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.
“Hamilton” is back in the mix, but the flavor has changed from beloved historical blockbuster to “wait, that’s what this is?” Elsewhere, in new works like “Baited,” on Instagram Live, and “I May Destroy You,” on HBO, Black women are getting personal in ways that are expanding our palates for discomfort.Discussed this week:“Hamilton” (written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Disney+, 2020)“Baited” on Instagram LiveZiwe Fumudoh“I May Destroy You” (written by Michaela Coel, HBO, 2020)Native Land project“Whit...more
When Quaker decided to take Aunt Jemima off the red pancake box after 131 years, did it also try to scrub the legacy she represents? And what sort of compensation is appropriate — and to whom — from a brand that maintained that image in public for so long?Discussed this week:“Aunt Jemima Brand to Change Name and Image Over ‘Racial Stereotype’” (Tiffany Hsu, The New York Times, June 2020)“Aunt Jemima: I’se in Town, Honey” (Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University)“The Dixi...more
Excerpts from our June 12 live event, where we caught up about the uprisings and resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement. This is the first of three special summer episodes.Discussed this week: Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris in a live New York Times event (June 12, 2020)“‘Cops,’ Long-Running Reality Show That Glorified Police, Is Canceled” (The New York Times, June 2020)“LEGO Pulls Back Police Playset Affiliate Marketing Amid George Floyd Protests” (ToyBook, June 2020)“NASCAR Says It...more
In our final episode from our living rooms, we visit the dystopia of “Westworld” and the utopia of “Hollywood” to see if we can glean anything about what might be in store on the other side of this pandemic — and about who we want to be.Discussed this week:“Westworld” (HBO, 2016-20)“Hollywood” (Netflix, 2020)Ryan Murphy“The Stepford Wives” (directed by Frank Oz, 2004)“The Stepford Wives” (directed by Bryan Forbes, 1975)The Motion Picture Production Code of 1930“Love Jones” (directed by Theodore ...more
Covid-19 isn't "the great equalizer" – except when it comes to making us need our devices more than ever. Screens have revealed superstars as civilians, and turned sitcom grouches into teddy bears. Basically: We’re ready to be more open with one another. Discussed this week:“Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration” (Broadway.com)“The ‘Credibility Bookcase’ Is the Quarantine’s Hottest Accessory” (Amanda Hess, The New York Times)Randy Rainbow’s YouTube Channel“A Parks and R...more
"Fetch the Bolt Cutters" is Fiona Apple's master class in channeling frustration and anger into what can only be called wisdom. Also, we hear from listeners all over the planet, sharing how they are taking care of the people in their lives.Discussed this week:"Fetch the Bolt Cutters" (Fiona Apple, 2020)Fiona Apple on the VMAs in 1997"Regret" (Fiona Apple, "The Idler Wheel Is Wiser than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More than Ropes Will Ever Do", 2012)"Criminal" (...more
We’re trying something new this week. We want you to watch a movie with us, and not just any movie, but the 2004 superhero bomb “Catwoman,” starring two of our favorites: Halle Berry and Sharon Stone. We’ve got fun facts, some questions and a little bit of, um, cattiness.Discussed this week: Catwoman Halle Berry Sharon Stone Benjamin Bratt Alex Borstein Pitof
Activists stood up against the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and 1990s, but the tools they used to make themselves heard are unavailable during our coronavirus pandemic. Still, many of that era’s strategies and warning signs seem alarmingly relevant now.Discussed this week:“How to Survive a Plague” (directed by David France, 2012)ACT UP New York “How ACT UP Remade Political Organizing in America” (David France, The New York Times, April, 2020)“‘A Tragedy Is Unfolding’: Inside New York’s Virus ...more
Lions, and tigers and barely suppressed glee at criminal weirdos, oh my!What has big personalities, big issues and big cats? Netflix’s hit streaming show “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.” We explore what the show says about America’s unique relationship to freedom.Discussed this week:“Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness” (Netflix, 2020)“Blue Caprice” (directed by Alexandre Moors, 2013)“The Wire” (HBO, 2002-08)“Breaking Bad” (AMC, 2008-13)“O.J.: Made In America” (ESPN, 2016)“Fargo” (di...more
Not all reboots deserve to exist. Lots of them aren’t even things we want.But the new "High Fidelity" on Hulu is the reboot we didn’t know we needed.Discussed this week:Barack Obama’s TwitterCardi B’s Twitter and Instagram"Celebrity Culture is Burning" (Amanda Hess, 2020)"Oprah Talks Covid-19" (Apple TV+, 2020)Britney’s Instagram"High Fidelity" (directed by Stephen Frears, 2000)"High Fidelity" (Hulu, 2020)
From our living rooms to yours, “Still Processing” is back.During this unprecedented time in our lives, we talk routines, dreams and what’s on our screens — or at least what will be on our screens. Because screens are all we have left.Discussed this week:“Darn That Dream” (Dinah Washington, 1954)The Brian Lehrer Show (WNYC)Working out with Mr. and Mrs. Muscle“Ra Ma Da Sa” (Amanbir Singh, 2017)The Wiz (directed by Sidney Lumet, 1978)High Fidelity (Hulu, 2020)
New episodes coming March 26! You’ve got a lot of time on your hands, and so do we. Let's spend it together <3.
