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S2: I’m Stephen Metcalf and this is the Slate Culture Gabfest, Royal Pain in the Arse petition. It’s Wednesday, January 15th, 2020. On today’s show, 1979’s dethroned Star Wars at the box office. It’s won a Golden Globe for Best Picture. It tells the story of a couple of World War 1 grunts. And then the Up series, the grand x bazi of the British class system has been called the greatest, most profound, most noble documentary series of all time.
S3: Its latest installment is 63 Up. Then we will discuss. And finally, Harry and Meghan call it quits. Joining me today is June Thomas, the podcast Puba of Slate.com. Hey, June. Welcome back. Thank you so much. And of course, Dana Stevens is the film critic for Slate. Hey, Dana. Hey, Steve. Let’s dive in. Charlie, Sam Mendez is. He’s, I think, best known probably as director of American Beauty, some Bond films. He’s also a very accomplished stage director. He has co-written and directed the movie 1917, now out in theaters. It’s based on stories told to him by his grandfather about his grandfather’s experience in World War One. Of course, the Great War was unrivaled for its brutality and pointlessness. It’s known best, of course, for the trenches. Those linear cities dug out of the earth into which armies deposited themselves, then fought interminably for the tiniest patches of land until everyone forgot why they were there in the first place. This movie tells the story of two. Lance Corporal is given a mission that’s as simple as it is nearly impossible. They must somehow make their way through all of that dreadful no man’s land in between the trenches, the various fronts amid burning ruins and biplanes and deliver a message. Call off your attack because it’s a gigantic trap, an ambush that will end in the massacre of all sixteen hundred of you. It stars George McKay and Dean Charles Chapman as the corporals, and features Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth and hoque priest. Let’s listen to a clip.
S4: Colonel Mackenzie is in command of the 2nd. You sent word yesterday morning he was going after the retreating Germans. He is convinced he has them on the run. But if he can break their lines now, he will turn the tide.
S5: He’s wrong.
S4: Colonel Mackenzie has not seen these aerials of the enemy’s new line. Come around here, gentlemen. Three miles deep, field fortifications, defenses, artillery, the like of which we’ve never seen before. The second are due to attack the line shortly after dawn tomorrow. They have no idea what they’re in for. And we can’t warn them as a parting gift. The enemy cut all our telephone lines. Your orders are to get to the second Kwasi would 1 miles southeast of the town of the coast. Deliver this to Colonel Mackenzie. It is a direct order to call off tomorrow morning’s attack. If you don’t, it will be a massacre. We will lose two battalions. Sixteen hundred men. Your brother among them.
S5: You think you can get there in time?
S3: Yes, sir. Dana, we should probably add that this movie is built around. You could call it a one shot. Maybe it’s a two shot. I seen it describe both ways, but it’s basically meant to look like a single continuous take. It’s quite a grand project. What did you make of it?
S6: OK. If you had asked me this two weeks ago, I think I would have had only good things to say about 1917. I gave it a positive review. Glowing review. Yeah, I would say I guess a glowing review. I would send people to see it. It’s a conventional war movie in some ways, in spite of that conceit of the of the one take, which is, of course, as with Birdman, for example, a digitally aided one take that uses all kinds of CGI technology to kind of mask the cuts. But the cinematography by Roger Deakins is kind of the star of the show. But I don’t agree with many of the critics, some of whom we read in preparing for this segment, who find it to be a pure videogame gimmick. That’s, for example, soulless. I think David Sims, friend of the podcast who’s been on our show of The Atlantic, called it this sort of soulless movie that’s all about the camera and showing off the technique. I think there’s going to start to be a backlash against it, including maybe for me because of all the recognition it’s getting. When I reviewed it, I sort of thought, let’s let’s champion this little odd one take movie about World War one that otherwise might sink. I noticed. And far from thinking, I noticed it’s now one, as you pointed out, best picture and best director at the Golden Globes, which doesn’t necessarily prognosticate Oscars, but it means it’s in the conversation. And if it starts to get over recognized, I’m going to get a little bit annoyed, because in many ways, this is a conventional movie in its view of war. It doesn’t really advance any new thinking about war. Or you could argue and I say this in my review that it is that assizes war to some extent. But you could say that about almost any war movie. Right. But I was emotionally moved by it. I completely disagree that it was just a soulless videogame exercise. And although at times the conceit took over from the dramatic action, I thought both the two actors, George McKay and Dean Charles Chapman, who play these very young soldiers sent on this mission are wonderful actors. I mean, they’re you, I think, really see Sam and as his strength as a theater director and the fact that he can bring out great performances, the fact that they’re unknowns and that many of their higher ups are stars like Colin Firth or the hot priest Andrew Scott puts gives you more of a sense of authenticity almost that there are these two young kids who just happened to find themselves in this perilous situation. And yeah, I mean, without giving anything away about the twist, there were several things in this movie that moved me to tears. And so, yes, I will stand up for it, although I will also be really annoyed if it beats Parasyte for best picture or almost any of the other movies on this late June.
S3: Dana refers to some critics comparing it to a video game. I hadn’t read that when I saw the movie and came out thinking it that there’s something about the pattern of the action that involves a central character completing a set of tasks upon each completion levels up to another. That’s only that much more difficult in order to achieve some, you know, narrative end at the end, end of the whole thing. What do you make of the movie? What do you make of it as a statement about war, as a video game, as an action thriller in its way?
S7: Well, I have to say one thing first, which is that I did watch it in screen form on a tiny screen on my computer, and I feel that was a big mistake because that really allowed me to get out of the action of the ads.
S6: A big screen for shoot.
S7: I mean, even the second that it started, I knew that. But also I just didn’t have that. That was not possible for me. So I saw a little bit of an apology to the film and also for just being very conscious that I had an atypical response. But as much as that’s kind of, you know, oh, yeah, that makes sense is convincing.
S8: It’s it’s like a it feels like a smart take to talk about the leveling. That wasn’t my experience of the movie for me, actually. I was very aware of it being a sort of a professional director, if you will, by which I mean that often when you have movies or TV shows or anything that’s directed by an actor, all they do is this like series of climax, climax, climate comics. And because they’re kind of I think I’m projecting, but I think they’re imagining like those five seconds that are going to appear like on the Oscar show, you know, for their movie. And it’s got to be like, you know, it’s going to be at level 10 with a peak level eleven from time to time. And there was so much variety. This was a roller coaster, really. You you had this this parallel, these moments of peril of like, oh, my God, this is it. This is the end of excruciating horror and pain and just uncertainty. Will they achieve their mission? And yet it did have that variety for me. So the leveling up thing just kind of makes it feel much more program ties than I felt it. I didn’t necessarily enjoy this feeling of shit. Is this all going to be for nothing, which in a way might almost be the expected outcome of a movie about the Great War, which I think more than any war is considered to be just a complete waste of humans. And, you know, money and everything. The one thing that. It strike me was that in a war that, as we’ve all said, you know, this is the trench warfare, the stalemate, the utter, you know, just literally nothing is happening for years except, you know, for these hopeless, pointless method of war that this is the opposite. This is an action movie, not necessarily in sense of fighting and battles, but in a sense of literal movement of people moving from one place to another through terrible perils, not to military action.
