Culture Gabfest “Double Double Rogan in Trouble” Edition

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S1: Hello, listeners, Dana Stevens here, as you might already know, my book titled Cameraman Buster Keaton, The Dawn of Cinema and the Invention of the 20th century is now available for purchase and now culture Gabfest listeners can get a great deal on the audiobook edition of Cameramen, which is read aloud by me. If you go to Slate.com slash Dana, I have my own URL and I love it. You can get the audio book for just 13 999. That’s $10 off the list price. Then you can listen to the audio book in your preferred podcast app. There’s no standalone app to download and no subscription fees, and please note that this audio book sale is brought to you by Slate. That means that if you buy my audio book to listen to on Slate, your purchase not only supports me and my work, it also helps support the important distinctive slate journalism you depend on. This is a limited time sale, so don’t just sit there, go to Slate.com, slash Dana again that Slate.com slash Dana.

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S2: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate Plus membership. I’m Stephen Metcalf, and this is the Slate Culture Gabfest Double-Double Rogan in trouble edition. It’s Wednesday, February 2nd, 2022. On today’s show, Joel Coen he of the Coen Brothers struck out on his own and directed a film version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth that stars Denzel Washington and the title character and Frances McDormand as Lady Macbeth. We’ll be joined by Slate’s own Isaac Butler and then not dead straight white male Joe Rogan, and he’s a huge presence in podcasting. The kind of maybe I’m still not sure alt right adjacent host may now be in trouble for promoting COVID misinformation. We’ll be joined by also Slate’s own Justin Peters. And finally, the slut shaming of green M&Ms. Joining me today is Julia Turner, the deputy managing editor of The L.A. Times. Hey, Julia!

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S3: Hello, Steve.

S2: And of course, Dana Stevens, the film critic for Slate.com. Hey, Dana,

S1: Hey, Stephen,

S2: you hold up, OK? After a busy week, no doubt

S1: it was more than a busy week. It was really the most surprising week of my life. Like, I doubt, Steve, that you’re enough on social media to figure this out, but my book is kind of a hit like it’s selling much better than I or the publisher expected, and it’s kind of like becoming a hot book right now. I mean, not to brag, but I swear to God that is actually what’s happening out there.

S3: Yeah, you’re welcome.

S2: Hey, J.K., that’s great. Dana, that’s such great news. I could not be happier for you. All right. Are you ready to make a show? Are you too big for us now?

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S1: Oh, I’ll grant you one. Last week, I Dana to do one less like, oh, four Gabfest before I step on you like rungs on the ladder.

S2: Clearly, the message of Macbeth did not land with Dana Stevens. All right. Well, the tragedy of Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s bleakest plays. Arguably, it has a lot of competition in that regard. Nonetheless, it tells the story of the brutal murder of the King of Scotland and its many lurid consequences. But it’s scarcely a play only about political violence. It’s about human beings as they can be broken on the wheels of their own conscience. This version is directed by Joel Coen in the moody IST throwback black and white. It stars Denzel Washington as Macbeth, and Frances McDormand is Lady Macbeth, and it has to be pointed out Kathryn Hunter, as all three witches, is a revelation in this film. Dana Will you set up a clip for us?

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S1: Sure, I believe the clip we have to listen to is one of the most famous speeches from Macbeth, one that you might have had to memorize in your high school classroom. It’s the is this a dagger which I see before me speech. So you’re just going to hear Denzel Washington as Macbeth as he. If you want to get a visual as he sort of stumbles down this long hallway trying to contemplate whether or not he can carry off the murder of King Duncan.

S4: Is this a dagger which I see before me? I know toward my hand. Goffe. I’d be glad to be. I have not had yet I see these Dana Hawk Down, not fatal vision and sense of good feeling has to sight. So I thought her dagger of the mind of false creation proceeding from the heat of the brain. I see the. Form as palpable as this, which now I draw. Belmarsh, list me the way that I was going in such an instrument I was to use my eyes were made of fools or the other senses or else worth all the rest. I see these two.

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S2: All right, well, we’re joined by Isaac Butler, very, extremely good friend of the program. He the author also of the forthcoming book Is It Out Now, Isaac?

S5: It is now out. Yes. Oh, you can go get it wherever books are sold.

S2: OK, and it is the method how the 20th century learned to act. I’ve read it. It’s really fabulous. It’s deep and in its way, zippy. It’s hard to do both things. You, you really. You nailed it. Thank you so much. Yeah, thank you. All right. Let’s let’s dive right in, you know? You know, Macbeth is the shortest of the tragedies. It’s not a very long or arduous play to perform. It gets done as early as middle school. We’ve all seen it a million times. It is thickly covered with what I call the grime of familiarity. Just one greatest hit after another, the dagger speech tomorrow and tomorrow. The weird, which is how to Joel Coen do with it. Did he wipe off the grime?

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S5: Yeah, I think in a lot of ways he did, in part because he has such a refined visual sensibility. You know, he’s such a brilliant cinematic stylist that I think he really brought that to bear on the work. So, you know, for folks who haven’t seen it or seen ads for it or whatever, it’s all shot on soundstages in black and white in a 4:3 aspect ratio. It borrows from a lot of different kind of modernist design movements, from symbolism to especially German Expressionism. And he also invents a new subplot that he puts within the play, dealing with the theme of Ross. And I think what he finds within the material is a lot of both, you know, plot and character and theme that rhymes with, you know, the rest of his work that he did with his brother, Ethan, over the past few decades. In many ways, it feels like it connects very deeply to blood. Simple. You know that you have this couple that’s conspiring to commit a murder that is doesn’t realize it, but are totally out of their depth. You know, that’s a very Coen Brothers theme, as is, you know, a world that is perhaps capricious and not understandable and characters who get lost within that. I don’t know. I was totally blown away with it by it. I watched it like twice in two days, once by myself to review it. And then I loved it so much that I watched it with my wife and I loved it even more the second time. And I was just I just thought it was really surprising and great.

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S2: M&M Dana Isaac was blown away and blown away. What about you?

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S1: I wanted to have precisely the response that Isaac did. And so I have to say that there was a slight sense of deflation upon seeing it. I think that the production design is gorgeous, that look that German Expressionist look that Isaac described. I mean, gorgeous isn’t even quite the right word. It’s it’s expressive. You know, it’s incredible. Yeah, it accomplishes the goal of telling the story through design and lighting in a way and cinematography in a way that’s quite extraordinary. The cinematographer Bruno del Bonnell is somebody who’s worked a lot with the Coens and who obviously did a lot of really meticulous thinking about how the movie should look and why it should look that way. And we can talk more about what what some of those details are. And I loved that part of it. I loved that it had such an original vision. But some of the things that Isaac mentioned, for example, the creation of that entirely new composite character, the thing of Ross, who I want to talk about Denzel Washington’s performance to some degree, and I feel like I’m treading on dicey ground there, but I was so excited to see him as Macbeth. He is a wonderful actor, but I’m not sure that he works that well in this role. I think that he may be miscast, or maybe it’s that he and Frances McDormand seem like they’re in slightly different performance registers in a way that never made me feel that they were in cahoots. There was something emotionally that didn’t cohere about this Macbeth for me, even though many, many parts of it are beautifully done. Macbeth should be wrenching, and I didn’t feel wrenched. I felt aesthetically fascinated, but but never emotionally involved.

