him and his influence.

S13: I think he’s one of the two or three poets, we can say, of the 20th and early 21st century that he’s like the modern modern poetry Zelig, you know, I mean, turn around. And he’s at the he’s standing on the stage with the Grateful Dead at the human being in 1967. And he’s he’s he’s standing in court defending Alan Ginsberg’s howl against charges of obscenity. He’s he’s he’s landing at Normandy on D-Day. And he’s at Nagasaki six weeks after the atomic blast. Right. He’s collaborating with David Amron turnaround and he’s performing at The Last Waltz in celebration of the band. And the next thing you know, he’s leaning out the second floor window of City Lights bookstore, waving to customers, streaming into the bookstore that he co-founded.

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S14: He’s everywhere. And I mean, look, Coney Island of the Mind, his book of 1958. Is in the hands of a million people or a million copies sold. You know, so that that in itself, he’s just he’s just all around and I do think we should talk about City Lights books, because I know, you know, I know the gabfests is really interested in the larger cultural effects of people in particular fields. I mean, the poetry community and the idea of a poetic social space. Mm hmm. He was really devoted to this idea in North Beach of a bookstore that would become a haven, a, you know, a ground for conversation, a Kiva of sorts. And of course, there have been poetry centered bookstore meccas before and since. It’s not the only one, but it’s duration and his devotion to it. Even today, it is a place, let’s face it, where young people who have a vague sense of being wanting to be part of the arts, they they go to San Francisco to go to city lights. Um, that’s a hard thing to create. So if you think you put the you put the poems and the performances in the context of this broad social space, which is the first glimpse at that scene on the part of a lot of nascent poets, you’ve got a big effect.

S1: I think all I wanted to ask you as well, since Ferlinghetti was known as such a creator of community in San Francisco about his connection with the obscenity trial or his publishing house, the city lights his connection with the with the obscenity trial of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, which came out in 1956, published by City Lights, and then, you know, became this this hot button, you know, homo erotic poem that that became sort of a piece of samizdat, almost that that Ferlinghetti kept in circulation.

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S14: It’s really an important moment, Dana. You know, Ferlinghetti was stalwart in this case. It could have ruined the bookstore. And by the way, Ferlinghetti didn’t think of himself as a beat poet. It’s he’s a beat poet. You know, maybe we can look at one of the poems where he’s clearly a beat poet, but he thought of himself as a supporter of poets and became identified with the beats because he stood so adamantly behind Ginsberg. The I don’t know if it went all the way to the Supreme Court, but, you know, this is this was a precedent about, you know, social value or, you know, socially redeeming importance. That’s a really important case. And Ferlinghetti is the reason why we have that case. There were others, of course, but Barney Rosset and others in New York who were doing the same kind of work. But this was a this was a crucial one because it brought the younger generation in in a way that a D.H. Lawrence case would not have.

S2: There are so many diverse associations with Ferlinghetti’s such a long life, ceded so many different careers. Oddly, sometimes a little forgotten that he himself produced poetry. I mean, not forgotten, but it can take a side seat or a back seat to it. Talk about a couple of the poems that you admire and why.

S14: Yeah, you’re so right, Steve. I mean, we tend to underestimate Ferlinghetti. There’s so many great poets surrounding him. I mean, I want to mention two poems really briefly. And then I was wondering if you guys would be game to listen to a performance and talk about a poem spontaneously. Are you game for that, Dana? Steve. Oh, so game. Yes. Oh, yes. All right. That’ll be fun. I mean, first, a reference to two other real classics. You can get them on the web anywhere sometime during eternity, which is a ridiculous tone beat tone poem about Jesus Christ. I’ll I’ll I’ll read the first couple of lines with my beat impersonation, if you don’t mind. It’s about Christ. Sometime during eternity, some guys show up and one of them who shows up real late is a kind of carpenter from some square type place like Galilea, and he starts wailing and claiming he is hip, et cetera, et cetera. And there you go. OK, so that’s the Beat Christ and Dog. That is a poem for all dog lovers. This is a San Francisco dog who pees. He just doesn’t believe in hierarchy. So he pees everywhere, EPWs on drunks in doorways, but he also pees on the cops. The dog freely trots in the street, past puddles and babies, cats and cigars, poolrooms and policemen. He doesn’t hate cops. He merely has no use for them. You just got to love that. That’s. I love that poem. Yeah. And you just gotta you just gotta love they gotta be in performance and you got to love the counterculture in the tone. Because if you just read those on the page, frankly, it’s ridiculous to talk about Christ that way. There’s all kinds of things that are wrong, but it’s over the top. So the poem I thought we might listen to is called Baseball Canto, and we’re recording this at the beginning of baseball season.