S6: You know, like horror movie action. Yeah. Points. Right. Because it’s these two young men exploring this essentially deserted kind of graveyard. Teret. Yeah.
S8: I did find that horror movie comparison even more up because it’s like something’s going to something that’s outside of their control that’s that we don’t know that we can’t see either is going to you know, it’s almost kind of like jump scares kind of from time to time, unexpected things that come to pass.
S3: Yeah. You know, I really agree with that. I mean, I think the power of this movie movie derives from the kind of terrestrial architecture of the First World War, which iconically as these trenches and the no man’s land in between them and a real no man’s land. Like if you expose yourself to the ordinary ground level, you’re slaughtered instantly. It’s just a landscape of incredible dread and also remarkable beauty. I assume they’re in France. And so you get the experience of coming above in there at moments. There’s sun and trees and great natural beauty at the same times. It’s just completely dehumanized and in parts devastated. All those visual images are very powerful.
S9: I found the gimmick distracting. I don’t know. I thought it enhanced the movie early on because the linearity, the sort of back endless linearity of the trenches is very well described by a camera that’s just eternally dallying backwards or sometimes forward. But it lost its efficacy for me as the young men emerged out into the world. And then it began to distract me slightly. This movie, I think, is highly personal to Sam Mendez, the co-writer and director, because these stories arrive to him via his grandfather, to whom they presumably happened. So it’s the story of that family line not being annihilated by this act of mass annihilation. And you feel that in the film? I mean, I think the actor playing this particular corporal is a remarkable, remarkable performance. It’s highly personal to him and his face and the experience that he’s having, that the movie for me runs into a problem because the statement about the First World War is a familiar one and it’s restated here fairly well, but without a lot to add to it, which is about June, as you say, this utter stalemate. And so you can’t derive a kind of ultimate climactic satisfaction from a World War One movie. And so the statement of the film and the basic structure of it is an action film don’t really work together with one another. And for me at the end, then this sort of cinematic grander of it doesn’t pay out. That said, I come out where Dana does that it’s it’s a very, very, very good movie. And I was grateful to have seen it, but I wouldn’t say that I loved it. And if I felt like it were going to dethrone Paris, I mean, I think that there are four or five other movies that are easily the movie of the year in its place.
S8: I have to say, I know that this is the game of the movies. This is the business of the movies that is kind of crazy that both of you are kind of experiencing this movie through the lens of this external competition for Oscars. You know that both of you have said, like, I like this movie, but I’m very concerned.
S10: Well, I think doing by saying if you’d asked me two weeks ago. You know, I do I would much rather experience the movie as the movie itself and just let it live.
S6: But then it had to resurrect itself for this this conversation. And you kind of can’t escape it after that. It does remind me of Birdman in that way. I like this movie better than Birdman. But in addition to the one take conceit, it also shares, I think, this this maybe possible path of overvaluation, you know, and and then subsequent backlash. I can see that same thing happening with this movie and I already see it happening among my film, Twitter critic, colleagues who are annoyed to see it getting the recognition that it is. It feels to me like a personal movie, as you say, Steve. I feel that urgency to tell the story behind Sam Mendez’s choices and the actor’s choices as well. So I have trouble regarding it as some sort of, you know, villain on the cinematic landscape, even if it’s not a perfect movie.
S8: Yeah, it’s very hard to make an innovative world while one movie we know this story. I mean, and ultimately this whole you know, the thing that was set up in the clip that we heard of, you know, the movie is about a journey to save sixteen hundred men from slaughter. And ultimately, you think. 100 men in World War One. That’s nothing. There were, you know, there were millions slaughtered. There is a sort of an s and I don’t even know like a existential pointlessness to a well, Wylma movie. There’s no new points to be made.
S10: Isn’t there any kind of a profound humanism in that that in a way, it’s a movie about the avoidance of war? Right. These boys are doing all of this stuff. And one of them has a brother who’s in this this legion or whatever you call it, the 16:00 men that are about to march into an ambush. And all they’re trying to do is just save this few little handful of people. So in that sense, what you’re waiting for, the big climax, as you were saying, Steve, is not going to be some sort of military triumph. We know that it’s going to be saving that that little handful.
S7: But honestly, that was the thing that most annoyed me. Like it’s the brother I’d like. The general knew about a brother, the brother thing, like it’s like contrivance. Yeah, that feels cheap. Whereas the whole idea of like effectively every man, nobody’s everyday heroes who are who are not being heroic, who have no sense of they’re not doing it out of patriotism, a patriotism. They’re just doing it because it’s Tuesday. You know, then for it to be a brotherly thing like, oh, why do you have to do that? That feels to cheat.
S3: Okay. The movie’s 1917. We like it. Maybe don’t love it. And we’ve plugged it maybe a little partly into our Oscar horse race handicapping. But it’s good. Go see it and tell us about it. All right. Before we go any further, we typically talk about business at this point in the show. Dana, what do you what do you have?
S6: Yes, Steve, just two quick things. First of all, in Slate plus today, we’re going to have a conversation. This was Steve’s idea. And I love it that we’re gonna do a little bit of Michael Apted up series analysis of our own lives and look back at who we were at seven and see whether it is true as we keep on hearing over and over again in the series that gives me the child seven and I will give you the man so that be our slate plus today. And also in non gabfests news, I just wanted to do a little promo for my other podcast and my Slate Plus podcast, which is called Flashback if you don’t know it. It’s just a two hander conversation that I do with Kay Austin Collins, the film critic for Vanity Fair. And every two weeks we take on another old movie with old being in our designation anytime from 1895. The first movie was projected until 1999. And we talk about that movie in-depth. That’s a great conversation. I’ve been loving the show. It’s been going on for about six months right now. Kamini are doing a little run up to the Oscars series where we each chose a movie that in the past had won an Oscar or in these movies cases many Oscars. The first was Kramer vs. Kramer, which is the most recently released episode you can hear now on the Slate Culture Feed. And next time we’re going to talk about Silence of the Lambs, which was Cam’s pick. I’m a little scared to watch it again. Obviously, that was a big Oscar sweeper. All right, Steve, back to the show.