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S3: Well, that connects back Dana to your responses to previous Coen films, I think, which is that there’s a little bit of an icy remove in them if I’m remembering some of your prior views correctly. But I found that effective. I the thing that struck me about this performance in this production is that in past iterations of Macbeth, including the one we talked about a few years ago with Marion Cotillard, right? The main thrust is the psychology of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth themselves, right? It’s about how they feel, it’s about the ambition, it’s about the blood lust, it’s about the mess they find themselves in and how they can’t extricate themselves, and it’s about the emotional condition of that progression for them. And this struck me as a very like post-Trump era Macbeth in that. And perhaps this is because of the plot shuffling that you mentioned, Isaac. I felt that we were seeing them from the outside, and I felt actually that the kind of majesty of Frances McDormand and Denzel Washington as actor figures worked in an intentional way where they seem like their leaders like they’re up on this lofty remove. They’re both taking, you know, all these lines that you’ve heard so many times in your life that it’s nearly impossible to act them at this point without sounding like you’re back on your eighth grade stage and really having their way with them. But our heart in our perspective is with all the people they rule who are like, What the fuck has happened to our country? Like, this is a disaster. And I don’t recall seeing another Macbeth that felt so situated outside their own drama. And I’m sure Isaac can point me to six because he’s

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S4: not necessarily,

S3: but that that was it all. I agree with you that I didn’t feel like I was as close to them, but they’re nutters anyway. Like, it felt sort of like the play almost made more sense to be. To me, being closer to the people who who are less crazy in the production. Steve, what did you make of it?

S2: I well, I loved it. I almost couldn’t have loved it more, I thought. First of all, I thought that that Kathryn Hunter’s performances all three, which is a very strong, you know, choice on the part of, you know, presumably the director. Double double time and trouble fire

S3: burn and cauldron bubble.

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S2: She takes it and runs with it in her own direction, this contorted, you know, physicality that she brings to it. And to me, this is a play about, you know, a man who mistakes a curse for a charm. And how so? His relationship to the prophecy is what is so critical, because what she’s telling him about his is is is effectively how his own character is going to misread the own. The very words that she’s telling to him. And instead of revealing the future to him, what it does is tie the noose of his own fate around his neck. And what’s so, so that’s what’s ancient about it. In a way that’s that’s the Oedipal, the classic Oedipal story going all the way back to the origins of tragedy. That character is our fate, and it’s our fate not to understand or see our own character clearly until it’s too late. But on top of which is this quintessentially modern gesture that Shakespeare makes in the direction. I mean, we would say his post Freudian to Freud, but I think it’s kind of, you know, it transcends even that, you know, where essentially this is a play about people who feel guilty about what they’ve done, can’t consciously process it and go crazy. It’s their own mind that’s turning against their own minds so that when the one religious figure in the play says they’re in the patient, most ministered to himself. You know, nothing in Shakespeare’s universe or world view subscribes to the idea that piety is the answer to the human condition. So that lands in a different way. It’s it’s it’s sort of, you know, the tragedy, Isaac, is that is that self-knowledge? It’s not that people want power and commit heinous acts to get it. It’s that self-knowledge is somehow both urgently necessary and impossible, and everything flows from that essential, you know, human tragedy.

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S5: I agree with that Stephen. And I would also say that one of the things that maybe I found refreshing about this is that it’s not the angle on the material that I take when I teach it or that I would take when directing it, which sort of roots it in the midlife crisis realization that that you can realize all your ambitions, but no one gets out alive. Do you know what I mean? Like, to me, the play is this like out of control roller coaster heading to the tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow’s speech, right? And that is not what this version of the play is about. To me, this this version of the play is about being lost in a uncaring, possibly malicious universe that is always two steps ahead of you, no matter what you’re trying to do. And I and about how, you know, no amount of self-knowledge is, as you put it, Stephen is going to help you navigate that. Really, all it’s going to help you realize is how lost you are. And I found that very affecting and actually really scary. I found watching this film scary. Maybe I’m a

S2: it’s a no, it’s a horror movie, but I did it.

S5: I thought it was like a work of cosmic horror in a way that was really deep and affecting. And I think some another shout out for for how it accomplishes that is Carter Burwell score, which is, I think, one of the best he’s done in years. I just found it really affecting, I don’t know. I was really shaken by it.

S1: Julia, I’m turning to you and seeking some support. I do not want you to trash this movie. I think people should absolutely see it. It’s a it’s an utterly original interpretation of Macbeth. The fact that I didn’t happen to be emotionally drawn into the story did not keep me from being very glad that I had seen it and being haunted by many things about it, especially the witches and the imagery surrounding the witches turning into crows and coming through the fog. I mean, that stuff is just stunning. It could be a silent movie. You could have no dialogue, and it would still be great. But is there not something Julia? Do you not feel that there was some lack of? I mean, chemistry is the wrong word for for Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. It’s not like we want to see them striking sparks off each other, but I didn’t feel the history of the relationship or understand why at that moment, they embarked on this journey. I mean, this is part of the trickiness of making the middle aged rather than, you know, the usually younger lady Macbeth and Macbeth. Is that why would they wait this long to go on this ambitious journey? What is their history? There’s the, you know, famous and much discussed mysterious speech that Lady Macbeth makes about, you know, these breasts have given suck, but I would take the baby and dash its brains out in order to, you know, achieve my ambitions. And everyone has always asked throughout the history of interpreting this play well, what does that mean, right? Did their child die? You know, what’s their plan for succession? Are they obsessed with ambition precisely because they don’t have a child to pass the crown onto? And I didn’t feel like this movie addressed that or the fact that, you know, if they had had a child, it must have died. I mean, I don’t know did not know that that needs to be explicitly laid out. But there’s something missing in the connection between those two characters in this movie that just just kept me from quite believing in their complicity.

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S3: I’m afraid I’m not going to ride to the rescue Dana because I I. With my boring, sensible illness like that, even in more full renditions of Macbeth, I’ve still had trouble like, you know, it’s like the part of me that’s like, why did risk on a Goffe kill the old lady? It’s like, Why are they doing this? It makes no sense. Like, just calm down, enjoy being in the royal court and like, anyway, so Joe your life.

S1: Life coach to the Macbeth

S3: Dwight like

S5: they do manifest their, you know, they do manifest their dreams.

