Culture Gabfest “Weirdest Oscars Ever” Edition

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S1: This Ad Free podcast is part of your Slate Plus membership. You. I’m Stephen Metcalf and this is the sleep culture. Gabfest Weirdest Oscars Ever Edition. It’s Wednesday, March 30th, 2022. On today’s show, we discuss another ho hum night at the Oscars. Oh, dear. In addition to the incident, a slew of winners, losers, the prizes, as well as the usual trends to overthink, which I’m eager to do. And then HBO has a new limited on the rise of the great 1980s Laker Dynasty. It stars John C Reilly as Jerry Buss, the team’s P.T. Barnum like owner, and Quincy Isaiah as Earvin Johnson, a.k.a. the incomparable Magic, who together transform not just a franchise but an entire sport. And finally. Gay, gay. Gay, gay. There. I said it. But will Disney, now that there is a don’t say gay law in Florida? We’ll be joined by Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern to discuss. And joining me first is Julia Turner, deputy managing editor at The L.A. Times. Julia, you. You have a busy 24 hours, I bet.

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S2: Yeah. Just another low key night at the Oscars.

S1: You’re at ground zero out there, land and play. And I cannot wait to talk to you and Dana Stevens you as well as a veteran film watcher. You’re the film critic of Slate. Hey, how’s it going?

S3: Hello. Hello.

S1: All right. Well, amidst declining cultural relevance, some people argue certainly empirically measured, dwindling audiences. We got the Oscars, the 94th Academy Awards. They tried to make them brisker. They were shorter. They gave the supposedly less glamorous awards out earlier in a pre-recorded ceremony. They also tried to kind of Golden Globe it up a little bit, tart it up a little bit. There were audience favorite votes. We’ll get to all of it. Plus. Capital T, Capital II, the incident. But first, let’s listen to a clip here you’re about to hear co-hosts Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes bantering about the tough decision to move some of the awards show. And then there’s a little visual joke where the lights flicker as if the tech people are expressing their displeasure.

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S4: As many of you know, a decision was made to present some behind the scene awards in the first hour. It was a controversial and difficult decision, but I think we’ve moved on. Oh, okay. Wait a minute. Look, we all you know, I really love my ass.

S1: Come on. Saturday. Dana, let me start with you. Were you. You know, it’s always about winners, losers, surprises, outrage or resentment or someone got snubbed. Someone got over rewarded. Where did you come out on Coda? Winning the best picture. And on and on. We’ll start there.

S3: I don’t think is win was a big surprise to, you know, statistic Oscar watchers that were following the campaign closely and whether or not we end up liking the movie, all three of us. I think it was an important win as Jane Campion’s was. There were a lot of moments at this Oscars that would have been important and historic and moving to watch had the fire not been stolen by you know, what I regard is just like a monstrously narcissistic act. If nothing else. I mean, we get we’ll talk about all the other things that that moment meant. But a big part of what it meant is that everybody who spoke after that, especially poor Questlove, who immediately afterwards accepted his trophy for best documentary for his very first film, Summer of Soul, which we talked about on this show and loved. That should have been an incredibly important moment for him. He was trying to pay tribute to his deceased father in his speech, and he was obviously really flustered and distracted as everyone watching and everyone in the audience was. And from that moment on, everything just proceeded to roll forward in this chaotic and somewhat sour feeling way that I just really felt, even as somebody who’s not a a who is not usually hugely moved by the Oscars, there’s usually just one or two moments that I actually come away remembering and caring about. I just felt a lot of sympathy for all of those winners, whether or not I had seen their movies or like their movies or not.

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S1: Right. All but one. And I didn’t Julia want to magnify the disrespect that that act brought with it. So just quickly, give me your sense of how the evening went minus the incident itself.

S3: Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln.

S1: It’s true.

S2: All right. Well, the two the two other main storylines of the night, from my perspective, were won the race for best picture between Coda and Power of the Dog was, from the Hollywood perspective, a race for best picture between Netflix and Apple. You know, for Netflix being the distributor of House of the Dog and Apple Coda for many years, there was kind of horror and tossing and turning at the idea that any streamer might win Best Picture and best the classic storied studios at their own game. It’s been a bit of a parlor game in Hollywood to to wonder when Ted Sarandos is finally going to get his best picture. Oscar, if you go to the Netflix offices in Los Angeles, they have very prominent trophy cases in the front lobby where you can see their haul, which does not yet include a best picture Oscar. And Apple sort of sidled into the streaming business just a couple of years ago and then wrapped it up with a, you know, Sundance movie they picked up. So that’s shocking, Tim. Tim Cook besting Ted Sarandos probably would have been the main storyline of the night from a certain point of view here in Hollywood, had it not been for the slap. The other storyline, of course, is that the ratings for the Oscars tumbled to a swamp like 10 million last year after having been in the 30 millions as recently as five years ago. And the big question this year was, was that a pandemic anomaly or was that just the new normal? And if it is the new normal, then so much of how Hollywood’s annual calendar is structured around these awards is up for grabs. The Oscars brought in a new producer, Will Packer, and issued a set of rule changes that left eight of the more technical awards and some awards for short films being given out during an hour before the telecast. And then during the telecast, some of the speeches or all of those speeches were broadcast. So that was the other big experiment of the night. Like, can you pull out eight of the less glitzy awards and deliver a tighter, more riveting, more highly watched by more people show, you know, on that score. The show was longer than it was last year. Some of that had to do, I think, with having to let speeches run a little bit and just kind of chaos. And the producers must’ve been thinking about something else in the final hour of the show after the slap. But, you know, it was heading to be a very long show even prior to that incident. So somehow they pulled out eight awards, but it forced everyone in Hollywood to show up there. And our early because there was a lot of pressure on all the stars to actually be sitting there when all the sound editors. Yeah you know and composers won their awards and then they ran almost all the speeches. So all you ended up losing was like the walking up to the podium time. And then also one of my one of the editors on our team came up with the wonderful phrase, the deep fake Oscars. Because then when you were watching the show, you kind of couldn’t tell if you were watching a real time award or a past time award. And it also sucked the suspense out of those awards because they went through the whole rigmarole of saying like, well, the the five nominees for sound are blah, blah, blah and blah. But if you are following on Twitter, you already knew who won that award. So it made the awards that, according to them were boring, which I never found them that boring because it’s always fun to see the behind the scenes folks actually boring because you already knew the winner.

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S3: Right. And you don’t see the suspense. I mean. Right. It’s always exciting to see that grid of faces and then see the person who sees that they won. Right. Especially people who are working behind the scenes below the line. You know, somebody who’s not used to being in the spotlight. That’s what you watch the Oscars for is like somebody’s face lighting up because they won. So that de facto was gone from those pre-taped awards.

