Matt is joined by Alyssa Rosenberg, cultural critic and opinion columnist at the Washington Post, to talk about the intersection of criticism and politics. Should J.K. Rowling's recent anti-trans political statements retroactively alter the critical appraisal of Harry Potter? Can one be a fan of a cop show like Brooklyn Nine-Nine without committing to the show's interior politics? And can a show operate without interior politics when it, like David Simon's The Wire, confronts problems in policing at the institutional level — but happens to be a sitcom?Resources:
"Why the world's most powerful people just want to podcast and make TV shows" by Alyssa Rosenberg, Washington Post (Mar. 25, 2021)
"'I was appalled to be tarred as misogynist': Variety critic hits back at Carey Mulligan's sexism accusations" by Catherine Shoard, The Guardian (Jan. 28, 2021)Guest:
Alyssa Rosenberg (@AlyssaRosenberg), Opinion columnist covering culture, Washington PostHost:
Matt Yglesias (@mattyglesias), Slowboring.comCredits:
Erikk Geannikis, Editor and Producer
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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Today I was Rosenberg as it is a columnist in critic at Washington. Post she's really should have a pioneer in as short a writing at the intersection of art and pop culture and politics
and is somebody who I really wanted to sit down and answer to reflect on on that intersection and answer of the tendency towards more politicized criticism, more politicized, reactions to art and sort of how
tromp plays into that- where we might be going in the future- and I don't know the wee wee- fundamentally answered these questions. It's it's like a very artsy conversation where you have
food for thought, you'd deepen your emotional and intellectual wisdom without necessarily known what comes out, but I think that's good complexities, good good said, listen and then I think that you will. You will feel things you will think things in your come away. Ultimately, a better person weapons, another sort of debates on the box media Potass network. I met him Ecclesiastes my guest today. Illicit Rosenberg is a columnist with Washington Post a long time, writer on on pop culture and other related
matters we used to work together, had think progress and really glad to have you welcome. Thank you so much for having me so
The genesis of this war is a little bit of a different thing for the weeds, but you know still good
as I was rambling on Twitter as a sometimes do- and I
that I felt with with Trump out of office that there was slight less politics in people's reviews of things and that I found it
be a kind of salutary change and a little bit no weird way. I think, like sort of,
Joe Biden had promised us in in America that politics would be more politics, and you know TAT
Like they rolled out, does infrastructure Bell and my guess, of course, important right, but I think people don't feel like. While I can't review and album without it somehow
some incorporating my turnout idea restructure day. I think I like I thought I would be funding formula, but I didn't you
somebody who really should have pioneered. I think writing at the intersection of of politics and and pop culture, so
I wonder I wonder how you how you feel about dislike. I am I just totally fulla shit here now. I don't think so. This is a hard question, the answer, because it involves turning back the park like ten years, which is basically as long as I've been doing this precautionary
And you know in mentioning my bio. You forgot to years of credit for making me the making me someone who does this four times and see where the person who got me in the dark and progress, and I think that there has always been a strong tradition of politically gauge cultural criticism right. There has long been the understanding that the pop culture that we watch, that we export to the world that,
in a people spend hours and hours a day. Consuming gives us a sense of what the world is. That's not politically neutral and I've done a lot of research on the way that the police have been defined.
And pop culture, which was essentially part of Hollywood's kind of grand bargain, with the federal government to avoid government regulation on and one of the things that Hollywood did was her commit to depicting bond Foresman as competent and ethical and good at doing their jobs as part of a larger
in a sort of message about the stability of society, that it was going to send an exchange for not having to go through a formal censorship process. So you know there have been people who have been
for literally decades, about gender roles, about race, about militarism and pop culture, but I think that it was not considered a primary topic for a lot of means from critics for a long time. The people who are doing that kind of work were writing. In political publications are Martini academy. They were not necessarily writing the New York Times organ
yeah, who really is being without this, was now run. Tomatoes was all about and when I started working as a critic full time, I think
treating that as kind of a primary concern was considered somewhat eccentric. I remember going to the television critics Association Presto for the first time an asking some questions about representation,
studios, lineups up or asking about greenblad, who was at that point running programming for NBC, why he was talking about
reboot were doing all of these shows built around right on some balls, they weren't thinking about bringing back something like living single, which was in their content library and had been popular, really culturally influential among black
audiences. Her really understand, and actually getting laughed at in the room were arguing with our inserted about the newsroom and again it sort of Keith Overman worship.
And, I think, really being treated as something of an oddity. None an unkind way just in that that those were not the source of question
People were showing up in asking and again what was a fairly mainstream present industry event, and I think that
a shift on that happened before the Trump Administration
and you had you know Oscar so white. As a house, try was created think before the Trump administration you ve had people
I will ask the Silver Steen on who have been tracking, who directs what and you know how much wouldn't get shocking movies for years in the academy, but I think there definitely was a shift towards being more conscious and engaged around those questions and then
really took primacy during the Trump administration. Blaming it solely untrammelled. Ah, I think, is not quite accurate bride. You think that his election was a galvanizing event for a lot of people who were in politics,
interested, but not necessarily politically engaged and wanted to feel like their work, with in some way contributing to a larger conversation about the cultural forces that Trump had unleashed. I also think Trump himself represents this sort of extraordinary fusion of politics and culture
sure that we are still kind of figuring out, and so it
You had a lot of political reporters who were fundamentally covering the administration like it.