We examine how HBO’s series “Watchmen” and Bong Joon Ho’s film “Parasite” bring to light the hidden histories that shape our modern lives.Discussed this week:“Parasite” (directed by Bong Joon Ho, 2019)“Watchmen” (HBO, 2019)“White Flights: Race, Fiction, and the American Imagination” (Jess Row, 2019)“In the Wake: On Blackness and Being“ (Christina Sharpe, 2016)We're going on hiatus, but we'll be back in your ears in early 2020!
California’s new legislation allowing college athletes to make money off endorsements. One step forward. The backlash against victims who came forward in the wake of #MeToo. Two steps back. Does big, sustainable change have to feel like grasping at straws?Discussed this week: “California Tells the N.C.A.A. to Share, and It Pitches a Fit.” (Michael Powell, The New York Times, Oct. 4, 2019)“The Toll of Me Too.” (Rebecca Traister, The Cut, Sept. 30, 2019)
We revisit "Fight Club" on the 20th anniversary of its release, and consider how the trope of the "psychobro" is showing up onscreen — in the new blockbuster “Joker” and HBO’s critically acclaimed series “Succession” — and off.Discussed this week: "The Unbearable Bradness of Being" (Chris Heath, Rolling Stone, Oct. 28, 1999)"Fight Club" (directed by David Fincher, 1999)"Joker" (directed by Todd Phillips, 2019)"Succession" (HBO, 2019)"Whistleblower Explains How Cambridge Analytica Helped Fue...more
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...more
We'll be back with a new episode next Thursday, October 17th.
Comedy is changing. Dave Chappelle’s latest Netflix comedy special, "Sticks & Stones," makes us wonder if he can keep up.Discussed this week:"Dave Chappelle: Sticks & Stones" (Netflix, 2019)"Aziz Ansari: Right Now" (Netflix 2019)"A Black Lady Sketch Show" (HBO, 2019)"My Favorite Shapes" (HBO, 2019)"Ramy Youssef: Feelings" (HBO, 2019)
We’re in love with MTV’s dating-reality TV show “Are You the One?”Discussed this week:Jenna Wortham. "How Queer People Brought Some Actual Reality to Dating-Reality TV" (The New York Times Magazine, Aug. 28, 2019)Wesley Morris. "Rom-Coms Were Corny and Retrograde. Why Do I Miss Them so Much?" (The New York Times Magazine, April 24, 2019)"Are You the One?" (MTV, Season 8, 2019)
How "Old Town Road" gave us hope without making us cringe, and became our song of the year.Discussed this week: Joe Coscarelli, Alexandra Eaton, Will Lloyd, Eden Weingart, Antonio de Luca and Alicia DeSantis. "Diary of a Song — ‘Old Town Road’: See How Memes and Controversy Took Lil Nas X to the Top of the Charts" (The New York Times, May 10, 2019)Jon Caramanica. "The Short Rise and Long Tail of Lil Nas X" (The New York Times, Jun. 26, 2019)Jade Jolie"Shut Up & Sing" (directed by B...more
Remember that beer test? It’s not enough. That’s why this election season, we bring you: Still Processing’s Rubric for Leadership and Democratic Excellence.Discussed this week:Astead Herndon, Jon Caramanica and Jon Pareles. "What Do Rally Playlists Say About the Candidates?" (The New York Times, Aug. 19, 2019)Clara Guibourg and Helen Briggs. "Climate change: Which vegan milk is best?" (BBC News, Feb. 22, 2019)The AP reporter Alexandra Jaffe’s post on Twitter that Senator Kamala Harris drinks oat...more
Still Processing will be back in your ears on Thursday, September 12th.
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 Oye...more
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”...more
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 no...more
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...more
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 nom...more
"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...more
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 o...more
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, ...more
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...more
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 ...more
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. J...more
Buckle up, babies. Still Processing returns on Thursday, January 10th.
