Wesley Morris and J Wortham are working it out in this weekly show about culture in the broadest sense. That means television, film, books, music — but also the culture of work, dating, the internet and how those all fit together.
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America Has a Problem
Today: The undoing of Kanye West. “We’re in deeply vile territory, and I can’t make intellectual sense of that,” Wesley Morris says about West, who now goes by Ye.
In 2004, when Ye released “College Dropout," he seemed to be challenging Black orthodoxy in ways that felt exciting and risky. But over the years, his expression of “freedom” has felt anything but free. His embrace of anti-Black, antisemitic and white supremacist language “comes at the expense of other people’s safety,” their humanity and their dignity, J Wortham says.
Wesley and J discuss what it means to divest from someone whose art, for two decades, had awed, challenged and excited you.
Plastic Off the Sofa
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” came into theaters with a huge responsibility: It had to address the death of Chadwick Boseman, the star of the first “Black Panther” movie, who died of cancer in August 2020.
Wesley and J discuss how the film offers the audience an experience of collective grief and mourning — something that never happened in the United States in response to the losses of 2020. They interrogate what it means that this gesture of healing came from Marvel and Disney, a corporate empire that is in control of huge swaths of our entertainment, and not from another type of leadership.
I'm That Girl
Beyoncé’s latest album, “Renaissance,” showcases a pop star letting go of all expectations. Wesley and J go deep into the album and this new era of Beyoncé. It’s an era of play, freedom, comedy and queerness — unlike anything we’ve ever heard from Beyoncé Knowles-Carter before.
Wesley and J discuss the push to “return to office” — and what it means for their lives, as well as American culture as a whole. What have 50 years of workplace sitcoms, from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” to “Abbott Elementary,” taught us about our romance with the office? And what do TikTok parodies and the TV show “Severance” get right about the history of labor in America? In this period of returning to so-called normalcy, Wesley and J reflect on how we can ensure that the lessons of the early pandemic aren’t forgotten.
Donna Summer’s 1977 hit “I Feel Love” is the inspiration for the final track on Beyoncé’s new album, “Renaissance.” Summer became the queen of disco in the ’70s, but her catalog goes much further than that. You can hear her legacy in decades of electronic and R&B. “She is an architect of the pop culture we experience today,” J says.
In this episode, J and Wesley revisit her 1982 album, “Donna Summer” — and explore why, out of all of her music, this self-titled album is the most distinctly Donna.
J Wortham and Wesley Morris are back, just in time for Scorpio season. Ever since they watched Jordan Peele’s latest film, “Nope,” together over the summer, they haven’t been able to stop talking about it. The film stars Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer as siblings whose family horse ranch is threatened by an otherworldly creature. But instead of escaping or destroying the monster, they are determined to take a picture of it. Why is proof so important? And what does it mean to be believed? (Beware: Spoilers ahead!)
“Still Processing” is back for a mini-season. New episodes on Tuesdays. Follow the show wherever you get your podcasts.