In this first episode of 2018, Dahlia and Amy get into this year’s Golden Globes, the Time’s Up movement, and the misguided obsession for Oprah 2020. The Golden Globes is the first awards show since the fallout from the Weinstein effect and it didn’t shy away from talking about #MeToo and the latest movement to announce that Time’s Up for sexual harassment and violence against women in the industry. But is it all for show and what will real, concrete change look like? Plus, they kick off another segment of Petty Political Pminute with all the best/worst details from Michael Wolff’s tell-all of the first days of the Trump White House in Fire and Fury.
On each episode, we share one thing we saw, read, and heard this week.
WATCH: The Netflix mini-series Wormwood, directed by Errol Morris, examines how we think about truth and storytelling in this documentary and drama.
READ: Helen Oyeyemi’s novel Boy, Snow, Bird breaks narrative convention to tell the story of women and girls, mothers and daughters, and what it means to survive—especially when you have to pretend to be someone you’re not.
LISTEN: Cupcakke’s latest track, “Crayons,” is all the queer-positive vibes you need to kick off the beginning of the new year.
Subscribe to Bitch’s podcasts through our audio RSS feed.
AMY: Hi, welcome to Backtalk, Bitch Media’s feminist response to pop culture podcast. I’m Amy Lam, contributing editor.
DAHLIA: I’m Dahlia Grossman-Heinze, senior engagement editor.
AMY: And this is our first episode of the new year!
DAHLIA: Yay! 2018!
AMY: Good riddance, 2017. And in each episode, we start off by talking about our favorite pop culture moment. What is yours? Do you have one? You must.
DAHLIA: Oh my gosh. ‘Cause you know, I kind of delight in awkwardness, especially political awkwardness. So, I woke up Saturday morning this past weekend, and I don’t know. I know that I’m like, I’m trying to be better to not look at my phone constantly, but I look at my phone. And I’m like Oh Steven Miller did something bad on Jake Tapper’s show. Did you watch that Amy.?
AMY: No, I heard it. Yeah, mmhmm.
DAHLIA: OK. So, Steven Miller who is a senior adviser to the president, he’s like 31 years old. He looks like Squidward from Sponge Bob Square Pants.
AMY: And a second toe, remember? [laughs].
DAHLIA: Yes! Oh my gosh. The other day ,I heard someone call him towhead, and I was like oh my god. Exactly. So, he went on Jake Tapper’s show State of the Union and just like babbled for 13 minutes before Jake Tapper kicked him off. So, ‘cause I delight in awkwardness. Here is Jake Tapper kicking Stephen Miller off his show.
STEVEN MILLER: To prove the point, I was booked to talk about the very issues I’m just describing. You’re not even asking me about them because they’re not interesting facts to you.
JAKE TAPPER: That’s not true. I have plenty of questions on immigration. You’ve attempted to filibuster by talking about your fights with the president.
STEVEN: No, I’m not. No. Hold on a sec.
JAKE: I wanna ask you a question.
STEVEN: No, no. Don’t be condescending. Jake. Jake.
JAKE: Steven. The president and the White House—.
STEVEN: The reason why I want—
JAKE: The president—
STEVEN: The reason why I want to talk about the president’s experiences, what I’ve seen with him traveling to meet dozens of foreign leaders with his incredible work—
JAKE: OK. You’re not answering the questions. I understand.
STEVEN: No. You have 24 hours a day of [inaudible] material.
STEVEN: You’re not gonna give three minutes for the American people for—
JAKE: I get it.
STEVEN: —the real experience of Donald Trump.
JAKE: There’s one viewer that you care about right now, and you’re being obsequious. You’re being a [unclear] in order to please him, OK?
JAKE: And I’ve wasted enough of my viewers’ time.
STEVEN: You know who I care about?
JAKE: Thank you, Steven.
STEVEN: You know who I care about? [continues trying to get the mic]
STEVEN: As Republicans lawmakers call for Jeff Sessions to resign, in a major reversal, Democrats are now coming to his defense. What changed?
AMY: That’s such a good clip.
DAHLIA: Oh my God. I watch it over and over, and I don’t know, Amy, if you saw that like there’s all this reporting going on about what happened after he cut him off. Because you can’t see it since it’s an audio clip, but the way the camera pans to Jake Tapper, you know that Steven Miller is like still sitting right next to him while Jake Tapper is trying to transition into talking about Jeff Sessions. And I have read that after they cut to commercial, the two of them, OK, the two of them argued with each other, and he wouldn’t leave. And they had to have security take him out because he wouldn’t leave!
AMY: This is a running theme about people from the Trump administration not wanting to leave.
DAHLIA: They don’t wanna leave.
AMY: Needing security to escort them out. ‘Cause it happened with Omarosa who got kicked out of the White House, right, Trump too.
DAHLIA: That’s true.
AMY: But I just I mean, these people are just stubborn and unwilling to leave things unless they’re physically being removed, which is unsurprising. [laughs]
DAHLIA: I don’t like the thoughts I’m having currently about who else should leave and how we’ll have to force them out.
AMY: We can go in there.
DAHLIA: How can we call security on Trump?
AMY: We can be security.
AMY: Let’s do it. I’m ready.
DAHLIA: What’s your pop culture moment, Amy?
AMY: Well, before I do my pop culture moment, I did wanna say because we haven’t recorded an episode of Backtalk since the special elections in Alabama. Remember?
DAHLIA: That’s true.
AMY: Yeah, I did wanna follow up by it because you know we were following it really closely since the GOP candidate was a child predator, Roy Moore. And he ended up losing to Democrat Doug Jones. Hooray. But Moore lost the election. But let’s not forget that he received 48.4% of the vote.
DAHLIA: That’s so high.
AMY: Yeah. And with 72% of white men and 63% of white women voting for him, all of whom should be ashamed of themselves. But it was a hopeful way to end 2017. So, I just wanted to mention it because we hadn’t talked about it since then. So, good fucking riddance to him. [laughs]
AMY: But my pop culture moment also happened in 2017. I couldn’t not mention it because it really was delightful to me in this amazing Schadenfreude way, you know?
AMY: I really love Schadenfreude-y things, you know?
DAHLIA: Me too.
AMY: So, I learned about this because there’s a software engineer. Her name is Sarah Mei. She’s on Twitter, and she made a thread about how she found the lawsuit filing of a—
AMY: [laughs] of one white supremacist asshole, Milo Yiannopoulos’s lawsuit against Simon & Schuster. So, just to remind, Simon & Schuster fucked up because they gave Milo like a quarter million-dollar advance for a book, and then they ended up having to cancel the contracts because Milo came out saying some heinous shit about child molestation, essentially. So, Milo is or was suing Simon & Schuster. And in suing them he had to submit a bunch of evidence I guess about the process. And this person on Twitter found some of the court filings of it, and her name was Sarah Mei, again. And she found a draft of the book during its editing stage. And you could see some of the in-doc comments from Milo’s editor. And they are so wild.
DAHLIA: They’re so funny.
AMY: They’re so ridiculous! ‘Cause I think, as editors you know, we think about the comments that we leave for our writers and how to encourage them to highlight their thesis, do it in an effective way so that their pieces ring true and do what it’s supposed to do. But like I will never in my life—thank fucking god—
AMY: — have to make these types of comments on any of the writers I edit. I really, really, really hope this is true for the rest of my life.