S3: Thanks, Dana. All right. Dig in right back in. Roger Ebert has called it the noblest project in cinema. This is the so-called up series. In 1964, a young filmmaker named Michael Apted embarked on what would become an experience of a lifetime, literally. He filmed a group of children as they went about their lives and interviewed them. He’s followed this same cohort now for 56 years, revisiting them, filming them and interviewing them every seven years. The idea was to expose a newly ascendant ethic of egalitarianism as a lie and show how the British class system remained as entrenched as ever. In our accents, vocabulary, habits, tones of voice, dress and carriage. In some sense, children were already formed by the time they were seven. Now, at 63 up, we can see the lifelong arc, the struggles with class, but also illness, mental illness, sexism, racism, love and the loss of love.
S11: It is a profound work of elegy in lieu of a clip. We’re going to listen to the trailer.
S12: In 1964, Granada Television brought together a group of seven year olds. We have followed their lives every seven years. Their dreams, ambitions and fears for the future.
S13: 70 years in the 70s. Faster, a less.
S14: You look at me at seven and you look at me. And this is flamboyant, Michael.
S15: You shall not feel much shame and to be part of this program. You get your 60s. It all gets a bit I.
S14: I said I look forward to it every seven years. I suppose as you get older, you’ve got less to lose.
S16: All these things I’ve said is, yes, it has been. And you better cut it.
S9: June, let me start with you. You’re, of course, from the UK and experienced firsthand the British class system. This this product, at least initially, was about proving that we’re doomed by social class and by our childhood to some degree. What what do you make of that thesis and what do you make of this remarkable series of films?
S7: I mean, I would never have argued with that concept. I am just a little bit younger than the people in the movie. I was I mean, I was born but not really watching television when the first one was on World in Action. But I certainly watched all the others until I until I left the U.K. and now I just watch them as movies, like everyone. But, you know, certainly growing up in Manchester where the show was made, I was absolutely there’s no doubt in my mind that that class ruled everything. I do think, though, that it is different now. And I think class in a sense, you know, in having that thesis going into the movie kind of spoiled it because I think it’s an amazing achievement. But we all are very clear on its limitations that they picked based on class that they pick based a little bit on on location as well. They wanted some country people, they wanted some city people, but they basically chose extreme working class, kind of stereotypical EastEnders. They chose extraordinarily upper-class, you know, going to public school types and, you know, just a smattering of others. And they were very white. They were very male. I actually think in a sense, the thing that I wish for most is that the cohort was not just this cohort. I mean, you can’t do anything about it because they’ve got whatever it is at this point. Ten people that we’ve been following for, you know, over nine movies. You can’t have any more people. It’s almost kind of a relief sometimes that people drop out because it’s just like so many folks to keep track of. But I wish that we saw some more about younger people, a different group, because, you know, as one of the people, one of the participants notes, Britain has changed a great deal over the time of the series. It’s a much more tolerant place at this point, but there’s also a lot less support. None of the EastEnders went to university. But if they had gotten into university, it would have been free. They would have got a grant. They actually like me, would have been quite well-off when they went to university. And now, you know, sure. More of their kids. It’s more likely that they would go to university, but they won’t get any support. You know, they talk a couple of them specifically talk about the NHS, that the National Health Service is now just really stressed and benefits that kind of the support for people who need help is not there in the way it was in 1964. And I wish that we could see some of those younger people in similar circumstances, perhaps, you know. How is life different for them? We have to kind of project that. But I’m blabbering blubbering because I just think this is maybe the most important project of our lifetime.
S6: Well, something I think that Apted himself has said a lot in interviews about it is that the focus of the series changed over the decades and that he now looks back with some embarrassment at how programmatically classist or I don’t know, at an O class-based the initial project was, I think he would agree about this election. They only have one person of color. Right. I think there’s four women amidst the 12 total people. Some of them have now dropped out of the. Some of them now refuse to talk to Michael Apted. There’s a whole backstory about that. And if you do start watching this series, which I think you can jump into at any point, really, because each one has a pretty extensive summary of clips from earlier episodes, there’s certainly no need to watch it in a serial bingeing way. And that would probably make you get sick of it. Right now, I really just think you should dive in wherever and then explore from there. But it’s definitely worth reading some of the background interviews with Apted about how his own experience with these people has changed. Some of them were furious at him for decades. One refuses to talk to him and we’ll only talk to one of his producers. He sometimes pushes them in a way that feels somewhat classist or a little bit paternalistic or domineering, condescending and really always revealing his interests in his views of them.
S10: But it’s also that’s also something I think that he’s done a lot of self-scrutiny about. So in so many ways, this project that started out to be this top-down kind of exploration, like this educated man will look at this field of children and decide, you know, who they are and what they might become. It’s really been a story of life and actual people’s stories which are individualistic and unproblematic outpacing that project. And that is something that’s very moving to see, I think, as as the group gets older. Also, once you started watching, I think I dived into this around 35 because that’s just around the time I started watching this kind of thing. It’s really when they came to the states to maybe 28. Yeah, maybe. So that may have been the first one that came as a movie to the states. But you just really get attached to these characters, Neil, for example, who is just one of the most difficult and loveable. Well, that he follows is lovable in many ways, yeah. I think or just.
S6: What’s the word? I mean, he’s not easy to love, but he’s someone that you remember and you worry about. Right. And he’s this very sensitive, sweet little boy in the first and then becomes kind of a troubled adolescent. And then there’s a period when he’s a young adult that he’s homeless and sort of living off the land in a field sort of off the grid, that he’s very misanthropic and seems to be the kind of person who could just drop out of society entirely to add a hard time finding him. I think for that one episode, maybe it was 42. And in ways that I won’t reveal, but that you can see if you watch sixty-three, he’s kind of found his place and become someone who gives back to society. And that’s just that’s a very moving part of the series. There isn’t anyone really in the end that you don’t like, even the ones who are awful posh snobs when they were young. I feel like there’s something about all of them that is redeeming.
S7: I want to hear from from Steve, but I have to say that just in the way that, as I say, I’m not that different in age from them. They are older than me, but not by that much. I do still feel very shaped by the same forces that Apted was obsessed by. So, for example, some of the really posh ones, the the ones who were clearly kind of misused in the beginning because, yes, they were horrible snobs. But, you know, he showed them he showed one guy, for example, big and when he was at Oxford. I mean, come on. I’d like a little bit of a thumb on the scale. But when he spoke in this time and at this point, you know, he’s a QC, he’s a barrister. You know, he he but he’s, you know, devoted to charity overseas, blah, blah, blah.
S17: Nevertheless, when he was speaking, I gave him the finger. I was talking back and I was like, watched it with the eyes. I was just, you know, and it was crazy because I. Can you. He’s not objectionable. He’s objectively not objectionable. And yet, my you know, I was triggered by those things, even though he wasn’t saying it with a tone. He actually is quite conscious, I think, of of his privilege. And nevertheless, I was, you know, talking back to the screen.