S1: All right. I think in order to do it any kind of justice, we’re going to have to pivot quickly to the slap here. But very quickly, I would just say that, you know, I watched Coda last night, having been out of the country for a couple of weeks, returning, knowing that Coda had won and I was just over the moon for the Troy Kotsur win, his speech is an antidote to anything that you found wrong or sour or toxic about the evening. He’s extraordinary in that movie. He deserved it. His speech conveys what a un it’s like just mind bogglingly expressive human being he is. Why don’t we why don’t we listen to a little bit of Carter’s remarkable speech? He’s, of course, signing while an interpreter vocalizes what he’s saying. My dad, he was the best signer in our family, but he was in a car accident and he became paralyzed from the neck down. And he no longer was able to sign. Dad. I learned so much from you. I’ll always love you. You are my hero. Thank you for thank you to my biggest fans. My wife is very powerful. The other thing I would say is that, you know, what’s interesting to me, Julie, is that they’re attempting to solve a huge problem that’s a consequence of tectonic cultural shifts with changes in the production format, which is, you know, movies are no longer movies. An argument or a discussion that we’ve been having for virtually the last, you know, uninterruptedly for about the last six, eight, ten years because of the rise of streaming and home viewing and streaming services and tech companies becoming movie studios, and not to mention the rise of kind of long form, novelistic storytelling over ten parts, on and on and on. There are all sorts of reasons why I just love TV itself is not catnip to people. Even, you know, events like this just can’t draw these mega audiences. That old boast that was always hollow to begin with. But a billion people were watching, which had no empirical data behind it, at least had a kind of feeling or thought of a structure of truth behind it, or intimated that most people were somehow tuned in on the planet, or some large proportion of the people. You wouldn’t. I don’t think you could get away with saying that now and never will again, no matter who they excised from the program in order to make it shorter. All right. Moving on, Dana, you were clearly we all were, but you were shocked by this and have had some time to metabolize it a little bit. Where do you where do you come out about?

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S3: You know, I mean, I don’t know. This has been so brooded about on social media yesterday. And I deliberately although I read about it all day and honestly, the feeling, the kind of shock of the fact that there was just like physical violence intruding on the show and breaking. I don’t know what you’d even call it. Not the fourth wall, but just somehow the relationship between audience and spectacle in that way really shook me up. And I spent the whole next day kind of thinking and reading about it, but did not want to write about it. I’m really relieved that this was an Oscars that I was not assigned to write about specifically and and didn’t really want to opine about it on social media because it’s really complex and it’s a can of worms and all of that. But really honestly, like to me this was not something that can be necessarily analogized into a big discussion about American culture. This was just the spectacle of a very privileged individual who’s been, I think, really isolated from, you know, consequences and and sort of normal non movie star behavior for decades. Right. For basically his whole adult life, just reacting to what seems to be a personal feud or a personal grudge in front of all of these people who are there to celebrate their industry and their accomplishments that year. I mean, I know my main response to it in the moment was just that he he should have had to leave. I think he should have had to leave the ceremony. That’s it. I don’t think, you know, that he should be thrown out of the academy, should he should have still gotten his Oscar because that was already voted for. But to me, it just seemed absolutely logical that someone who disrupts a ceremony with violence like that should be taken out. Send him his Oscar the next day. Then they then the Academy can decide what they’re going to do. Maybe they don’t let him vote for a year, you know, maybe they enact some other sort of symbolic censure or maybe they just simply accept his apology. I do think that he issued a very sincere apology last night or sincere sounding probably written completely by his publicity team. But still, he did apologize directly to Chris Rock, which he did not in his speech. But the combination of him being able to do that, return to his seat, smiling, and then accept his Oscar 15 minutes later and getting a standing ovation for what I thought we’ll talk about it, which I thought was a very sinister speech that I really do think incorporated some very abusive sounding language. The whole thing just really left a sour taste in my mouth, not only about Will Smith, but about the entire ceremony and the way that it was handled by the producers who I agree were in a tough spot. I can only imagine that, you know, if you’re a producer of the show at that moment trying to figure out what to do, you are it’s hard to communicate. You know, things are happening on live TV. What if they try to eject him and he resists that disrupts the show even more. It’s just a big mess. But the whole thing just left the worst taste in my mouth. And then afterwards, when Jaden Smith, the Smith’s son, tweeted something about, That’s the way we do it, I just was talking about it with my daughter afterwards and saying, if there is one thing that I think most parents want to bring up their children to not be, it’s someone who would do something like Will Smith did that ceremony. And I know you you guys take it away. I don’t I that’s that’s all I have to say.

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S2: I think it would have been really hard to toss them out of the room. I mean, he he was widely expected to win best actor. It was essentially a foregone conclusion. And it took me a minute, you know, after the after the slap to be like, oh, my God, he’s going to go up on stage in 20 minutes and give a speech like, Jesus, this is this is crazy. But he became the fifth black man ever to win best actor. Like the the tragedy of it is that he stepped on his own achievement. And and. I don’t know. I don’t know that they could have ejected and without the whole thing descending into into chaos. But the way in which they failed to do anything. Cut to commercial. Have a host chime in and diffuse the tension in the room. I don’t know. The whole night leaves the impression. If the concern about the Oscars is that it leaves the impression that Hollywood is totally out to lunch, the way in which the show failed to reckon with what had happened. Completely continued that. I mean, one thing that struck me about it is that it was almost it was almost like. Smith and others there were living in the kind of heightened and deluded alternate reality in which films take place. Like where did things like this happen and not happen in real life, in movies, you know?

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S3: And his speech pointed to that when he said, this is just like King Richard, right? I mean, he compared his protectiveness as he saw it of his wife in that moment of slapping Chris Rock to the protectiveness of Williams over his daughters, which, you know, again, to me, it just feeds into this kind of faux courtly language of gallantry that seems that seems very wrong. And no matter how much he objected to what was, I agree an offensive joke on Chris Rock’s part. There were many things he could have done. And we talked about this with my daughter afterwards, things that he could have done that would have expressed his his anger. He could have left the ceremony. Right. He could have swept out with his wife and not been there to accept his award. That would have sent a very strong message. Or he could have I mean, it would have been very disruptive, but he could have did what he did do and, you know, yell from the stands, you know, things in defense of his wife. Again, very disruptive, not great behavior at the Oscars, but not, you know, an act of violence on live television.

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S1: You know, this is a very, as you say, courtly like medieval notion of honor to defend your wife. I just think people should pause and ask how bad that notion has been for women since the beginning of time. Right. This macho notion that it implies that a woman is a defenseless, can’t defend herself and certain, maybe physical circumstances. That’s true for both men and women, at which point it can be brave to step in. This was not nearly one of them, and it sort of continued into the speech, which I agree with Synyster, that he was on set to protect these young actresses and protect and protect and protect. It’s this enormously self-congratulatory worldview in which it’s Will Smith’s job to protect weak women in a movie about the Williams sisters. I mean, I just this is this is awful. I’m just floored that some people have defended it.

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S3: What about the argument that I’ve seen some make that Chris Rock was using hate speech himself in making a joke about physical disability? I mean, I don’t think that that should stretch to therefore, he deserved to be slapped on live television. But, you know, the idea that he crossed a boundary and that speech can also be a form of violence.

