Podcast: Still Processing

The New York Times
The New York Times
Step inside the confession booth of Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham, two culture writers for The New York Times. They devour TV, movies, art, music and the internet to find the things that move them — to tears, awe and anger. Still Processing is where they try to understand the pleasures and pathologies of America in 2018.
We dissect Jordan Peele’s new psychological thriller, “Us,” and discuss the film’s central question (WITHOUT SPOILERS): Are any of us ever truly free from the past?Also, we’re going on a short hiatus. Happy spring, and we’ll be back in your ears soon.Discussed this week:“Us” (directed by Jordan Peele, 2019)“Suspiria” (directed by Dario Argento, 1977)“The People Under the Stairs” (directed by Wes Craven, 1991)“It Follows” (directed by David Robert Mitchell, 2014)“White Is for Witching” (Helen Oyeyemi, 2014)“Beloved” (Toni Morrison, 1987)“Beloved” (directed by Jonathan Demme, 1998)Jan Svankmajer“Beloved” (Toni Morrison, audiobook, 2006)“The Souls of Black Folk” (W.E.B. DuBois, 1903)
We celebrate Whoopi Goldberg from her days as a boundary-pushing stand-up comedian in the early ’80s to her current role as professional curmudgeon on “The View.”Discussed this week:“Whoopi Goldberg” (Ottessa Moshfegh, Garage magazine: Issue 16, Feb. 19, 2019)“Whoopi Goldberg: Direct From Broadway” (directed by Thomas Schlamme, 1985)“The Color Purple” (directed by Steven Spielberg, 1985)“Jumpin’ Jack Flash” (directed by Penny Marshall, 1986)“Burglar” (directed by Hugh Wilson, 1987)“Fatal Beauty” (directed by Tom Holland, 1987)“Clara’s Heart” (directed by Robert Mulligan, 1988)“Ghost” (directed by Jerry Zucker, 1990)Whoopi Goldberg winning the best supporting actress Oscar for her role in Ghost (1991)“Sister Act” (directed by Emile Ardolino, 1992)“The Fine Print: Danson in the Dark” (Louis Theroux, Spy magazine, February 1994)“The Associate” (directed by Donald Petrie, 1996)
We chat with David Wallace-Wells, climate columnist for New York Magazine, about the limits of individual consumption choices and the necessity of political action to combat climate change. Discussed this week:“The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming” (David Wallace-Wells, 2019)
HBO’s “Leaving Neverland” — a two-part documentary that focuses on the stories of two men, James Safechuck and Wade Robson, who allege that Michael Jackson sexually abused them as children — prompts us to wrestle with our love for and discomfort with the pop star. We examine how Jackson seemed to have been culturally exonerated, and we ask what to do with a man whose artistic reach is so profound that “canceling” him — an imperfect way of dealing with problematic artists to begin with — might not even be possible.Discussed this week:“How to Support a Friend or Loved One Who Has Been Sexually Abused” (Vanessa Marin, The New York Times, 2019)“Leaving Neverland” (HBO, 2019)“Moonwalk” (Michael Jackson, 2009)“The Oprah Winfrey Show” (ABC, Feb. 10, 1993)“Living With Michael Jackson” (ITV, 2003)“On Michael Jackson” (Margo Jefferson, 2006)
The Jussie Smollett investigation has captured America’s attention — and ours. We take a look at the support for as well as the doubts about Smollett’s claims, and try to make sense of the charge that Smollett staged his own attack. In an era in which personal trauma and victimhood are often leveraged for cultural capital, we consider the long-term repercussions of the Smollett case.Discussed this week:“Jussie Smollett Timeline: Mystery Remains as Actor Is Charged With Faking His Assault” (Sopan Deb, The New York Times, Feb. 17, 2019)“Lee Daniels Shares Powerful Words for Jussie Smollett After Racist, Homophobic Attack” (Alex Ungerman, ETOnline, Jan. 29, 2019)April Ryan asks President Trump what he thinks about the alleged attack on Jussie Smollett (C-Span, Jan. 29, 