S6: I’m curious about how this was screened in Britain on television as you were growing up, was it presented as a once every seven years kind of big television event that everyone should gather around the screen?
S18: Yeah, after a while, you know, after the first the first two were part of Worldin Action, which was show I watched every every Monday night. But once it became on an appointment event or became event television, it was extended. So I remember going home and my mum would have like taped the day’s VHS, she would have taped it and saved it for me. And I remember it wasn’t just one episode, it was like a series of episodes where you really kind of went into more. I remember once seeing one that I’d seen as a movie in the States, then going back home and like just getting a lot more of it.
S10: So even seeing trimmed down versions of it.
S7: Oh, yeah. Now, I don’t know if they kept on doing that because, you know, then I was further depart. You know, I had more distance from Britain and don’t go and watch old, you know, old TV shows. But certainly for a long time, there was an extended version that you got in Britain.
S9: I loved by the way, Biegel is a verb. It’s a couple of things. I mean, the first one was a huge hit in England. And then as I remember reading, it landed, quote unquote, like a grenade. And the posh kids not only knew what. At the age of seven, what university they would go to, but which college at Oxford or Cambridge they would belong to. As a matter of birthright, practically. And the poor kid had to ask. What’s a university? And I think that that was quite powerful. And Danas, you beautifully say over time that life intervenes, right? It just inexorably where individual human beings and we bring all kinds of deep and weird shadings to our own experiences, like a Superstruct role. The Matic was just always going to dissolve somewhat. Not entirely, not nearly entirely, but not entirely in the face of that individuality expressing itself. I love this. I agree with all of the assessments. There’s no superlative that you can’t use. I think it’s just a contribution to the world that apta deserves to be, you know, lionized for. I am interested in the ways in which British reticence colour all of it. In a way, there’s a reluctance to talk about yourself. The two Americans is very foreign. Almost everyone, I mean, with their degrees of volubility. But there is a tendency at a certain moment where an American might offer more of a self-centred story. There’s just the kind of inbred reluctance to to talk about yourself in that way, which couples up with the kind of British anti-intellectual ism a little bit. There’s a reluctance to to abstract from one’s own experience and talk about it as meaningfully, meaningfully representative of a social or historical trend in a way. So that that very aspect that John was talking about, where you might say, well, I was born in X year. Therefore, my experience generally generationally was of a more rigid class system, but a more. Generous social welfare system and on and on and this is having Lynda’s changed in years and Americans. Story tell about themselves sort of in that way for how an anti-intellectual were supposed to be were nothing compared to the Brits. Our narcissism and our sense of history do occasionally come together and produce interesting things that frustrated me a little bit. That the depth and beauty of the L.G. of it, of life now becoming way predominantly a retrospective experience for all of these people, including Apted, who has become, I think it’s fair to say, ancient in the process of making it. I think he’s older than they are.
S19: He’s 78. Yeah, well, he did start when he was 7, so he’s necessarily old. He’s now. It’s very funny.
S20: I’m such a clod. So it’s suffused with like wisdom and sadness.
S21: And there were just moments where I wish they were more openly self-reflective because they’re so clearly self-reflective. And then there’s one other thing that in some of the readings came up that I was very interested in is that the filmmakers, Apted and the producer who commissioned it, both believed that they came from the middle class and understood the middle class. And so they they kind of they made it a dumbbell structure. I mean, overwhelmingly, they’re either very posh or very Eastend or working class. And in all societies over all of time, those are the most fatalistic social classes. The rich believe they’re born to something and they cannot be deprived of it. And the poor believe or the relatively poor or working class believe that they are fated to their position in the social hierarchy. Now America troubles this somewhat, but the UK doesn’t by and large. Whereas over the last 400 or so years of having a middle class, the middle class, you know, believes that you can fall, believes that you can rise both within the middle class and outside of the middle class. And so that’s a degree of self-reflection about class as fate that’s kind of missing from this project in ways that that I felt left it with a hole, a little bit of a hole in the middle, a little bit of a doughnut. That’s it. If you do not know the up series, you ought to watch it. And I think Dana’s right. The key. The cumulative effect of my wouldn’t just watch sixty-three up. You can just watch sixty-three update to catch you up to the present tense. But I would take some time and I would do up somewhere in the middle, maybe 35. I would do seven, five and sixty 63. And you will have availed yourself of a remarkable like humanist document.
S10: 7UP is only half an hour long, which I think a lot of people don’t realize. So it’s pretty easy to get in on the ground floor with that. Also you see lots and lots of clips from it and every single one because it always kicks off with a little kids. So you won’t yell. You won’t fault seeing the little kids. But those teenage years get a little bit Klett.
S7: Yeah. And you know, there are those those awkward stages which, you know, there’s a universal policy of of just age, you know, that all of them are kind of awkward in their teen years. All of them are a little bit bolshie at 21 and then bolshy mean, you know, a little bit like I’m not going along this red, you know, not not not necessarily red, but just like they’re rebelling. They’re not they’re not going with with the program and then the ones who stuck with it like they are. It seems to be loyalty. And and, you know, this is my contribution to the world. Like there’s a they’re not necessarily into it, but they’ll do it. And then there’s a couple who are doing it for, you know, for the attention, which, you know, very explicitly, I think his name is Peter, one of the Liverpudlian is who dropped type for many years, who just explicitly said, I’m in it now because I want to draw attention to my band. But as you get to the extremes of, you know, the very young, the very old. They’re just things that we’re all you know, everybody deals with this, whether you are married, whether you have kids, whether you are happy in love or are not, you know, the body fails or your people around you die. You deal with grieving or bereavement, and those things are more universal. So at the beginning, in the end, you know, we are all more alike in the middle. There’s a lot more a lot more variation. But honestly, it’s a little bit less compelling for me just to to kind of respond to your point about wishing they were more. I guess. I think a lot of that is about Apted. I mean, I think he it’s interesting to me that he doesn’t really do much preparation. He says like he maybe has a sense he. Yes, a few questions that he asked them all, but he doesn’t. You know, it’s just like going into a podcast. He doesn’t want to for it to seem rehearsed at this point, though, they’ve gone through it so many times that he doesn’t really have to prepare them. They know how to sit for a shot. They know how to set up. They know like what’s going to get picked and be in the show. Like they’re they’re going along with it. But I think he probably he doesn’t seek the deep insights for all of his talk, for some of them of like you don’t seem to be in touch with your emotions. Well, you know, there were things he. Deaf, dumb, maybe to make them be more in touch with their emotions and he chose not to do that. Which I think probably is for the best.
S6: Yeah, it’s his reserve that comes across. Yeah. It’s not just there. Yeah.
