Wesley Morris and Jenna 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.
'Before I Let Go'
When the three opening notes of the song hit, there’s only one thing to do: Find your people and dance. Today, we’re talking about “Before I Let Go,” by Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, and the song’s unique ability to gather and galvanize. It wasn’t a huge hit when it came out in 1981, but it has become a unifying Black anthem and an unfailing source of joy. We dissect Beyoncé’s cover, and we hear from friends, listeners and the Philadelphia DJ Patty Jackson about their memories of the classic song.
The People in the Neighborhood
A powerful — and revealing — aspect of the Derek Chauvin trial was the community it created out of strangers. Week later, we’re still thinking about the witnesses, and the way they were connected in telling the story of how George Floyd lost his life. This phenomenon is reflected in works of art, like Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing,” which explores the conflict inherent in a community.
She’s simply the best. A new documentary on HBO (called, simply, “Tina”) explores Tina Turner’s tremendous triumphs, but we wanted to go deeper. We talk about how her entire career was an act of repossession: Taking back her name, her voice, her image, her vitality and her spirituality made her one of the biggest rock stars in the world, even in her 50s.
Also, Jenna and Wesley want your help in settling a bet! Do you know the song “Before I Let Go” by Frankie Beverly and Maze? Did you play it at a party or dance to it at a wedding? Do you jump to your feet every time it comes on? Grab your phone and record yourself telling a story about what the song has meant to you. Send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cathy Park Hong
The Asian-American poet wants to help women and people of color find healing — and clarity — in their rage. Hong's book of essays, “Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning," came out in February 2020, and it’s taken on new urgency with the rise in anti-Asian violence and discrimination during the pandemic.
Lil Nas X? Not Sorry!
Social media apologies have become the standard celebrity response to internet outrage. But why do they feel so deeply inadequate? Jenna and Wesley dissect a new spate of public apologies from the last year. And they look to the activist and writer adrienne maree brown for an example of a “fully evolved” apology.
40 Acres and a Movie
Disney owns a piece of every living person’s childhood. Now it owns Marvel Studios, too. Jenna and Wesley look at depictions of racist tropes and stereotypes in Disney’s ever-expanding catalog. The company has made recent attempts to atone for its past. But can it move forward without repeating the same mistakes?
A lovely apology, even if belated
I stopped listening to the show after the pan/biphobic episode that eviscerated a number of queer musicians and actors who were making “coming-out” content. A friend mentioned the other day that SP re-addressed this in June, and updated the episode in question with an apology from Jenna. It was lovely. I was really pleased to hear that they were so receptive to the criticism they rightfully received. Thanks, Jenna! Sadly, Wesley seems as stubborn as ever. Don’t expect him to address his bad takes anytime soon.
Love listening to these two talk
It is such a pleasure to hear these two explore a nexus of ideas, hold contradictions, explore, play and expand. Their love for ideas, culture and just talking about something with a friend, is infectious. Listening to their analysis has made me much more thoughtful about race and culture, and much more likely to seek out pleasure, joy, and potential liberation in the culture I consume.
I especially appreciate Wesley’s efforts to ground culture in the moment it came out of.
This is a miracle
Passionate. Important. Addictive. Humane. Convicting. Such heart and such fire, humor, intellect -- I'm drawn in by the richness of Jenna and Wesley's friendship, and the way they shape thought and response, the power of their words and the impact it has on my life.