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S15: So maybe that’s right, baseball kento, watching baseball, sitting in the sun, eating popcorn, reading Ezra Pound and wishing Juan Mauricio would hit a hole right through the Anglo-Saxon tradition in the first canto and demolish the barbarian invaders. When the San Francisco Giants take the field and everybody stands up to the national anthem with some Irish tenors, voice piped over the loudspeakers with all the players get in their places and the white umpires like Irish cops in their black suits and little black caps pressed over their hearts, standing straight until I get some funeral of a blarney bartender and all facing east as if expecting some great white hope for the Founding Fathers to appear on the horizon like ten, sixty six or 1776 or all that. But Willie Mays appears instead in the bottom of the first, and Roy goes up as he clouds the first one into the sun and takes off like a foot runner from Thebes. The ball is lost in the sun and maidens wail after him. But he keeps running through the Anglo-Saxon epic and Tito Fuentes comes up looking like a bullfighter in his tight pants and small pointed shoes and the right field bleachers go mad with Chicanos and blacks in Brooklyn. Beer drinkers, sweet little sucking to him. Sweet little and sweet Tito put his foot in the bucket and smacks one that don’t come back at all and plays around the base is like he’s escaping from the United Fruit Company as the gringo beats out the pound and three Tito beats it out like he’s beating out, usually not to mention fascism and anti-Semitism. And Juan Mauricio comes up on the Chicano bleachers, go loco again as one. Beltz The first ball out of sight and rounds first and keeps going and round second and rounds third and keeps going. You hit pay dirt to the roars of the grungy populace at some nut presses. The backstage panic button for the tape recorded national anthem again to save the situation. But it don’t stop nobody this time in their revolution around the loaded white bases in this last of the great Anglo-Saxon epics in the territorial era of baseball.

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S14: Well, Dana, it’s got everything in it, it’s the kitchen sink, it’s like the whiteness of baseball, Ezra Pound, fascism. What do you think?

S1: I mean, what I kept thinking as he was careening through that kind of series of stacked, you know, Russian doll references was the fact one of the many Zelig facts of his life, which was that he had a doctorate in comparative literature from the Sorbonne. I mean, that was this kind of crazy mixture of, you know, of a poetry slam type vocal performance and, you know, him sort of taking you on this trip through literary history at a baseball game. So I think that that’s a moment where you just see he could have been a teacher. You know, you kind of see the breadth of his his literary knowledge and references in that. Another thing it made me think of is exactly as you said, that on the page, that would be I don’t know exactly what it would be, but it would not be what we just heard. And the idea that, you know, to him, the oral tradition was really associated with the kind of poetry he wanted to produce, speaks to that communitarian ethos of City Lights bookstore we were talking about.

S14: Yeah. And also, Steve, this kind of sticky quality like when he performs, you know, Tito Fuentes is running around the bases like he’s escaping from the United Fruit Company. You know, it’s a laugh line. It’s funny. Yeah.

S2: Yeah. No, it’s so interactive. And it it just seems like such a precursor to the slam, you know, ethos. Is this great? I mean, I love some of the lines that pop out at me, the roars of the grungy populace.

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S4: You know, just, you know, I love that he Ferlinghetti in this poem and the Beats in general, they’re trying to get on the right side of history, which is very often, if not always, not with the winners of history in a way, you know, and it’s like baseball is this possibly utopian space in which that can happen, you know, where the where the grungy populace, you know, is is finds itself perfectly thrilled. And the revolution around the loaded white bases in the last of the great Anglo-Saxon epics. It’s this idea of, you know, utopian place in which the right people at last are allowed to thrive. It’s kind of beautiful.

S14: Yeah, it’s I think that’s totally right. It’s a frankly, leftist poem trying to interpret baseball as a space of liberation. There’s a there’s a flaw in that in that argument. But this is early. I mean, baseball’s integrated by this point. But the issue of the whiteness of baseball, which becomes so much more important decades later, is all here. It’s all here. And he ties it back to modernist antisemitism. He ties it back to the problem of poetry. He you know, he makes it seem like baseball is part of the conversation, but it’s also a matter of literary history. It’s exactly what you want to beat poem to do, I think.