S20: Yeah, absolutely. inJune to that. I would add that in addition to the making of the movies, having become ritualised, did the whole project feeds back into itself. These people became famous at the age of seven and progressively more famous over the course of their lives. And in that sense there’s a Heisenberg ian problem, right man.
S21: These days they’re not representative. They’re the very first reality TV stars in some sense. And that makes for some interesting dynamics as well. They resent Apted for having drawn them into this kind of fame purgatory. You know, where they get many of its downsides and precious few of its upsides.
S7: Speaking of that, Steve, Tony, the the one boy from the East End who is that kind of cheeky chappy jockey turned taxi driver? He actually addresses that whole question of the fame that the show has brought him so we can actually hear him talk about that.
S22: I’ll give you a story which happened. The doorman called me up and it was Buzz Aldrin, the space man. We drove out of the hotel and a cab pulled up and taxi driver said, can you get his autograph?
S23: So I would say Mr. Horia said, Can I have your autograph, please? I said, no, I don’t want to go off. I want your golf. I don’t come here to this style full. So, you know, I’m all for him. Aldrin was the second man to land on the moon.
S10: Oh, love Tony. Gotta love Tony. He’s such a great character in the show.
S21: I know, right? I mean, almost. I mean, it’s hard. You could argue for almost each one of them as the center of the whole thing. You know, Neild Danas, you say this to work this sort of giant thin stalk of a man kind of stomping through Scotland, homeless or semi homeless. I mean, these images are indelible.
S6: Yeah, absolutely indelible images of Neil. And then just a wonderful moment of montage and 63 up where Apted cuts from a shot of Tony as a seven year old. Is this you know, it’s sort of sturdy little 7 year old running to build something in a playground and then cuts to 63 year old Tony jogging in the woods. Just the same kind of determined strides, same kid.
S7: I just love the two boys who were in the children’s home at the beginning. I mean, the ones who really had the least because they are really their chances of succeeding in life were what were the smallest. And they both seem to have built a life that is almost idyllic. You know, not necessarily with lots of possessions, although certainly the one who moved to Australia seems to have that lovely Australian life. But they do seem very rich in, you know, personally and happy. And that’s to me, that’s like the greatest thing about the show. Like that’s that’s the most positive outcome for me of all of them.
S3: All right. Well, the whole show, except 63 up is on Amazon Prime, 63 up is currently in theaters. It’ll make its way to Amazon Prime soon enough. Any way you can, please watch this and report back to us. OK. Moving on, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle shocked the world. I think it’s fair to say by announcing that they would step back as senior members of the royal family, in effect, as I understand it, they renounce their status as members of the royal family. I think it’s fair to say Harry has chafed his whole life pretty much at his royal identity and his new relatively new bride visibly seems to hate its duties and strictures that it’s worth fleshing that out June a little bit before I turn to you.
S9: His mother, in some sense was killed for being a royal. She was a martyr to it’s interred to the royal family’s internal hypocrisies and it’s growing and toxic symbiosis with the tabloid press. And meanwhile, everything is wrong with her. And I say that in quotes. I find nothing wrong with her. But anyway. But from one perspective, horrible perspective, she’s American, black from showbiz and divorced. As shocking as it is, it’s not as though having happened. It’s impossible to point to why it happened.
S7: Not at all. And I would also say that it’s really unclear. Their statement of wanting to seek independence, of stepping back from their duties, I don’t think it’s quite clear that they’ve renounced their status. But it’s hard to say exactly what they’ve renounced. It’s all a little bit vague at the moment. But no, it’s not at all surprising. And I think that it’s quite understandable, even whether it’s the, you know, offensive racism of the British press and their response to Meghan. BuzzFeed had an amazing piece that contrasted how the British press treated almost the exact same things when William’s wife did them, who is British and white and blah, blah, blah. And when Meghan Markle did them, it was just an absolutely incontrovertible. You know, one is takes the very positive spin, the other takes the very negatives.
S6: It was like something from a Late Show parody. I don’t it was incredible. The exact same gestures would be read in this this menacing way when Meghan Markle did that and praised when Kate did the.
S17: Absolutely. And it you know, to me, it’s just an uncontroversial position that the tabloids are racists, that their response to Meghan is racist. And also, honestly, the way that they treat the royals, the royals are the greatest gift to the press. It’s the last hope for the survival of the British press. I think because this, like the monarchy, is a ridiculous institution. It shouldn’t exist. But if it does exist, then it will be used to sell newspapers to just kind of, you know, have a story that people are interested in. People are genuinely interested for whatever reason we can. Psychology’s why, but it doesn’t ultimately matter. People have an interest in these figures and they don’t play along. One of the things that the soucek says. Said, you know, which I think was like, wait, what was that there with drawing from the royal rota system, which is effectively the pool system for the royals. But when you look at who’s involved in it, it’s like for tabloids only one of which is not completely tree to tree broadsheets and a London evening paper that’s owned by a Russian, but also is edited by a former conservative chancellor of the Exchequer, like it is not an open, unfair group of newspapers that they’re supposed to kind of confer with. And also just the nature of this relationship with the royal family. They don’t play along. And so it’s really tempting for these. So are not tempting. Like the press kind of has to like projects a little bit because the the royals only give them, you know, a few crumbs from which they have to make full cakes. And so they, you know, projects a little bit. It’s it’s, um, the whole system is designed to, like put crazy shit out there that people then lap up. But if you’re the person about whom crazy shit is being made up and horrible things have been said, like it honestly feels kind of reasonable for them to want to just get out of that. And I don’t really see why we shouldn’t just let them.
S6: Well, the queen is now said, fine, you’re out. Right.
S8: I mean, this is quite fine. You’re right. But she’s open to negotiations, I think.
S6: Do you think, June, that it’s possible that this is a crack that could start to split the monarchy open, that, you know, when you see that these this young couple can go off and make their own life in media or whatever they’re going to do, that people will start to say, wait, this this whole thing was kind of a bogus scam to begin with.
S17: I hope so. I mean, because I have this weird situation where I grew up there I go back every year, but I don’t live there. I don’t you know, I’m not really part of it. So I see things almost like with a time stop kind of way, you know, the world stops and then I go there and it starts again. It’s just a strange way of experiencing life. So from my point of view, I was in Britain when Princess Di died and for the funeral and the crazy outpouring of emotion. It really does seem to me that that was a change in Britain, that after that I saw people like kissing each other and being like it did change. The way the British people respond to it like that makes no sense. I hear myself saying that. And how could it? But I kind of think it does like these people who are like, nobody really knows why we’re paying for them, what their exact job is. Although, you know, the queen is 93 and still working her ass off. So like, they’re doing something, they reflect changes. They they set changes in motion. But at the same time, there’s something in the very nature of the institution that prioritizes permanence and lack of change. So it’s a very it’s a contradictory situation. We don’t want to to continue to exist as as, you know, on the same parallel that they’ve been for hundreds of years at the same time. Well, how exactly do they leave? Because we need to keep paying their security costs. Do they still, like, go around and shake candlelight? Because that’s nobody can quite say exactly what their job is. Do they still wear those uniforms or they still go to Scotland in the summer and were killed? Everything is so vague and yet we’re obsessed.