But for example, some of the comments in this document were quote—
AMY: In the why establishment gays hate me chapter it, “Needs a better thesis than the notion that gay people should go back in the closet. Like oh, my god! And then another one was, “The feminist chapter needed a stronger argument against feminism than saying that they are ugly and sexless and half-cats.”
Like imagine: he had a whole chapter, and that was the thesis. Other comments were like, “Avoid gratuitous insults. Unclear, unfunny, delete. This entire paragraph is just repeating fake news.”
AMY: And another one was like, “I will not accept a manuscript that labels an entire class of people as mentally ill.” And this is coming from an editor who is on Milo’s side, ostensibly.
DAHLIA: Yeah, a conservative press. A conservative house out of Simon & Schuster.
AMY: Right, and I don’t think this editor’s anybody to uphold or celebrate; he’s just doing his job. But I’m just imagining what does it mean to be an editor and have to have to write, just straight up, “This entire paragraph is just repeating fake news?”
DAHLIA: Oh my god. I am so glad you reminded me of this moment because I have to say after New Year’s Eve, just like I remember I was trying to explain—’cause I read several chapters of this book—I was trying to explain it to my friends on New Year’s Eve. And after that, it just completely vanished from my memory. But Milo’s book is fully downloadable from the Court of New York. I downloaded it; it’s like 200 pages. And you can read all of these editor’s comments. They’re so funny. Milo’s writing is so bad, and…oh god. You know, Amy, you and I, I just love the Schadenfreude so much. It is so funny.
And as of earlier this week, Milo’s lawyers have dropped him in this lawsuit, and Milo is going to be defending himself.
AMY: Yeah, good luck with that, buddy.
DAHLIA: Oh my god.
AMY: Yeah. I mean who knows what’s gonna happen.
AMY: But it’s like it’s fucked up that we have to sort of celebrate the victory that Simon & Schuster dropped him because Simon & Schuster signed him to begin with. So, I guess we’ll just see what will happen with the case. I’m not particularly interested in it because who cares, you know?
DAHLIA: I kind of am
AMY: I mean he sued them for a bunch of money, but I mean I just don’t know what will happen in a way that will make me think differently of him or Simon & Schuster.
DAHLIA: Oh, right. No!
AMY: I think they’re both bullshit.
AMY: But that was just something that I was really excited to have been able to get some BTS: behind the scenes.
AMY: It was a gift. It was a gift.
[cutesy bells ring]
DAHLIA: At Bitch, we don’t have a secret Santa. We do secret holiday friends, and it’s one of my favorite things about working here. Actually, I really love secret holiday friend. But at the end of 2017, Amy and I asked for a secret holiday friend gift from you, our listeners. And that was if you would review and rate us on iTunes. And we have been checking every single day, and we really thank you so much for all of the really sweet reviews. We really love them.
AMY: I literally do check [laughing] almost every day like a weirdo, looking for like a secret admirer’s note. And I really just can’t thank like our listeners enough for doing it, and we really appreciate it. And it really does help us in terms of like I don’t know weird algorithms or something to bring up our podcast so we can get even more listeners
DAHLIA: I wanted to read one of our reviews from Mandy. Mandy says, “I started listening to this podcast about a year ago after the 2016 election. I was looking for female perspectives on news, politics, and pop culture. This podcast is awesome because it offers really strong progressive criticism toward world events but in a really accessible, entertaining, and digestible way. Dahlia and Amy often serve as cheerleaders in my brain reinforcing all the rage I have against the world currently and at other times, open my mind to different perspectives that I wouldn’t have previously come to on my own. I also love the little extra tidbits like the music and book recommendations. Subscribe! You will not regret it. They have been a very positive and thoughtful contribution to my world in the last year, and my only sadness is that there aren’t more episodes.”
AMY: Oh my god! That’s so nice!
DAHLIA: That’s so nice. Thank you, Mandy.
AMY: I’ve never been called a rage cheerleader before.
AMY: But I’m really into that, yeah.
DAHLIA: Oh my god, Amy. I just had this flash over Christmas break. I was really sick, and so I started embroidering, like trying to be handy. I could embroider rage cheerleader on the back of your jacket. Just a thought. I’m gonna give that to you for next year’s secret holiday friend.
AMY: [laughs] Oh my god. That is so sweet. And then you know, like I said, I do kind of almost obsessively check. But I did wanna shout out one user’s name because it made me LOL. Like, I laughed out loud. And that user’s name is Poopoo Choo choo chip.
AMY: Thank you, Poopoo Choo choo chip for your 5-star rating and review. I really appreciate it.
DAHLIA: And so, one, thank you so much for those of you who have rated and reviewed us. Two, if you are considering rating and reviewing us, please do because it really helps us out.
AMY: And so, we are in a new year, but same pitch. So, we love love love love love our Pollinators, and our Pollinators are Bitch supporters who contribute just $8 a month. And for eight bucks, you get a subscription to Bitch magazine, a Bitch mug, and a sticker. And I was sitting here trying to think of what costs $8, and I was like you know what costs $8? A burrito. So, think of it as like buying one of us a burrito each month.
AMY: And Dahlia and I on who gets the burrito that month.
AMY: So, buy us a burrito, just one. You don’t even have to buy us two. You can join as a Pollinator at bitchmedia.org/pollinators. That’s bitchmedia.org/pollinators for just $8 a month!
DAHLIA: It is a new year, but we still can’t leave Trump behind.
AMY: [sad trombone]
DAHLIA: [laughs] So, this is our first 2018 petty political p-minute.
AMY: [news flash beeping tones]
DAHLIA: Where we pettily tackle things in Trump’s world. And like nothing could be pettier than the new—I don’t know if I can call it a biography—the new tell-all about the Trump administration, Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff. It is based on interviews that he conducted, mostly it seems like with Steve Bannon. [laughs] But he claims to have like a fly on the wall view of the Trump presidency. And this book is super sold out. I couldn’t find it in bookstores. I had to buy it on Kindle so I could read it in time to talk about it. Trump is so pissed about this book.
So, Trump tweeted right when the book came out: “Michael Wolff is a total loser who made up stories in order to sell this really boring and untruthful book. He used sloppy Steve Bannon who cried when he got fired and begged for his job. Now sloppy Steve has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone. Too bad!” [laughs]
DAHLIA: So, Trump tweeted that because it does seem like one of Michael’s primary sources was Steve Bannon who talked a lot of shit about the administration. Here are the most interesting things I’ve learned in the first 200 pages that I’ve read. One, Ivanka makes fun of her dad’s hair to her friends, and she confirms. I mean, this wasn’t a direct quote, but this is what Michael Wolff says: He does have a complete bald spot.
AMY: Oh, that’s duh.
DAHLIA: Yeah, yeah. Tweets: Trump prefers to have dinner at 6:30. He prefers that to be in bed, and he prefers for it to be a McDonald’s cheeseburger. Trump is very worried about being poisoned, and so he likes the idea that he can just eat like processed garbage food that no one will poison. And while he has dinner, he also likes—he has three TV screens in his room—he watches the three screens, and he calls his friends and yells at them.