2019)“Jussie Smollett speaks to Robin Roberts in ABC News exclusive interview” (Good Morning America, Feb. 14, 2019)“Can the Grammys Please Anyone?” (Ben Sisario, The New York Times, Feb. 7, 2019)“Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened” (Netflix, 2019)“Fyre Fraud” (Hulu, 2019)“Breaking Bad” (AMC, 2008-13)“Where’s All This Energy for the Attacks on Black Transgender Women?” (Raquel Willis, Out, Jan. 31, 2019)“At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance — A New History of the Civil Rights Movement From Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power” (Danielle L. McGuire, 2011)“Prada, Gucci and now Burberry: Are brands under fire for offensive designs doing it on purpose?” (Rachel Leah, Salon, Feb 20. 2019)“Former Goucher Student Faces Four Counts of Hate Crime Charges for Racist Graffiti” (WJZ, Dec. 5, 2018)“Revisiting a Rape Scandal That Would Have Been Monstrous if True” (Retro Report, The New York Times, June 3, 2013)“Why You Always Lying” (Nicholas Fraser, Sept. 14, 2015)
With the Academy Awards right around the corner, we take a look back at some previous Best Picture winners. When these winning films were about race, they often highlighted a feel-good racial reconciliation fantasy. But about 30 years ago, there was one movie that was snubbed at the Oscars — “Do the Right Thing” — that is anything but a feel-good racial reconciliation fantasy. We revisit how “Do the Right Thing” showcased realities about race in America in ways that none of the current Oscar nominees — including Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” — do, and why it matters.Discussed this week:“Green Book” (directed by Peter Farrelly, 2018)“Forrest Gump” (directed by Robert Zemeckis, 1994)“Crash” (directed by Paul Haggis, 2004)“Driving Miss Daisy” (directed by Bruce Beresford, 1989)“BlacKkKlansman” (directed by Spike Lee, 2018)Kim Basinger going off-script at the 1990 Academy Awards“Do the Right Thing” (directed by Spike Lee, 1989)
"Becoming," the best-selling memoir by the former first lady, Michelle Obama, is a study in what happens when the ways we see ourselves don't always line up with the ways that society sees us. In reading about her journey from high-achieving, self-possessed child in Chicago to the fraught glamour of her life in the White House, we marvel at the ways she balanced herself and her image in service of the country. And we discuss how Michelle Obama's memoir fits into a powerful lineage of black women navigating entirely new circumstances with curiosity, strength and grace.Discussed this week:“Becoming” (Michelle Obama, 2019)Beyoncé singing “At Last” at Barack Obama’s 2008 inauguration“Lean In” (Sheryl Sandberg, 2013)“Complete Writings: Phillis Wheatley” (Phillis Wheatley, 2001)“Thick: And Other Essays” (Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom, 2019)“Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower” (Dr. Brittney Cooper, 2018)“Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds” (adrienne maree brown, 2017)
Inspired by Netflix’s “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo,” we decide to KonMari Wesley’s Brooklyn apartment. We ask ourselves what sparks joy in our lives and examine whether Marie Kondo’s philosophy extends into the metaphysical realm.Discussed this week:"Tidying Up with Marie Kondo" (Netflix, 2019)"The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing" (Marie Kondo, 2014)"The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter" (Margareta Magnusson, 2017)