Reality shows, and so that's a vision that kind of went in both directions,
I would, I guess, sort of draw
stinks. I mean there's a certain facing us here, but you know something like Oscar. So why wait there's a political complaint about an inch
ST right. It's not a critical evaluation of a particular fell
rather an observation about a pattern across movies right for its an observation about how politics shapes take straight
yeah. It's a suggestion that the members of the EU
to me, who used to be a lot wider and frankly, are older than they become over the past couple of years. Very are valued certain kinds of storytelling. Certain kinds of performance is certain serve territorial grammar
that were bias towards a group of actors that were biased towards us in certain kinds of subjects. So I think it is harder
disentangle the politics in a static there, then it might initially seem. I mean I think, the question of your question about Europe who gets me a member of the assets of the economy is: is a political can play
What that Sherwood Mills, who was president of the economy for a long time recently stepped down no addressed
which is expanding. Membership allotted inviting new people and you are seeing, especially in this year's line up in a reflection of different kinds of taste.
In a way that is artistically interesting. You know what he said about this your last Christmas, how completely bizarre they are considering the movie year when that we just experience
but you know I do think you see those his shifting SAM, I'm in a way
is not easily extra cable from politics.
You would also see something by that by long predates Trump ride like the idea of Bechdel test
well, which, as you know, I mean, I think, that's the point
that she's like originally making in that comic, is that
so rare for a move,
we to explore the sort of interior lives of women as at supper,
from men's romantic interest. It's not like look it's illegal.
At one movie that's about men and being like aids. Illegitimate have a story about men in the observation that systematically exactly
telling stories about women, which I think is mean it's literally a pre trump compliance by linking it,
it's a different mode of political engagement perpetuated and it's an observation about the friends that exist and the society that we're living in and how
influences people, and I mean I always thought that that was like super important, because, like this,
This is the world that we live in and what kinds of stories are represented. You no matter to people, I don't you know, and I like that will continue to be incredibly well yeah, and I think that I mean the battles hast. It's worth remembering, like literally comes out of a cartoon from Allison Dactyls, incredibly funny great long running, comic Strip tax to watch out for where are you
conversation between two characters, one of whom complains that she just wants to see a movie. That's about two women who talk to each other about something other than a man, and this is something that you don't capture a spirit of frustration that has linger
a lot of women so that you know it took off, but it certainly joke with me, but I think that
yeah. What we have seen is different in a couple of
is, I think there is more of a tendency in the film in television credit, says: I'm, instead of just narrative our criticism period, to stop treating
what you're seeing on the screen as neutral in some way to look at in okay. We ve taken for granted that the military issues, but I insist,
what does it mean, for example, that the most successful movie franchise in the world, the marble cinematic universe, constantly
Tell stories about these cause I'd military, causing intelligence organizations. Was that say about our response? Nine eleven! I think that's interesting great. It's you know you don't have to do
Gus that kind of obsolete
in a way that automatically thumbs up or thumbs down.
This is problematic. This is great for America, but you
look at it and say like that's, not neutral, that's a choice or if it is neutral, is because we have internalize these assumptions about how you solve problems and how you responded,
rats in such a way that we don't even of see them as distinct or interesting anymore, and then I think
you see something that is partially response to politics and also responds to sort of procuring in both,
film in television industry and in the criticism industry, which is pieces that make arguments that individual works of art are picking up, some bear political significance or have the ability to change.
Look. There is no question that art can have a political impact. Do you know, I think,
like Norman Lears Television, shows, had a real impact on brain different kinds of family,
he's into household across the country and sparking conversations that might have been difficult to have. Otherwise you know
Ellen Degenerous her coming out personally in May.
Like gave everybody, America, gay friend and obey the absolutely had an impact on people but pieces of art that have that kind of discreet impact are fairly.
More usually, pop culture has impact kind of in the aggregate right like if every depiction of
black man that you see on film in television is a criminal that creates a reinforcing impression.
Something like the wire may be kind of explodes that, but that the exceptions are rare, and so you know
have seen this cycle where you have critics who, I think, even compared to journalism as a whole, which is not in a great place. The criticism is in a pretty tricky position. There are not a lot of full time critic, jobs anymore in the traditional like I'm,
review everything that comes out this week and we're gonna have a sober consideration of everything that is
so we can tell you how to spend your time those jobs there, just not many of them anymore, a lot of
Those roles, you know even like a place- I've been your times, relies really heavily and
answers to lose her fill in for the staff that its critics are gonna get to any given week, and you know I think that criticism,
as an occupation is really attractive and interesting people I mean it is awesome to get paid to go to the movies. It is awesome paid to sit around and watch television all day. It does weird things to your sense of what counts as leisure, but it's pretty awesome on the whole
I guess it's a great definitely point right about the sort of shifting market for progress,
might I should have fallen recently, is really funny. Twitter account called zero star reviews inside it's a great you find, like its critics like panting, the things that are now famous and and beloved you
from the ninety is, and so this is not the point of the count, but its of the companies like a visceral reminder that it used to be that you know midst
eyes, city is, would employ somebody like review new rock.