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 virtuosit...more
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 jour...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
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 e...more
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” ...more
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 ...more
This week, we take a deep dive into "Pose," Ryan Murphy's new show on FX, and unpack the role of queer chosen families in pop culture. We dissect some of our favorite scenes — featuring Blanca Abundance Evangelista (Mj Rodriguez), Elektra Abundance (Dominique Jackson), and Angel (Indya Moore) — and celebrate the nuanced stories told of queer and trans characters of color by queer and trans people of color. Are we free to create chosen families that support who we ar...more
It’s the second installment of our two-part series on anti-Asian racism. Once again, we hand over the mics to our Asian-American colleagues, friends and listeners to hear about their experiences with dating, work and more as they relate to race and identity. We hear varied and nuanced perspectives — from the writer Jen Choi, the musician Simon Tam, the podcaster Andrew Ti and others — on what it feels like to be a part of the diverse community of Asian-Americans, which makes up almost 6 percent ...more
This week and next, we’re doing something different. After witnessing an awful instance of anti-Asian racism at a movie theater, we couldn’t stop thinking about how this type of racism is rampant in American culture, both on the screen and off. At first, we wanted to talk about it. But then, we realized that we needed to listen.For the next two episodes, we hand the microphones over to our Asian-American colleagues, friends and listeners to hear about their experiences with racism...more
Beyonce and Jay-Z. Donald and Melania. Kim and Kanye. Harry and Meghan. We're compelled by the performance of marriage in culture. And with The Carters' new surprise album, "Everything Is Love," we wonder what it means for our beloved Beyonce -- and Jay-Z -- to position their marriage as a black cultural institution -- akin to the Huxtables or the Obamas -- that everyone should believe in. From writing their legacy into The Louvre in their "Apes**t" video to documenting the turmoil and triumph o...more
After watching the blockbuster hit "Ocean’s 8" and BBC America’s cat-and-mouse drama "Killing Eve," we noticed some similarities in these leading women - they’re all “bad.” They’re indulgent and driven. They care about their work more than your feelings. They perform for each other more than they do for men (do they even perform for men?). They’re complicated and that’s why we like them. So we wonder: is our current cultural climate — specifically around this #MeToo moment — making space for mor...more
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 t...more
When actor Jessica Walter said fellow co-star Jeffrey Tambor verbally harassed her on the set of "Arrested Development," the show’s lead, Jason Bateman, jumped to Tambor’s defense -- and we noticed. This week, we suss out what this interaction -- documented in sound -- shows us about the subtle and not-so-subtle ways that we're taught to minimize the experiences of women. We juxtapose Jessica Walter's quiet, composed anger with Asia Argento's seething indictment at Cannes, and interrogate t...more
With Rita Ora, Janelle Monáe, Kehlani – and even fictional characters like Lando Calrissian – embracing bisexuality, pansexuality, queerness, and more, we wonder: what does it mean to publicly declare your sexual identity as something outside the gay/straight binary in 2018? And what did these declarations look like in the 80s and 90s, when we were growing up? We compare the sincere loneliness of R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion" to the frustrating inauthenticity of Rita Ora's "Girls,"&nbs...more
This week, shortly after multi-hyphenate artist Donald Glover blew up the internet with the video for his song "This is America," Wesley and guest host Rembert Browne (New York Magazine, Grantland) explore Glover's career, and how he evolved from a likable comedian to a cultural provocateur and authority on blackness. We like Glover's brain and the music and TV he is making, but we also wonder about the speed with which he's been anointed a "genius." ...more
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 ...more
We were so blown away by Beyoncé’s performance at the Coachella music festival that we decided to scrap our previous plans and dedicate this week’s entire episode to it. We think her performance will go down in the annals of American pop music as one of the greatest live shows ever.We close read some of our favorite moments, including her beautiful rendition of the black national anthem, “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” and how she turns the swag surf into a dance for royalty. And we talk about the ...more