AMY: Wait wait wait a second!
AMY: Wait. You don’t do that? Wait.
AMY: Wait. You don’t eat dinner in bed at 6:00 with three TVs screens on and call your friends and yell at them?
DAHLIA: Maybe sometimes dinner at 6:00 if I’m having a weird day.
AMY: Wait wait wait wait. I feel like when people immigrate to this country it’s like in the manual: This is how Americans eat dinner.
DAHLIA: [laughing] Three TV screens, call your friends and yell at them.
AMY: And worry about getting poisoned.
DAHLIA: Oh, McDonalds.
AMY: By your closest friends, too.
DAHLIA: You might get poisoned.
DAHLIA: Four. Three? I don’t remember. I’ll stop numbering. I also learned Trump got pissed at the people who clean up the White House residence.
DAHLIA: He doesn’t like it. I think he thinks that they’re gonna poison him. He complained, and he allegedly yelled to his janitorial staff, “If I left my pants on the floor, that’s because I want them on the floor.”
AMY: Doesn’t that sound like a teenager?
AMY: You know? Like, when you were a kid, and your parents came into your room you’re like—
DAHLIA: I like it this way!
AMY: Yeah, no. He’s a fucking toddler.
DAHLIA: Also, I have learned Melania cried on election night, and they have separate bedrooms.
DAHLIA: Ivanka once said of Melania, “All you have to know about Melania is that she thinks my father is going to win the election.”
DAHLIA: ‘Cause Ivanka was sure that he was going to lose. Also, Steve Bannon calls Jared and Ivanka Jarvanka.
DAHLIA: Ivanka thinks she’s going to be the first woman president. She and Jared have a deal: They can both run for president, but she can run first. And Trump sometimes calls himself in the third person, The Trumpster.
DAHLIA: And my last fact that I learned is that Steven Miller, who I was just making fun of at the top of the show, he’s allegedly, like he bills himself as this politically savvy young speechwriter. But the book says that he is, when he writes speeches he is, “restricted to bullet points and unable to construct sentences.”
AMY: [laughing] Jesus.
DAHLIA: So, there have been some questions in the past week about the accuracy of this book and where did Michael Wolff get the interviews. But I should say that the portions of the book that are most under scrutiny right now are not any of those facts that I brought up. There’s stuff about the meeting in Trump Tower, about the Russia investigation and the comment that Trump dictated about the Russia investigation. So, I just wanna say it is true that there is some questions about the validity of all of the facts, but these all sound true. Don’t they all sound so true?
AMY: They sound soooo true!
AMY: They sound true, possible, probable, within every realm of having had occurred, and this person just documented it. I mean that’s just the most wild part about this administration. There was also a tweet that kind of went viral and people believed it about gorilla channel.
DAHLIA: Oh god, it was me. [laughs]
AMY: Right. No, no, no, no. Don’t feel bad ‘cause I also believed it. So, somebody tweeted this “excerpts from the Wolff book,” and in this quote it’s about how like on the first night of Trump staying in the White House, he demanded his staff to, he’s like, “Where the fuck is this, my favorite channel, the gorilla channel?”[laughs] He was furious, and so his staff had to scramble and cut together a bunch of different gorilla documentaries and have them stream 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And I believed that as I was reading. I was like, oh my god.
And then Trump was saying like, “Well, no, this is not the right gorilla channel.” Because in fact, there wasn’t enough gorilla fighting scenes, you know. So, then the staff had to cut the channel so that it was more gorilla fighting. And I was reading this “excerpt, and I was just like, what the fuck? I was like truly completely believing it until I got to the part where it said on some days he’ll watch the gorilla channel for 17 hours straight, an insider told me. He kneels in front of the TV with his face about four inches from the screen and says encouraging things to the gorillas.
AMY: Like, “The way you hit that other gorilla was good.” I think he thinks the gorillas can hear him. So, OK, I read this whole passage, and the only reason I was just like wait is this can’t be real is because it says he watches the gorilla channel 17 hours a day. It was the 17 hours that tipped me off. ‘Cause I was just like he didn’t have the attention span do that. Also, like he has to watch Fox News. So, that is the only reason why I even thought to question this excerpt was that one detail. ‘Cause otherwise I would have believed that he wanted a gorilla channel and that his staff scramble to create one and that he talked [laughing] to the gorillas on screen. Because like that’s just how ridiculous he is.
DAHLIA: I totally believed it. [laughs]
AMY: Yeah, I know! I don’t blame you because all the others, very factual, had been fact-checked pieces about him that come out from only reputable sources like The Washington Post or the New York Times, shows equally disturbing behavior. So, it’s not surprising that, it would not be surprising that he would want to gorilla channel.
DAHLIA: I read that the person who tweeted that changed their username to “the gorilla channel thing was fake.”
AMY: [laughs] Because so many people believed it.
DAHLIA: Including me. I did realize quickly that I had been deceived, but I was deceived.
AMY: I mean this really goes to show how there are people, I think, in Congress or in the House who have put together committees to talk about the mental health fitness of Trump and whether he can continue to serve because of not just this book but like other behavior that he’s exhibited like, i.e. Twitter. I mean, what was it, like a week ago where he tweeted that thing about having a bigger nuclear button than fucking Kim Jong Un. I mean that’s dangerous shit that you don’t want to be tweeting as the president of our country with another country that might have a nuclear weapon. So, and the 20th Amendment is about like the mental and physical fitness of a person and whether or not they’re able to serve. And I think this is in place to protect presidents, and often sometimes presidents use it to hand off power. Like if they are having to undergo a medical procedure and they’re out for a little bit you know, and they can hand it off to their vice president. But it’s never been where committees have been formed to investigate a sitting president.
So, that’s something that’s happening not just because of this book, but I think this book illuminates parts of his character and personality and behavior that is pretty much saying like we don’t think he’s fit to serve in this office. Which I mean we all can see.
DAHLIA: Well, what’s wild also is that Trump has been tweeting about that and saying like, “People say I’m not fit, but they said the same thing about Ronald Reagan.” Like, well, yeah. Ronald Reagan was unfair
DAHLIA: Like that’s not a good analogy because it doesn’t mean what you think it means.
AMY: ‘Cause he did have Alzheimer’s.
AMY: And he may have had Alzheimer’s while in office. We don’t know that. So, that’s how unfit he is!
DAHLIA: He doesn’t even know that that doesn’t make sense.
AMY: Yeah! It wasn’t that around the time where he also made that tweet about being a “stable genius?”
DAHLIA: He’s like a smart man.
DAHLIA: He said he was “like smart.” I’m like smart. That’s what Donald said.
AMY: [laughs] Oh my god. He’s so ridiculous. I mean I think I’m entering— I don’t know—I mean you know how there are those stages of grieving?
AMY: There’s like anger, denial, acceptance, whatever. So, I think I’m whatever is post-acceptance. That’s where I am now. I accept that he’s in this role. But now I’m ready to laugh him the fuck out of the office. You know what I mean?