S1: But just just over the thin line from that is violence can be a form of speech, it seems to me to imply that. And I think that that is a repulsive direction for the culture to go in.

S3: One thing that really did strike me that someone tweeted about, I’m just going to read this because I think this captures it perfectly. This person says last year was the most COVID impacted Oscars, but this one really captured the energy of the pandemic, I think. I don’t think that this could have happened. This level of chaos and this sense of disruption before the pandemic interrupted all our lives. I mean, there was a I just I had a real fall of the Roman Empire sense at the end of that show and felt like even as a movie person who were all the absurdity of the Oscars kind of looks forward to it each year just to see movies celebrated. If nothing else, I felt inclined to never watch again. I mean, between the cynical programming decisions that had already been made and then what happened after this, this, you know, act interrupted the proceedings. It just it left a horrible feeling.

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S1: All right. I think we’ll get a lot of email on this. We welcome it. And the discussion is going to continue. It has to. All right, guys, let’s move on. Okay. Before we go any further, this is typically in the show where we discuss business data. That’s your remit. What you got.

S3: Steven, this week are only item of business is to tell our listeners about today’s Slate Plus segment. This week, we’re going to be talking about the Oscars from a different angle. One of me and Julia’s favorites, one of Steve’s least favorites. Oscars fashion. I think there’s a lot to say about it this year because it feels like fashion is finally back from the pandemic slump it was in where nobody quite dared to be glamorous. Julia is going to dig into that with me, and we’re going to force Steve to opine on the fashion as well. If you’re a Slate Plus member, you will hear that bonus segment at the end of this program. If you’re not, you can sign up 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. You’ll hear that when lots of other slate shows as well. And of course you will get unlimited access to all of the great writing on Slate. You will never hit a paywall if you’re a Slate Plus member. Also, of course, you’ll be supporting us our podcast, our writing, the work of all of our brilliant colleagues at Slate. These memberships are really important to keep the magazine going. So please, if you can sign up today at Slate.com, slash culture. Plus, once again, that Slate.com slash culture plus. Okay, Steve, what’s next?

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S1: Okay. Well, winning time. The rise of the Laker dynasty takes us back to 1979, when improbably pro basketball was a rinky dink sport. It’s really true. I remember this. It was financially precarious, largely ignored by the viewing public and perceived by network suits as too, quote unquote, urban. I’ll let you puzzle out what they meant by that cue. Jerry Buss, a physician and an entrepreneur and a self-styled charmer who hustles up the money out of thin air to buy the Lakers. The key to his fortunes going forward is Magic Johnson, who is about to come to the team as the overall number one draft pick. And he this was my. For what it’s worth heyday of watching the NBA magic was one of the true unicorns the sports has ever actually produced. He was a point guard and a power forward’s body. He was six foot nine, which is unusually tall for someone playing that position. And he was he was truly he was a magician on the court. To anybody listening to this, I highly recommend just Googling Magic Johnson career highlights or putting it in YouTube. It is an astonishing to this day, an astonishing thing to watch. And lo and behold, what happened over the next decade. Bus and magic would totally transform the Lakers into one of the greatest sports dynasties of all time while transforming the NBA into an entertainment juggernaut. The ensemble cast here features John C Reilly as Buss, Quincy, Isaiah as Magic. Plus, you got, I mean, just a bunch of people. It’s Adrien Brody, Gaby Hoffman, Tracy Letts. It’s directed, some might say, very directed by Adam McKay. He of the Big Short and don’t look up. Let’s listen to a clip in the following scene. We’re going to hear Magic and Buzz discussing the future of the franchise. Magic has yet to come. He’s wondering what’s in store for him. And Buzz knows that he’s got lightning in a bottle sitting right in front of him.

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S5: Hey, what kind of doctor are you, anyway? Physical chemistry. Believe it or not.

S1: I used to help design missiles for the government, but one day I realized I’d rather build things and blow them up.

S5: That was the end of that heavy man. URBAN That’s what.

S1: I want to do with the Lakers.

S6: I want to build something special.

S1: But I need a partner.

S5: I mean, we got to do.

S1: I’ll take you out for a nice burger. You just want to hit me, you know? 600 is a lot. Let me tell you. You know, it’s the Celtics just paid Larry Bird. Yeah, I see.

S5: I mean, I don’t see the difference between me and him. You know, it’s a kind of deal. Will pay his ass, but his national championship.

S1: You did. Come on. Okay. For the following segment, Julia is going to drop out and will be joined by Jack Hamilton. Jack is Slate’s pop critic. He’s a professor at the University of Virginia and the author of Just Around Midnight Rock and Roll in the Racial Imagination, a book that just stays relevant and gets more and more relevant about the cultural theft that was this major music genre. Hey, welcome back to the show.

S6: Hey, everyone. Thanks for having me. Always a pleasure.

S1: Yeah. So in the clip, we hear, you know, Magic and Buzz talking about the great white hope, the big rival to be of magic in the pros, Larry Bird. And Magic wants nothing more than to have as much money or nearly as much money as his white counterpart. This is an interesting it’s certainly an interesting subject. But having read you now on it, I take it you didn’t warm all that much to it?

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S6: No. Yeah, I didn’t like winning time. I went in with very high expectations or maybe not high expectations, but I went in, you know, really interested because I’m a huge basketball fan. I’ve liked some of Adam McKay previous work a lot. I haven’t liked his recent work all that much. But yeah, it was it was a show that struck me as sort of like flawed in its conception and then also its execution. Like it’s like, you know, a bad idea for a show that’s then badly executed. I just feel like the dialogue is often just incredibly stilted. You know, it’s like characters explaining their biographies to one another. It’s sort of a hallmark of kind of, you know, bad historical fiction or, you know, whatever, historical recreation.

S1: Yeah. I mean, Adam McKay had this subject that people wanted desperately to have explained to them. In fact, there’s a whole sort of explainer industry that arose out of the oh eight financial crisis and the Big Short, you know, took the Lewis book and at least to me, introduced this semi new style of sort of glib fun but glib didacticism and of, of kind of just breaking the fourth wall and suddenly giving you naked exposition or backstory or historical context for what was happening in front of you. It works there. It doesn’t seem to work here. But you and I agree, right? The premises of the show are quite right, that this was this was a historic transformation in the history of NBA sports. You could argue also for the place of of African-American players, black players in the American imagination, a sport that was, to be honest, was considered by white racist network network executives to be too black to carry with a large audience. And it became the yuppie sport of the eighties, in no small part because the, you know, tremendous rivalry between bird and magic. So it kind of had us at Hello and then lost us. Did it ever? Did it ever click for you to ever start to engage you more deeply?