S3: They sure do. They did. They were practicing the secret, I guess.

S5: Yeah, exactly. And they had a vision board of being

S3: king and queen like. To me, that’s never been the most interesting part. And maybe that’s me missing the point. Maybe you can’t. Maybe the way I did feel that the weight of the sound and fury speech at the end, it didn’t land in the way that it sometimes has because. Denzel and McDormand seem a little more remote in this production, but even when you’re deep in the psychology of these crazed bows in other productions like, you know, it’s never been one of my favorite plays like I am I. As a student of human emotion, Shakespeare is completely unparalleled, but this particular set of emotions has never been the one that resonates most for me. So I both like, See what you are? Referring to Dana, and yes, I agree, they sort of jump right into their bonkers plot and you don’t have it as organic as sense of why it is that this couple would embark on this plan at this moment, but I don’t know, kind of didn’t matter to me like, you know, they’re headed towards the damned spot anyway. So I don’t know. Somehow it worked.

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S2: Yeah, they they oddly doubt or not. Oddly, I mean, they they they made a choice and they downplayed tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, which it and other productions it all hurdles toward that, that moment of realization that it signifies nothing. OK, well, it’s I think the panel is basically saying, you should see this. It’s on streaming on Apple TV Plus. I think you should definitely check it out. I was floored by it. Isaac, as always, a complete pleasure to have you on the show. Good luck with the book. I’m going to be talking to you in the next few days. See you soon, man. Thanks for coming on.

S5: Thank you so much for having me on the show.

S2: All right, now is the moment in our podcast we talk business Dana, what do you have?

S1: Stephen Our first item of business is to remind listeners that this week we have a live event happening in New York City at the Strand Bookstore. It’s going to be in the beautiful, rare books room at the Strand. This will also turn into next week’s Slate Culture Gabfest, but if you’re in the New York area, you can come here as tape it in person. This is a special event designed around the dual book release for my book Cameraman, which you may have heard Stephen Metcalf blathering about over the past few months, and the new book The Method by Isaac Butler, a longtime friend of the podcast and frequent contributor to Slate. And if you’re new to this podcast and have never heard of either of these two books or people to remind you, my book is about Buster Keaton. Isaac Butler’s book is about method acting and the history of method acting in the 20th century in an interesting way. I think these books kind of weave together, as we’ve talked about a few times on this show. So at this event hosted by Stephen Metcalf, we’re going to dig into some of those similarities and differences and also the experience that Isaac and I had more or less concurrently writing our books. We will also have a listener Q&A for the audience. So if you’re in the New York City area, you can buy a ticket to this event and we will put a link in the show notes for how to do that. Again, this event is going to be tomorrow night, Thursday, February 3rd at seven p.m. Eastern Time at the Strand Bookstore in downtown Manhattan. Our second item of business, Steve, is just to tell listeners about today’s Slate Plus segment this week. It comes from a listener question. A couple of listener questions, actually, when we talked about Don’t look up the new Adam McKay comedy about climate change, a couple of listeners wrote in and said, Could you expand your discussion into culture and climate in general? How has the ecological crisis impacted your relationship to culture? And how should we think about representing this crisis to ourselves? That came from a listener named Ben, another listener by the name of Stu, wrote to us and said, How do you think motion pictures will handle the issue of climate change in the coming years? Stu also enjoyed Adam McKay’s film Don’t Look Up and thought it did a good job at the thing that we all thought it did a bad job at. I think this is a complex question to ask about how, when, if to handle climate change in art or really any sort of pressing issue. How do you handle it in a way that people will want to watch be entertained but also think so. We’re going to think through both of those questions in today’s Slate Plus segment later in the show. If you’re not a Slate Plus member, you can sign up today at Slate.com. Slash culture plus when you’re a member, you get ad free podcasts, you get bonus content like the segment I just described in many other shows have those bonus segments, too. And of course, you get unlimited access to all the great writing on slate. And of course, you also support our work and the work of our wonderful colleagues. These memberships are really, really important for Slate. So if you can, please sign up today at Slate.com slash culture plus again at Slate.com Culture Plus.

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S2: All right, well, kind of out of nowhere, I guess the comedian and actor Joe Rogan, I knew him from the old great 90s sitcom Newsradio. He’s become one of the biggest stars in podcasting is shows downloaded tens of millions of times per month. Last week, Neil Young, the singer songwriter, posted a public letter saying he wanted all of the songs removed from Spotify, the streaming service, which platforms Rogan’s podcast because of Rogan’s habit of spreading misinformation about COVID 19. Well, that’s I needed a flavor of Rogan. I’d never I’d never gotten one outside of his sitcom turn, but let’s get a little flavor of him here. He’s talking to the comedian Dave Smith about vaccines.

S4: I think you should get vaccinated if you’re vulnerable. I think

S2: you should get vaccinated if you feel

S4: like my parents are vaccinated. I’ve encouraged a lot of people and people say, Do you think it’s safe to get vaccinated? I’ve said, Yeah, I think for the most part, it’s safe to get vaccinated. I do. I do. But if you’re like 21 years old and you say to me, Should I get vaccinated, I go, No, no. Are you healthy? Are you a healthy person? Like, Look, don’t do anything stupid,

S2: but you should take care

S4: of yourself. You should. If you’re if you’re a healthy person and you’re exercising all the time when you’re young and you’re eating well, like, I don’t think you need to worry about this. Yeah, I tend to agree with you, but there’s a lot of jobs that will tell you, you need to have this. Well, that’s what’s starting to happen. People are worried about them doing it for their children. And we talked about this earlier that you might have to have your your children vaccinated. And you know, I can tell you, as someone who’s both both my children got the the virus, it was nothing. I mean, I hate to say that if someone’s children died from this. I’m very sorry that that happened. I’m not I’m not in any way diminishing that. But I’m saying the personal experience that my children had with COVID was nothing.

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S2: All right, well, to discuss Rogan, his show and Spotify, his apparent dilemma. We’re joined by Slate’s own Justin Peters Justin. Welcome to the show.

S4: Hey everyone. Good to be back.

S2: Well, great to have you back. You in your piece for Slate about Rogan described his show as a kind of bizarro fresh air. What do you mean by that?

S4: Yeah. Well, it’s as if Terry Gross locked her guests in a room for three hours and got very high and talked about things that made no sense that only after listening for these three hours, you sort of get the Stockholm Syndrome where you start to feel, Yeah, this this all makes sense that we’re talking about whether we live in a simulation and cage fighting and stand up comedy, and why children shouldn’t get the COVID 19 vaccines. And presiding over it all is Rogan, who was on Newsradio, who used to host Fear Factor, who was a standup comic for a very long time. He still is. And through a series of really unpredictable occurrences, turned out to be one of the most important and certainly best compensated podcasters in the entire world.