Step rattling. Will there would be like one guy and Tal so doing that job different? I and many apple is doing that job different guy in Cleveland, and you just don't have that want to de of full time critics in the way you used, and so one of the ways that you can make us stronger argument for writing about in every piece of film and television that gets
his door, every Rocco will make its released its say. This is not merely an aesthetic experience that we need to do
of consumer journalism. Tell people decide whether they want to spend their time and money in this way, but this is politically significant and needs to be covered because its engaging with a larger debate and
as someone who thinks this stuff is just politically interesting? I am all for that kind of writing, but I also think it is proliferating in part because it is a way of defending the profession ends, are giving it significance at a time when it's hard to keep alive when it's hard to keep alive in part, because the amount of the suffragists proliferated alot. John Land graph, who runs efta
has for years, had his staff to keep account of how much television is getting produce end. It is us.
Donna, shingly more than it was ten or fifteen years ago, and that has created a really fragmented, weird audience
You now have outlets Lake HBO, MAX
for example. This is our most watch thing ever and giving you a metric for that. Unlike the millions of minutes-
were not even saying what that means at all, but there are and very few mass cultural events laughed
and you know, you're gonna write about something that even five hundred thousand people are interested in that
harder cell and a lot of ways because of those five hundred thousand people, maybe ten or fifteen thousand of them
we'll find their way sugar review and that's potentially after the fact. So I think you have a lot of economic forces that have combined to
make criticism a profession in need of self defence and giving self justification
this may be a little bit unfair, but people are trying keep Cooper Professional lives at a time,
when there is when the audience is much more diffuse and when the market, for it is much more precarious and am sympathetic to that, it's it's a hard. Then, let's limits this
the break in and I wanna. I want to return to this question economics.
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The other thing that then I perceive at least that sort of related to that is, I feel like because of some of the technological changes its become harder for critics to champion,
a particular work in a way that the sort of function
Recently, a bunch of there was
talk on line about the nineties cop show homicide which was great weight
and this is a kind of show that you know if I was so what's the shower, you know imagine what the women
the entry said right, you say, was a critical darling. I read that
the ratings were not great on NBC, but everybody was always talking about how amazing it was, and it was this kind of I don't know like little engine that could
phenomenon and something that was really serve kept alive by the crystal the critical and words he's in love for it, in the sense that you know this was something that
was maybe you can be a lost leader for you, but I would urge you live goodwill by keeping alive
like knowing you could accomplish something like that sort of ink
Marriage is a certain statuses rate in in your work right there like give telling people something that's not popular is like actually really good can like keep it alive. I keep getting talented
writers and actors that directors employed. Making this thing you love, then that's like a good motive to actually go. Do it and I feel, like today,
like metrics, driven industry- it's like Netflix, doesn't care what anybody says about Emily IMPACT railways
does not do to make an assessment based on whatever their assessments are like
side what gets renewed and what does. But I think that you know that's not true of critics, but I dont understand just being complete.
And probably more than a lot of critics in a
need a lot of business, oriented trade press about the industry cuz. I think it's really interesting. I have no idea how the film and television markets are about to start functioning right like I just have no clue the threshold
what it takes to stay alive on network television has plummeted in the times since I've been a critic,
Brooklyn. Nine nine, which is an extremely funny you no kind of interesting engage cop show, has stayed alive with it.
Million live viewers on the air. That means
no sense. I have no idea how the ad rates for that are working out to keep it alive. I ve no idea about
this indication deals that are working for it. I just I don't understand it. Netflix has kind of operating like
Amazon in a lot of ways, at least Amazon in the early years, and that it is,
I just an insane cash rate burn re aimed at growing subscriber base through original content, which has worked for any Netflix
subscribers, although a lot of those subscribers have been there for things like the office that are now in spinning off to other
streaming services. You know: didn't
an Warner. Brothers have effectively decided to cannibalize the theatrical business model. That was what made
work financially for almost a century in favour of sending
just dreaming services right enemy, the origin marking doesn't go to the movies that off right movies are expensive and if you
commit to spending one thousand four hundred and ninety nine a month on a streaming service as opposed to buy movie ticket once or twice a year, like that's a pretty good trade for a company
but it remains to be seen in the long term in a whether you can do something like that. I mean Warner brothers
Zack cider seventy million dollars to issued and re edit, the sire cod of Justice League, and I don't think, there's
any way that that alone is gonna, bring answer the sign up that justify that. So I dont think anyone has any
idea. What is gonna be the metric for keeping a sharp
oh alive or forgetting a movie green light. In the long term mean everything has just gotten so incredibly weird and the possible years that I dont understand how the business model makes sense and cannot yet
you, you can't champion something as a critic very effectively when decisions are being made by totally the match.
X and of an algorithmic black box, but I feel a lot more sorry for people who are trying to say
movies, movies and television shows under these circumstances, and have idea
dear what a hero
in terms of the financial viability of their work. I mean, theoretically, maybe it's awesome if you're, like your business model, appears.
We study enormous power of cash on fire. Wouldn't you like to do that serve as my heart were her family drama drawn over much korean farmers right, like maybe that's just much easier, but I dont know that it can laugh,
and so it says it's a very weird environment
are you mention Brooklyn, I nine as a Sherwood sort of questionable economics
I love Brooklyn, nine, nine, it's very funny, but this is an example of sort of like kind of what I was talking about in like trump era. Stuff
no just reading some headlines that exist Wade is I Brooklyn. I know,
backlash and criticism know is Brooklyn nine nine propaganda complex.