S9: I want to drill down June for a second on the contradictory noser or contrariness that you were pointing to from a slightly different direction, though. So on the one hand, you know, initially one might think this is an entirely principled stance on the part of a new generation that finds the protocols and expectations that surround this public identity to be preposterous. And to wit, you know, Harry said something I thought quite moving. He said, I’ve seen what happens when someone I love is commoditized to the point that they’re no longer treated or seen as a real person. It was a statement. So he might not have written it. Maybe he did. I don’t know. I lost my mother and now I watched my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces. That’s quite a principled stand to take on behalf of your new wife. And this might involve a real sacrifice. And so I thought, this is marvellous. And then you start to hear that there are all kinds of deals being made with entertainment companies that her agents have been involved in some of this deal brokering. And you begin to think is a totally cynical interpretation here possible, which is that this generation has grown up with the Cardassian and Beyonce and Jay-Z as a kind of royal family. And this other one is anachronistic. Its limitations are unnecessary. You can make more money as this kind of unofficial royal. They could become the influencers to end all influencers, reap an enormous fortune and do it vastly more on their own terms. Is that a contrarian? You see here, Junor is sort of a two to be determined. Or am I? Am I being too cynical?
S7: No, I absolutely see that parallel. I mean, how did they make this announcement on their social media platform, on their new Web site?
S6: That was all bells and whistles and fancy end, which is called, I’ll just point out, Sussex royal dot com. So, you know, they are to some degree profiting from that name.
S7: Absolutely. And so, you know, yes, this is something that we’ve seen in you know, in the other world, in the world of entertainment, where famous people have put to put it in a bland way, kind of don’t need the tabloids anymore, don’t need the press anymore, because they can just make an announcement on Instagram and sell stuff on Instagram. It is kind of sad to me that the assumption seems to be that when they move toward financial independence, it will be through influencing, which is everything that I’ve heard. You know, I usually listen to the world at one, the flagship midday BBC Radio News broadcast. And, you know, all of the talk of what they’ll do has been around influencing, which seems sad to me because like that’s not actually a job. Like, I get that these are very famous people. They have a position that’s maybe what’s available to them. And obviously she’s an actress. So that is not insane. And, you know, I don’t know what are the skills he has. He was in the army. But, you know, that’s kind of too bad. I wish they were. You know, they’ve talked about maybe doing charitable things. I kind of wish it was more stuff like that. I wish it was something with a bit more meaning than whatever they’re going to influence on Instagram for that to seems a bit sad to me, but yeah, they’re linking up with the other part of the entertainment industry that’s more explicitly about commoditizing thing.
S3: All right. We’d love to get mail on the subject. It would be very fun from our UK listeners especially. But everyone. Anyway, moving on right now is the moment in the podcast when we endorse endorsed. Dana, what do you have?
S6: I’m going to send people to a great interactive graphic that appeared on The New York Times a couple of days ago. Did you guys see this thing comparing the textbooks from California and Texas? You know what I’m talking. Yeah, I didn’t actually go deep into it, but I saw that it was. It’s really fascinating. I haven’t gone as deep as you can go because this is one of those interactive graphics that allows for a lot of interaction. But yes, as a way of talking about, you know, the way that history and other topics are taught in different states, they took eight textbooks that have been used in California and Texas over the last. I’m not sure how many years. And just compared the way that they told various stories from American history. As you can imagine, the two state systems have very different ways of presenting information and having grown up in the public school system of Texas. I was particularly interested to compare the way, for example, the Second Amendment is talking about. You can imagine there’s a very different presentation and sometimes the textbooks are from the same company and are just printed with different information, with some things left out, with different things, emphasized it. Maybe just think of a conversation that we had a few years back. I think it was when we were talking with Jamal about the series that he did on slavery with with Rebecca Onion and and talking about the way we had been taught the civil war and reconstruction growing up. And as a Texas high school student, I remember specifically being told that in the multiple choice question about what the causes of the Civil War were, slavery was the wrong answer. Right. That that was only one of many complex answers. It is about states rights and all of these things that I thought at the time were, oh, this is me getting a nuanced understanding of the civil war. I don’t know what I thought, but that was certainly how it was presented anyway. Wherever you grew up, I think looking at this interactive graphic is a really instructive way of thinking about education and about, you know, the huge gaps that opened up when American history is presented in different ways. You can find that on The New York Times. I would just Google Texas California history books and you’ll find yourself there and you can spend a long time diving in.
S3: That sounds amazing. June, what do you got?
S7: So because we’ve been talking about Britain today. I want to recommend a British TV show that actually is not available even on all the many official legal ways to see British television these days.
S8: But on YouTube, there are lots of episodes of what’s now become my favorite British TV show, which is called Antiques Road Trip. Now, don’t confuse it with Antiques Roadshow. But it is also as well about antiques. But it’s more of a competition show to antiques. Dealers are given 200 pounds. They’re putting the classic car. They are sent home. He’s really weird and somewhat complicated driving trips where they stop off at antiques stores and they spend their money on buying things which they then at the end of the day, sell at auction. And over the course of five days, they compete against each other to see who can, you know, win more. And then at the end of the week, the winnings are given to charity. Now, that sounds maybe a bit dull, but it’s really great. First of all, the people that they have on the shore are interesting and funny and good companions for them. Part. So there’s this kind of goofy competition element. But then there are these really, really well-done documentary just kind of stops. So while somebody is off shopping, another person will go and talk to somebody. Like recently I saw one where they were at like the World War One Trench Museum, which was just fascinating, or they visited someone who was thatching, a roof and just kind of showed how you do that and you kind of get antique education. But the key ingredient, as in a lot of British sort of reality or documentary competitions or reality competition shows, is there’s a really cheeky narrator who really makes it. You see that on things like Come Dine with me and other British competitions. I really recommend it. Just Google it.
S7: Our search on YouTube for an episode and I think you might enjoy it is called Antiques Road Trip. I love it.
S9: All right, Steve Long talker Metcalf. Has this week. Well, last week he had a two word endorsement this week. It’s only a three word endorsement. Hounds of love.