S1: That was such a pleasure to take apart with you, Al, I wonder if you could send listeners to a place that they can find Lawrence Ferlinghetti reading his own poetry. Is there does he have a website? Is it all over YouTube or what?

S14: Thank you for asking. There’s a there’s an archive of Ferlinghetti poems at Penn Sound Pee. And so you and so if you just if you just use your favorite search engine and type pen sound Ferlinghetti, you’ll find dozens and dozens of recordings, including the one we just listened to.

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S2: Wonderful owl. As always, such a pleasure to have you on the podcast. Any excuse to talk poetry and to chat with you? Let’s do it again soon, I hope.

S13: Thank you, Steve. Thank you, Dana.

S4: All right. I’ll Filreis is English professor at the University of Pennsylvania and the man behind the extraordinary Kelly Writers House in Philly.

S5: All right, moving on.

S4: All right, now is the moment on our podcast and we endorse Dana, what do you have, Steve?

S1: I’m going to endorse an article on a little obscure publication known as The New York Times, but which I would have missed if not forwarded to me by a friend yesterday, who knows me too well and knows that I can’t resist any kind of story about archaeology, paleontology or man, you know what distinguishes us from the hominids that that kind of stuff is right up my alley. And every once in a while I bore you and our listeners with another story about it. Remember the old bread when Julia and I were obsessed with the the Pompeian mummified bread? But this is, in fact, a story about language and about the history of language that I found really fascinating. The title of the piece is Neanderthals Listen to the World Much Like US. A reconstructed Neanderthal ear adds a new piece to the puzzle of whether the early humans could speak. So there’s just there’s a lot in here that I’m going to get wrong. If I try to summarize it, I’ll just send people to the article. But essentially, there’s a debate going on among scientists of early humans, early hominid type creatures, whether any any of them had language besides Homo sapiens. And so this new discovery is that the anatomy of the ear of the Neanderthal would have allowed them to hear the same range of sounds as Homo sapiens can. Of course, ears don’t really survive. Inner ears do. But, you know, your outer ear shape is, you know, gone by the time you’re a Neanderthal skeleton, as is your tongue. So it’s impossible for us to know ultimately whether Neanderthals could speak or not. But this some of these new discoveries about Neanderthal ear anatomy have opened up the possibility that they could have. And this is all part of, in general, I think, a movement to sort of extend humanness further and further back into history. Right. I mean, that we are now finding older and older cave art all over the world in rock art and things that Neanderthal type creatures made that are art like in other ways. And, you know, essentially just that the definition of humanity is starting to radiate outwards from just the Homo sapiens species that it’s always been limited to. So, you know, you can go down that rabbit hole as deep as you like. But one place to start might be this piece about Neanderthal ears, and we’ll link to it on the show page.

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S2: Oh, that sounds cool. Julia, what do you have?

S11: Um, are you ready for me to ruin your dinners? Well, it’s morning, so we get a few hours to go. OK, are you ready for me to give you feelings of pepper inadequacy?

S14: Oh, no.

S2: This is like these are Steve Mackoff quality curveballs.

S12: Yeah. All right.

S11: I am recommending two things today. One is the Diaspora Space Coast Single Origin Aranya Peper. Did you know that your peper was being dulled and muted by having so many multifarious origins you needed to have just one origin? Oh, look what I learned about this. Beber from the L.A. Times cooking newsletter, which is a font of interesting stuff every week and always Flagg’s interesting cookbooks. I should know about all kinds of things. And at the end of January, Bill Addison, our critic, and wrote about the space brand Diaspora Co., which has a bunch of different spices, and I ordered on a whim this single origin, Iranian pepper. And it’s so good, you guys. It’s like and I love black pepper. Anyway, I’m a heavy black pepper cooker and user. I think black pepper like parsley is sort of underrated. And the spice, you know, everyone’s like, oh, get your fancy whatnot. It’s like, no, you could pretty much just put black pepper impersonally on everything and be pretty happy. But if you’ve been, you know, feeling that way about black pepper with just whatever you’re getting from old McCormicks in the spice aisle, you’ve got to get yourself to diasporic. Go and get yourself some of this pepper, which is I believe it has, you know, uh, has some some suggested tasting notes on the jar, which were particular, you know, predictably goofy, like jammy fig chocolate and citrus maybe. But it did kind of smell like all those things and it tasted really good. And we ended up having one pepper shaker pepper grinder that had this in it and another pepper grinder that had normal pepper in it. And everyone kept grabbing for this pepper grinder and asking for a quote, the good pepper. So sorry to make your previously beloved Pepper seem lame, but you’ve got to check out this around pepper if you’re a pepper profile. And if you want to continue making discoveries like this, you should also check out the L.A. Times cooking newsletter, ask a couple of questions.