Tons of liking, Brooklyn, nine, nine as a black man
Melissa, Romero called out to Brooklyn nine nine remake in Canada,
is Brooklyn, nine, nine, a progressive show- and you know I I think it is a accurate observation that, like this Guph visa com, probably does not deliver like real talk about policing in New York City in twenty twenty, like that's like
That's true, but don't get this something not like wronged me about. Like one person pointing that out,
point in time, but as such have legs vote.
Point of analysis of like what is up with this show right, like
as opposed to you know like it's cool
it is as a sick. Com now are sick,
roles in anything right.
I think I think I've been said. You know I think I was I trolling people
one point that was I you know, you realize all these characters. It be trump voters and then, like people, people got me
it made, and then I got matter myself because, as you will have, my head smiling form eyes like what is the point of this
I adore Brooklyn nine I've Interview Dan Gore who's the creator and show runner the series at length, and you know I think that this gets into an interesting, dynamic
which is the Brooklyn. I nine, especially in its early season
explicitly position itself as a show about a repudiation of a certain kind of policing in New York. You have,
This conflict between you know I'd detective play by December, a who idolizes like all of them,
School New York. Cops are going around beating people up and coming into work, drunk and like doing crazy drug doing and drug busts and getting to doing the french connection who's obsessed obsessed with hard and then
he gets as his new commanding officer, a black gay captain who came up in the end, my PD during certain the tail end of that period.
And Andrews found, it was really miserable, unlike not very effective, at fighting crime, and so to the extent that people are thinking about the politics of Brooklyn, I nine Israel's Brooklyn, I nine explicitly wrote politics into the show, and
you know poorer down. Gore has taught me a lot about how you either
This interesting question rightly: can you to pick the world as it should be without a kind of whitewashing it
Is that a really interesting question for art that has aspiration to say something about how the world should be, and I think Brooklyn I nine
basically, more than any
mainstream network policeman.
Has engage with the question of whether or not this style of policing that Hollywood has valorize works at all and if it
so whether it's good to do anyway because of the costs- and it hasn't done it- that much hasn't done it-
in a way that prevents it from being just in extremely funny. Quite endearing show,
in the that of parks and recreation, or so
else rightly it is never sacrificed, joke density for earnestness and I'm
really curious to see what the final season of the show is going to be like in part, because I know that Gore and the actors on the show have been really deeply engaged with like heavy how'd, you make it
after a black lives matter, does the balance that we tried to send the early seasons work and make sense. Do we feel good about doing that?
and I think the show was actually initially was back this spring and has been pushed back to fall, and I would not be surprised if that's because the rustling with a little bit each
third way, because in sick comes the
Mergers are all sort of fundamentally likeable. Yet right, like you
There's the characters on the show right, like Jake's obsession with die hard, is silly dick, I've, I've, fucked
the like, the like all guide, detectives, GAD, Scullion, Hitchcock, Scullion, he's gonna write like there being made
but they are the recurring care.
There's a sitka right that I mean that
This fundamentally likes them
and once you to like them as well, even if you'd find them absurd, which which is different from like the wire, has a pair of characters who were similar discussion
It's a great in the first Seas, and you are kind of contemptible and exhausting re bid me because
toll different tone of shore ass. If
Even timing can actually portray them as like. These are, like lazy guys, were scamming the public impeding the investigation.
You, you can indict the system like that stuff.
Closure in a way that, like you, do in a circle? Of course I mean you can always argue that politically set comes our institutions right, they sort of have to be better. Go back to serve the array,
question that you were asking
whether I mean whether this is a good way to consume this kind of show by like serve castigating yourself, I,
so maybe sort of minority position among political engage critics, I tend to think that people should watch a lot more suffered. They feel like a little guilty about watching.
Or they should consume more stuff by authors whose politics they think are awful, and I think that you can-
need those authors, politics against their work or
Read the tensions of shows intentions against what is that
a genius and find that sort of productive and
staying without making a moral purity crusade out of it,
I know for a lot of trans people in their progressive allies. Jake the Jackie rulings,
increasingly increasing investment in the fight against various aspects of the movement for transit quality haven't really painful, and I get by
but one strain of the response to it. That I found interesting is the sort of sense of betrayal, and you know
again, I sort of get that the Harry Potter books are broadly sort of an argument in favour of tolerance, and it is what you get out of a more pluralistic community,
they also have like crazy anti semitic, Goblin characters, Erlich obsessed with money and private property. On like I, don't love reading those isn't jewish person, but I think
allowing sort of imperfections and imperfections and what might be termed, like political human frailty, actually make the books more interest.
In a way like she you she is not. I don't know why I would expect her to be politically perfect,
interesting to know that someone can write with great empathy,
and also adopt political positions. That can be, Sir personally cruel. I think that human complexity is expressly beautifully in the Harry Potter books. You know I mean a lot of the adult. Characters are weak
we're compromised or make decisions that cause individuals lot of paying and even as they acting in service of larger goals and reading rulings, personal politics against that, I think, makes the books
more poignant in some ways and also just illustrate that human beings are really complicated people. You love, will disappoint you. I think that that is just true of the message
Harry Potter, books and also adulthood and being willing to sit with that is a productive set of emotions and a lot of ways.