As a break from the onslaught of traumatic news, this week we're talking about what makes us feel good about ourselves. Really good. We start by exploring what has been lost with the recent closure of Craiglist's personal ads section: a unique place, so distinct from Tinder or Grindr or Bumble, where you could search honestly for your own sexiness. Then we share some our personal tips for maintaining and nurturing that feeling once you find it. Finally we jam out to some of our all-time favorite...more
This week, we commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s death. While MLK’s birthday is celebrated on a national level, we spend time processing why his death holds a significant importance as well. We examine the months leading up to MLK Jr.’s death, including his iconic speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” and discuss the ways in which his ideals shifted after his “I Had A Dream” speech. MLK day is a celebration of King’s birthday, and we suggest that maybe what we s...more
This week we're talking about why we're stressed out, why the country is stressed out, and whether anxiety has become a permanent condition. We consider the role technology has played in driving us to this point, from push alerts — so many push alerts — to Twitter to the "algorithmic gaze." Then we come back to culture and focus on a few works that either encapsulate the chaos of 2018 or offer a possible path for moving ahead.Discussed This Week:“Pony” (Genuwine) “The Middle” (Zedd, Maren Morris...more
This week we pay homage to aunties, in our own lives, in politics, and in pop culture. But first we have to define what an aunty is, so we play a little game called "Aunty or Nah-nty," naming aunty candidates from television shows and movies to refine our criteria for who is and isn't one. We examine the historical relevance of aunties, and think about portrayals of women who are not-quite-our mothers, fiercely independent and repositories for our secrets. Can the "aunty" label be a caricature, ...more
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 ta...more
We went to the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. to look at the recently installed portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama. The paintings--Barack's by Kehinde Wiley, Michelle's by Amy Sherald--prompted both rapture and controversy when they were unveiled in February, and we wanted to see them in person to try to evaluate our own responses. As we traveled through the gallery from George Washington to Obama, we discussed what portraits can tell us about presidential power. And then we l...more
This week, we examine four of the Best Picture Oscar-nominated films—“Call Me By Your Name”, “Get Out”, “Shape of Water”, and “Phantom Thread”—to ask whether we are entering a new phase of romance films. By diverging from conventional norms and stereotypes, these films have created on-screen relationships that are reminiscent of our own relationships. We then look to the history of romantic dramas and comedies to see how this new version of romance-on-screen came to be and what it potentially co...more
This week we're looking for a thread running through three seemingly disparate moments: the release of Clint Eastwood's new film "The 15:17 to Paris," the Olympics in South Korea, and the tragic death of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. We use these events to discuss how culture can act as a smokescreen for reality and a way to avoid our fears. Plus: Jenna defends her surprising position that spoilers are actually good.Discussed this week:Queer Eye (Netflix...more
It's going to be one of the biggest opening weekends in movie history. But "Black Panther" is about so much more than the box office. This week we're putting Ryan Coogler's new film in the full context it deserves and demands, with a little help from our friend Ta-Nehisi Coates.
There's no episode of Still Processing today, but Wesley and Jenna are cooking up something special — a whole show on "Black Panther" with special guest Ta-Nehisi Coates. Check your feed Friday morning!
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...more
This week, in light of Justin Timberlake’s upcoming Super Bowl performance, we revisit his infamous 2004 “wardrobe malfunction” halftime show with Janet Jackson. We dissect the public reaction to “nipplegate,” why Janet (and not Justin) took the fall, and how the controversy changed the course of both artists’ careers. We consider Justin’s new musical direction in the context his history of appropriating other cultures. And we offer Janet the forgiveness she deserves, realizing that her sexual e...more
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 wo...more
The wait is finally over - we’re back for Season 3! This week, we look at the movie “Proud Mary” starring Taraji P. Henson as a jumping off point for the cultural moment that black women are having right now in pop culture. We run through a brief history of black women in movies and television and consider those who built the foundation for this moment. From Hattie McDaniel to Dorothy Dandridge to Whoopi Goldberg to Halle Berry, we consider what all of this means for how we discuss Oprah’s (poss...more
The wait is (almost) over: Jenna and Wesley will be back with a new season of "Still Processing" starting Thursday, Jan. 18th. It’s O.K. to cry, even if you’re wearing glitter.