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S2: First of all, the company that makes this is Diaspora Koe. Yes. So like Diaspora or a space COH period. Yes, diaspora. OK, I’m just checking. I’m just checking. Yes. And then that’s the important thing about this Pepper, is that it’s like, you know, it’s like basically a single non hybridised strand of pepper that goes back to the primordial slime.

S11: I mean, I think what’s important is it’s just all from one place. All in one place. Yeah, it’s from tyrannically. Khairallah Uh, and it’s an heirloom seed variety. Oh, gosh. It’s heirloom pepper. It’s a blast. It’s a blast. It’s a blend of ten plus indigenous heirloom and wild varieties grown in this one particular region of India.

S2: And do they know if in its deepest origins, it had rudimentary language?

S12: You know what the Neanderthals were grinding it up to? Mama used some of this pepper and then come back to me and start making pepper. Does this pepper can speak?

S11: Listen to what this pepper has to tell you, Steve. You see how well your, you know, ear cartilage is developed.

S2: Oh, dear. Learn to listen to the pepper. OK, I like that. I’m endorsing a an article in the New York Review of Books about Patrick Leigh Fermor, wide, widely regarded as the greatest travel writer of the 20th century, lived one of the astonishing them. And talk about Ferlinghetti’s longevity. I think Fermor lived until one hundred or very close to it, author of remarkable books. But he wrote an account of his undercover operations on the island of Crete during World War Two against the Nazis, in which he posed for several months, if not longer, as a Kryten Shepherd. And he was just a you know, he was just a virtuosic language learner and so was able to speak Crete, Greek, whatever he needed in order to get by. And he engineered an incredibly daring abduction of a Nazi general, which he wrote an account of. And what I love about this piece is that it both. Allows the reader to swoon along to the romantic adventure that Fermor underwent in order to successfully pull off a bloodless abduction of this general while also examining whether it was strategically worth it. And and, you know, Fermor quite cunningly attempted to do it in such a way that there wouldn’t be bloody reprisals against the Cretans who he had grown to very sincerely love. And he wasn’t quite successful in that, even though he made every good faith effort to have that happen. And it was on from his own conscience that he might have gotten the balance between the strategic advantage of abducting the general versus the possible, you know, violence visited upon the local Cretans in the aftermath of it under suspicion of having been complicit with the with the kidnapping. He might have gotten that balance wrong. And so the guy had another I mean, you know, he had another 80 years to live or whatever it was. I mean, you know, 60, 70 years to live with it on his conscience. And he agonized about it. So I think it’s a wonderfully balanced account that doesn’t allow the schoolboy adventurism of it to overwhelm the the seriousness of it, both as a piece of writing and subject for, you know, retrospective analysis. It’s just really good. It’s it’s it’s both fun and and morally considered. So I highly recommend it. It’s called Escape from Fortress Crete. The writer is himself an accomplished travel writer, Colin Thubron and probably Thubron. I’m mispronouncing his name and I apologize, but it’s a really worthwhile piece.

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S5: Thanks so much, Julia. Thank you. Thanks, Dana.

S3: As always, you will find links to some of the things we talked about today at our show page, that Slate dotcom culture first email as a culture fest at Slate Dotcom. We have a Twitter feed at Slate Kulp. First, our producers, Cameron Drus, our production assistant is Rachel Allen. Our intro music is by the wonderful composer Nick Brittelle for Dana Stevens, Sam Adams, Al Phil and Julia Turner. I’m Stephen Metcalf. Thank you so much for joining us. And we will see you.