You also have their right the question of like what's in the box, and what's the other doing right so I mean I think that you know that the goblets in the books cannot can raise my my eyebrow as as it as a jewish person. It seems like we are playing with anti semitic stereotypes and using magical
there's two to depict them. What I sound like genuinely kind of shocking was when they did the movie
adaptation, because your changing things and irritation advantages are somewhat more visible and, like you, didn't need to make part of the characterisation of the race of greedy bankers that they have really long nose.
Like that with the guests, had already been discussed in this, like subsequent artistic choices made and I'm watching them like I'm like actually upset that they that they did this.
That being said, like I dont believe the Jake, a rallying or anyone involved in the movie is like politically anti semitic. Grant like
but she's not involved like as it
and being in the world and any like overt political act.
But he is that now, as it yours person my chair, and I will be genuinely surprise right, like somebody if it turned out, she was some smart. Ass would be like. What did you see the goblin their response, but like I would be surprised but which she has done. Why does become a very vocal participant in Uk Debates about Trans rights and Trans equality,
in a way that obviously are going to alienate people who who thinks is on the wrong side of that argument? And you know you are not like nobody has to like a book by an author whose lucky mad politically, but I dont think that that's like in the books. Yeah right
and I think that you know I'm not someone who really believes in a thorough and tense as the best way to read the text right that, like what the author says, they intended is like how you have to interpret a book and Electric Philip Roth. I don't,
Someone's persona necessarily determine the cornerstone emulate
we must. I am sympathetic to people who find this painful. I think you know. Rulings renew big statement on her beliefs here is just riddled with kind of strange assumptions about gender,
Andy and why people transition and express in language. That is, you now intended to be sympathetic and comes across as cut of cruel and unfortunate.
I do sympathize the people making those sort of individual decisions that this is a book. That's too painful for me to revisit,
I struggle with more is a sense that the reputation of the book should be reckoned in low light of rulings, political development and re, like I dont, think, J K, Rawlins views on Trans people, dont to me implicate the power.
Were of the writing, an Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows when Harry is like walking into the woods understanding that he's going to die and sir a priest
writing the physical sensation of being alive for what he thinks is going to be the last time that I think that's just. There is wonderfully powerful reindeer, there's not implicate by the writers politics and
I think it is. It is rightly, should be possible to say answered. Differentiate
between the sentiment. It is too painful for me to consume this. I don't dont want to give this person money, and this book is bad or its research been retrospectively discovered to be bad, and I dont think all of the criticism that does the former does the latter, but there's definitely some of the law
Why won't you know I mean I don't want to give this person money. I think it's like a super valid reaction to being mad at somebody. Get right like
doing it right. It is actually not a like a critical
quote stance at all right, but it is like it's your money.
And you don't need to give it to people who you feel are doing like harmful things in the world with their money and at an influence
I do also- I admit I remember this thing. We're like people were mad at Taylor, Swift for, like not. I don't know like campaigning rhetoric, that campaign
really gotten right and then she like did become more political right and then other
on the other side, were mad at her for campaigning for for Democrats, and I both like
of course, think celebrity should agree with my political dissidents and tell people that I'm right about everything.
But also feel like. That's like that distance,
like a super like seen way to engage with the World Bank people want the world to be consistent. Re worth is not consistent, it's just not you. Now. I Toby kids politics and drive me nuts, but he's a great voice,
and I wish that you would like not a Donald Trump supporter and didn't like sing about how he's no lynching is awesome. Yeah. I really do like I wish she had had some Kenny Rogers Ar Don Williams Career, but like the timbre of his voice, is separate from the stylistics. For me, I think it's just
I do envy envy today today re amending the one person s roof, stuck the landing on this pretty well as Dolly Pardon, but that's in part because she doesn't say anything super controversial right like them, it's basically gay people are good. I am happy to have gotten the Madeira vaccine that I got. I turned out an opportunity to get Yo Metal of freedom from down tromp, but also I wouldn't do it from President Biden cause I don't
be seen as political and ice frighten people will sort of, except that from Dolly Pardon, because she is basically a living american saying like she hunted chief. She funded your current of irish vaccine if you have kids in America its entire
possible that she sends them books, everyone, but most people can actually walk that line, and it's me it's hard to say
to make you know, there's republicans by moving tickets to Republicans by sneakers cheered quote, Michael Jordan. I like it on that same sort of primitive level when STAR
they're, just like us life, except in the sense of like buying cereal, they vote the way that we do it. You re makes you feel good, but a famous person affirms your choices by you know. The sort of
need for that and the need to talk
an artist into serve purely adjuncts or tools of the democratic Republican Party, actually fills me like a kind of limits. The political power of what art can do you now I am thinking about this recently. There is now was called repeaters, has really interesting book out. Did transition baby and
Europeans yourself as Trans woman and the novel is about a trans woman, her ex girlfriend to DE transitioned after a violent attack and is now living as a man again and her axes new.