S2: Well, I listen to a little bit of Rogan for the first time yesterday. I found him surprisingly more personable and intelligent than I was expecting. He’s not Alex Jones, but his politics are oddly hard to place. Claims to be liberal across almost every issue except guns is a libertarian, a buzz word that has a way of attracting young, white male listeners. How would you describe his appeal and his politics, and maybe how those two things interplay?

S4: Look, his show is a good show. It’s, you know, my description of it. Just a minute ago might have implied otherwise, but you don’t get to be this popular of a podcast if your show is trash. He’s a comic who knows how to engage in audience. He’s fairly engaging interviewer, and he’s completely unpretentious and he’s funny. Rogan is a funny guy. And if his show had just continued in the vein that it had when it started, when it was him interviewing other comedians and cage fighters, then it’d be a, you know, broadly agreeable thing to listen to during a road trip or something that you know no one would have any opinions about because no one would care what the fear factor guy is doing on his dumb podcast. But at a certain point, I Rogan decided to start bringing in people who actually have things to say on topics of broader importance to politics and the world. And, you know, it’s sort of his charm that when he brings on neuroscientists and doctors and authors and newsmakers, this is the fear factor guy asking unpretentious. Explain it to me like I’m five questions to people with academic appointments, and there is absolutely no talking down to his audience in this and people like that. And unfortunately, what it’s become is he brings a very specific sort of guest on. And in the spirit of not talking down to them, he also doesn’t challenge them. And that’s sort of a problem when this stuff, he’s not challenging our dumb statements about who should and shouldn’t get the COVID vaccines.

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S1: Yeah, Justin. This is reminding me a bit of after one six, after whatever we’re calling it, the failed coup d’etat in January of last year, we had a segment on this show where we we just all watched some right wing media, we watched some fox and we watched some 0& and just sort of looked at how that event was being treated by right wing media. And then as now with this experience with Joe Rogan, who you would not classify, you know, as a straight right wing, I realize I just had this similar sense of, I mean, I just I felt like I understood the red pilling process from the inside a bit more because to a surprising degree, in both cases, the discourse that was being put forth sounded reasonable. You know, and there were even, you know, in talking about the events of 01:06, there were these sort of plausible sounding explanations being laid out about why these people wilding out had absolutely nothing to do with anything that Donald Trump had said in his speech, and it was just an unrelated event. And that kind of creation of, you know, an even reasonable sounding discourse around something that is clearly trying to contain, you know, a lot of much more aggressive social energies was something that I really recognized from that form of right wing media. But I wonder if you Justin or also Julia and Steve? Have thoughts about how this kind of language, you know, the Joe Rogan, maybe you might call it more libertarian or something, you know, just I’m just asking questions kind of not allied with any ideology. Kind of angle differs from, you know, more traditional right wing media that is really pushing disinformation aggressively.

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S3: Yeah. I mean, so I spent hours listening to Joe Rogan this weekend, which means I only watched like listen to a small fragment of four episodes. And yet it was still like eight hours of listening because it’s there just so long. Like, most of the interviews are two three four hours long. And I was also struck by how non crazy he sounds, except for if you. No, all the questions he’s not asking, and I think I mean, it’s so interesting, you know, Justin, you wrote this analysis of Joe Rogan as a cultural figure back in 2019 before COVID, before the Spotify deal before he was making a hundred million dollars. He’s only gotten bigger since then. But so much of what I heard was exactly nailed by the piece you wrote in that there’s like an invisible ideology to what he’s doing, and that is what seems so insidious about it. Like. He does seem, you know, he does. He presents himself like Terry Gross, I just had two interesting people. We shoot the shit. It’s, you know, we get to some interesting stuff. I’m not afraid to say the things you own here somewhere else. There’s a lot of that sense that I’m giving you the real dish. And, you know, whatever, there’s some value to that, and I think there’s some lesson to to that. For those of us who produce, you know, quote unquote mainstream media in that signing away to a responsible way to air some of the alternate views and challenge them with less kind of disdain and contempt than you do sometimes here and in media outlets might be better than pretending those ideas don’t exist or beyond the pale. I don’t know. It’s like not actually crazy to recognize that the importance of a 21 year old getting a vaccine and a seven year old getting a vaccine are different. And the opinion he espoused in that clip, though certainly not my own or one that I think is particularly responsible or good for society, is not actually a crazy thing for a person to individually think. But the problem is. Yeah, he’s he’s not inviting on guests who challenge him and then the guests he’s inviting on, he’s barely challenging, you know, he did a four hour conversation with Jordan Peterson last week and it

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S1: sounds like a nightmare to listen

S3: to and Peterson is a frequent guest. And I like, listen to the beginning of it. And, you know, he did some light fact checking. There was one erroneous fact. Peterson claimed that seven million children die per year of indoor particulate something, something air pollution. All of this was by way of Jordan Peterson arguing, like, just like I was shouting to myself on my walk like straw men, straw man. Just, you know, completely spurious argumentation that he doesn’t challenge at all. So, so there’s this there’s this kind of patina of neutrality and like just a dude talking to some people, but there’s an underlying, you know, subject selection that that is blinkered in its own way. That’s that’s invisible, I think, to some of the listeners. And it makes, you know, it makes me wish like someone could program Joe Rogan show for him and have him bring on a bunch of people who would challenge him and encourage him to challenge other people because he does have a certain weird skill.

S2: Julia. I just wanted to respond very quickly to something you said earlier. I understood the point you were making and agree with it. That’s a superficially, rationally sounding discussion to have about whether a perfectly healthy, very young person ought to get vaccinated if the unit of consideration is the individual. The problem is, and this is what the buzz word libertarian actually refers to and signifies currently is a totally anti-social worldview that takes by which overwhelmingly white males take their own worldview to be the same thing as the world and then hold them accountable only to them, supposedly only to themselves. Hence, the overlap between the inability to actually be challenged by an outside voice and hence the inability to consider that getting vaccinated or wearing a mask is something you do because of your debt to the social hall, without which you, as an individual couldn’t and wouldn’t exist. I mean, that’s the point of view that’s mythic missing. It’s not. It’s not simply a set of challenging facts or sort of topical, you know, it’s easy to place on the political spectrum points of view. We’re talking about a form of psychosis where individuals exist as atomistic units in a complete social vacuum. Whereas just the very first thing you tell your kids is is think about how your actions in your to the benefit or just benefit of other people. And this just that antisocial ability that underlies this very smooth, personable, superficially intelligent tone of the show

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S3: that’s so interesting. Stephen so well put. And that’s what I mean by the. Insidiousness of the disjunctive like when you’re listening within it, he seems very sociable. He he doesn’t seem antisocial. In fact, he seems nicer than, you know, the sort of mainstream media people that won’t talk to the discredited vaccine doctor anymore. You know, he’s he’s just friendly to everybody. Except for that you don’t notice all the everybody’s who aren’t there. And the the regard for the individual, usually white male individual, is like an underlying structure that is not examined. But what I’m curious about Justin for you is having done this dissection of him as a cultural figure in 2019. You know, what do you? Has he evolved since then and what did you make of his statement last week saying, Oh, I’m going to try and do better about misinformation? I mean, one thing again, just briefly, one thing that struck me just in a couple of episodes I listen to, I heard him talking to Joel and saying, like, I’m just a guy sitting down like, I don’t prepare for this. And then I heard him talking a few months later to Whitney Cummings about, like all the work he does reading books to prepare for his future conversations. And it’s like, All right, he’s trying to have it both ways about whether he’s, you know, prepared or not holding people to account or not.