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We now live in an era where people can choose to believe whatever they want to believe, regardless of proof or evidence. From the Laquan McDonald trial to the film “Green Book” to R. Kelly’s song “I Believe I Can Fly” to the Nick Sandmann/Nathan Phillips encounter at the Lincoln Memorial, we wrestle with the ways that reality is contested, both personally and politically.Discussed this week:"Jason Van Dyke Sentenced to Nearly 7 Years for Murdering Laquan McDonald" (Mitch Smith and Julie Bosman, The New York Times, Jan. 18, 2019) "Who is America?" (Showtime, 2018)"Green Book" (directed by Peter Farrelly, 2018)"Why Do the Oscars Keep Falling for Racial Reconciliation Fantasies?" (Wesley Morris, The New York Times, Jan. 23, 2019) "Surviving R. Kelly" (Lifetime, 2019)The Nick Sandmann/Nathan Phillips encounter at the Lincoln Memorial (Jan. 25, 2019)
The new Netflix show “Sex Education” feels so refreshing because for the longest time, there has been a dearth of cultural properties that specifically deal with the realities of sex. Sure, there’s sex in film and TV, but in recent history, there has been an absence of content that treats sex (and the complicated feelings that it can bring up) not as an aside, but as the main event. From “Fatal Attraction” to “Sex and the City” to “Knocked Up” to “Black Panther,” we trace the history — on screen and off — of how we went from lots of bad sex to no sex to hopefully some good sex moving forward.Discussed this week:"Sex Education" (created by Laurie Nunn, 2019)"Fatal Attraction" (directed by Adrian Lyne, 2019) "Basic Instinct" (directed by Paul Verhoeven, 1992)"Color of Night" (directed by Richard Rush, 1994)"The Witches of Eastwick" (directed by George Miller, 1987)"Sex and the City" (created by Darren Star, 1998–2004)Bill Clinton denying his sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky (1998)"Knocked Up" (directed by Judd Apatow, 2007)"X-Men" (directed by Bryan Singer, 2000)"Black Panther" (directed by Ryan Coogler, 2018)
Last fall, Nike released a groundbreaking ad featuring the former N.F.L. quarterback Colin Kaepernick. His kneeling protest, which started in 2016 as a response to police brutality, was reinterpreted by social media, celebrities and Nike itself to mean something that doesn’t always match the intention of his original protest. So what does it say that a multinational corporation has aligned itself with a social movement? And are we O.K. with this form of “Kaepitalism”?Discussed this week:"Samson et Dalila" at the Metropolitan OperaJennifer Lee Chan’s tweet showing Colin Kaepernick not standing for the national anthem (Aug. 27, 2016)Colin Kaepernick explaining why he won’t stand for the national anthem (Aug. 28, 2016)"Colin Kaepernick and the Question of Who Gets to Be Called a 'Patriot'" (Wesley Morris, The New York Times Magazine, Sept. 12, 2016)Nike’s ad featuring Colin Kaepernick (September 2018)"Nike’s Colin Kaepernick ad sparked a boycott — and earned $6 billion for Nike" (Alex Abad-Santos, Vox, Sept. 24, 2018)"This Could Be the Next Step for the New, Socially Conscious Nike" (Sarah Spellings, The Cut, Sept. 6, 2018)"Nike Is Facing a New Wave of Anti-Sweatshop Protests" (Marc Bain, Quartz, Aug. 1, 2017)
New year, new season.Kevin Hart. Ellen. Brett Kavanaugh. We live in an age of #SorryNotSorry, prevalent in our pop culture and woven into the fabric of our nation’s founding. But how can we grow into the people we want to become when we can’t acknowledge our mistakes and the effect that they've had on others? We invite you to start off 2019 with an apology.Discussed this week:Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony at the Kavanaugh confirmation hearing (2018)“I Won’t Back Down” (Tom Petty, 1989)“Ms. Jackson” (OutKast, 2000)“All Apologies” (Nirvana, 1993)“Sorry” (Beyoncé, 2016)“Poltergeist” (directed by Tobe Hooper, 1982)“The Best Man” (directed by Malcom D. Lee, 1999)Dan Harmon’s apology on the Harmontown podcast (Jan. 10, 2018)Kevin Hart’s non-apology on Instagram (Dec. 6, 2018)Kevin Hart’s appearance on Ellen (Jan. 4, 2019)“The Apology of Socrates” (Plato, translated by Benjamin Jowett)“I’m Sorry” (Brenda Lee, 1960)
Buckle up, babies. Still Processing returns on Thursday, January 10th.