Friend who gets accidentally pregnant, even though the Characterist Transitioned assumes that he and I'm using male pronouns, because that's what the character uses in the book as soon as they
and fertile and de transition is a really politically charged subject to talk about something that is innocent weapon Ized against Trans people, to say that in a fix him,
transition will stick with the decision on its unity through a weapon against people getting medical care that they want a need, and you know for Peter spurious are taken on in
novel in it, she just to say a bunch of things about people's relationships, the gender identity. Why someone might de transition that are just unspeakable in conventional policy x, Ray
That's a really useful, interesting, distinct role for art to play, to say things and raise subjects that are not viable for discussion and conventional political spaces, and so, if politics is downstream of culture, to quote the late
Andrew Breitbart Culture needs to be able to say something to sync. If you want to flip that that's okay but you're, going to get art, that's like a lot less interesting and weird and varied if art now has to be downstream of and complaint with politics, as opposed to the reverse. Take a break on that note and return to that theme
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right. That, like one thing that you can often do with intelligent, you really saw with Ellen Right, is like it's a second, so, like succumbs, basically make make people likeable, that's like, but the formal property of sitcoms. I think
I'm a network television as a you put a gay character at the centre of the sick com,
you're. Doing like the political work of just like humanizing way
or you can look at something like like willing grace that I think you know looking back on. It is a kind of broad stereotype reinforcing portrayal of of game.
Again, but it's still like the human eye, this a likeable because it's a sick guide and that's part of how you drive so
change, which is different from I got a sophisticated novel yet right which doesn't doesn't do
political work. In that same kind of like easy way like you, we have like a
category of marginalized people, and we want to make them funny and like a ball and just in your living room once a week. So now your political opinions will become more correct to get right but, like the whole reason, people like literary fiction, I mean to the extent that they do.
Like it? I like it's supposed to be difficult ride like that? No like! Oh, this is hard to read, but it's like you can like, have characterizations and and and and texture and deaths, that is more
sophisticated than television drama works. The same way. It means mainly the Americans, which takes the cold war and her lips it on a ted and
makes you spend a monkey seasons. Thinking like, why would people be attracted to
soviet ideology and sort of embrace like that world view to an extent that they build their entire lives in service of it. Even when that means participating in this matter,
deception. Right, I mean you can do different things with more time and with different genre requirements. Pressure, though, like
It just seems like the EU would be like the wrong question to ask about. The Americans is like. Does this support the correct conclusion about cold war politics in the nineteen? Eighty is like a matter now, I'm la my kind of a hack and like I can make an argument that it does but like
it's not it's not what it's about yeah I mean, even though, obviously it is about the cold war. In the eighty s, somebody you know, like John Lewis, Gaddis could write a book whose point is like what should you think
about the cold war and the negative eighties, and I dont think that a tv drama is like TAT. So
statute or counterpoint to adding something. It's worth saying, like all political questions, aren't necessarily framed in terms of policy or partisan ideology. Pray I mean the IMF,
kings to the extent that its political show is a sham.
That's a literally about shaping your entire life around ideology right and that's a mean. That is a political question. Relates to what extent do you want your wife to be governed by the ideological positions that you hold
on any answer to it: a sort of new on some complicated right, the characters find all or at least get him. Some of them find an enormous amount of meaning in living out these political commitments in a really deep way:
and others find that that is sort of unbearable that you can't make all like you cannot make all of Europe
magic or sexual or parental decisions in accord with the sort of a larger permit. An
the short doesn't have one answer to that question alike. Is it possible
or desire able to live your life. This way it has a lot of them and that's part of what's interesting about it in a way, the Americans sort of great show to watch to think about our present moment and the sort of,
push for in total ideological consistency in all areas of life, which is not to say that I think we're we're all doing the equivalent of like living under her Spake America
but it's it's definitely an interesting, showed a watch and think about if you're thinking about the arrival of in your life
is it I mean, because it so deliberately extreme round is like a thought. Experiment, where does and what, if literally everything you did, was in service to a political comments,
right and then and then you see that, like it's, it's exhausting for some, it leads others to do things
strongly violate common sense of morality
you can ask yourself well. Is it true that what makes this problematic
Is the underlying wrongness of the idea
gee, or is it that, like that level of fanaticism, dsl failure and again life? Not all political passions are producible soon democratic. In reply
again on and that's how things will have a narrow way to think about politics in general.
Why? This is the only thing you know I mean
not everything is is reduce old, parson politics. This answer such a large arena of politics that is mistaken not relevant to to culture, but the tens not to come up in these discussions like like a lot of what they do in Congress. Is they talk about tax rates,
They talk about Medicaid, federal matching formulas. They talk about labour
regulations and I feel like most of the pop cultural politics
focus is very much on identity questions
and social issues, which are, of course important and their importance to people and to their to their lives. But you would have a you, would have a leg, impoverished understanding of what is happening in american politics if you actually thought that, like all their way is to politics is the stuff that is discussed
in controversies related to the hospital staff, but I also thank you see increasingly in politics and attempt to you know reduce these.
Questions to cultural ones are aiming at
and you have a huge conservative blob over this? This is foundation deciding not to keep six doktor she's books in practice.
There is a. There is an interest in fighting the culture war on the right as much as you do. Nothing more is on the left. Railway.
No miss trying to score points by getting in twitter feuds of little Nazar Matt Gates all his other issues
It is fundamentally upon Castro has aside job as a congress, and there is, there is a strong
Inclination on the right,
essentially like turning.