AMY: I think that things are coming or happening. And I think it’s so fucked but that like there’s so many things against him like maybe he’s mentally and physically unfit to serve office. There’s investigations with him with his ties to Russia. He’s a fucking sexual assaulter and harasser and predator. There are so many things that are like directed towards him that we can literally pick and choose which thing we want to put resources into and launch like a huge investigation to get him out of there. So, [laughs] I’m just waiting, I guess. And I think this book is just a really amazing way to kick off the year.
DAHLIA: Yeah, it had to be published a week early because so many people wanted to read it. Like, a chapter or so was published online, and people were so into it that it was published a whole week early
AMY: That’s amazing. I mean like the thing about Wolff is that like some people have claimed that he’s kind of like a confabulist, you know, like maybe the things that he is writing have like a kernel of truth, but they’re not all the way true. But Trump is so ridiculous that maybe this is one of those instances where Wolff didn’t have to cry wolf, you know?
AMY: And he’s like, “No, you guys. I know I’ve exaggerated things in the past, but hold on. This shit is real!
DAHLIA: Listen to me this time!
[cutesy bells ring]
AMY: So, this past Sunday was the Golden Globes Awards show that looks at film and television from the Hollywood Foreign Press. So, this is the first awards show to air since the Weinstein fallout, and they didn’t shy away from talking about rampant sexual harassment and violence in Hollywood. It was actually the centerpiece of the night. So, we wanna talk about this year’s Golden Globes and what it means in terms of like the larger #MeToo landscape. So, first things first is like don’t get me wrong. I kind of secretly love award shoes.
AMY: I do! It’s like ‘cause even though I know that intellectually like they’re biased as fuck because they exist within this industry and culture that centers white supremacy and misogyny and a lot of fucked up shit, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t love the pomp and circumstances and like what people are wearing and like kind of being excited about who gets the award. Even though I know the awarding of it is fucked up. But so even if I appreciate it, obviously I’m still deeply cynical of it.
So, I remember that before the night of the ceremony, they were like the nominees are getting together to say that they were going to all wear black in solidarity for women’s empowerment in the industry. And I definitely did a really hard eyeroll. [laughs] Because I just think that like it’s just so Hollywood to be like, we’re gonna dress in all black to do this thing, and it’s like it’s very optics-driven and not actually action-driven.
DAHLIA: Yeah, action-driven.
AMY: Yeah. And then you know, maybe I was momentarily saved from having my eyeballs fall out of my head when I read about that they were starting a new organization or a movement called Time’s Up. So, if you watched the show that night, everyone had on these lapel pens that said time’s up as if to say the time of violence against women in the workplace is over. From the time’s up web page, it says that, “Time’s up addresses the systemic inequality and injustice in the workplace that have kept underrepresented groups from reaching their full potential.”
So, they’re doing this by partnering with activists and organizing with other groups. They’ve even set up a legal defense fund for people who call out harassment and need counsel. So, all night during the Golden Globes we saw women actors repeat “time’s up” over and over again to promote this cause. And of course, I am very cynical about this movement until I see concrete and material results. Of course, I wanna see something with this type of mission do what it does, but it feels really disingenuous. I think to talk about gender violence or harassment in this industry without kind of like directly addressing how intersectional identities affect the people in the industry and in the workplace in general or just in culture, especially in an industry and culture that highlights and centers and celebrates whiteness. So, like for example let’s look at all the fucking nominations! You know, just in the best motion picture nominations in drama and in music or comedy, all 10 of these films, but with the exception of one, are about white people. And the one that isn’t about white people is Get Out. And if you think about it though, Get Out is a largely white cast, right? And most of these are white folks doing things or whatever. But like Call Me By Your Name is one film that’s super white, but it centers a queer narrative. And then don’t even get me started about the best actor nominees for both male and female.
AMY: Right? In the best performance of an actors in a drama, all white women. Also true for best actress in a musical comedy. All white women. So, it’s like all these white women being celebrated for their work and talking about addressing sexual harassment or sexual violence in industry but without talking about what does that mean for non-white women or non-white people in general. And I don’t know. I just had so many feelings. I was like, great, you guys are starting this discussion. But one of the weird ways in which they tried to be more inclusive was by having a lot of these white women actors have dates that were women of color activists. But it had this like, some of the women of color activists that accompanied the white women actors were like Tarana Burke, who was the founder of the Me Too movement and hash tag. And like the MacArthur genius grant winner, Ai-jen Poo, who works for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, amongst others. But it also had this weird effect of making these women of color props, like tokens to be brought on a date with. Also true for best actress in a musical comedy. All white women. So, it’s like all these white women being celebrated for their work and talking about addressing sexual harassment or sexual violence in industry but without talking about what does that mean for non-white women or non-white people in general. On the red carpet, you know Tarana Burke was with Michelle Williams, and they would go onstage together and talk to Ryan Seacrest during the interviews. And I think Michelle Williams did a really conscientious job always throwing the topic back to what Tarana Burke’s work is. But in the end, it’s like they got just a few minutes on the red carpet. And I mean I think they were trying, but it just seemed so Hollywood-y.
AMY: You know, let’s trot out these women of color who do real, concrete work with real, concrete results for their communities for like a two-minute sound bite but not really talk about it in a more substantial way.
DAHLIA: Yeah. Well, what you said I feel like is totally right. You know, this project, Time’s Up, seems to have been largely organized by women in Hollywood. And of course, there are optics-driven. Of course, they think about what it looks like when they all wear black or what it looks like when they’re being interviewed, and they say like, “Well, I’m not the right person to answer that question, but Tarana Burke is. So, yeah, I think you’re totally right about that. So, it does seem like the red-carpet portion was like a really big part of their strategy. So, for instance Debra Messing, the star of Will and Grace, took the opportunity to call out E! their own network about how they don’t pay men and women the same.
[recorded clip from awards show, music playing in the background]
DEBRA MESSING: You know, time is up.
WOMAN 2: Time is up.
DEBRAMY: And we want diversity. We want intersectional gender parity. We want equal pay. And I mean you know, I was so shocked to hear that E! doesn’t believe in paying their female cohosts the same as their male cohosts. I mean I miss Catt Sadler. And so, we stand with her, and that’s something that can change tomorrow.
AMY: So, Catt Sadler, who was with the E! network for almost 12 years, ended up leaving because I think she was having contract negotiations, and she felt that she wasn’t being paid the same as her male equivalents, which is wild to think. I mean it’s not wild to think. But kudos for Debra Messing.
DAHLIA: Yeah, it was great.
AMY: Yeah, I’m surprised that while that was happening, E! didn’t cut her short.
DAHLIA: Well, the thing is, how could they, you know? She’s such a star, and for that reason, I totally hear the criticisms that you’re making. And I wanna be—you know I’m a Debbie Downer—but I wanna be optimistic about Time’s Up because I think that these largely white women are hopefully trying to use their privilege in a way to help people with not as much privilege, you know. Like Debra Messing knows that she’s a huge star, that they’re not gonna cut away from her while she’s smiling at the camera and saying like , “Oh, I love E! I’m so happy to be being interviewed by E!” So, I hear what you’re saying about optics, but also, I think that that’s the way that it’s most accessible for them to start this kind of project.
What I’m really curious and hopeful about is the legal fund portion of the Time’s Up campaign because that money will be available to anyone who lacks recourse, but— Sorry. That money will be available to anyone who lacks resources but wants to proceed in a trial case about sexual impropriety in the workplace.