S4: Oh, he hasn’t. He isn’t involved at all. Other than evolve into a very rich man with Spotify his literal $100 million that they gave him. He’ll do this thing where he presents himself as a dumb ass, and it’s a good persona to bring on the air, and it’s also a good persona to raise. Whenever his show gets significant criticism and Neil Young yells at him, he’s like, I’m just a dumb ass. I don’t know what I’m doing. I just wanted to have a show. Actual dumb asses do not evolve their podcasts into the world’s biggest podcast with, you know, a $100 million payday from Spotify. Actual dumb people are too dumb to make that happen. So there’s a true, self-serving element in what Rogan says. And you know, when he says that he’s going to bring on alternate viewpoints, he’s had a decade and change to bring on alternate viewpoints, and when he came to Spotify, he’s had ample time to bring in alternate viewpoints and instead he is, you know, re hosting the same people from the same intellectual dark web constellation broadly over and over again. I do not personally believe that he is going to evolve his show or his booking in any respect. And why would he he if if Spotify dubs him, if, if you know, you know, Stephen Stills pulls his music to if all of the Canadian rock stars from the 60s and 70s take their music off of Spotify and Spotify is like, we can’t lose any more Canadians and they get rid of Joe Rogan Joe Rogan doesn’t lose a single audience member. He’ll just take whatever payout Spotify gives him and go back to putting his show up on YouTube, and then he will be able to claim that he was cancelled. He’s he’s got this strong hand here to play, and he’s going to keep playing the same hand that’s got him to where he is right now, in my opinion.

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S2: All right. Well, to my peaceable neighbors, to the north, I say, direct your emails to Justin Peters at Slate.com. Justin. That was a wonderful bracing rant. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast to talk about Joe Rogan.

S4: Thanks, everyone. OK.

S2: As with every third segment that I find almost completely flummoxed in Julia, I’m going to just lazily lob it over to you. But as I understand it, the Mars company Mars, Wrigley, Wrigley, the you know, iconic candy company has decided to remake, rebrand, not rebrand M&Ms, but that the kind of little anthropomorphized characters that they play are going to change in accord. As they say, they’re going to make them more quote unquote current and quote unquote representative of our consumer. Among the various changes is the the, you know, sort of saucy cowboy boots, I guess, that the green M&M wore that were, I guess, gendering in a somewhat archaic way.

S3: Steve, go go boots. Go, go,

S2: go, go boots. Go-Go boots are being are being turned into like, you know, sensible Canadian footwear. Let’s just slag on Canadians through the whole cricket podcast. Julia What? Why is this of concern to you?

S3: I mean, I don’t know that I would say that it is of concern. I think the thing that’s most interesting to me is like, why would Mars, the company that owns Eminem’s? Do this like this is a media news cycle around an announcement around a brand evolution. So to recap, in the course of its marketing for the Eminem’s Candy, the Mars company has established that the Eminem said various characters in my experience. Nobody knows what any of those characters are, except for that the green one is the horny lady, and some of the advertising had suggested that she’s a sexy lady. Upon reading the various reviews, it turns out that in fact, prior versions of the Eminem’s had all kinds of characters like the brown. One is also a lady, possibly a business woman, executive type kind of hot in the boardroom, kind of lady of the more stilettos. Apparently, the yellow Eminem was a real dope. Also news to me and blue, orange and red. It came in for less prior scrutiny. Now they all have slight revamps. I will defer to CNN here for a recap. The most notable change is to the six Eminem characters Colin New Shoes Green has swapped her Go-Go boots for sneakers. Brown is sporting lower, more sensible heels. Red and yellow shoes now have laces. Orange is shoes are no longer untied and blue shoes. While little changed resemble when Anson Vincent, president of Mars Wrigley North America, described as a bad version of Uggs, ends in Vincent. Why are you slagging your redesigns new shoes anyway? There was also some characterological evolution as well, and the green M&M, though still sexy, is now meant to be appreciated more for her confidence and is wearing kind of a low top chuck sneakers. Chuck Taylors and the other thing that got a lot of news, apparently the yellow M&M is going to be less dumb and more optimistic, which is a very nice word for dumb. And and then the orange M&M is going to be there, and that appeals to Gen Z, supposedly because he’s the anxious Eminem, and they’re the most anxious generation. I mean, I guess Steve,

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S1: but his shoes are tied. I love that evolution for Orange Eminem, right? I’m anxious, but at least my shoes are tied now.

S2: I have to Dana before I throw you, I just have to add a little historical, you know, resonance here. I’ll be the I’ll be the Isaac Butler of of Candy, which is, you know, there’s a rumor that goes back to the 1970s that the green ones in the Eminem packet are an aphrodisiac. Did you guys ever hear this?

S1: This is this. That was a middle school stand by Eminem, right? It was racist, for sure.

S3: For sure. Show that made it down to my generation.

S2: I love it anyway. So, you know, the initial impulse to play off of that was actually in a weird way, quite canny. I mean, the one thing recognition being the single most important aspect of of marketing. The one thing we all knew about this, you know, somewhat inane anthropomorphic campaign was that the green Eminem was, you know, I mean, I you know, I don’t I’m not on Rogan. I mean, I don’t I don’t know what words to choose. But however, you want to construe a pair of Go-Go boots.

S3: So here is what is actually of concern to me. What is of interest to me is to just make fun of this for 15 minutes because it’s funny. But what’s of concern to me is, is this whole marketing campaign a troll like, I don’t understand why you would do this as Mars and if you were doing it, why you wouldn’t just like, roll out some new ad campaigns where she’s wearing Chuck Taylor, like, you know, just thinking about the meetings, like, I almost want there to be a workplace comedy movie about this rebrands like woman meetings where they debated the Go-Go booth like, it just seems so entirely kind of up your own ass. And and also like a very important set of marketing decisions if your job is to sell Eminem candies. But like the whole thing where the head of the president of Mars, Wrigley North America is making fun of the boots of the new Eminem design makes me feel like, are they just telling us and trying to get us to talk about Eminem’s for 15 minutes? And are we playing into their hands like? Yeah, I mean, like, here we are talking about them. And I can’t imagine any Gen Z person is like eye candy. The problem with it before was it didn’t reflect my generation’s generalized anxiety about climate change in the end of the world and how there’s no future for us. But now that I know that one of the candies in this bag is also anxious, I want this candy.

