Still Processing

Jul 23 2020 41 mins 21.3k

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 2020.

Oct 17 2019 43 mins  
Jennifer Lopez is having a triumphant 2019. From her Motown tribute at the Grammys to the success of “Hustlers” to the announcement that she’ll be performing at the Super Bowl halftime show, she seems to be enjoying the fruits of her labor from about three decades in show business. So we want to know: is Jennifer Lopez finally getting her due? Discussed this week:“How Jennifer Lopez’s Versace Dress Created Google Images” (Rachel Tashjian, GQ, Sept. 20, 2019)“Hustlers” (directed by Lorene Scafaria, 2019)Jennifer Lopez’s Motown Tribute at the 2019 Grammy Awards“Jennifer Lopez Talks Engagement, Diddy’s Instagram Comments, Bonding With Cardi B + More” (Breakfast Club, Apr. 10, 2019)“‘Hustlers’ Has a Strong Opening at the Box Office” (Gabe Cohn, The New York Times, Sept. 15, 2019)“Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez Announce Their Engagement” (The Associated Press, March 9, 2019)“Selena” (directed by Gregory Nava, 1997)“Movies (And Other Things)” (Shea Serrano, 2019)“Waiting for Tonight” (Jennifer Lopez, 1999)“1999” (Prince, 1982)“Out of Sight” (directed by Steven Soderbergh, 1998)“Monster-in-Law” (directed by Robert Luketic, 2005)“The Wedding Planner” (directed by Adam Shankman, 2001)“Maid in Manhattan” (directed by Wayne Wang, 2002)“Gigli” (directed by Martin Brest, 2003)“Jenny from the Block” (Jennifer Lopez, 2002)“Play” (Jennifer Lopez, 2001)“Rap Performer Puffy Combs Is Arrested After Shootings at Times Sq. Nightclub” (William K. Rashbaum, The New York Times, Dec. 28, 1999)“El Cantante” (directed by Leon Ichaso, 2006)“American Idol” (Jennifer Lopez as judge in Seasons 10-11 and 13-15)

Feb 28 2019 42 mins  
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)

We Blaxplain Blaxplaining
Aug 02 2018 50 mins  
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 Wouldn't Leave Kanye, But Should We?
Jun 07 2018 51 mins  
Almost one week after Kanye West released his eighth studio album, "Ye," we wonder what to do with artists who displease us. Going back to 2004, we take a closer look at Kanye, the artist, who questioned the role of higher education, called out former president George Bush after Hurricane Katrina on live television, and publicly grieved over the untimely death of his mother. We also examine Kanye, the problem, and try to understand how the same person who seemed to champion black solidarity in the early 2000s is now calling slavery a choice and aligning himself with President Trump. From "The College Dropout" to "808s & Heartbreak" to "Yeezus" to "Ye," we've kept listening to Kanye, but we ask ourselves: what will make us stop? Discussed this week:"Ivanka Trump, Samantha Bee, and the Strange Path of an Ancient Epithet" (Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, June 1, 2018)Rebecca Traister's tweets about Samantha Bee calling Ivanka Trump the C-word (2018)"Running Up That Hill" (Kate Bush, 1985) "The Man Who Ate Everything" (Jeffrey Steingarten, 1998)"Julián is a Mermaid" (Jessica Love, 2018)"O Superman" (Laurie Anderson, 1982)Kanye's comments about former president George Bush after Hurricane Katrina (MTV, 2005)"Ye" (Kanye West, 2018)"The Life of Pablo" (Kanye West, 2016)"Yeezus" (Kanye West, 2013)"My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" (Kanye West, 2010)"808s & Heartbreak" (Kanye West, 2008)"Graduation" (Kanye West, 2007)"Late Registration" (Kanye West, 2005)"The College Dropout" (Kanye West, 2004)

We Watch Whiteness
Apr 26 2018 61 mins  
This week we're talking about white culture, and what it is trying to tell us about itself on TV, at the movies and in books. We're noticing that white people are anxious--consciously and unconsciously--about their place in the world, and it's fascinating to unpack. First, we look at the new season of Roseanne, a show that explicitly embraces its whiteness and thumbs its nose at anyone who would challenge that. Then, we talk about the hit horror movie A Quiet Place, which explores dystopia in a way that reveals submerged white fears of a brown invasion (we liked the craft of the movie a lot, but it’s got some problems it’s not aware of). We pose the question: what would a self-aware interrogation of being white look like? Plus, we celebrate JaVale McGee's incomparable stank face, worry about Kanye's tweets (we recorded this episode before his most recent tweets in support of Trump, which we'll have to address another time), and bring you our very first nominee for Song of the Summer...! One last thing: we're bringing the show to Australia, and we'll be back with new episodes in a couple weeks. Till then, keep stuntin'! Keep shinin'! Discussed this week: JaVale McGee (NBA player, Golden State Warriors) "The Legacy of Childhood Trauma" (Junot Diaz, The New Yorker) "I Like It" (Cardi B, Bad Bunny and J. Balvin) Kanye's recent tweets Roseanne (ABC) A Quiet Place (directed by John Krasinski) White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America (Nancy Isenberg, Penguin Books) Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis (JD Vance, HarperCollins) Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (Matthew Desmond, Broadway Books) Green (Sam Graham-Felsen, Random House)