It’s our season finale! We’ve spent our second season keeping a critical eye on the unreality of America and dissecting the systems of power that uphold the status quo. Last week, a series of news articles reported that Harvey Weinstein, one of the most powerful movie producers in Hollywood, has been accused of sexually harrassing women for decades. Twitter is ablaze with other women and men sharing their own stories of sexual misconduct at the hands of the powerful, spawning conversations about...more
For months, the two of us have been trying to figure out a way to have a conversation about the experience of being biracial. This week we just go for it. First, we talk about the cultural and historical suspicion America still has of black-white interracial romantic relationships. It gives us an excuse to revisit the reason ‘‘Get Out’’ has been one of the year’s major movies: It articulates the previously inarticulable about race. Then we consider the offspring of interracial coupling — whether...more
Another day, another rant from Donald Trump. This time, the president took aim at Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who spent the majority of last season sitting or kneeling during the national anthem to draw attention to police brutality and racial injustice. Trump’s remarks — that the owners of football teams should fire anyone who followed suit — prompted a nationwide demonstration the following Sunday from players and team owners who knelt or linked arms. We talk a...more
Last week, a Silicon Valley startup called Bodega instigated an internet meltdown after a Fast Company profile made the company’s intentions clear. “Eventually, centralized shopping locations won’t be necessary, because there will be 100,000 Bodegas spread out, with one always 100 feet away from you,” said Paul McDonald, a co-founder, who used to work at Google. The outrage made moral sense. “Bodega” is name that’s asking for trouble, especially with people who frequent them. The outrage is also...more
Last week, we witnessed two extraordinary events: Venus Williams playing some of the best tennis in the last decade of her career (she lost in the U.S. Open, but with grace and style), and the rollout of Rihanna's new cosmetics line, Fenty Beauty, which was splashier than the launch of the new iPhone X. We learned something unexpected from both. Venus showed us what it means to lose, and yet somehow remain undefeated, and the Rihanna event gave us insight into the economy of social media “influe...more
Last month, NPR published a list of the 150 greatest albums by women. The list was debated. It was discussed. There were alternative lists of 150 additional albums not on the NPR list. But quibbling with the particulars misses an important concern about what it means to argue for a women-only canon. This week we discuss why it takes an all-women team at NPR to celebrate women musicians, and why women are glaringly missing from lists determined by both genders. We also revisit the song of the sum...more
This summer, Dave Chappelle returned to the stage for an ambitious, monthlong residency at Radio City Music Hall in New York. We saw the show independently, on separate nights. What we witnessed inspired us to dedicate an entire episode to the legacy of Chappelle’s comedy as he works to re-establish his place in American culture. But much has shifted in the decade since Chappelle, through his much-loved TV show, “Chappelle’s Show,” brilliantly explored how black people are represented and misrep...more
The events of the last few weeks have shown us that we are fully living in Trump's America, with a president who is slow to condemn the actions of white supremacists. The realization has been exhausting. This week, we take a step back to think about what the political moment is doing to our emotional and physical states. We discuss our routines of self-care — and investigate the origins of the phrase, and why it feels overused and even a little cliche. We also talk to Dr. Matthew Steinfeld,...more
What happened in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend was the largest public melee during a presidential administration that includes men with white nationalist ties. Three people were killed, dozens of people were injured and the country was thrown into a state of anguish and shock. The show was on vacation, but we came back early to do a special episode about Charlottesville. We talk about why the violence there isn’t surprising, what it means to remove totems of the American Confederacy and...more
It’s been a summer of outrage over the question of who can tell stories about black history and black pain. We reckon with this question by examining Kathryn Bigelow’s film "Detroit," Dana Schutz's painting “Open Casket” and the recently announced new project from the "Game of Thrones" showrunners, an HBO drama called "Confederate." Without promising any answers, we also ask: Do stories about the American black experience belong to all Americans? Are there any criteria by which white creators ca...more
The country was barely on the other side of a period of deep thought about the cultural meaning of O.J. Simpson, and then last week we found out that O.J. will be a free man this October. We explore the vexing empathy that racism toward him inspires in us. Second, we can’t believe how much fun we had watching "Girls Trip"! Comedies starring black women – in which they aren’t the butt of the joke – are virtually non-existent. We cheer the movie for giving us four fun, sexual black women without a...more
2017 feels sort of like the End Times, and we’re leaning into science fiction TV shows and movies to imagine the outcome of our current political and geological climate. If science fiction functions as a cautionary tale, offering lessons in morality and asking us to consider our relationship with technology, what should our country’s leaders be watching? We discuss “War for the Planet of the Apes,” in which highly intelligent apes and plague-riddled humans battle for control of the Earth. Then, ...more
“4:44” is Jay-Z’s first album since Beyoncé turned their marital trouble into a masterpiece called "Lemonade." On “4:44,” Jay-Z expresses regret for his infidelity and ruminates on the socioeconomic state of black America. The album is knotty and contradictory, especially when compared with the psychological clarity of "Lemonade." We spend the episode unpacking “4:44” as a work unto itself, and also in the context of “Lemonade.” We also discuss why the survival and performance of Jay-Z and Beyon...more
It’s barbecue season! But let’s be clear: We aren’t talking about throwing burgers and veggies on a grill. We’re talking about the rich culinary tradition of slow-cooking meat over a dirt pit, a cuisine cultivated by enslaved Africans in the American South. We both live in Brooklyn, where barbecue is gentrifying as quickly as our neighborhoods. To talk through our feelings, we invited two Southern food experts on the show: John Thomas Edge Jr., the author of “The Potlikker Papers,” and Nicole Ta...more
What responsibility does a movie have to the details of history? In Sofia Coppola’s new film, “The Beguiled,” a remake of Don Siegel’s 1971 psychological thriller set in the American South during the Civil War, she omits a key character from the original film: a slave woman named Hallie. Is Coppola’s omission a correction of history or an act of artistic cowardice? Speaking of history and responsibility: We take a look at “All Eyez on Me,” which tells the story of the brief but remarkable life o...more
June is Gay Pride month: four weekends of parades, pageantry, and partying, all over the country. But now, a year after the Pulse nightclub shooting, people are asking whether Pride celebrations are sufficiently black, political and confrontational. We talk about the joy we feel during Pride, while also recognizing the limits of the parade and the gay rights movement in general. We also reckon with the racism in gay life, and where that leaves the two of us.