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S1: I think that’s the funniest thing about this rebrand is that it is playing on, you know, it’s trying to position itself as somehow, I guess, like more woke because I guess that’s not sexist to not put Go-Go boots on the sexy M&M. But at the same time, almost none of these characteristics that have changed in the Eminem’s really have anything to do with any kind of social movement whatsoever. Right. And so, yeah, I think it has to be and this isn’t the first time I can’t think of another. Example at this moment, maybe one of you can, but it does it wouldn’t be the first time that some sort of big blasting PR release about a rebrand of some product seems like it is really just meant to make people almost mock the rebranding. Right. The sort of any attention is better than no attention. So let’s make people laugh about wokeness in the context of Eminem’s. That seems much more likely to have been the primary driving factor for this than a lot of earnest people sitting around a boardroom saying, You know, we need representation in our Eminem’s right.

S3: That’s what I mean by a troll.

S1: Yeah, but I think that to a large degree, it is probably a troll, but I but I agree with you, Julia, that I don’t understand candy marketing, if that really is. You know what the best minds and candy marketing can come up with right now.

S2: I think you guys are reading into the psychologies of upper level candy executives a little, a little speculatively. I would, I would say, think of them as you know, institutional actors with certain motivations, one of which is to sell as much candy as cheaply as possible for as large a profit and keep the stock price up, right? And the other of which is to justify your existence in a giant top heavy bureaucracy that’s probably completely unnecessary to the actual stated task. Right. And so you got a bunch of people sitting around saying, I’ve got to do something right. I mean, we just. And also, by the way, you know? You know, OK, that’s the mindless aspect of it is just, you know, you just, you know, you know, you just write a 50 page report for no frickin reason and then you’re obliged to enact its conclusions. All of a sudden you’re doing things you know you you don’t even can’t even really justify. In any any way, but but the other is like a perfectly rational one, which is, you know, you put out this thing that walks the line between a sincere attempt to be enlightened about, you know, identity issues. Admirable, but also has this trolling under note, you know, also might appeal to a certain other segment. And the net effect is you get Twitter to talk about your product, you know, and the Twitter sphere, you know, in the social media sphere to talk about your product ceaselessly for 48 hours, you get, you know what the suits call earned media out of it. It’s a win.

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S1: But then I think you’re saying the same thing in a way that Julia and I are, that this is some, some mixture of, you know, fumbling toward, you know, some greater equity in representation and just some really cynical marketing where I mean what it reminds me of. If you try to imagine the meeting where this was pitched was the episode of The Simpsons, where they introduced the Poochie character on The Scratchy Show. And they have the guy saying, we need to ratify this character by 20 percent. Can we put him in more of a Hip-Hop

S3: context yet context? He’s got to be a surfer. Give me a nice schmear.

S1: A surfer feel we should Rastafarian by 10 percent or so. It’s sort of that that level of marketing cynicism, but it’s in the post itchy and scratchy Simpsons age where they’re able to kind of assume that mantle and say, Here we are cynically marketing our product. Isn’t it funny? Ha ha. So I guess they’re having it both ways. I don’t know. I mean, once again, I throw up my hands and just say, I guess they got what they wanted. I would say and I’ve talked about this on our show in relationship to the femme fatale kind of archetype that I’m sort of sad to lose the sexy Eminem. And I sort of agree with people I’ve seen on Twitter who are posting things like Let the green Eminem be slutty. Right? I mean, just let her own that, isn’t it? Isn’t it really taking away her representation? If you say no, you have to have chased little sneakers? Why can’t she desire other Eminem to her heart’s desire?

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S2: They got they surfed the wrong wave of feminism. They’re right there. That’s actually quite behind the curve, as I understand.

S3: Can I can I make a confession

S1: somewhere in the middle of the pandemic

S3: after the months where I didn’t buy any clothes because clothes seemed so ridiculous? And in the middle of the months where I didn’t buy any clothes because I was pregnant and clothes didn’t fit me. And in some kind of like miasma of grief shopping, I bought myself a pair of white Go-Go boots. They are, oh yes, in my closet, unworn. Um, but maybe I’ll just put them on for the rest of the day in honor of the old green M&M Julia.

S1: I want to be there when you debut those white Go-Go boots, I promise I will not slut shame you.

S3: I appreciate that. And then it’ll be a nice break from all the other times we hang out when that’s all we do. It’s true ceaselessly.

S2: All right. Well, we’ll we’ll we’ll we’ll we’ll ask for some listener email on this. What do you think of this rebranding preposterous, cynical mixture of both? All right. Moving on. All right, now is the moment in our podcast and we endorse Dana, what do you have?

S1: Stephen I’m going to endorse a piece of old media this week, something that I came across in the old fashioned way of listening to the radio. It was the day of my book release, so the day that you all recorded last week, but I wasn’t on the show. I was having an amazing day because my book was doing way better than I expected and getting a ton of praise and attention. And so I was feeling great. And as I was cooking dinner, I just decided to put on the radio and see what I could find. I tuned the radio, it went to NPR and I happened to hear this wonderful, wonderful edition of On the media long beloved NPR podcast co-hosted by Brooke Gladstone, who I should say full disclosure is married to Slate’s own Fred Kaplan. And it was just a wonderful episode of On the Media about one of my favorite obsessional topics that I’ve often endorsed things about on this show, which is early humans. And apparently I did not know of this, but Brooke Gladstone, like me, is obsessed with early humans, and it’s become a sort of a hobby horse of hers over the years to, you know, investigate the anthropological origins of human beings. And so this show is called Humans Being Humans Karma Being. It’s co-hosted by Brooke Gladstone, Annalee Newitz, and they, you know, interview anthropologists and archaeologists and people who are going on digs and they talk about the difference between hominids and hominins, which I did not know about before hearing the show and and sort of all the different branches that led to Homo sapiens. It’s really fantastic. Highly recommended episode of on the media, and we’ll link to it on our show page.

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S2: Fun Julia, What do you have?

S3: That sounds like some major Dana. I love it. Totally. All right. Well, because I live in California and it did not snow two feet near me. It’s always time to harvest something and we are awash in delicious winter greens. Here we’ve got chard, we’ve got kale, we’ve got spinach, we’ve got a regular and it’s glorious. But it brings me to our listeners with both a recommendation and a request. The recommendation is a cookbook by Alice Waters called Chez Panisse Vegetables. This is a 25 year old cookbook came out in 1996, and it’s the single best book to turn to if you have come home from the farmer’s market with something you don’t know how to cook. And she will have three or four simple preparations that are fucking excellent and help make the most of whatever bounty you’ve just grabbed from the ground. So Chez Panisse vegetables and essential in any kitchen. I think I am remembering correctly that David Plotz of the Political Gabfest is the person who turned me on to this cookbook like 12 years ago. If not, give him the credit anyway. But great cookbook.