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S6: I think some of the performances are quite good. There’s been you know, it’s an interesting show because it’s been nitpicked for a variety of reasons, depending on the audience. You know, hardcore NBA people have pointed out a lot of the historical inaccuracies, which didn’t really bother me as much. But so, for instance, like Jason Clarke plays Jerry West and his depiction of West has been roundly criticized by people who know West as being unrealistic. I found it to be one of the most interesting parts of the show because he actually turns Jerry West into an interesting character. I mean, not to say Jerry West isn’t actually interesting in real life. He certainly is. But it’s like a lot of the other characters in the show are really, really one dimensional. Similarly, I thought actually Quincy Isaiah, who’s a newcomer, does a really good job playing Magic Johnson, which has to be one of the most difficult, tough gig to see, you know, ask someone to play. You know, Magic Johnson, I think, is just one of the most charismatic, you know, magnetic team sports athletes of the 20th century. I mean, he’s just a sort of singular figure and, you know, brilliant basketball player, but also just a sort of electrifying presence in popular culture more broadly. So it’s really impressive that Isaiah, you know, is able to turn him into something more than just an impersonation. But in terms of yeah, as a basketball fan, one of the things I found really lacking in this show was it’s sort of the attention or interest in actual basketball. Like, it’s it’s baffling to me that this show seems to think that what drew people to the Showtime Lakers was its owner, you know, or was it like what was going on, you know, with like the Laker girls or like all of the glitz like that certainly was, you know, those were innovative things. But what was drawing people to the team was this groundbreaking, revolutionary style of play, you know, anchored by these, like, unbelievably talented players that like, that’s the thing that the show is really unable to capture and at times seems kind of uninterested in capturing, which to me was just really bizarre.

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S1: Yeah, I really agree with that. And for those of our listeners who don’t know, Jerry West was he was a absolutely brilliant player in his heyday. I mean, you know, leading scorer who couldn’t win. I mean, he was on the Lakers and he couldn’t put them over the top until right at the end of his career. They finally did it. And the interesting thing about the portrayal, Dana, I’m curious to know whether you found it interesting is that West has a very specific a personality type of someone who was badly abused as a kid, which is that they’re always escaping, always escaping. And when they are and always trying to prove themselves and when they finally get the thing that they want, they fall apart. And it vividly the show vividly portrays a man whose worst moment is actually winning. And I thought that that was that was a little interesting. I mean, that that’s a very particular kind of neurosis or human damage. And I thought this actually did a pretty good job of depicting. I’m curious what you thought of the show, Dana.

S3: I mean, just just quickly about the Jerry West character. I think Jason Clarke is great in that role, and I completely agree that it’s a fascinating piece of psychology for somebody who’s not a big sports watcher and is outside of sports. The idea that you would have this, you know, Hamlet like relationship to your own sports career as a coach or as a player is really interesting. And I sort of wish that he had been the main character or Jason Clarke or Jerry West or a more main character than the John C Reilly character, the team’s owner that the show is based around. Who, in a way, I mean, he’s one of the, you know, players in this story who’s interesting, but I don’t quite see why the story is built around that character in particular. And I think that’s a flaw of the show, is that we spend so much time on him and his psychology when in fact he’s less complex and less interesting than either Magic Johnson or Jerry West. But the bigger problem with the show for me and Jack, you completely nailed this in your review for Slate was that it was so distracting all the formal bells and whistles that Mickey was constantly using. I know this is his new style since Vice that Dick Cheney biopic he made, he has been really into, you know. No, actually since the big short Steve you’re right before vice but it’s been really annoying since Vice that he has to constantly be changing the framing and you know, having this kind of disjunctive editing and you know, the fourth wall breaking is only a part of it and to me the least distracting part, the worst to me in particular. And I’m going to read some of your review aloud, Jack, because you just said it so perfectly. It was the changing of film stocks was so your God. I now I’m going to read just a couple sentences from Jack’s excellent review of the show. He says, Compounding the tonal and storytelling inconsistencies of winning time is how the show actually looks. In order to achieve period veracity, the filmmakers alternately employ the visual aesthetics of grainy eight millimetres and 16 millimetres film stock and old fashioned beta cam tapes. The novelty of this is initially interesting. I completely agree with that, Jack. And I was thinking, Oh, this is going to be fun. I love looking at old film stocks, but then it quickly goes just gross distracting as there’s no apparent logic to when and why each style is applied. And that was just what got me in. To show there’s moments where two characters are sitting in a bar, having a conversation. They look across the room and what they see across the room is shown in a different format and format. Then the guys at the table talking, So what is Adam McKay trying to say with this? Like they see in beta cam or something? It’s just it was so distracting to me that it took me out of the story every time and it just seemed like showing off to no particular fact.

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S1: I want to jump in here quickly and defend one thing about it, which is that with all due respect to the fact that they absolutely 100% foregrounded a white character at the expense of the black players who made that team magical. I really think John C Reilly is terrific as a bus. I love him as an actor. I love movies that Reilly is called upon to more or less carry because he’s often in a supporting role.

S2: And I agree.

S3: I absolutely love him, and I couldn’t believe that I didn’t like him as the main character. But it’s not his fault. It’s the script.

S1: Well, but let me let me let me defend that just very briefly, and then Jack will let you button us. But but I was just weirdly grateful for the story of a disrupter and a businessman whose claim to being self-made was reasonably or appears reasonably true, who was neither financier nor adcom, you know, futurist. And that throwback aspect I kind of liked and I, I hate the carny type. I hate the P.T. Barnum type. You know, it’s ruined American America for me many on many occasions. I kind of like Jerry. Something about Riley has made me like and be curious about, but in part because he was instrumental to completely revivify a sport that I love and and really changing sports in a sense. So, I mean, he understood that sports could you could produce a legitimately great team, a beautifully constructed, you know, you know, perfectly integrated team that was also an entertainment product in a way that didn’t compromise the integrity of the sport. I just kind of liked the ride.

S6: Yeah. I mean, I’m a huge John C Reilly fan. Like huge. I mean, you guys may know that, like, Step Brothers is one of my favorite parents of all time. I’m a big, big evangelist for John C Riley. But yeah, I mean, I would I agree with Dana that I think that like, you know, he I think he does his best with a heart that is like really, really, really incompletely written and incoherently written. Like, I, I have seen more of the show than, than I think either of you, just because I got screeners. But it is like the show never is able to really settle on a consistent tone for his character in terms of like whether he is the dramatic center point of the show or whether he is at other times seemingly functioning as this weird comic relief type character. But there’s so much physical comedy around, like his hair and stuff like that, that’s just sort of strange. I mean, feels like something that’s out of one of Adam McKay’s earlier movies. I don’t want to relate to too much of this at the Feet of McKay. He did direct the first episode, but he wasn’t, to my knowledge, involved in the in the writing or the variation of the show. But it does definitely bear a lot of his, you know, fingerprints of the of his more recent work. But yeah, I mean, I think that’s like the issue with with the Riley performance is a general tonal one that speaks to, I think, a fundamental problem of the show, which is that like and I touched on this in my review that it’s like it feels like no one at any point in this process. It’s like they got this IP from the Jeff Pearlman book that it’s based on and they were like, cool. You know, probably like, you know, The Last Dance was a big hit, the Michael Jordan documentary that aired at the beginning of the pandemic. You know, let’s do this sort of nostalgia thing. We got this starry cast, but like no one really sat down and was like, what exactly are we trying to do? You know, like, what is the point of this show? And I feel like the Riley character really embodies that problem where it’s like, what do you want this character to do?