DAHLIA: Oh, no. You’re giving me that face.
DAHLIA: And it says, “I’m not as optimistic as you are.”
AMY: No, I mean I think that…this is an industry of optics, like we keep saying, right? So, it’s like yes, the legal defense fund sounds like a great idea, but it remains to be seen how it’ll be doled out, like the administration of it. And in an industry of optics, they should be really more hyper-aware of how they’re presenting these things. We talk about Tarana Burke: There was a segment where she’s finally on that weird podium, and I think Ryan Seacrest is interviewing her. And within like five seconds of speaking, they do that thing where they like shrink her window—
DAHLIA: Oh, no.
AMY: —and make her into like a picture in picture box. You know what I’m saying? So, that the big picture is of some white women and her black gown, like showing off her dress. And even this is what we’re saying when we say that it can’t be done by individuals to an extent. There needs to be a serious overhaul of an industry. Because what happened in that moment was in the production control room, there is a director who directs these award shows and the red carpet shows who said like, “All right. Let’s minimize this box so we can see whomever showing off her black dress.” So, it can’t just be a thing we’re I guess the women are sort of like carrying the brunt of this.
DAHLIA: Yeah, yeah.
AMY: It needs to be something where everybody who has any semblance of power is willing to be thoughtful about what their power can do and to share that power. ‘Cause perhaps if it was a woman of color director doing the red-carpet show, they may have been less likely to say let’s cut away to somebody showing off her dress.
DAHLIA: That’s a really good point. And I think, Amy, it’s something that you really smartly point out often, which is that when we are engaging with media, it’s really easy to forget how many decisions and how many jobs go into whatever it is that you’re seeing. So, totally. If someone cuts away from Tarana Burke on the red carpet, there’s a cameraman who gets that cue. There’s a producer who gives that cue. There are a series of jobs and decisions that go into everything we see on a screen. And so of course, it will take more than some people being filmed in front of the camera. It’ll take more than that. It’s gonna take the people behind the camera and you know the layers that exist to create media.
AMY: And it was just weird to think that all, I mean…. It was not a night without problems, like a lot of problematic moments, right? But one of the things that I think really, I was just missing, and it was so glaring to me was that we are doing, we’re talking about this movement to create equity for women slash or parentheses white women, right, during a night where we’re celebrating whiteness. Let’s be clear about what we’re celebrating because Get Out didn’t win a single thing.
DAHLIA: Anything. I know.
AMY: Issa Rae, who was nominated, did not win. I mean I think that her performance Insecure in the second season was so good. And then there are just a dearth and a lack of any people of color being nominated for anything. So, yeah, we’re calling out the lack of equity for women—
AMY: —on a night where they literally needed to fly in women of color to be arm candy for white women.
AMY: And I think that like this— I mean, yes, Oprah Winfrey ended up winning the Cecil B. DeMille award, and she gave a rousing speech, which we’ll talk about a little bit more later. But it’s just one of those things where we can’t sort of put everything on one figurehead.
AMY: And I think that it just goes to highlight and show the disparity in which when we say we want equity for women, which women are we talking about?
DAHLIA: Well, to go back to my favorite movie of 2017, Get Out. So, Get Out was nominated for best musical or comedy—the Golden Globe categories are a little funky—and it was also nominated Daniel Kaluuya was nominated for Best Actor in a musical or comedy. First of all, Get Out is not a comedy. There are jokes in it, but also, it’s about murder and slavery and white supremacy. You know, it’s not a comedy. And it didn’t fucking win. It is— I can’t— I was flabbergasted because it is such an excellent film. Daniel Kaluuya’s performance is excellent.
AMY: So, good!
DAHLIA: And James fucking Franco won instead of Daniel Kaluuya. And so, I saw a bunch of people on Twitter. I expressed my rage on Twitter and I saw a lot of people who were tweeting back at me who were like, “Well, you know because I think Get Out wasn’t a comedy it’s okay that Daniel Kaluuya didn’t win for Best Actor in a comedy ‘cause it wasn’t a comedy.” I mean no! The thing is, his performance is excellent, and there’s no fucking way that he’s worse at anything than James Franco.
AMY: No. And this notion that oh, he didn’t win because it wasn’t a comedy is bullshit because this isn’t like the fucking DMV where you get scored on whether or not you made a right on red. You know what I’m saying? It’s like these rules can be bent and shifted. It’s like people are voting for this. People of The Hollywood Foreign Press, they’re voting for a performance, and they also understand how the game of like category manipulations work. Sometimes a lead actor will submit themselves as a supporting role actor so that they can win because they think—
DAHLIA: They might not win otherwise.
AMY: Yeah. Yeah. So, it’s bullshit. That’s a bullshit thing. And I think that it really goes to show how not just like non-white audiences or maybe even non-black audiences fail to understand the nuances in Daniel Kaluuya’s performance. The white terror that he experienced and the way he was able to express that is something that I feel like maybe a lot of folks have not seen on screen and can’t understand all the fucked-up nuances of him being able to go through that experience that he did in Get Out. And it’s just shameful. And then it’s like extra shameful that they gave it to fucking James Fuckface Franco. [laughs]
DAHLIA: I know.
AMY: For being a caricature of an actual person.
DAHLIA: Yeah, doing an impersonation of another person.
AMY: Yeah and also, it’s very Hollywood-y. ‘Cause it’s a film about Hollywood.
DAHLIA: Yeah, that’s true too. Oh, Hollywood loves movies about Hollywood.
AMY: Yeah, I mean that’s why I fucking La La Land did as well as it did last year.
AMY: And I mean I love Ansel Elgort when he was— Baby Driver was adorable, but the fuck? Baby Driver versus Daniel Kaluuya and Get Out? No, not even on the same plane! And they were being nominated in the same category. I think it just goes to show how these celebrations are bullshit.
AMY: And we can’t sort of rely on these celebrations to tell us of what actually is the “best.”
DAHLIA: Totally. There were only two wins that I think I was happy about. I called many of them, which I feel like I wanna pat myself on the back for my talent at calling things. I was actually really happy that The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel won best comedy. I had just re-watched a few episodes of that show the day the Golden Globes aired, and I am in love with that show. It’s delightful, and I feel like the acting is so on. There are lots of really, really long cuts where, continuous scenes where the actors are just like really there. So, I was really happy for that show to win because it’s my sleeper fave.
Also, I think Evette Dionne, our senior culture editor, and I did a video doing some predictions, and she said that she thought Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was going to win sort of as an indicator of the way the mood was in the Golden Globes, you know, like the mood is we’re taking sexual assault seriously so we’re voting for Three Billboards. Like you’re saying about so many of these nominees, Amy, Three Billboards is about white people; its stars are white people. Justin Timberlake? Ugh. [chuckles] Justin Timberlake went as a date of his wife Jessica Biel who was nominated, and he was wearing a little Time’s Up button. And he tweeted something like “time’s up.” And I’m like oh, really, Justin Timberlake? Time’s up? You just finished making a movie with Woody Allen.
AMY: It’s jarring to see their lack of self-awareness, you know? Not just as individuals but as an industry.
AMY: Yeah. Ugh!