S11: Hello and welcome to the Slate plus segment of the Slate Culture Gabfest. Today, we are talking about Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head and or their new, uh, prefix Lascelles or are they? The AP had a story last week announcing that Hasbro was dropping the mister and your favorite or least favorite childhood toy. The mouth and nose parts that you could have fixed to a big plastic potato would no longer be Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head. And instead would just be Potato Head and the initial AP story had an approving quote from glad about how this was not imposing a constrictive gender norms on children. And backlash swiftly ensued, as did some clarifications from the Hasbro Corporation, which quickly tweeted, hold that thought. That’s Totti, your main spurred Mr. Potato Head isn’t going anywhere. While it was announced today that the Potato Head brand name and logo are dropping the Mr. Yam, that’s why I am proud to confirm that Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head aren’t going anywhere and will remain Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, forcing AP to have a follow up story called Mr. Potato Head drops the Mr. Comma sort of. So apparently, I guess a sub subdivision of Hasbro is the Mr. Potato Head Line, which sells such toys as Mr. Potato Head and Mrs. Potato Head and probably some other things I haven’t thought of. And what the company was attempting to do is just change the name of the overall line from Mr. Potato Head to Potato Head so that the umbrella under which Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head are sold was just Potato Head rather than Mr. Potato Head. But some initial reporting and perhaps some lack of clarity on Hasbro’s part got that. A little confused anyway, spurring the kind of wild, the culture war shitstorm, the likes of which we haven’t seen since before Trump was a glimmer in the Republican Party’s eye, or at least that’s how it read to me. And Dana, did you ever play with a Mr. Potato Head and or Mrs. Potato Head or have any potato had thoughts or thoughts about this whole Flybe?

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S1: I have enough sense memories of sticking potato features into potato head holes that we must have either had one or I had access to one at school or at a friend’s house. I certainly I mean, everybody had a Mr. Potato Head when I was growing up. The toy has been around. I didn’t realize this until researching our conversation, but the toy has been around since 1949. So I guess, you know, there’s lots of generations of kids with a sense memory of one. Don’t don’t you guys have a sense memory of sticking potato features into a head?

S2: Was it? I have this memory of it once, just being the stuff with, like, little pointy things and you could stick it on an actual potato, but then, like some kid, maybe poke themselves. I this may be completely a false memory, but I certainly know that that was the origin of the toy.

S1: But do you. But was it that way when you played with it as a kid? You have a body.

S2: I believe I got there before the plaintiffs attorneys did. And I had to like the sharp things that you stuck into, an actual, you know.

S11: Wow. Really revealing your age if I don’t. Do you do you guys have this? I feel like I have a very distinct memory in my mind of, like, the toys other kids had. Like, we never had a Mr. Potato Head. So it was always like a novelty. When you went to a house that did have a potato.

S1: I also Barbies were for me, my mom sort of refused to get us Barbies. And so they were a thing you played with at other people’s house.

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S11: I did have a couple of Barbies and but but no potato head. And also the game operation. The game operation was was a buzzing delight for other people’s houses, but at my own. So I only play with it a little bit. And it was always very exciting because I did not have access to my own potato head. And it’s and it’s terrible gender constrictions.

S4: And, you know, of course, as always, this is just the like thin, low octane fuel that can get the right wing rage machine up and running at full throttle is like this is just so perfect for it. Like a total non story. There’s still going to be gendered potatoes, you know, if you so on. It’s just the change. But no, forget it. Like Fox and Ben Shapiro, they’ve they’ve got the they’ve got the football. They’re going to frickin run with it and run with it. They did. I just want to point out, you know, in the gigantic satirical PYNCHEON novel that we all live in, one of the reasons why this toy has so much more valence for today’s kids is, is Pixar, the Toy Story movies where the potato heads a character. And do you guys remember who voices the character? No, none other than Don Rickles the all time. You know, I say this in air quotes greatest put down comedian politically incorrect put put down comedian who ever lived. So the whole revival of the potato head thing comes from this guy who is just, you know, a relic from another era. I mean, he he was his famous thing was like he did. He was sort of like this before days, right before Andrew Dice Clay, you know, he and in some ways he was just worse because we were an even more, you know, racist and misogynist society. So the idea that, like women and minorities could fight back against Don Rickles, who is kind of an honorary member of the Brat Pack, and he had this aura of showbiz power and was on Carson. And you just said nobody, you know, sort of naughty things. And it’s. It’s just incredible that it all always ties together and comes back around in this bloated, ridiculous, post-modernist novel that we’re all forced to live in, that the only reason we’re playing with these things is because of this character voiced by, you know, basically a crypto right wing, you know, put down comedian in the early 90s. But anyway, otherwise kind of a non story.