In a live-stream to promote her new album, “Witness,” Katy Perry put on an elaborate performance, giving a series of confessional interviews about her cultural missteps. We analyze all the reasons this was an experiment gone terribly wrong. We then turn to a much more sinister attempt by a celebrity to reshape his image by performing for the public: Bill Cosby pretending he is Cliff Huxtable at his trial for the sexual assault of Andrea Constand. The cross-examining of Constand strangely reminde...more
Summer is here, and so are the superhero movies and hit pop songs that define the season. We discuss the politics of “Wonder Woman,” the first female-fronted and female-directed superhero blockbuster. We also search for the definitive summer jam of 2017 and try to define what makes a great summer song along the way.
Last week, the Baywatch franchise returned — this time on the big screen — with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Zac Efron leading a cast of tan, muscled lifeguards. But the film isn’t just a goofy romp; it presents the beach as a place of danger that needs to be patrolled, raising questions about who beaches are for. Jenna spends as much time at the beach as she can, while Wesley has always resisted going. As they try to untangle why that is, they discuss the history of American beaches and Americ...more
In the last 30 years, blackness has migrated from the margins of American popular culture to its center. Right now, a bounty of television, movies, and music engages with the question of how people signal to each other that they’re down with blackness. And it isn't just white people doing the signaling. It's black people too, albeit in a different way. We’ll dig into Netflix’s new show “Dear White People,” and television and film from the 1980s and 1990s and try to understand: what does it mean ...more
Donald Trump has changed the way we watch TV, whether it’s the reality show within the White House, or the scripted dramas we can’t help but compare to our political situation. New Yorker television critic Emily Nussbaum joins us to analyze what Trump's persona in "The Apprentice" might tell us about how he wields power as president, and to talk about how living in Trump’s America changes the way we watch political television, including shows like "The Leftovers" and "The Handmaid’s Tale."
It has been five years since Whitney Houston died. She was one of the biggest pop stars of her time and a glorious singer — but we don’t properly remember her for that. Instead, she is considered a tragic figure who sacrificed herself to drugs and her marriage. This week, we felt a reappraisal of Houston was in order. It’s a chance to argue that the music is much more important than any of the scandal. So we listen to some of her best recordings and live performances. And yes, we walk through th...more
The ruthlessness of Silicon Valley companies like Uber is out of control, but why do we expect more from the tech industry than from corporations like McDonalds or Exxon Mobil? We also discuss the bloody rivalry between the big-screen queens Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, as depicted in Ryan Murphy’s FX drama “Feud,” and whether the show defies stereotypes or perpetuates them.
A conversation with the director of "Moonlight" about his cinematic style, his forthcoming adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s "Underground Railroad," his love of science fiction and, yes, that crazy night at the Academy Awards.
We discuss Kendrick Lamar’s new album, “DAMN.,” and listen closely to “XXX,” one of our favorite tracks. Is his latest project a breakup with America, or with an older version of himself? Then we speak to Valerie Jarrett, a former White House adviser, about what she and the Obamas have in store.
We’re back! And we’re picking up right where we left off: thinking about “Get Out.” Jordan Peele’s instant classic is the lens through which we’re seeing everything these days, from the hit podcast “S-Town” to that Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad the internet will never let us forget. We've got a grand theory about how it all connects.