DAHLIA: I was briefly Googling Justin Timberlake, and I learned that in 2013, he was sued by the anti-sexual assault foundation Take Back The Night because he had a song called Take Back the Night. And he said that he had never heard of Take Back The Night.
AMY: Wow, what a feminist.
DAHLIA: And Greta Gerwig’s film Lady Bird won a lot. I really liked Lady Bird. I loved Saoirse Ronan’s performance in it. And you know, Greta Gerwig has worked with Woody Allen. In fact, she was asked about that after the awards ceremony, and she gave a pretty terrible answer. But since then, she’s actually released a separate response in the New York Times. It’s in a piece titled Greta Gerwig, Aaron Sorkin: Hollywood Must Change. And it’s Greta Gerwig and Aaron Sorkin in conversation with Frank Bruni. And she said, “I would like to speak specifically to the Woody Allen question, which I have been asked about a couple of times recently, as I worked for him on a film that came out in 2012. It is something that I take very seriously and have been thinking deeply about, and it has taken me time to gather my thoughts and say what I mean to say. I can only speak for myself and what I’ve come to is this: If I had known then what I know now, I would not have acted in the film. I have not worked for him again, and I will not work for him again. Dylan Farrow’s two different pieces made me realize that I increased another woman’s pain, and I was heartbroken by that realization. I grew up on his movies, and they have informed me as an artist, and I cannot change that fact now, but I can make different decisions moving forward.
And Dylan Farrow has responded to that statement. She tweeted Greta, “Thank you for your voice. Thank you for your words. Please know they are deeply felt and appreciated.” So, I’m really glad that Greta Gerwig took a second to get her thoughts together and to say what she wanted to say about Woody Allen when she was ready to say it, which thankfully was like really soon after the Golden Globes.
And I also wanna talk about the choice to have Seth Meyers be the host of The Golden Globes. I think they read the room wrong when they were like, “Oh, the correct mood is Seth Meyers.” No! The correct mood was like Issa Rae or Tracee Ellis Ross or Ava DuVernay. Like, the correct mood was not Seth Meyers. And I think Seth Meyers knew that. I don’t know. It seemed like the show was running over the entire— You know, like all awards are always 20 minutes over. But it kinda seemed like he knew that he wasn’t the right person for the job. He did kind of a hell of a monologue slamming, making a lot of jokes at the expense of men who are sexual predators. And then he kind of fucked off for the whole show, and I never saw him again. I kind of think that he did a really good job hosting.
AMY: [laughs] He did a good job hosting because he was barely there!
DAHLIA: ‘Cause he was like, I know I’m not the right person to make some of these jokes. And he did this bit that he does on his own show where he has women writers finish jokes. And Amy Poehler finished a joke; Issa Rae finished a joke he made. I’m just gonna deliver his Woody Allen joke because I’ve written it down. He was talking about the film The Shape of Water, and he said, “When I first heard about a film in which a naive young woman falls in love with a disgusting sea monster, I thought oh man, not another Woody Allen movie.” Wah wah. I love that! You know I love that. [laughs]
And also, one more win that I actually was really excited for that I totally forgot, which was the best director, Guillermo del Toro. Guillermo del Torres has had a very long career that maybe people don’t know about. He’s been making films in Spanish before he was making films in English, and he had this exhibition in, I think, 2016 of the ephemera that he’s collected. I saw it in Los Angeles, and I’m just very inspired by artists and creators who immerse themselves in the things that they love and then make work about that and sort of don’t seem to care whether there’s an audience for it. And you know, Guillermo Del Toro’s work is just beautiful and dark, and I’m quite in love with his work. So, I was happy for that win, and I hope he’s also recognized during the Oscars.
AMY: Well, that win.
DAHLIA: Oh yeah!
DAHLIA: This is a good segue. This is a great segue.
AMY: Yes, it is the perfect time to talk about when they were presenting the category for it, it was Natalie Portman and Ron Howard. And well, but you know they do that thing; they do their stupid little banter.
AMY: And this is what Natalie Portman said before introducing the nominees.
RON HOWARDAHLIA: … to be here to present the award for best director. [audience cheers, claps]
NATALIE PORTMAN: And here are the all-male nominees. [audience groans]
AMY: I love this moment. [laughs]
AMY: OK so, I love this moment. And I was also annoyed by it.
AMY: If we’re talking about dualities, OK?
AMY: Because you know, at Bitch here, we talk often about how there is a lack of female directors, number one, getting employed. And then number two, winning awards. So, I went to look up a number of Golden Globe Best Director nominees from 1980 to 2018.
DAHLIA: Oh no.
AMY: And in this 38 years, there have only ever been six women nominated.
DAHLIA: Oh my god.
AMY: Yeah. And I think that the thing about this clip for me, ‘cause like yes, Natalie Portman said that. But I mean whatever. I’ll literally give her a gold star. That’s it. She doesn’t get like an extra award for saying something that’s been very obvious and that like a lot of cultural critics have talked about for literally decades. But I think what was most telling about this moment for me was the reactions of the nominees—
AMY: d—as the cameras panned on them.
AMY: I kind of feel bad for a year Guillermo Del Toro ‘cause he was the first one, and he kind of did that huh face, like sorry.
AMY: But all the other subsequent male nominees kind of also all had that face. And my thing was just like fuck your faces. Y you guys are all beneficiaries of misogyny, like systemic misogyny that have kept women out of these positions where they can direct films that they care and love about. And it’s just one of those moments where I think it goes on to be even more telling because none of the male nominees who ended up winning, when they went on stage to do their acceptance speeches, none of them brought up Time’s Up.
AMY: Not a single one of them. And this is a serious ,true movement. Yes, women are building it and putting it together, but if the men in the room and when in fact most of the people who are accused that have been coming out to say yes, I did this violence against women or people who are have no power, the vast majority of them are men. If we can’t get the buy-in from men to say like, “Our behavior is fucked up, then this won’t be working. So, that’s why it’s another critique of it, I think, not just of Time’s Up, but of how these movements work. It’s like we’re making the people who are in the role where they’re being oppressed having to do the heavy lifting when the people who have the power, the men in the room, are just kind of like blithely, very unaware seeming almost. The very least that they did, and the most that they did, was wear a lapel on their pin. I mean a pin on their lapels.
DAHLIA: I mean we’re talking about optics and symbolism. You’re totally right! Of course, there’s so much even in terms of optics and symbolism that men could have done. What about refusing to accept an award? That’s a thing that people have done before. What about saying that you’re donating your salary from a film to something? There are all kinds of maybe symbolic ways, but also like optically-jarring ways that men could have better been allies rather than right, just wearing this lapel pin.
AMY: No, and it was just one of those things where I think you kind of got the feeling that for some of these people in the room, men and women alike, that they were being put upon like, “You’re fucking ruining my award night with this bullshit about sexism,” you know? I kind of got that feeling. And there were even jokes about pay disparity. When the presenters came up, I think Laura Dern made one. I forget. Somebody else made another one. But it’s like you guys are joking about this, but this is a real reality not just in your industry but outside of your industry. But it’s just reflective. The thing about Hollywood, I think, is that like it doesn’t just reflect our culture in our everyday lives, but it influences it ,you know? And we’ve talked about this on the show before. So, it’s like this weird symbiotic relationship that I think that like the people in Hollywood aren’t taking responsibility for. Because if you think about the impetus for this movement, is because this one very powerful man got called out because a lot of people came forward. But even before all these people came forward, everybody in that fucking room knew what a slime ball monster fucking chicks sexual predator this guy was. But nobody was willing or able to do anything about it.