The New York Times
The New York Timesadded an audiobook to the bookshelfPodcast: Still Processinglast year
This week we pay our respects to the late, great Aretha Franklin. A legendary singer, writer, arranger, pianist, performer and more, Ms. Franklin channeled both the difficult and beautiful aspects of American culture to make the songs that have scored our lives. From her breakout hit “Respect,” to her performance of “Dr. Feelgood” at Fillmore West in San Francisco, to her rendition of “My Country, ’Tis of Thee” at former President Barack Obama’s first inauguration, she left a legacy of virtuosity and swagger that will live on — both online and off.We’ll be taking some time off, but you can expect us back in your headphones sometime in the fall."Respect" (Aretha Franklin, 1967)"Respect" (Otis Redding, 1964)"I Never Loved a Man [the Way I Love You]" (Aretha Franklin, 1967)"Dr. Feelgood" — Live at Fillmore West (Aretha Franklin, 1971)"Think" (Aretha Franklin, 1967)"Think" — The Blues Brothers version (Aretha Franklin, 1980)"Rocksteady" (Aretha Franklin, 1972)Aretha Franklin performing "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" at former president Barack Obama's first inauguration (January 20, 2009)Aretha Franklin performing "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors"A Different World" theme song (1988)
We R-E-S-P-E-C-T Aretha Franklin,
The New York Times
The New York Timesadded an audiobook to the bookshelfPodcast: Still Processinglast year
This week, we realize we have two black klansmen on our hands — one on the big screen in the form of Spike Lee's new film "BlacKkKlansman," and one on the small screen in the form of America's most notorious reality show villain turned ex-White House employee, Omarosa Manigault Newman. Both the film and person showcase black people infiltrating hostile white institutions and coming out the other side to tell us about it. We question, however, if the message they're bringing us was worth the journey.Discussed this week:"BlacKkKlansman" (directed by Spike Lee, 2018)"Unhinged: An Insider's Account of the Trump White House" (Omarosa Manigault Newman, Gallery Books, 2018)"The Apprentice" (NBC, 2004)"Donald J. Trump Presents The Ultimate Merger" (TV One, 2010)"The Bitch Switch: Knowing How to Turn It On and Off" (Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth, Phoenix Books, Inc., 2008)
We Spy Two BlacKkKlansmen — and One is Omarosa,
The New York Times
The New York Timesadded an audiobook to the bookshelfPodcast: Still Processinglast year
This week, our friend and colleague, Taffy Akner, chats with us about her viral article, "How Goop’s Haters Made Gwyneth Paltrow’s Company Worth $250 Million." We trace some similarities and differences between Gwyneth and fellow mogul, Oprah, and ask why the wellness industry, ironically, can make us feel bad. Taffy helps us understand how oftentimes, when our current healthcare systems fail to take the pain and suffering of women and gender non-conforming people seriously, Goop can offer a seductive alternative — that comes at a price.   Discussed this week:"How Goop’s Haters Made Gwyneth Paltrow’s Company Worth $250 Million" (Taffy Akner, The New York Times Magazine, July 25, 2018)"Our First Podcast: GP Sits Down with Oprah" (The Goop Podcast, March 8, 2018)
We Got Goop'd,
The New York Times
The New York Timesadded an audiobook to the bookshelfPodcast: Still Processinglast year
This week, we celebrate summer and present to you our 2018 Summer Faves. From tech to treats, tunes to TV, and of course, summer looks, we make some recommendations to help you live your best life in these warmer months.  Special thanks to James McCombe of Maple Street Creative and Taylor Wizner for remote recording support.Discussed this week:Native Land app (by Victor Temprano, 2015)"Mission: Impossible — Fallout" (directed by Christopher McQuarrie, 2018)"Vida" (Starz, 2018)"Freeway of Love" (Aretha Franklin, "Who's Zoomin' Who?", 1985)"Lucid Dreams" (Juice WRLD, "Goodbye & Good Riddance," 2018)"Afro-Harping" (Dorothy Ashby, 1968)"The greatest five-minute tomato pasta on earth" (Francis Lam, Salon, 2010)"A burger, but better" (Samin Nosrat, The New York Times Magazine, 2018)
We Give You Our Summer Faves,
The New York Times
The New York Timesadded an audiobook to the bookshelfPodcast: Still Processinglast year