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S1: All right. Well, Jack Hamilton, thank you so much for coming back on the show to talk about this great piece. It’s HBO’s L.A. Show has an Adam McKay problem. It’s up on Slate now. Jack, come back soon.

S6: Yeah. Thanks so much for having me. Always a pleasure to talk to you guys soon.

S1: All right. Well, the state of Florida has passed the so called don’t say gay bill, a completely woeful, hateful, really piece of anti LGBTQ legislation. It places a unique burden on one of the biggest employers and most high profile corporations operating in the state, Disney. Here to discuss that is Mark Joseph Stern, senior writer for Slate. And once again, Julia will be dropping out for the segment. Mark, welcome to the show.

S6: Thanks so much for having me on. Happy to be here.

S1: Excellent. I’m super eager to talk about this with you. You’ve written about it and tweeted about it in interesting ways. I gave the very broadest brush summary. Can you introduce us on a more granular level to what’s going on here?

S6: So this bill, which has been dubbed Don’t say Gay, is also known as HB 1557, and it is a Republican sponsored measure that severely restricts the amount of discussion and instruction about LGBTQ issues in public schools. So I’m just going to read a little bit of the text of the bill. I promise it won’t be too boring, but I think it’s important to kind of drill down on what this bill does and does not do. So there are two main features of it. The first is an absolute ban on any classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in grades kindergarten through three. Right. So total ban for K through three. And then the bill says for grades four through 12, there is a partial ban on instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity that is not, quote, age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards. What state standards are those? They do not actually exist. So TBD. Maybe they’ll be drawn up now, but right now there are no such standards. And the most important thing to understand about this, this law, is that it’s not enforced in a traditional way. It is modeled after the Texas abortion ban, which, as you may know, is enforced by private citizens through sort of like vigilante lawsuits. And it’s a similar model here. So if a parent believes that classroom instruction has occurred in a public school, they can actually go to court and sue that school district and say, you violated this law and in doing so violated my rights as a parent and can collect thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars in damages as well as attorney’s fees. If they prevail, if the school district prevails, they do not get attorney’s fees. So it’s kind of like a one way ratchet. And so the bill not only imposes these very vague rules about what teachers can and cannot say, but it’s designed to chill a maximum amount of speech, because even if a teacher is ultimately exonerated just by being sued, they’re going to face a months long investigation. They’re going to have their reputation dragged through the mud. They’re going to quite possibly be terminated or suspended. And so the safe bet for any rational teacher now that this this bill has been signed is to simply say nothing at all about LGBTQ issues or people or families, because doing so could subject them to a ruinous lawsuit.

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S1: And it’s just Orwellian. Now, talk a little bit about, you know, Disney has a large presence in Florida. It’s a large presence, obviously, everywhere in the world. It has an opportunity to respond to this. And by and large, it punts.

S6: Disney is the single most powerful entity in the state of Florida. It is my home state. I was just there over the weekend. Beautiful state, run by horrible people. And Disney for a long time has earned a lot of deference from the legislature and the governor. And traditionally, Republicans and Democrats alike have really kind of conferred with Disney on a lot of their big moves to make sure that they have Disney on board. Disney is a huge donor to legislators of both parties. It has given many thousands of dollars to these sponsors and supporters of this don’t say gay bill. And that created a lot of displeasure within the company, especially in Florida, because for a while, Disney was totally silent about this, which is pretty unusual for a measure that implicates Disney’s values. Disney likes to present itself as a very gay friendly, very LGBTQ friendly. It says it’s a great sponsor and supporter of gay rights and trans rights. I don’t know about you, but I have several friends who are Disney gays. They go there three times a year and wear their Mickey Mouse hats and post them on Instagram and Grinder like. The gays love Disney, and Disney likes to say that it loves the gays. But for a while, when this bill was being, you know, passed through committee, passed through a chamber of that of the legislature, Disney kept his mouth shut. So there was a kind of a rebellion behind the scenes. Staff at Disney started saying Disney has to speak out about this. And Bob Chapek, the current CEO of Disney, he said, actually, no, we don’t need to say anything about this because, you know, that’s really veering outside our lane. We just need to promote LGBTQ equality through our wonderful content, which can make the world a better place for LGBTQ people by promoting our values and LGBTQ acceptance. To which a number of employees responded. Actually, we’ve been trying to put openly gay characters in Disney and Pixar movies for many, many years, and you have continually inconsistently cut them out. And also making movies that gays like does not amount to actively opposing and lobbying against this bill.

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S3: Yeah, it was only yesterday, I believe. Right. I mean, it was only after the bill has now been signed into law that that Disney came out with a strong pushback statement against it. And I think that was essentially damage control for these things you’re talking about. Like I assume you’re referring also to the the open letter from Pixar employees talking about, you know, specific giving specific examples of, you know, characters that had been muted, let’s say, or, you know, reduced in the degree to which they could they could represent any kind of gay content in Pixar movies.

S6: Right. So after this blowback from the initial response by Chapek, he does step up before the bill passes and produces a much better statement that still is not nearly as strong as many, many Disney employees would like to see where he says, look, just to be clear, we do oppose this bill. We do not support it. And I even talked to Ron DeSantis about why we oppose it, which does not really amount to full on lobbying like. So let’s say that Florida wanted to raise the minimum wage to $20 an hour. Right. I guarantee you that Disney would be lobbying the legislature actively to prevent that from happening, because that actually affects Disney’s bottom line. That’s not what we saw here. We saw these statements that kind of got a little bit stronger with each one, but weren’t quite there until, as you said, Dana, after the bill passes and finally Chapek says, okay, we hate this bill. It’s awful, it’s odious to our values, and we will do everything we can to ensure that it is overturned or repealed. However, that does not appear to include stopping donations to these sponsors and supporters of the bill. Disney has not indicated that it will dry up the funds that it has been sending over to these Republican legislators for many years.

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S1: Mark, one of the conflicts that’s going on here and must be especially acute for a company like Disney is. On the one hand, corporate America wants to sell as many things to as many people as possible, a.k.a. they want to offend as few people as possible. So they in one sense, their public face has to be one of almost sort of radical inclusion and even sort of a progressive veneer. At the same time, they’re shareholder pleasing entities that are forced constantly to lobby the government for advantages both large and small, and therefore they distribute their money, their cash, to politicians who demagogue against inclusion and demagogue against LGBTQ very often. How is Disney? If you had to talk a little bit about about this balance in general and how Disney might work it out? I’d love to. I’d love to hear that.