I don’t blame the victims of his sexual harassment and violence for being unable to come out. But there are people in that room that are as powerful, or if not more powerful, than Harvey Weinstein that didn’t do anything about it, right? They could have banded together and done something. So, that’s why I think in the end for me, it just feels so disingenuous to be like, “We’re gonna get together in this room and talk about to end this and say time’s up.” But y’all were incubating this for so fucking long, so long that there are pictures of Harvey Weinstein with every one of you looking super happy on other awards nights.
And it’s just like… it’s just kind of a mind fuck, you know. And I think that it can’t be an ahistorical moment without reflecting on how did we arrive here.
DAHLIA: Also, in a way that it’s an ahistoric moment is that I’ve seen a lot of articles going around this past week saying like, “Well, did you know that Gary Oldman has assault allegations against him? What about Kirk Douglas? What about all of these men?”
AMY: James Franco.
DAHLIA: What about James Franco? What about all of these men who are in the room, wearing the little lapel buttons, doing their lip service and acting like they’re down with the movement, they’re down with the cause, but like no sweat off their back. They just picked up a button while they were getting on the red carpet.
AMY: Exactly! And I think maybe that’s one of the reasons why none of them said anything during their fucking speeches, ‘cause in a way, if you say something, then the spotlight will land harsher on you if you’re calling this industry out when you have this history of maybe having had harassed people in the past.
AMY: So, I can see now while obviously James Franco wouldn’t say anything ‘cause he doesn’t care of about anybody but himself and his stupid eye wrinkles.
AMY: I hate him so much!!! And to do that, then you would be like you would have the spotlight more because he may have been the only man to say something, and then it comes out that you have a dozens of accusers. So, yeah, it was a hard thing to watch and reflect on, I think.
But I mean it might in and of itself wasn’t without hope because Oprah Winfrey won the Cecil B. DeMille Award and gave a really touching and moving speech that a lot of people were talking about the next day, to the point where everybody’s like, “She needs to run for office.” I don’t know. Actually, that is not the answer. I think that as a culture, we need to get over the cult of personality. I mean we have somebody who’s in office now who does not have experience, and it isn’t going that well.
AMY: We all love, praise, and adore Oprah, but it doesn’t mean that she needs to run for office and also sacrifice herself for doing that.
DAHLIA: Oprah’s speech was beautiful. I was on the verge of tears. But I feel like there is this wild thing going on in the cult of celebrity where ,if a person who is famous demonstrates their humanity, demonstrates that they are a caring, sincere, honest person, everyone’s like, “WOW! You should lead us all!” [chuckles] Don’t put that on Oprah. She’s a busy lady. She’s had a hard life. She’s worked hard. She doesn’t want or need the hardest job in the country. And she’s not around to save us from this horrible twilight zone that we live in.
Just it’s wild to me that it’s just like all it takes is a woman, a black woman, to say, to demonstrate the kind of humanity that is inside all of us, but like you know, we’re not on stage, that it’s just like…. I mean of course, she’s 100 million times better than Trump, but that’s not the answer!
AMY: No, it’s not the answer.
D. It’s not gonna save us.
AMY: No. Leave Oprah and her dogs alone.
DAHLIA: Leave Oprah alone!
AMY: Yeah, she needs to go hang out with her dogs and just chill with her millions of amazing eyeglasses.
DAHLIA: That’s true.
AMY: Have you noticed, though? She has so many good eyeglasses. Go through her Instagram. It’s really fun.
DAHLIA: You’re right. You’re right.
AMY: [laughs] But I think that this goes to show how there’s this weird tidal wave of obsession about having not just women, but black women save us because black women were the one contingent that voted heavily not in Trump’s lane.
AMY: And then we were talking about Roy Moore earlier. Black women overwhelmingly voted for Doug Jones. This notion of having a black woman savior and making them do unduly labor on behalf of us, they’re not here to save anybody. They’re here to live their own lives, and this idea that we need to put this onus on Oprah of all people to do this is ridiculous. She didn’t build Trump. She didn’t elect Trump. It’s not her responsibility to clean up this mess that he’s created and will be leaving. And I think that I get it . It’s cute to be like Oprah-Michelle 2020. I get that that’s adorable and fun.
DAHLIA: That’s a shirt though.
AMY: Yeah, right. Exactly. I wear all kinds of weird shirts, but it doesn’t mean that it needs to come to fruition. And it’s also it’s shortsighted, and I think about this point that I’ve also heard been made about Oprah’s speech at the Golden Globes is that her speech was kind of saying like we all have the power within us to do something.
DAHLIA: Right. Yes.
AMY: Like you guys have individual power that can come together to build a movement. But instead of literally hearing the words in her speech, we were hearing, no you have the power!
DAHLIA: It’s you!
AMY: You make this happen. It’s like I think at the end the day, this is kind of goes to show that I think as a culture, as a culture of people, we’re just lazy. I don’t know what else it is. It’s like we’re waiting for somebody to save it. But it’s like no, we need to save our own fucking selves. We, I mean obviously, not you and I or like Ashley in the room, our producer, we didn’t vote for Trump, but in a way, we live in a culture and climate that let him get voted in. So, the fuck? We need to do this work on our own. We can’t rely on somebody else, somebody who’s from a very marginalized community to do this work for us. It’s ridiculous. It’s cute for like 3 seconds, but you guys have to let it go.
AMY: You know?
DAHLIA: We have this actually really fantastic piece about this very subject. It was in our Devotion issue of Bitch Magazine, but it’s up on BitchMedia.org. It’s called We Are Not Yours: Black Women Are Supreme But Not Superhuman. It’s by Jordan MacDonald, and it exactly tackles this issue that black women are not here to save liberals or progressives from the work that they have to do themselves in this democracy.
AMY: Yeah, and the job sucks.
AMY: Being a president is so hard.
DAHLIA: Trump hates it.
AMY: [chuckles] Trump hates it so much that he only works three hours a day. Isn’t that in the fucking book?
DAHLIA: Well, I think, I don’t know where that came out. But yes, the new thing about Trump is that he has so-called executive time, which is like something, it’s gross. It’s like 6 hours a day of tweeting time.
AMY: And it’s not a easy job; it’s hard. You’re literally giving commands to kill people, right, in other in other countries or even in your own. It’s a job of governance that I do not envy, nor would I ever want. But this notion that we want this one person who made a really great speech about ending sexual violence, sexual assault, it’s unfair to Oprah. And I think it makes it so that we have no responsibility.
AMY: ‘Cause then we’re putting the responsibility—
DAHLIA: Oprah will save us.
AMY: Yeah. We’re putting the responsibility and the labor on somebody else. And often, I think in our circles, it’s a black woman.
AMY: And that’s not fair, and we need to be smarter about how we talk about celebrities, how we talk about who we want to “lead us,” and also talk about our own individual responsibilities and how we can use our own voices to create our own movements. That isn’t Time’s Up, I’m sorry to say.