S24: Ha! Are you going Regling? I am beagle ing the game. Bush saw you don’t know. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
S21: Oh my God. So my daughters listen to this kind of you know, we’ve just had this amazing dialectical synthesis of authored melancholy indie pop with diva driven producer, producer driven mainstream pop. And it’s produced like Billy Eilish and is probably an even the Ariana Grande Day albums exhibited this Lana Del Rey being like a you know, probably the most obvious combination of these two things. And then all of these bedroom pop derivatives that are just marvelous. I really love this music. And all of a sudden, as my younger daughter was playing this playlist, on comes the Kate Push song Hounds of Love, which I had not heard in 25 years. And it is just it is just the greatest song I can’t tell you. And also, it’s the fucking seedbed from which all of this other music derives. And in fact, that’s traceable. I’ve been sort of Googling around and reacquainting myself with Kate Bush, who I loved back in the day. Dana, do you remember that song Hounds of War when you mentioned it?
S6: I do. I’m embarrassed not to remember it because I was also such a huge Kate Bush fan. And it’s funny, you mentioned Billy Eilish DPH, because I think I was the first person to mention her on the show when she was still kind of a YouTube artist and hadn’t dropped her album or become super famous except among teenagers. And I remember walking by my daughter’s room and she was listening to Billy Eilish. And I thought, is that Kate Bush? I was so excited that she had discovered Kate Bush on her own. But there’s definitely a similarity. And it was more the orchestration. You know, the kind of like you say that like dreamy soundscape creation.
S21: And June, you’ll remember, right. I mean, she broke huge in England. Yeah. Bigger than she ever did here.
S17: I guess I saw her on her first tour, which I think may have been for a long time, her only tour, because I think she kind of hated touring and and just really didn’t do it.
S18: But I yeah, I was a huge fan in her early days.
S21: Yeah, she was Bjork before Bjork. Really? I mean, she had this multi, you know, kind of incorporated costume dance mime gesture into the music. She was doing something that is at that point was musically completely unfamiliar. This curiously choppy, sometimes a melodic but ultimately quite ethereal and beautiful song crafting, you know, song style. You know, those first three albums are just remarkable. They’re each one of them is great in their way. But just if you don’t know Kate Bush, like acquaint yourself just by putting on hounds of love. I just think it’s one of the greatest 3 minute singles ever made. It’s so itself. And yet very this one very melodic and catchy and earworm in the best sense of that term.
S19: So check it out. Kate Bush, former producer, Ben Fresh, when he hears this, we’ll be able to hear his screams because he is a Bush lifer. Yes.
S25: Oh. Oh, I love that. All right. Very good shadow, Ben, for. All right, guys, thanks. Thanks for filling in. Thank you for having me. Always a pleasure. And Dana, wonderful show. Thanks a lot. Thanks.
S26: You’ll find links to some of the things we talked about today on our show page, that’s slate.com slash culture fest. You can e-mail us at Culture Best at Slate.com. Every week, guys, I’ll say it until the end of time. Please e-mail us. We love hearing from you. It gives us a sense of the wonderful community that’s out there that listens to the show. We do have a Twitter feed. It’s at Slate Kulp Fest. Our producers, Kutcher Combover, a production assistant, is Rachel Allen for June Thomas and Dana Steven Times, TV makeup. Thank you so much for joining us. We will see you soon.
S6: Hello and welcome to the Slut Please segment of our show. We’re going to talk today about ourselves as young, cheeky chappies in black and white running around in our own imaginary seven up movies. Steve, this was your idea for a topic. I like this idea. I’m intrigued, but I don’t quite know where to go with it. Are we putting ourselves in the American class system or British and June’s case? Are we talking about our psychology throughout our lives?
S27: Let’s just take that Jesuit saw of you. Give me a child at seven and I’ll give you the man. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this. I mean, I’m I’m an adopted child. I’m a I’m a lifelong nature, nurture experiment with totally equivocal results. And I feel like I’ve lived semi consciously at the intersection of biology, temperament, social class. I switched social classes. My birth parents were very working class and my adoptive parents were very outwas rich people. Oh, yes. No, no, no, absolutely no, no, no, I’m not claiming any any authenticity. Working class authenticity at all. But once you find that out about yourself and your would be parents, your biological parents, it’s like it does in form. I have three full biological siblings and to see what their fates in the world were as opposed to mine. So I would never, ever minimize one’s quote unquote, social or cultural position in the grid, you know, or hierarchy or both. Third, hugely determinative at the same time. I’m a liberal, artsy humanist. And the premise there is is of a degree of openness by which one assigns to oneself one’s own life pattern, without which literature and philosophy and art lose a lot of their meaning. If you don’t think that that self imposition is aspirationally possible or just possible at all, then those things suddenly colored very differently. And especially as someone who maybe grew up in a household that wasn’t liberal artsy in the least, discovering them and then making a new self, you know, at the age of 14 and 20 and 30 and on and on and on has been just so critically important. So it’s it’s to be what’s interesting about that statement is, is it’s profound truth and it’s profound untruth and how all of life is trying somehow to exist between those two poles and work work it out so that you can live in a equilibrium and move forward.
S7: Let me ask you, Dana, because you mentioned earlier in the in the regular show that you grew up in Texas. You don’t live in Texas anymore. Your physical location is different. Could you see? You know, when you were seven, if you’d look down the road, can you. Would you have seen where you ended up?
S6: I don’t know. I feel like I have the most boring answer to this question. I mean, Steve has the incredible story that he just told. And I want to hear more. Steve, still about your seven year old self. June, you have, among other things, having switched countries during your life and nationalities. And I think I am probably still on the same trajectory. You know, I was a middle class kid in Texas. My father was in the Air Force at the time. And I don’t know what I was like at seven, but I suspect that I was already somewhat bookish and introverted and maybe on the path to being, you know, whatever sort of word person making a living off of words that I am now. And I guess maybe I’m still so much inside of that. It’s like what we were saying about Michael Apted being so much of the middle class that he didn’t think of putting middle class figures in his in his story. Maybe I can’t step outside of it enough to see how that world formed me, you know, and I because I wasn’t swimming against any tide in my parents were encouraging me to become the person I was and certainly not putting strictures around it. When I look back on that time, I feel a lot of tenderness toward them for having done a good job at letting me and my siblings become who we were. But I can’t really say that I can do an X-ray of either myself or American society by looking back on this. Vaguely remembered. I remember who my best friend was and where she lived, and I remember who taught me in second grade, which is, I guess where you are when you’re seven years old. And all of that stuff seems pretty contiguous with who I am.
S9: Wade, I have a question. Dana, when was your first memory of thinking to yourself? Not in a not in a bad or alienating way, but thinking to yourself. I am not my parents child, probably older than that.