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S1: Yeah, I think the thing that is most struck me with this story is that, you know, what’s really a very minor branding story that should be only on the pages of something like, you know, an internal toy company newsletter, because ultimately all that’s changing is the name of a product that otherwise will remain exactly the same, including, you know, I guess, male and female, typical potatoes with maybe some other variations so that not even the name, like the name of the corporate umbrella under which that toy is sold. Right. There’s one thing that’s changed and that is just sort of leaving the on the gendered honorific off the beginning of the name of the two potatoes. And that has triggered this incredible kind of series of fantasies on the right, where I think for a few days after this potato news broke, Fox News covered it several times. And there was you know, it led to all kinds of very quick, slippery slope into talking about transgender issues and transgender bathrooms. And, you know, suddenly Matt Gates is at CPAC saying it’s the first transgender potato and it’s one of those things that the right loves to pick up and point at the supposedly, you know, laughable woak left for for being concerned with gender in this way, when, in fact, it seems like this utter non-issue about a toy branding change has become this this huge focus of fantasy projection from the right. And I’m just curious about how that happens and also angry to see it happening all over again. I mean, one, I’m curious if you guys have this feeling generally about the news right now, but there’s just.

S11: So much more room for other kinds of stories to breathe without. The Trump administration doing whatever it would have not done on a typical Tuesday, like I’m thinking about this story, I’m thinking about the current scandals engulfing both Governor Cuomo in New York and the recall effort around Gavin Newsom in California. Even the Golden Globes investigation that we did at the L.A. Times, like, you know, really had legs in a way that I’m not sure non Trump news stories always got room to during the wildest moments of the Trump era, which seemed to kind of escalate through the pandemic, an election last year. So. You know, I would not and I don’t mean to suggest that the charges against Cuomo are of equal merit to the potato head flap, but it’s just like it’s like watching the news landscape reform itself and try to remember how it comported itself in a different time. I don’t know. I just keep seeing news the way news is percolating through social media and TV through that lens. And I’m curious whether you guys have any of that to Julia.

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S2: I find myself thinking about that all the time that that are just, you know, our awareness of the world is so it was so shaped by the Trump presidency and covid and the, you know, year of overlap between the two. This is not just impossible to remember what the world looked like before. These two things just dominated the news cycle every day. And therefore, to imagine what it will look like when, you know, now that covid appears knock on wood to be recessing in the vaccine, you know, arriving, it’s like, well, what did we have the same sort of fixed quantity of curiosity and sort of, you know, like, you know, you know, topical cortisol levels, you know, I mean, is this news media is the news media itself sort of addicted to scandals so that they’ll produce scandals where there are none? Like what? What like what is the what is the attention economy going to do? You know, to to make sure that our attention doesn’t wander back to, you know, our own lives.

S11: I mean, I think I saw Aisha Harris tweet about this longtime friend of the program, Current Pop Culture Happy Hour correspondent, because she wrote a piece suggesting that Santa Claus should be a penguin in the early teens. That caused Megan Kelly to assert on Fox News that Santa just is a white man and caused this the whole just flap that that that I believe I should draw a comparison to on Twitter, if not someone else made the analogy. But it just it’s like, yeah, it just feels like, what are we paying attention to now? But this one I mean, the fact that this is I think the thing that makes this escalating weird is just that it’s outrage based on a total misunderstanding. Like, I don’t know if Hasbro was frantically backpedaling, but it truly seems like they have a bunch of corporate umbrellas for their sub toy brands. And they wanted to recognize that they don’t only make Mr. Potato heads, they also make Mrs. Potato Heads. So they wanted to rename the umbrella potato head while still selling both Mr. and Mrs. Potato Heads and no doubt various, like Rice Krispie flavored potato heads that I haven’t even heard of in the manner of, you know, subbrand proliferation that we see today. And like it’s the outrage over a non-event that feels like it. Plus the fact of it just being the potato head that brings this to it to an extraordinary level of goofiness.

S2: I know, because it’s like potatoes don’t have a gender. Well, they also don’t have eyes and mouths.

S11: Yeah, uh, not in the Turner household. No, they didn’t. All right, Sleepless, thank you so much for listening to our show for supporting Slate and its work. We’ll talk to you soon.