S2: Oh my god, you are a total classic.

S3: Now the request I used to be one of those people who could just make delicious salad dressing like no recipe. Make a little vinaigrette. Stir it up in the bottom of a mug whip. You know, throw some some acid, some fruit juice, some vinegar, maybe a little mustard, maybe not some herbs. Whatever I used just like, have the knack and I’ve lost it. Like, you know, those batters who like, lose their swing. Like, I have the salad dressing. Yes, like I can’t I don’t know. It’s like, I maybe I don’t have the right vinegar. I’m not sure, but I’ve just completely lost my knack for salad dressing at the exact moment that I’m drowning in delicious California winter greens. So I am sending out the bugle to our listeners. Please send me on Twitter to Culturefest at Slate.com. Either your favorite salad dressings or your favorite resources for salad dressings. At one point I was Googling like all salad dressing cookbook, which there doesn’t seem to be, but maybe that’s wrong. Anyway, help help help. I used to be a salad dressing pro, and now I am a salad dressing dud.

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S1: And wait, I have one response right here now. Sorry, finish your. They’ll go for it. Help me. So there’s a newsletter that’s all about salad. It’s called Department of Salad, and it’s by Emily Nunn, who’s this cookbook cooking and food writer who’s really funny and and I highly recommend it. I’ve only made a couple of things from it, but I’m sure she has endless, you know, disquisition upon dressing in the various ways to make it and is a free newsletter, so you must subscribe. All right. Of course, there’s

S3: a newsletter called Department of Salad. Good to know. Great help. Help Me like Dana helped me follow her example. Step into her Go-Go boots.

S2: I love it. OK, well, when in doubt, keep it simple. Endorse prints. I had a friend who, thanks to the however many years it’s been now of COVID, is a little depressed, maybe first time in her life. And I I I suggested listening to the song Sweet Baby by Prince from 1992. It’s just, I don’t know that one is the crazy thing about Prince is how deep the discography goes. I mean, the catalog is just insane, right? There’s a period where I didn’t really listen to him anymore. Having regard to the sign of the times is the greatest album, you know, ever. And then I kind of lost track of Prince for a little while. It comes from 92. It’s, I think, his first or second record with the new. Power generation is just a great, great, slow, mid-tempo soul song with falsetto, vocal vocals, and it’s, you know, sometimes plays all instruments here, he’s using a band and backup singers to great, great effect.

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S6: Stand tall. Joe. M&M getting beat down happens to us.

S2: Well, it’s a wonderful, wonderful tonic to the winter Blues. Check it out. Thank you, Dana. Thank you, Steve. Thanks, Julia.

S3: Thank you.

S2: You’ll find links to some of the things we talked about today at our show page that Slate.com’s Culturefest. You can email us at. Culturefest at slate.com. The introductory music to our shows by the wonderful Nicholas Britell, our production assistant. This Nadira Goffe, our producer is Cameron Dru’s for Dana Stevens and Julia Turner am Stephen Metcalf. Thank you so much for joining us. We’ll see you soon.

S3: Hello, and welcome to this slate plus segment of the Slate Culture Gabfest, today, we turn to a slight follow up to our conversation about don’t look up. A couple of weeks ago, we had a great time talking about that film, but we had also gotten a couple of listener questions for our year end show about the broader ways in which art is responding to the climate crisis. So we had one question from listener Ben could you discuss the ways in which climate and the ecological crises have impacted your relationship to culture? Do you think the cultural landscape has changed the types of culture you choose or how you experience it? And then we have another one from Stu. How do you think motion pictures will handle the issue of climate change in the coming years? I thoroughly enjoyed Adam McKay this film. Don’t look up at film critics disagree. Given the challenges to presenting such a complex and frightening issue, do you think movies can be created that people will watch? Steve, I particularly missed your voice the week we talked about. Don’t look up and I know you watched, I think, part of it. So I’ll start with you. How do you how do you think the climate crisis is affecting your response to culture and and potentially your response to that film?

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S2: I mean, I so far have gone in the opposite direction of wanting, you know, popular art to reflect the climate crisis. I’ve crawled inside Ted Lasso and, you know, basically gone in search of escapism, in part because I’m not sure what my zeal would accomplish. I mean, I already feel the zeal I already, you know, attempt to recycle. I compost, I turn the lights off. I drive a fuel efficient car. I voted, you know, unfailingly for people who believe in it and want to do something about it. But I’ve hit a wall, right? I mean, we you know what? What is what is Joe Manchin going to do if I decide to watch, you know, don’t look up all the way to the end instead of turning it off after 15 minutes because I thought it was one of the dumbest screenplays I’ve ever seen, you know, put on a screen. I mean, you know, I I’m I’m frustrated, but I’m also despairing, and I’m despairing in the deepest possible way for my kids, you know, I mean, the world is going to outlast me in ways that are specifically meaningful to me and that central aims of my life for at least two generations after I’m dead and I’m not 100 percent sure that their natural lifespans are theirs. You know, can be confidently theirs because of this. But you know, I mean, I don’t know what to say. I think, you know, would I want to see? Something I mean, I don’t need more information, right? So a documentary about what’s going to happen to the planet, what does it mean? That’s the other thing. My epistemic bubble is on board already, right? That’s the problem, right? We already know what we know and feel what we feel, and we all agree. And you know, we’re friends of empiricism and you know and and, you know, the use of a. You know, federal super state to regulate businesses so that we don’t all choke on our own, you know, refuse and and it, you know, so what? I mean, it just doesn’t. It doesn’t. It doesn’t echo or resonate beyond us.

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S3: All right. So but but but don’t look up as one of the most successful movies in history, if you believe now Netflix. So it must have reached some people outside your epistemic bubble, or it seems very likely to. Obviously, Netflix is not known for their transparency with numbers, and we don’t necessarily know exactly what’s going on. But the thought that someone’s J and Leo and we’re like, Sure, I’ll cook that up and found them so many of them a native of climate like Cook. Could that matter? Could could that have reached someone outside your own epistemic bubble in a way that is important?

S2: Okay, so that’s another question, and that’s very well put like we should absolutely try to Trojan Horse so that the quote unquote other side what I would call the on epistemic bubble, you know, finally wakes up to what threatens us by any means necessary, absolutely. And including making, you know, shitty movies, you know? But but I think that’s that’s that’s kind of a separate. Or it raises at least a separate question. You know, and I’ll just throw it to Dana. I mean, I watched it for 15 minutes. I was luckily not on the show that week. I didn’t have to continue watching it. And I just I just was floored by how bad it was. So I guess two questions I would have for you. Dana The first is, you know, are we under some obligation to overpays a movie grade inflate a movie because it’s socially responsible in ways that we take really seriously? And then secondly, you know, how many of those viewers understood that it was an allegory for global warming?