S6: Yeah. I mean, it’s a really sticky issue that gets into this deeper quagmire of corporations creating beloved entertainment, but doing evil things with the dollars that it rakes in from consumption of that entertainment. And I’m loathe to defend Disney here, but it is hardly the only company that is playing this game. I mean, one really prominent example is that a bunch of corporations said they were going to stop donating to the members of Congress who voted against certifying the 2020 election. Right, the so-called Insurrection Caucus. And they did it for a few months. And then they said, okay, well, everybody’s forgotten about this, so we’re just going to start doing it again. I think there’s an even more extreme dissonance with a company like Disney because their donations clash so directly with their stated values. But it’s not just Disney, right? Some other organizations that say they support LGBTQ rights but fund anti LGBTQ politicians UnitedHealth Group, Comcast, Walgreens, AT&T. I live in DC, a very LGBTQ friendly jurisdiction. These companies put out commercials with like drag queens and trans people and same sex couples, and they’re like, We strongly support you, LGBTQ consumers. And then they turn around and give a ton of money to Ted Cruz and Ron DeSantis and people who are lobbying against our interests. And I don’t think that there is like an easy answer to this problem, but I am glad that the Disney brouhaha has drawn more attention to it, because for so long, like the Human Rights Campaign has used this guide to LGBTQ friendly corporations. Right. You can see it online there, like, here’s where you should shop if you want to support LGBTQ people. And they exclusively for many years went by what their policies were, whether they said they didn’t discriminate against gay people and trans people, you know, if they gave equal family leave to same sex couples, whatever, and did not factor in how much money these people were giving to anti-gay demagogues and bigots, that is starting to change. And I am very curious to see if the don’t say gay thing is going to set off a bigger kind of reexamination on the left about just how far a corporation can go funding hate campaigns and hate groups and hateful politicians while pretending to strongly support peace, love and harmony and equality and all that.

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S3: Yeah, it seems like the Human Rights Campaign in particular has kind of gotten wise to this rainbow washing phenomenon you’re talking about. Because one of the things that Chapek brags about in one of these, you know, various press releases, basically letters that open letters that he’s written about this to the company is that for six years running, I think he says the Human Rights Campaign has given Disney, you know, their approval rating, whatever it is, given them, you know, some sort of star approval rating for being a human rights friendly company. And yet one of the other things that’s happened in this last few weeks of chaos around what Disney’s going to do about Don’t Say Gay is that the Human Rights Campaign turned down a really substantial donation from Disney, saying, you know, not until you not until you get right with your policies do we want to accept your money.

S6: I cannot overstate how big a deal that is. I mean, that was a huge turning point in this battle because for so long, as you indicated, HRC has kind of hoovered up money from these corporations, almost as though the companies are tithing. They’re like, okay, we’re giving money to Josh Hawley, but we’re also tithing to HRC. And that proves that, you know, we’re basically good on LGBTQ stuff. And now for the first time, I mean, this is really unprecedented. HRC is turning down a huge donation and saying, We don’t want to be a part of it. We don’t want to be a part of your rainbow washing. Yes, we could use this money for good, but it’s more important that we take a moral and political stand here against this kind of. Janice faced activism on behalf. And then also against LGBTQ rights. And again, I think that’s really powerful and I think it’s going to put other LGBTQ groups and broader like progressive nonprofits in a bit of a pickle because they are also taking money from corporations that are also super hypocritical about this. And you know, HRC is suddenly relevant again for the first time in a long time. I don’t think they’re going to let this one go. And I think the pressure is only going to increase on these other companies that are quietly funding hate campaigns while claiming to love and adore their LGBTQ consumers.

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S1: All right. Well, Mark, thank you so much for coming on the program. Terrific segment. And let’s have you back soon, please.

S6: Thanks so much. Always a pleasure. And happy to come back anytime.

S1: All right. Now is the moment we we in Dawson this show happily were reunited with Julia. Dana, what do you have?

S3: Steve I’m going to endorse. This is a very Dana endorsement this week. It’s the kind of music that I actually listen to that you always, always mock. But I actually think that you and all our listeners would really love this. So as I’ve talked about before in the show, I love listening to the radio, a really great deejay, especially in a form of music that you don’t know that much about, is just such a wonderful way to guide you through the music. And in the era of music, streaming apps and people listening to channels on Spotify and Pandora, you just don’t often get to hear that voice of a good deejay who’s really curating the experience for you. One such deejay is Bill McGlaughlin, who has this longstanding show on. It’s a syndicated show on classical radio here in New York. It’s on WQXR, but I don’t think it originates there. And it’s called Exploring Music. And Bill McLaughlin’s big thing is that he sits at a piano while he deejays his show. So sometimes if he’s talking about a particular theme, he’ll just play it out on the keys for you as he goes. And it’s like it’s like going to a great college music class. And he knows so much about world music and the history of music. So this particular series of shows, it was a week long series, I believe it’s five nights of shows, so it’s a total of 300 plus minutes of music is called Latin Carnival, which, when you hear the title, sounds like it would all be kind of somber party music, which would be great in itself. But it isn’t that. It’s more like a sort of a history of Latin carnival music going all the way back to, you know, the Middle Ages up to the present day. So he has, you know, nights that he talks about. He has a night that he talks about Tango and Astor Piazzolla, the great tango composer. He talks about the Brazilian composer Villa-Lobos, who wrote some kind of carnival classical pieces. But he also goes way back in history and talks about people like this composer. I’d never heard of a guy named Padilla, who was a Spanish composer living in Mexico during the Baroque period, who is incredible. And all the while, Bill McGlaughlin is sitting at his piano pointing out little themes, playing them for you. And by the end of it, you just feel like I’ve taken a great many hour course on the history of Latin carnival music. Another thing to know about this is that, like most radio shows that contain music, there are rights issues about putting it online. So it can’t just become a podcast that you can listen to in perpetuity. So it only lives online for a short time. This aired, I think last week, and you can listen to it online for another week and a half or so. So we’ll put a link on our show page and before it expires, go listen to Latin Carnival. A week’s worth of music from Bill McGlaughlin.

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S1: That is an amazing endorsement. That is really cool. I’d love to discover that and I’m so sad about the rights issues, but I’m going to seek it out. Julia, what do you have?

S2: Well, if our listeners will indulge us, I want to point them to two pieces that we ran at the L.A. Times in the wake of the slap. Both of which I think are really well worth reading as you ponder what happened. One is by Greg Braxton, a wonderful veteran reporter on our television team, who who writes really masterfully about culture and representation and has been covering Hollywood’s advances and missteps on that front for decades now. He wrote a commentary called With the Slap Smith Tarnished A Night of Pride for Black Hollywood, and his legacy is really worth going and seeking out. And then Mary McNamara and one of our columnists just pointed out that, in fact, this Oscars was an extraordinary night of achievement for women in film. In addition to Jane Campion becoming the third woman to win best director. Coda became, I think, only the third or fourth female directed film ever to win Best Picture. So her column is called Will Smith Slap Overshadows a Historic Night for Women at the 2002 Oscars. And she digs into the gendered dynamics of the incident and all of the other winners who are overshadowed by it in a really smart way.

S3: I read both of those pieces, Julia and my daylong deep dive into the Oscars yesterday, and they’re wonderful that Greg Braxton in particular was just one of the most astute analyses of something that was being very hastily and sometimes poorly analyzed yesterday.