We Don’t Love Everything Made By Black People and That’s OK?
Mar 15 2018 61 mins  
This week, we discuss "A Wrinkle in Time," Ava DuVernay's attempt to take the audience on a magical adventure with Meg Murray as she searches for her father through multiple universes. Our time traveling experience ... wasn’t as magical as we hoped. But this is good news. We explain why the film's shortcomings do not impact the upward trajectory of Ava DuVernay career or black filmmaking in general, but actually work to highlight the progress of black filmmakers and encourage black artists to take bigger risks. We dive deep into what it means to criticize black works of art and express what gets lost when we decide it’s beyond criticism. Discussed this week: O.J. Simpson described ‘blood and stuff’ in hypothetical scenario (Jean Casarez, CNN) “How to raise a Boy; I’m not sure what to think about what my dad tried to teach me. So what should I teach my sons?” (New York Magazine, Will Leitch) Fathers and Sons and Privilege (The Brian Lehrer Show, WNYC Studios) “In My View” - Young Fathers “For Decades, Our Coverage Was Racist. To Rise Above Our Past, We Must Acknowledge It” (National Geographic, Susan Goldberg) A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L’Engle, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1962) A Wrinkle in Time (Walt Disney Studios) Black Panther (Marvel Studios) “The Sounds, Space And Spirit of ‘Selma’: A Director’s Take” (NPR, Fresh Air) “Black Kids Don’t Want to Read About Harriet Tubman All the Time” (The New York Times, Denene Millner) Lemonade (Beyonce, Parkwood Entertainment) Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color (Kimberly Crenshaw, 1991) Small Doses with Amanda Seales (Starburns Audio) How To Get Away With Murder (ABC) Scandal (ABC) Mo’Nique Calls For Netflix Boycott Over Alleged Gender and Race Pay Disparity (Deadline, Dino-Ray Ramos)

We Don't Know Where We Are
Feb 08 2018 38 mins  
This week, we take the Oscar-nominated film "Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri" as a starting point for a discussion about a new sense of placelessness in film and TV. Over the last year, we've been seeing stories set in ambiguous spaces--the limbo between heaven and hell, distorted models of our world, towns that look like no place we recognize as American. We talk about "The Good Place," "Westworld," "Downsizing," and the Sunken Place from "Get Out" to try and figure out how we lost a sense of where we are. Then we look to shows like "Atlanta" and "The Chi" to think about how we might find our way back. Discussed This Week: “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” (Fox Searchlight Pictures) “Grownish” (Freeform) “Riverdale” (The CW) Hot Topic "Riverdale" Merchandise “Dennis Edwards, Former Temptations Lead Singer, Dies at 74” (Daniel E. Slotnik, The New York Times) "Don’t Look Any Further" (Dennis Edwards) "'Three Billboards’ Production Designer Inbal Weinberg on Martin McDonagh’s Unique Approach To Screen Language" (Matt Grobar, Deadline) “The Good Place” (NBC) “Stranger Things” (Netflix) “Coco” (Pixar) “Black Mirror” (Netflix) “Get Out” (Universal Pictures) “Dunkirk” (Warner Bros.) “Downsizing” (Paramount Pictures) “Westworld” (HBO) "Instravel - A Photogenic Mass Tourism Experience" (Oliver KMIA, Vimeo) “Singin’ in the Rain” (MGM) “Queen Sugar” (OWN) “Atlanta” (FX Networks) “Insecure” (HBO) “Black-ish” (ABC) “The Chi” (Showtime) “Moonlight” (A24) “Black Panther” (Marvel Studios) "Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience" (Yi-Fu Tuan, 1977) "Place and Placelessness" (Edward Relph, 1976) Super Bowl LII Commercials “Ram Trucks Commercial with Martin Luther King Jr. Sermon is Criticized” (Sapna Maheshwari, The New York Times) 2018 Kia Stinger - Steven Tyler Big Game Ad - Feel Something Again Blacture Super Bowl Ad Amazon Alexa Loses Her Voice - Super Bowl LII Commercial

We Have a Right To Be Mad
Jan 25 2018 47 mins  
This week, we examine the outrage that is expressing itself in all corners of the culture. In the process, we found unexpected connections between events and ideas that might seem unrelated: Ed Sheeran being left out of all the major Grammy categories as a (possible) way to avoid controversy, the heated debate over an account of a bad date with Aziz Ansari, the testimony at the sentencing of Dr. Larry Nassar from hundreds of gymnasts who had been sexually abused, and year two of the women's march. We're thinking about why women's anger is feared, and what it means to dole out punishment against men. Whose anger counts, what kind of anger is healthy, and is there solidarity to be found in anger? Our conversation took us to places we didn't know we'd go--including becoming enraged ourselves. Discussed This Week: “Dolores O’Riordan, Lead Singer of the Cranberries, Dies at 46” (Christine Hauser, The New York Times) “2018 Oscar Nominations” (Brooks Barnes, The New York Times) “2018 Grammy Nominations” (The New York Times) “Electric Dreams” (Amazon) “How Ed Sheeran Made ‘Shape of You’ The Years Biggest Track” (John Pereles, The New York Times) “The Grammy Awards Voting Process” (Recording Academy) “I went on a date with Aziz Ansari. It turned into the worst night of my life.” (Katie Way, “Modern Romance” (Aziz Ansari, 2015) “I Used to Insist I Didn’t Get Angry. Not Anymore.” (Leslie Jamison, The New York Times Magazine) “Banfield slams Ansari accuser in open letter” (CNN) “One After Another, Athletes Face Larry Nassar and Recount Sexual Abuse” (Scott Cacciola and Christine Hauser, The New York Times)

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