This week, we trace the evolution of black American cinema from blaxploitation in the 1970s to what we’re calling "blaxplaining" in 2018. While blaxploitation sought to showcase black actors in dramatic, action-packed films, today’s blaxplaining centers on the challenges of being black in America. We examine three films — "The Hate U Give," "Blindspotting" and "Sorry to Bother You" — and ask if they accurately depict aspects of contemporary black life, or instead merely seek to make some black experiences more palatable to white audiences.Discussed this week:"The Hate U Give" (directed by George Tillman Jr., 2018)"Blindspotting" (directed by Carlos López Estrada, 2018) "Sorry to Bother You" (directed by Boots Riley, 2018)"Coffy" (directed by Jack Hill, 1973)"Slaves" (directed by Herbert Biberman, 1969)"Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song" (directed by Melvin Van Peebles, 1971)"The Devil Finds Work" (by James Baldwin, 1976)"Lady Sings the Blues" (directed by Sidney J. Furie, 1972)"Mandingo" (directed by Richard Fleischer, 1975)"Jaws" (directed by Steven Spielberg, 1975)"Hammer" (directed by Bruce Clark, 1972)"Truck Turner" (directed by Jonathan Kaplan, 1974)"Shaft" (directed by Gordon Parks, 1971)"Blacula" (directed by William Crain, 1972)"Proud Mary" (directed by Babak Najafi, 2018)"The Equalizer 2" (directed by Antoine Fuqua, 2018)"White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism" (Robin DiAngelo, Beacon Press, 2018)"Super Fly" (directed by Gordon Parks Jr., 1972)"Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde" (Directed by William Crain, 1976)"Cotton Comes to Harlem" (Directed by Ossie Davis, 1970)"Mahogany" (Directed by Berry Gordy, 1975)"Dancing in the Moonlight" (Still Processing, 2016)
We Blaxplain Blaxplaining,
The New York Times
The New York Timesadded an audiobook to the bookshelfPodcast: Still Processinglast year
It’s the 20th anniversary of the release of Ms. Lauryn Hill’s 5-time Grammy-winning debut solo album, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” Still very much a part of our contemporary musical landscape — being sampled by everyone from Drake to Cardi B to Kanye — her prophecies on fame, artistry and the music industry reflect her own career trajectory and serve as a cautionary tale for other artists on the rise. We take a closer look at “Miseducation,” alongside her follow-up “MTV Unplugged No. 2.0” album, and try to understand both her meteoric rise, and what she means when she says it “all falls down.”  Discussed this week:“The Score” (The Fugees, 1996)“The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” (Lauryn Hill, 1998)“MTV Unplugged No. 2.0” (Lauryn Hill, 2002)“Ooo Baby Baby” (Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, “Smokey Robinson and the Miracles LIVE!,” 1969)"They Won't Go When I Go" (Stevie Wonder, "Fulfillingness' First Finale," 1974)“All Falls Down” (Kanye West, “The College Dropout,” 2004)“Dave Chappelle’s Block Party” (Directed by Michel Gondry, 2006)
We Heard Lauryn Hill, But Did We Listen?,
The New York Times
The New York Timesadded an audiobook to the bookshelfPodcast: Still Processinglast year
Jenna's back in New York after spending last week at the Tin House Summer Workshop in Portland, Oregon. An explosive moment at the workshop prompted us to consider what it means for an institution — from a writing workshop to a TV network to a social media platform — to really commit itself to inclusion, and whether inclusion is even enough.Discussed this week:Tin House Summer Workshop"The Danger of a Single Story" (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, TED, 2009)"Oscars 2016: Here's why the nominees are so white — again" (Rebecca Keegan and Steven Zeitchik, The Los Angeles Times, 2016)"Hannah Gadsby: Nanette" (Netflix, 2018)"A Canadian Museum Promotes Indigenous Art. But Don’t Call It ‘Indian.’" (Ted Loos, The New York Times Magazine, 2018)Correction: In this episode, the story read by Wells Tower that was the subject of controversy at the Tin House Summer Workshop was misidentified as having appeared in "Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned," a collection of short stories. The piece in question was a nonfiction article, "Own Goal," published in Harper's Magazine in 2010.
We Can't Burn It All Down (Even Though Sometimes We Want To),
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