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S1: Yeah, OK. Well, two separate questions. The first one, I would say absolutely not. It would be dangerous to criticism and to critical thinking to to propose that you should praise something because it has the right values or, you know, is trying to foster the right beliefs in the viewer. So know if a movie is bad, we must say that it is bad or there’s no humanity to save. You know, the second question as to whether that movie would have converted anyone from not caring about climate change to caring about climate change? I mean, maybe there you know, Steve, like your perception of what that epistemic bubble is is is slightly off because I think that there’s a very large swath of people who believe passively that climate change is a problem, you know, who aren’t in denial of the science about it, but for whom it’s just not a top line item of concern when they wake up every day. I mean, honestly, even for, you know, people like us who would place more on the spectrum of panicking about it, you know, it’s not it’s not a top line concern when we wake up every day and we continue to, you know, open our plastic packaging and throw it in its unrecyclable trash can and live our lives in a way that isn’t necessarily congruent with those beliefs and values. So if that huge swath of people that you know, don’t have climate change front of mind but are also not desperately looking to deny it, you know, have their their beliefs shaken a little bit. I mean, I was thinking that it’s maybe a little bit like Greta Thunberg for those who will not listen to Greta Thunberg, you know, I think honestly, Chez is probably one of our biggest hopes for converting people in the climate change sphere, at least people of her generation and younger. But there are people that find that very off-putting rayce for some reason that I’ve never quite understood is this object of incredible hatred among the right wing and, you know, and plenty of other viewers. So there needs to be, I guess or not needs to be. But there will inevitably be among those who are trying to convince others about climate change. Some softer zone is owned that is more playful or that’s doing it indirectly through allegory, through art, et cetera. And I guess the question is when and how and if that can be done well, can it be done in a way that it is both effective propaganda and good art? You know, maybe that hasn’t really happened yet, but for example, when we talked about Station 11 recently, which I think we all agreed, you know, to differing degrees, it was it was a beautifully done and important and artful work that movie is handling, maybe not climate change itself, but allegorically something very similar. The end of the world as we know it, right? And rebuilding a world from the kind of trash heap that humanity has has left for ourselves. So I still think that that that great movie is out there to be made that great TV shows is maybe, you know, being made right now. And I have some hope for that. I mean, if I even think about Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, you know, maybe not the movie version, which was only sort of an of a success, but the book, you know, that’s that’s certainly about climate change in a direct way. I was even thinking, Steve, when you were talking about, you know, where’s the place for climate change in art, about sex lies and videotape, which came out in 1989, way before, you know, we were talking about the climate crisis in the way we are now. And you remember how it begins with Andy McDowell’s character talking to her psychiatrist about garbage and how she can’t stop obsessing about. Where all the garbage is going and landfills. And I believe if I remember right, that the beginning of that movie is principally supposed to frame Andy McDowell’s character as neurotic and obsessive. Right, it’s not really about the garbage and approving of her worrying about it. It’s more painting her as this sort of crazy suburban housewife who’s fretting about the garbage. And of course, now, you know, 30 plus years later, that lands in a completely different way.

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S3: I’ll also say, I mean, I’m just interested to see. What the next generation wants here, like I’ve been struck by one of my sons, has a very firm belief that humans are bad and the animals are good, you know, this is a this is the ideology of an eight year old, but somehow he is absorbed, not through my climate vigilance, certainly like a very strong sense that humans have ruined the planet for the other creatures who live here, and that even if we save it, it’ll be out of a selfish impulse to save a version of it. That’s for us, and I don’t know. He has like a bunch of his like a dark worldview about humankind, and I don’t know where it came from. And I suppose if I were a certain kind of parent, it’s like the, you know, I could be complaining about the anti humanist rhetoric. He’s absorbing it, his liberal school or whatever. But like, I don’t know, it’s really interesting. Like, I think the next generation is just going to understand the world and its prerogatives in a different way, and that’s going to draw them to different kinds of culture. Right now, it seems to draw him to Beck Bro Jack talking about Minecraft in different ways to build vaults all the time. So, you know, he’s he’s absorbing. He’s he’s getting himself lost in the metaverse and building secure compounds there. So maybe that is a response to his climate fears. I don’t know. It’s probably just being an eight year old boy.

S1: But but that is actually what I meant. Julia by Greta Thunberg and the generation below her. You know, I feel like there’s a generation to whom she’s not sort of, oh, some kooky 16 year old at a podium. She is like a prophet, you know? And my daughter, who’s 15, you know, a micro-generation older than your boys, has a very similar belief. I’ve heard her voice that to her friends, you know, it’s not something she talks about all the time. But you know, when we are watching some Richard Attenborough documentary about the oceans being decimated or whatever it is, she will very casually say something that to me sounds really shockingly dark and nihilistic. But I think it’s it’s something that she it’s part of her value system in a way it doesn’t feel nihilistic to her to just say, we’re bad. We don’t deserve the planet. We ruined it. And you know, it’s our fault. And if humans disappear completely tough for them, you know, and that is pretty insane that we’re bringing up a group of, you know, a generation of young people, not all of whom, but, you know, some significant portion of whom proceed from that belief.

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S2: I have to admit, I’m kind of persuaded by you guys. I mean, I, you know, there are certainly instances not of not of overpromising, but not, you know, carping on certain. Pop culture products that are. Obviously admirable in their aims, and it would seem petty to, you know, go after them for being not terrific and the important contribution they make is it’s sort of the opposite of pollution, right? It’s like this positive externality that floats out into the culture it circulates. It may not in any specific way change your mind or enact a legislation, but it creates a social atmosphere in which the topic is omnipresent and understood to be important. And and then the biggest thing is, though, as you say, Dana is the way that filters through to your kids and Julia you said it too. I mean, my kids, you know, it has to be something in the schools, something in the peer group, something in the media, something in social media that’s reinforcing this idea that, you know, and for once, the narcissism of the young is entirely correct that all the previous generations cumulatively did nothing. But, you know, fuck up the world and it’s our responsibility to fix it. And I think that there was a degree of truth to that. One of the boomers said it, but a huge proportion. It turns out of self-serving narcissism. I think now it’s just flat out true, you know? And so, you know, more power to him. I just thought it was a bad movie, but I’m glad it existed.

S3: All right. Well, we’ve we figured it out, guys. Climate change solved, culture examined. And that’s what you get if you pay for slay plus. So thank you for your support of Slate and our show. We’ll see you next week if there is one.