S1: Very eager to read both of those. So back to music for a second. I there are few things I love more than Robert Smith and the cure they just endure in my listening habits. Just such a funny, weird band dinner. Are you with me on this?

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S3: Oh, my God. The cure? Yes. I hardly ever listen to them now because they’re so, so evocative of my high school days. But outside the band.

S1: They bring you. They bring you back there without, like, making you feel like a rube for going back there in a great way. I mean, the music’s just eternal for me and few things I love more than they are. Song Just like heaven. But I also love I love the three different covers of that one you can only find on YouTube of the band churches, which yes, I know is pronounced churches doing it with Robert Smith and the whole thing just kicks. It’s just so good. And he’s terrific. He’s in great voice. I think they’re a great rock and roll band. She’s a wonderful singer. They do a great cover of it. And then, of course, there’s the eternal quasi punk, neo punk cover of Bye Bye Dinosaur Jr that just absolutely slays as well. But I found a new one that I adore and it’s just goes in a totally different direction. It kind of dims the lights on. It gets gets you in a mood. It’s by a singer songwriter. My kids introduced me to Christian li Hutson huts0n. Who’s like a man after my own heart is sort of got that depressive adjunct faculty bearing and he writes thoughtful, introspective, introspective songs. But don’t hold that against him. I think he’s terrific. And Lose This Numbers is just a great song by him. Check it out. But also his cover of Just Like Heaven is so flawless, he makes it his own. He honors the original. He does all the things you’re supposed to do. Just put add it to your playlist. It’s really worth it. Check it out.

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S5: Show me. Show is show. You do that trick? The one that makes. We scream. She’s the one who makes. She said so. Samantha, my black sheep.

S3: Oh, Steve, please send those to the show page because I think we should swap music recs this week. That sounds amazing to me. My music Rex sounded amazing to you. So let’s swear to each other that we will listen to each other’s endorsements this week.

S1: Pinky swear. I have so much good stuff to send you. Julia, thank you so much. Great show.

S2: Thank you.

S1: Dana, as always, a real delight.

S3: Nice to have you back.

S1: Thank you. You will find links to some of the things we talked about on our show page that Slate.com slash Culturefest. And you can email us at Culturefest at Slate.com, please. We do actually love it. I’ve been away for two weeks. I’m going to try to start responding. Our introductory music is by Nicholas Patel. Our production assistant is Nadira Goffe. Our producer is Cameron. For Dana Stevens and Julia Turner, I’m Stephen Metcalf. Thank you so much for joining us. We will. We’ll see you soon.

S2: Hello and welcome to this last place segment of the Slate Culture Gabfest. Today we extend our coverage of the very strange Oscars with our usual custom, which is the Dana and I talk about dresses for plus. Well, Steve nods us along and.

S1: I thought I was on the Jets blog. But yes, that’s me nodding you along.

S2: All right. Well, we will demand an opinion from you, at least.

S1: Not the gender. There’s literally.

S2: But so people did wear clothes last night and they were not pajamas. And did you have opinions on any of them, Dana? Did you enjoy looking at the fashion in general? And if so, were there any particular looks that you regarded highly?

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S3: I mean, first of all, yes, I did enjoy it. I would say my favorite part of the Oscars this year, and this is not normally the case, was that it was the pre-show red carpet, not the interviews, which are always so cringing, the embarrassing. And honestly, I usually have it muted and just give my own commentary of the clothes. I used to do this on the phone with my friend who enjoyed analyzing Oscar fashion with me. Now I do it with my daughter and and we really liked a lot of the things. And I think there was actually a mood. I mean, I think we can sort of generalize from the way people dressed to say that there was a very festive post-pandemic. You know, we don’t have masks on and we’re not dour and we’re not wearing sneakers to pick up our own Oscar like Chloe Zhao did last year. And and people seem to be doing playful, weird things maybe heralded by Timothée Chalamet is shirtless Tuxedo Look, which I didn’t necessarily love but was so playful and funny that I still approved of it. But yeah, I there were a lot of glorious looking gowns out there, including probably my top favorite was Jessica Chastain’s, who I think perfectly balanced. I mean, in general, she’s just so beautiful. It’s crazy. And she wears clothes really well. But that gown that she wore, I think it was Gucci, just really combined that playful vibe that I’m talking about. Like I’m sparkly, I’m playful, I’m having fun. There are ruffles and feathers on my hem with with something very, very princess and classic. I loved that one thing that we noticed that I didn’t necessarily love, but I at least respect that it’s going in a new direction, was that there was a lot of very strange cleavage happening. It seemed like there was a new neckline where everybody wanted to see the inner side surface of their breasts squeezed together in some sort of armature. Ariana Debose had this on Tracee Ellis Ross had a very similar also bright scarlet thing that did the same thing. I mean, sure, if you’ve got the body for it, that’s not necessarily the angle that I’m most thrilled about seeing someone’s cleavage from. But that was one thing I definitely noticed that was going on. I don’t know in general. I just like when people do things that are playful and weird. Maggie Gyllenhaal had that strange, structured gown with kind of like gold door knockers on this very black stiff.

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S2: Yes, she looked like some kind of, like, religious implement or something, but in a good way.

S3: And she looked kind of two dimensional, like that dress was so structured and boxy that she sort of looked like a flat drawing of herself. And I mean, people made fun of it, but that’s sort of like to me, it was a swan gown. It was like a Bjork’s swan dress moment of, you know, it was deliberately weird and funny and playful. And so I liked all of that. Yeah, it.

S2: There was a lot of weirdness, weirdness from the men and weirdness from the women. I was really struck by your observation about the big pandemic energy, and I honestly that is like the read of the night. That makes the most sense to me now that I think about it, which is just like everybody’s a little bit broken and strange right now. Like everyone is in a weird place not to make excuses for what happened, but so there’s sort of the bad weirdness of the pandemic and everyone’s emotions having been sort of like crumpled from being stuffed in a box for a couple of years and shaking out strangely. But the fashions seem to represent the good weirdness of like, why not like, why not dress like a strange religious implement or why not reveal a weird swath of midsection in a strange shape? Or Why not issue a shirt altogether? Another outfit I really enjoyed was Kristen Stewart, who was wearing a tuxedo top, and then and then nearly shirtless an unbuttoned shirt with a long lariat necklace, and then like tiny, tiny tap pants, short shorts and a pair of high heels on the red carpet that quickly became a sort of like skater sneaker espadrille look with little bobby socks as soon as she made it past the initial gauntlet. I love that look for her. I also you haven’t mentioned another bit of the interestingly shaped midsection came in zendaya’s look which was smashing and that was the silver encrusted. A dress with a kind of thick, creepy drapey train and then a crisp white shirt that with a shirt tail cut right under the boob. She looked fantastic. And then the other best use of sequins, I thought, was Lupita Nyong’o dress, which almost looked like gold tinsel, like a like a confetti cannon, but also had like little pink studying. It just was wonderful.