Stuff into the sub
since of the party, because that's kind of what worked well for a trunk way without again and
sort of underlying theory about what cultures work on behalf of concerted idea should be doing. Right. Lacrosse at is the
conservative in the country has an actual cultural programme. You mean it some
gimme. That gives an interesting move by Republicans right had been. It feels, at least by red of it, though, is that it's like a very cynical and and sort of instrumental right that, like
reason. They wanted
So much about Dr Sue is that there was a popular legislative proposal pending
in Congress was going to give Americans many many many dollars and they didn't want to vote for it
because that would validate Joe Biden as a bipartisan healer
but they also want to call attention to their opposition to guide. So they wanted to have an argument about a different kind of thing, which is fine. I mean they're. Their job is to try to win elections for themselves, but I feel
there's something you know that it did. He does. It does a specific kind of political work till I completely blur the lines between you know. A critique of the possibly re all like racial sub text of old doktor seems books and
electoral politics where did like the died? That is a way of obscuring economic policy debates in a way that advantages in a fairly specific actor
and I've never heard at lie, assume a lot of rich celebrities would prefer to pay lower taxes, but no one
but nobody gets like yelled at that
in the same kind of way the Jake a rally, dots gal, because it
doesn't it isnt impact people like in the in the same this oral way, even though, of course, like fiscal policy, makes a big difference in the world, I think that do not look. Art is both politically powerful and easy,
talk about a lot, because it feels personal right like it's in your home. It's you know it's. The world's judgment reflected back at you fry
and if you really can village white guy, that reflection has been pretty flattering for a long time, but you know
If you are a woman who doesn't look a certain way if you are in a return on Wade, if you're trans, if you know if you're religious, historic
You either dont seers up at all or have seniors, often seen yourself in ways that are cruel,
were demeaning, were dismissive or worked, and that's gonna think that really grinds on people, and I think that you know for folks, hoop and really under represented again take transposed something like on access pose, which is coming to an end. That was me
in a largely by Trans people of color, like seeing yourself presented
generously in a piece of art that is made by people who share your experience,
Can we really lovely personal,
experience, even if it's not world changing right like even if it doesn't get the equality ACT past, and I don't think for the most part, people mistake: cultural change as sort of equivalent or substitute good for material political change.
I do think that Hollywood has been extremely eager to blur that distinction in part, because it is a fantastic marketing thing for them, and it's a way of wanting criticism on there is building you know just as much as critics have tried to defend their profession. By
talking about the importance of art. I, if you are
promoting an Oscar movie. Now like it's, it's not just like the wine and dine thing any more than this movie is significant, and this is why
this movie. You know there are,
must always issue campaigns that now-
company Oscar Movie is there is a blow up when carried Mulligan, who stars in very, very good promising young woman
the suggested that a review that talk a little bit about her appearance was intersects, since you really can have dug in on this, and the review was fairly my old, you know it's like largely positive about the movie. It makes a point like, given that it's a movie that sort of plays with characters expectations of the female main character that maybe audiences would have expected someone who looks a little bit different and she really successfully weapon eyes the charge
taxes them against a tree like a game, your whole fairly feminist in ways that work to her advantage right like let her talk about your personal,
of sexism in a movie that is about seconds and violent, massage any that you know it.
I was amazed that there is not more defence of the critic in question, but this is a real flipping of the the power dynamic that related to some of
economic changes we ve been talking about random. It used to be that even if, even if
like the movie stars, are much richer than the movie critics. For you know did size daily paper.
Cisco enable still matter they have power.
A lot of power right, because the Hollywood were put out like a bunch of movies. People would actually like red. The review something's would come from word of mouth, and now it's not like that right, like
stars can communicate with fair
you know erectly, any one may wonder you have actually seen in glossy magazines is the rise of like the way you get
on say on the cover of bogus that she gets like right guest at the issue. There is not you know a journal.
Into Walker who is asking her questions whose doing act
reporting on deserted.
Review style. Like stars on stars interviews have become unbelievably comment in the mainstream press. It's the same as
tromp right dizzy
mediated gotta like gatekeepers of conservative politics
and he could talk directly to GNP primary voter. Yes,
twitter or by a colleague the Limbaugh were, or whenever I mean he gets a sort of set the programming and came all against not linked to most famous person in the world Right
It turns out it's like you, it's it's hard to even go after her again. She can
she can fight back and and like a really big star is like almost untouchable, uncertain level, and I think that there has been this really strong tendency for you. Don't even big companies that
ah happens vexing business interests abroad, sort of position,
this stuff or themselves. As you know, politically untouchable or politically important
you know what I mean Disney will do basically anything to get a movie into China, because there is an enormous amount that mean there were an enormous number of movie going dollars to be held there. Even before the
Endemic made China the first place to open its theatres back up, at least seventy five percent capacity it you know it's like I,
I know that there is anything Disney could do domestically. That would be as impact fall as
of tacitly giving the ok what's going on to new leaders in Xinjiang. Netflix.