We’re not over what happened at the Oscars on Sunday. You probably aren’t either. But we’re ready to move onto next year’s Oscars, where we fully expect to see “Get Out,” currently the No. 1 movie in America. We talk to its writer and director, Jordan Peele, about carving out space in the horror genre, how to deal with your liberal white friends and what it’s like to ask an actor to play a racist. Then, before the show takes month-long hiatus, we meditate on what we’ve learned doing Still Proces...more
“La La Land” is probably going to win a lot of Oscars on Sunday. Perhaps even for best picture. But it’s O.K. Truly. We are joined by A. O. Scott, a chief film critic for The New York Times, to discuss our predictions and preferences for the Academy Awards. Since it’s the last week of Black History Month, we talk about a few of our favorite moments from the past week. And we play another round of Did They Vote for Trump? This time it’s the “Roseanne” edition.
It’s been five days, and we’re still trying to make sense of Beyoncé’s loss at the Grammys. It’s been 50 years, and we’re still learning from James Baldwin. The new Baldwin documentary “I Am Not Your Negro” touched both of us, and this week we interview its director Raoul Peck about why the Oscar-nominated film is so invigorating in this moment. Then we bring on our pal and New York Times food reporter Tejal Rao to talk about something we all need these days: comfort food. To take our survey, pl...more
HBO’s “Girls” begins its final season this Sunday, and we discuss the show’s legacy before Jenna sits down for a live conversation with Lena Dunham, Allison Williams, Zosia Mamet and Jemima Kirke. They talk about the show’s early lack of diversity, why “Silicon Valley” gets off easy and what it’s like to have the public completely conflate a person and the character she plays. Plus: We debate whether deleting your Uber account actually has an impact and play a new game called “Did This Person Vo...more
We speak to three friends: Habab, a Muslim woman born in Sudan who was nearly detained after landing home at Dulles International Airport in Virginia this weekend; Rukmini Callimachi, our colleague who covers terrorism for The Times and immigrated to America at the age of 10; and Armida Lizarraga, a Peruvian who gives a history lesson on her country’s slide from democracy to dictatorship under Alberto Fujimori. Plus: our tips for how best to take a break this week.
It’s 50 degrees in New York in January, 2016 was the warmest year ever— and the words “climate change” no longer exist on whitehouse.gov. Time for a call to self-proclaimed climate hawk Eric Holthaus, co-host of the podcast “Our Warm Regards,” to give us some context about what this moment means for the planet. Next we talk about “Split,” the No. 1 movie in America, and the twist in M. Night Shyamalan’s career. Finally, Jenna tells Wesley whether or not Alexa is the future.
We start by debating one of the great questions of our time: should you or should you not use read receipts on your text messages? Jenna feels strongly one way, Wesley the exact opposite. So we call our pal Juliet Litman, managing editor of The Ringer, for a third opinion. Next, we consider the significance of shows like “The OA” and “Search Party” and what they mean for how young people are depicted on screen in 2017. Finally, Wesley takes a breath and says goodbye to President Obama.
We take a deep breath after President Obama’s farewell speech and talk about his future as the ultimate black dad. Next we call up our friend and New York Times media columnist Jim Rutenberg to help us make sense of the latest on Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia, “fake news” and the media’s role in reporting it all. To top it off, we revisit highlights from the Golden Globes, share our thoughts on “Hidden Figures” — not “Hidden Fences” — and consider the lasting impact of Meryl Streep’s s...more
We’re kicking off 2017 with a movie speed round to prepare for this weekend’s Golden Globes. We talk through our feelings about “La La Land,” “Fences” and a couple of the other films we saw over the holidays that made us laugh, cry — and sometimes cringe. Plus: Wesley serenades Mariah Carey after her New Year’s Eve debacle and we offer some cultural intentions for 2017.
This week we devote the entire episode to one question: What is happening with Kanye West?
This week, it’s our turn to take a look back on 2016 and share our picks for the most cultural moments that will stick with us. But before we do that, Ilena Silverman, an editor at The New York Times Magazine, joins us to talk about the people remembered in the magazine’s annual last issue of the year, “The Lives They Lived.” We also give one last listener some DIY gift advice.
This week on the show we're talking to some of our favorite people on Earth about the culture from 2016 — the movies, the music, the moments — that will stick with them. We've got Bill Simmons, CEO of the Ringer; Ezra Edelman, director of "OJ: Made in America"; and Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton, the hosts of BuzzFeed's "Another Round." Plus, we answer a voicemail from a very special listener.
Good news: Jenna’s back! And in the wake of this week’s Grammy nominations, she’s here to say that no matter how desperate the internet may be for a Beyoncé and Adele rivalry, it’s just not a competition. Next, New York Times tech reporter Mike Isaac helps explain what Facebook’s attempt to enter China means for the service and our lives. Finally, we help a listener solve a holiday gift dilemma.