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S3: Yeah. Lupita. Lupita is maybe the fashion queen of the red carpet of all time. I feel like I individually remember everything she’s ever worn to the Oscars, and. And she always wears it so, so well. Somebody who’s not a star or an actor, but a director, Sean head her, who’s the director of CODA, accepted her award and almost like the silver equivalent of the Ava Lupita dress, that dress that looked like it was made of sort of silver coins attached to each other. And that also, I think had that kind of yeah, if you’re going to go to the Oscars, you might as well look like an Oscar. And I always love when there’s metallic gowns, which Jessica Chastain also had some metallic effervescence. I also thought there was a lot of great.

S2: Weird male fashion. Kodi Smit-McPhee The the string bean from power of the dog wore a powder blue, kind of high waisted, double breasted Bottega Veneta suit and these sort of puffy blue moon boots to go with it. It was a great look. David Oyelowo had a wonderful yellow and black suit and Daniel Kaluuya had an amazing green blazer there. There just was.

S3: Like, Oh, Andrew Garfield, too. That was one of my favorite. I would I would have completely worn what he wore, which is this fantastic, sort of like dark purple velvet tuxedo. He looked wonderful.

S2: Yes. And we can’t forget Rita moreno hat. She wore this amazing frou frou feathered hairpiece hat. And and that looked amazing. And it was fun seeing her in our end of the bows on the on the carpet together. Steve. What was your favorite look?

S7: Hmm? Hmm. Hmm.

S1: Oh, Julia. I was over the Atlantic, fighting off turbulence with a dummy when this was broadcast. So I. I got to go shallow bay, bare chested, because it made my daughter so happy.

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S3: Now, let me ask you this. This is what my daughter asked me as we were watching. What would you wear if you went to the Oscars? What type of thing would you wear, Steve? Big. Would you go? Would you smile? Would you have a velvet tuxedo?

S1: Uh, I just have to go. Classic. I just have to go. Look, whatever the really classic default sort of timeless tux is. I’d shave, try to lose £7, you know, have a haircut. Look, I’d be pretty un, Steve. And it’s also sort of like asking if there are cows on the moon. Are they purple? I mean, it’s I just think once you set up that if you’ve wiped out the relevance of the, you know, end of the sentence.

S3: But I think the fantasy is part of the pleasure, right. Is it is kind of imagining that dress up moment. And that’s why the outfits I most like are the ones that people seem to be having fun wearing. You know, and and you can always tell when someone is comfortable, there’s certain people that just can will. Kristen Stewart’s one of them. And Lupita Nyong’o is one that no matter what they’re wearing, they seem to be enjoying it and flaunting it and and comfortable in it. And that that’s the kind of fantasy that you want to have, like, how could I look so fantastic but also be having an amazing night? I will.

S2: Say so. As part of my role as entertainment czar out here in L.A., I do sometimes go to awards adjacent events. And it’s it’s an interesting dressing challenge if you’re going to be the journalist at the party or the date or whatever. I always feel like it’s very important to dress in such a way that you do not. Convey that you are under the misapprehension that you are the person about to win an award and to not be to Gounty and to like It’s my night. You know, I did go to something on Saturday night and and, you know, struggled to figure out what to wear besides pajamas and chose something kind of understated and fancy because you don’t want to look like I’m a princess. It’s so fun to be at a party, you know, like you have to keep it a little low key. So I think if you were going to actually be a participant in one of these ceremonies as opposed to an onlooker, it would just be fun. I mean, I think for the people who have to go to this all the time, it’s work. I mean, it’s like literally actually structurally work that’s in their contracts that you have to go to all the award shows you’re nominated to. And if you go, that requires like a whole set of work with a stylist and a hair people, you know, like it’s I don’t I think it’s probably not not fun and it’s probably fun the first couple of times you do it. But I think when you do it a lot, it it’s just another part of the job in a way. And so I understand the kind of exhaustion with being scrutinized, but I always enjoy the people like Sean Hader, who are clearly it’s their first time there. Who knows if they’re going to have more? I mean, no, no particular not Sunshine Hitters prospects, probably. Well, but you know, the sort of people who seem like they’re they’re like, I’m just noticing, like Tony Hawk and his wife, like I don’t know if Tony Hawk’s wife or girlfriend is going back to the Oscars. I don’t know if Tony Hawk is going back to the Oscars. And she wore some great dress and clearly had fun, like figuring out what to wear to the Oscars. I think it would be fun to like go in and take advantage of the machinery and try to come up with something fabulous and fun and comfortable. Yeah. Flats and pockets, though, something smashing that would also allow you to wear flats and have pockets. That’s the that’s the dream. Dana, what about you?

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S3: What would I wear? I don’t know. I mean, I know I feel like I was just shamed by your comment, but I think I would go for Princess. I mean, I’m not a huge gown person, but for myself. But I do love looking at them on other people. I think if I could do it full on and if, as you say, I was involved in some way with something that was actually in competition and was not there to host, which I agree that it requires a different feeling of formality or maybe dignity or, you know, background receding. But yeah, getting totally styled and fluffy. I mean, I never had a wedding. I never had a fantasy about a wedding. But that moment of getting to, you know, be glamorous on the red carpet, I think I would probably lean into it pretty hard.

S2: Yeah, I no, to be clear, I’m saying it would be fun to go full princess if you were going in the capacity of, like, walking the red carpet. I think it’s just when you’re going for work, you it’s a it’s a different aesthetic goal than making a red carpet splash. It’s you want to seem like, you know, it’s not your party, but you’re respectful of the fact that it’s a party kind of thing.

S3: And the host clothes kind of showed that. I think I also sort of wish that the host hostesses that that that Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes and Amy Schumer, the three hosts of the show, had had one consistent look through the night. And maybe that goes back to, you know, me sort of saying I need guidance from my hosts. But I think that became a little bit too much about their fashion show. But early on, when they showed up in those outfits, that kind of evoked tuxedos that were black and white and kind of tailored. You know, that seems to fit in with what you’re saying about hosts having a different a different remit in their dressing than the people who are there to possibly get awards.

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S2: I did. I loved Amy Schumer’s dress with the bow, which also revealed some structured inside cleavage and in a slightly odd way. But the but it just was sort of playful and goofy and and I enjoyed it. They all looked great. I also will go on the record here in the safety of plus to say that I enjoyed Regina Hall’s so horny bit where she just hauled the the man flesh of Hollywood up on the stage and ogled them. It felt a little unhinged and unexpected and edgy comedically in a way that, you know, was intended to make you think like, what if a man did that? And of course it wouldn’t be okay. And what she did was borderline, but also made the show interesting in a good way before it became interesting in a terrible way.

S3: Yeah, I have to say, some of the writing for all three of those women was pretty edgy, and it was another of the moments where it was just too bad that Will Smith came up in Hog the whole evening with his slap drama because there was some stuff going on in there in their monologues that I think would have been worth talking about later if any of us were talking about anything else.

S2: All right. Well, thank you so much, Clay, plus listeners for supporting Slate, for supporting our show, for listening to the work we do. We’ll see you soon.