Sensor stuff, because Saudi Arabian near tell them too. There is a tendency to think about the politics of corporations in particular
corporations and publish him an answer, a very case by case domestic basis, when, in fact, this is an international market where the decisions that these corporations are making abroad are as consequential, if not more consequential abroad than they are at home. I dont think the american political discussion of culture,
Is that particularly well or particular comrades wanted. Any movie is the extent to which, like this stuff is his business sat right that that you know
the audience that matters most for Disney
his younger and more urban? Then the media in America
whereas the audience it matters most for a Senate election is like older and more world than the median American
It Disney's content like reflects. That fact is, it is. It is left
centre in the american political context,
it is a totally different set of business considerations, and this does not like an underlying point of of principle right and you know, people people as a whole
is. The NBA so invested in certain social causes in the United States and has a very different perspective in China and again I minutes because now certain topics matter more to those athletes, because they impact them and their families directly and the care alot about them, but also the people liked to make money and that's it. You know what I mean. I think it can also bring us all
calm, like we all have our parochial political concerns. Re like you, and I care about zoning in D C, in a way that we would never expect a major armed him incorporation care about, but almost none
thus even those of us who crave can
distance in the ability to adhere to our politics consistently. Incomprehensibly. Almost none of us
like a truly global, comprehensive political world view that we
care about enough to enforce it in every area of our lives and you
desire to eliminate kind of immediate surface. Dissonance makes sense since, like people, it makes sense that people don't want to
money to other people who have decisions they think are harmful or driving
Like no one is sitting there like in the supermarket,
Lange who all like burlap hostages. Suppliers are right, and almost none of us have a worldview. That's that comprehensive, and so you know, I think that the concentration of political
caution in culture makes sense for economic reasons, it makes sense for sure of proximity and
visibility reasons, but the queen
for total constancy. Their ends up revealing in some ways how inconstant we are
in our broader lies why this is also, I mean, I guess where I think some of the cross pressures in criticism can go a bit.
Nah. I did like some of the most likely impact for our will
you're with questions that are that distant to you. As a member of the audience white like.
Could be a way to make you care. Read you get emotionally invested in saying that doesn't actually impact you personally, which is like the opposite of getting mad about
something over the things you are already the most geared up, so you know like
live in America. So, of course, like I had really strong feelings about american electoral politics and, like I don't in it might like actual day to day life. I don't spend a lot of time like thinking about.
Weaker, set right or or domestic policy of China, not because I dont like objectives. We understand that its important what happen
there, but like I'm human right and, like all people, I see what's waiting for my
Is it's so like the thing that story,
telling can can do as I bring you into these things that are distant, trade, which is different from like D, like the pressures of like I just wanna make content the people click on right, which means connecting everything to the most immediate concern. Tat
I just being open to being surprised by art is a more enjoyable way to consume. It had been watching this HBO
show generation. That's about students at a high school. In a somewhat more conservative, California, Community- and I find it really lovely in part because it makes me feel old, an anachronistic it is, you know the there are seems like. I know,
make fun of old style very earnest, gay straight alliances, and you do you have a main character? Who is you know gay?
famine also capping the water polar team and, like I love the guys and his team dislike for our out, like his friends and receivers supportive
and I think it is so distant from what I was growing up with in high school. You know
years ago at this point, it makes me feel like
elderly and sort of square as such, they are really sweet testing.
An need to how much stuff has changed for the better
I think pride the best now my brothers
or as Patricia Lockwood? No one is talking about this, which is you know this
journey into the first half of the novel is written from the perspective of the characters like totally addicted to the internet, and the second half of the novel is about her experiences when she gets off it, because I'm a big family tragedy and
it's just awesome. It so well done the sort of shift in a the capturing like what it's like to be made
twitter all day and again that's not mean that people would think of like conventionally political novel. But it's about a question that I think
Let's have which is like how much are we spending online? What is it doing our brains? Do we like it and those bear questions are really important. There actually ultimately apply more important to how we live our. Why
and how we experienced the world every day then deserve more obvious partners in like lets. You now turn ourselves into rats getting here
dopamine by getting mad on the internet stuff. What builds power in a culture war right like so,
these discussions are a discussion about representation
history downstream from the question of life. Who gets the money to make movies, or how does this economic system that is set up to create art? Make it really hard for people to break in, because it involves work that sort of contingent contract based
time and like doesn't asserted, provided steady source of income and its open to a lot of
burns. We saw in with me to a lot of sexual abuse. Israeli. How do you
how do you change the system, so it can be more economically.
Viable and serve less damaging as professional environment downstream from that. How does that change the art their results? You know some like one thing that frustrated me about the doktor she's fight and my colleague sunny Bunch had what I thought was a good combat this about how
should be sort of a copyright mechanism for copyright holders to surrender their work, and let someone else contained a publish it if they don't want to benefit from it. Wouldn't it have a much bigger impact on racial,
of the the she's she's said we we are taking all the royalties from these books in perpetuity forever and don
to you now
sure centre at this historically black color university right these
relations do not often center like how the most material goods can be extracted from these conversations when, in fact there are opportunities for Turkey
Kind of surface cultural war issues into opportunities for a share of material and substantive advancement. That Aren'T-
the connected to connected to who corporations of ago, whose depicted how are they depicted, who gets to make this, but that could have an impact on a lot of these issues in the long run,
that said a scrape group. I stop, I mean I hope nobody you know feel said. Spending time on the internet is is is bad way too to spend your life you know Patricia Lockwood spoke is great,
but you know you want it was more podcast. That's that's! Always a good Goodwin response,
I'm! So thank you. So much less Rosenberg Wash imposed check out her her columns and everything out there thanks, as always to our sponsors, to producer to knock, is and the weeds will be back on Tuesday.
Transcript generated on 2021-04-30.