Jenna is off road-tripping across Southern Africa, so this week Wesley reunites with Alex Pappademas, his old co-host on Grantland’s podcast “Do You Like Prince Movies?” Wesley explains why he found President Obama’s final Medal of Freedom Ceremony to be the most emotional cultural moment of the year, then he and Alex imagine the people who will be honored by President Trump. One artist they hope won't be on the list: the Weeknd, who after some debate Wesley and Alex decide is a phony.
Join our field trip to The Met Breuer, the Metropolitan Museum’s new space in New York dedicated to contemporary art, where we give you an audio tour of the painter Kerry James Marshall’s astonishing retrospective. We also have picks for movies to see this weekend. “Almost Christmas” is a film for the whole family; “The Handmaiden” is more of a solo midnight show.
To nourish your souls this week, we’re serving up some serious comfort food live from the kitchen of the New York Times food editor Sam Sifton. Sam literally wrote the book on Thanksgiving, and he walks us through how to make the perfect gravy, his tips for carving the turkey and his most important rules for the meal. And because this year’s Thanksgiving is going to be different for many families, we talk about how to navigate postelection tensions and practice radical acceptance. Plus: the case...more
Through tears, and with the help of our oracle Margo Jefferson, we begin to process the election of Donald J. Trump.
To combat the stresses of an election we want to end and the onset of winter, we’re offering a whole episode dedicated to things that make us feel good. We talk to the Times film critic A.O. Scott about “Moonlight,” a movie everyone agrees is perfect. We celebrate “A Seat at the Table,” Solange’s lusciously spare new album, in which she comes into her own as an artist. And we end with a few tips from Jenna on how to survive not only the next week but maybe the rest of your life.
This week we’re talking about penises. Specifically, penises on the big screen. There are more and more of them, but the penises deemed safe enough to see tend to be white ones. We talk about the role of black penises and black sexuality in popular culture. Plus, Jenna puts Barack Obama’s digital legacy in perspective, and then our boss, Jake Silverstein, joins us to discuss the one thing we never got from the president.
This week, we devote an entire episode to our favorite (and not so favorite) shows on TV, touching on “Queen Sugar,” “Westworld,” “Insecure,” “Empire,” and more. We give out superlatives, delve into the brilliance of Donald Glover’s “Atlanta,” and attempt to answer the question: Have we reached peak black TV?
This week we’ve got some questions. What show could possibly hold your attention for 24 straight hours? (Wesley found it.) Should you still feel obligated to see “Birth of a Nation,” even though Nate Parker is Nate Parker? (You most certainly should not.) And how differently would this country work with a woman in the White House? (Susan Dominus, who’s covering gender and the election for the New York Times Magazine, joins us to answer that one.) Plus: we answer a question from the last debate.
This week our entire episode comes to you from inside the Smithsonian’s brand-new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington. We talked to children. We talked to curators. We sat together in the Oprah Winfrey Theater and it felt like church, and together we tried to understand the first museum that has tried to understand us.
This week we catch up with Katja Blichfeld and Ben Sinclair, the husband-and-wife team behind “High Maintenance,” HBO’s new show (which was just renewed for a second season) about a weed dealer in New York. It's billed as a stoner comedy, but the show is actually about the vulnerability of life in the city, and we swap stories about the moments we've felt most alive in New York. Then, in honor of “The Magnificent Seven” topping the weekend box office, our beloved colleague Nikole Hannah-Jones jo...more
While we are discussing the Emmys, which Jenna barely wanted to watch, something amazing happens: a call from somebody who actually has an Emmy! Yup, it’s RuPaul. He talks about both the importance of his Emmy-winning show, “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” and its non-importance, which, according to him, is its actual importance: “Identity is a hoax, people!” Then it’s on to a conversation about “Bridget Jones’s Baby” and “Snowden,” two films with nothing in common — well, except in Wesley's experience of ...more
This week, Wesley and Jenna meet for breakfast to talk through their conflicting feelings about the new film “When the Bough Breaks,” the No. 2 film in America — she loved it, he not so much. They also decode the inherent racism of the sharing economy and bring in dance writer Shanti Crawford to review the moves we watched during the U.S. Open.
In this inaugural episode, Wesley and Jenna work through their feelings about America's reaction to Colin Kaepernick and Leslie Jones, take a romantic stroll through Central Park, and talk to Tika Sumpter of "Southside With You" about the art of the first date.
The first episode of Still Processing will drop on Thursday, Sept. 8, and Wesley and Jenna will be back every Thursday after that. Here’s a quick taste of what’s to come.