S6: I mean, I was not a particularly rebellious kid. I don’t even know as a teenager that I felt super rebellious. I mean, we’re taking a trip with my parents when I was 20 years old and being incredibly embarrassed to be with them. And really, I was too old to be embarrassed. Right. I was being a teenager after it was too late to be a teenager already. I remember moments of self-definition and deciding to be a writer. Actually, I was probably around 7 when I I had this kind of vision of myself that when I grew up, I was gonna be a writer and never really significantly diverged from that. Although what a writer was obviously changed me over those years. And there was a period of window thinking that it would mean writing fiction or or journalism or all kinds of different things. Do either of you have a moment like that, whether it has to do with your parents or defining yourself as what your job might be?
S7: I mean, I remember so when I was 7, I spent like showing off, but I went through my my primary school, my elementary school in two years. I did in three years. And then I just I was very young. I was like very young even for my age. And so I then I just spent three years in the top class. But I just kind of sped through the school until then. And that set gave me this idea that I would be on a different trajectory, that I would move be moving in a different way, that like it was not literally, but like that this place was was too slow for me or like I I could progress beyond this because I grew up in a village, you know, when my mom and dad had both grown up. They left school when they were 14 and fifteen. You know, I’ve had that sense right from the start. That that wasn’t going to be my fate, but at the same time, I feel like I act like as I get older, the more I see that I really haven’t changed at all. As you said, yeah, I changed country. I live a very bourgeois life. I like my life is nothing like theirs were or have been. But at the same time, like I go to the same place on holiday every year. Which was something that we did. I like just many of the ways, just in my personality. I see either them or me as I was as a kid. And also, honestly, it was kind of maybe fated that I would leave. Like it was a very normal thing for people who grew up in the village or who lived in the village where I grew up to emigrate. You wouldn’t necessarily go to London or go elsewhere in Britain, but you would go to Canada or Australia or very occasionally America. So that was actually just the thing that people did. So maybe I really did just follow my fated path. I just maybe I just kind of saw it. I knew I wouldn’t be staying there. But, you know, it’s kind of it. I see. I feel like I knew exactly what I would do at that point. And I was very interested in America.
S6: Do you remember ever feeling like I’m not English or I don’t belong here? I want to live somewhere else?
S18: No, absolutely. I knew I knew that from when I was a teenager. Tall and I like I dare is like a specific moment where, like, I went, you know, in English.
S7: It’s. It stays light quite early, quite late in the summer. And I remember like people being outside. And I remember things, you know, like having one of those weird moments where you like, remember that nothing moment and thinking, I’m gonna be in America. I’m not going to be here very long. And I did indeed leave. I mean, I did American studies at university. I came to America and I kind of never went back. So, you know, it was all fated. It all just happened as predicted.
S19: But also, I believe it was. Right. Exactly. Program. Exactly. Exactly.
S6: Steve, what about you? We’ve heard of more overview of your childhood, but do you have any specific memory like that from elementary school days of foreseeing your future?
S28: Not really. Not really. I think for me, the really defining experience was, you know, I think I was really, really my parents’ kid up through third, fourth or maybe fifth grade and then and then began to discover I really wasn’t in some sense that this was a hugely meaningful break. Look, you know, quick, my conscience consciousness became almost divided in a way, because, you know, they were real. I mean, God bless them. I mean, they gave me every advantage in the world. Right. This is not meant disrespectfully, but they were very much. Park Avenue WASP types. In a way, and you just slowly, you know, as a child. Almost definitely definitionally their world is your world. And for me, it was just clear at a very young age, you know, even though what will replace it was very dim. It was just clear to me that that couldn’t be my world. Right, that.
S29: Just something about mindlessly reproducing the social class of my parents was you know, it involves as I got older, I realized it involved becoming a banker, you know, or possibly a corporate lawyer or, you know, it involved kinds of things. They’re just inimical to my, you know, my personality.
S24: But what’s that?
S18: Oh, it’s just that a vision of you as a banker.
S1: Yeah, exactly. You know, and it’s so. That was just the you know, that was just a large fact of my life that there was this highly anachronistic and very small world.
S28: I mean, we’re talking about the Upper East Side of Manhattan in the 1970s. You know, and a kind of subset of that.
S27: You know, this sort of Presbyterian, Episcopalian, you know, old school like dancing school with gloves. I mean, I. That was a world I was made a part of with no say in it up until a certain age.
S28: And at a certain age you realized, I do. I want to live in this weird glass case in this weird fucking glass menagerie. And and you know, it just. Anyway, all of which is to say. Yeah. I mean, I think so sort of as a process of self-discovery at a very early age between seven and twelve. It became clear to me that this was just on unworkable for someone like me.
S7: But yeah, I do. I mean and that really resonates with me too, that sometimes the though the way that you see your future is in contradistinction to where you are, that you kind of get a glimpse of what your life would be. And very early you can choose to, you know, take steps that will take you on a very different path to a different place or to a different. But you can see it. I mean, I feel like I could see it by then.
S6: Well, that’s the beginning of any change in your life at any age really is just say, I don’t know what I want, but it’s not. Exactly right. Exactly. Steve, do you remember when you started to be a person of letters, when you started to read and care about reading and writing came in phases?
S29: I think early on I was reader just temperamentally. But you know what was lying around the house where Agatha Christie’s and James Bond novels, you know. But you get to get into the habit of what it’s like to be, you know, alone with a book. And I never lost that. And then, you know, and then I became kind of a classic teen who had these Bibles, these totally predictable Bibles like catch-22 and Catcher in the Rye or whatever. I might tend to focus on one book or one writer and make them totemic, you know, to me. And then it was really only later in my early 20s, really, I started to I started to read way more widely and deeply in literature.
S27: But it took me awhile.
S6: It’s just striking me. I didn’t think of this when we started out, but we actually do represent a class spectrum here. You write you come from a working class family. I was sort of solidly middle class. I would say my parents moved more into the upper middle class your life than this working class. Right. And its roots. Yeah. My dad’s from West Virginia. And definitely, you know, somebody who, you know, was the first in his family to go to college, as was my mother. So there’s a little bit of more of a bootstrap story back there, you know. But all of us were born into this family that just assumed that we would have an education and that they would be able to save for it, et cetera. And of course, joining the Air Force was a part of that as well. So that’s, you know, all sort of Middle-Class signifiers, right? Also, my parents mobility was very middle class. We were neither sort of in the village where everybody stayed, nor were we in this Park Avenue glass case, as you say, Steve. But we were constantly moving around, you know. So although I grew up in Texas, I’m not really from there because my parents aren’t from there and no longer live there. And then use Steve, as you say, or from this much more traditional kind of upper class Park Avenue. So maybe meth, Michael Apted should come and film us all for the next time for the rest of our lives.
S3: What should we call our show? How about Boik, Berger and Iris?
S24: That’s our law firm.
S10: All right. That was that was a really good discussion. Thanks for the suggestion, Steve.
S3: Yeah, well, my pleasure.
S10: And thanks to all of you for being Slate Plus subscribers. We will talk to you next week.