DAHLIA: So, one more thing about this Oprah speech. It is petty, but oh my god, it’s so funny. So, one day after the Golden Globes, Ivanka Trump tweeted. She tweeted, “Just saw—” Here, I’m gonna try and do her voice. “Just saw @Oprah’s empowering and inspiring speech at last night’s #GoldenGlobes. Let’s all come together women and men and say #timesup, #united.” Ivanka!
AMY: FUCK HER! OH MY GOD!
DAHLIA: Who are you kidding?! Ivanka!
AMY: Can you go into your dad’s bedroom with those three motherfucking TVs screens and be like, “Time’s up, motherfucker, get out?”
DAHLIA: [laughs] Rise up!
AMY: Are you serious? Like, the irony in her tweeting that, and her complete lack of self-awareness in her tweeting that is out of control.
DAHLIA: It’s bizarre. It’s like, it’s, well, its…. Amy and I are both slamming our foreheads with our hands because it’s so inconceivable. Ivanka! What are you thinking? I don’t know.
AMY: She’s not. I guess she’s just not.
DAHLIA: Time’s up. It’s about your dad.
DAHLIA: It’s literally about your dad. Oprah’s speech was literally about your dad.
AMY: It’s inconceivable!!!
AMY: I mean, that she’s… so unthinking that she would think like, we would think her praise of Oprah is something that we needed, number one, right? And number two, to not connect that with your own fucking father who everybody’s talking about when we talk about sexual assault in the workplace.
DAHLIA: I guess she wants to be like, “Look, guys. I’m not a monster. I like Oprah just like you do.” [laughs]
AMY: I am— No. [laughs]
DAHLIA: No, Ivanka. You are. You’re a monster.
AMY: Yeah. You’re a monster. You’re a child of a monster, and your children are monsters. I went there.
DAHLIA: Jarvanka’s children are monsters.
AMY: I mean, I know they’re kids, but still, I’m so angry! I don’t know where else to put it. [laughs]
[cutesy bells ring]
AMY: All right. We took a break—
DAHLIA: To rage.
AMY: To rage a little bit.
DAHLIA: We’re rage cheerleaders.
DAHLIA: We encourage you to rage. We were raging.
AMY: So, at the end of each show, we talk about one thing we’re reading, watching, and listening to. And I wanna kick off the segment by talking about a novel I read over break. It is Helen Helen Oyeyemi’s Boy, Snow, Bird.
AMY: Have you read it?
DAHLIA: Amy, I am obsessed with Helen Oyeyemi.
AMY: Yes, this is my first Helen Oyeyemi book.
AMY: I wanted to read her short story collection, but I was just like, no, I really wanna get into a world of a novel, so I chose Boy, Snow, Bird, and it was so good it. I did not regret my decision.
DAHLIA: She’s so good.
AMY: Yeah. So, it’s kind of like a novel fable vibes about a woman named Boy who escapes her abusive household and how she goes on to make a life of her own. It’s got like fantastical elements to it, and it kind of tells the story of a woman and girls in a way that I’ve never read before. There’s also an examining of what it means to be a white-passing black person in a Jim Crow world. It is such like, it’s one of those books where you read it, and then you put it down and go do a random errand, and you think about the characters in the book. I don’t know how else to explain it. That’s what it did to me, and it made me really excited to actually read more of her work. I think that she has such an interesting and unique voice and perspective, and the characters that she creates are people that we know but also people that we want to know.
DAHLIA: I think she’s gonna win a MacArthur Genius Award. Like that’s how smart I think she is.
My recommendation to you and also to our listeners is, my favorite of her books is called White is for Witching. And you know I cannot pass up, like that title.
DAHLIA: Anyway. Oh, her writing is incredible. It’s haunting and vibrant and almost a little bit like magical realistic. She’s an amazing writer.
AMY: And I think that she also kind of breaks and rebuild what we think of a traditional narrative should be like, you know? It isn’t like how we think of how storytelling should be with like a three-arc play kind of thing. I’m not gonna say about this novel, but this novel doesn’t do that. And I really appreciate that because I think that as a person who’s writing fiction pieces, I’m always trying to challenge myself. Because you know what I realized since being in school, my MFA, is that like I’m actually kind of a myopic reader sometimes. I think that characters should only behave in a certain way that’s set out by how the character’s drawn. But while realizing that, wait a second. As human beings, like you and I in our day to day lives, we make irrational decisions every day. I make irrational decisions like every five minutes. You know what I mean?
AMY: I think I want to— I’m opening myself to reading more works where characters are irrational because we’re irrational. And it helps me to think about how I behave and how other people behave and what it means for us as a culture at large. And so, I loved her work, and I’m so excited to read more of it.
So, the book I read was Boy, Snow, Bird, but apparently—
DAHLIA: White is for Witching is also so good.
AMY: And I’ve also heard amazing things about her short story collection, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours.
DAHLIA: Actually, Amy and I usually keep our picks secret from each other, and I really feel like my pick goes really well with your pick, my watch pick. So, you were talking about how Helen Oyeyemi’s narratives are so unconventional and detached from the three-act structure. And my watch pick is the short series Wormwood on Netflix. It is a documentary, but it’s I don’t know. I wouldn’t quite call it a documentary because there’s also acting in it. It is directed by Errol Morris, who is one of the most famous documentary filmmakers. His 1988 documentary The Thin Blue Line kind of like created the crime documentary genre as we know it. And his 2003 documentary The Fog of War won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. So, Errol Morris knows a thing or two about complicated storylines. And Wormwood is about a man named Frank Olson, a real man named Frank Olson, who was a scientist who worked at the CIA, who in 1953 died. And his family was told he either fell or was pushed out of a window. A 10th-story window.
AMY: [gasps] Oh! Can’t wait to watch this!
DAHLIA: And so, the family doesn’t know very much about what the father did. But the story starts in 1953 and then continues on. The family finds out in the ‘70s that Frank Olson had been involved in some CIA projects related to LSD and that he had been dosed with LSD without his knowledge nine days before he died. And so, there are sort of two worlds of this documentary. There is interviews with Frank Olson’s son, Eric Olson. There’s also interviews with related CIA people and journalists. And then there’s also a fictional re-enactment of the storyline starring Peter Sarsgaard as Frank Olson. And of course, I don’t wanna give too much away. I loved it, but one of the things I’m obsessed with— I think I’m gonna watch it again—is the ways in which, as you learn more about what actually happened to Frank Olson, you again and again re-read the fictional scenes that you’ve seen in a new way. So, you can have one interpretation of what you see in those fictional scenes, and then three episodes later, you’re like, “Oh, he was on LSD.” And it forces you to reinterpret again and again until you arrive at a totally, really different interpretation at the end of what happened, how he died. It’s chilling. I’m not even kidding: I’m getting goosebumps right now just talking about it. But I’m so fascinated right now. I’ve been thinking a lot about the way that documentary sort of undermine themselves or form like onion layers of truths. I could not recommend this documentary more highly. It’s I think a five- or six-part series on Netflix, but it is so good.
AMY: I think that this is like a new-ish sort of style and way in which to tell documentary filmmaking, which I’m really appreciating.
DAHLIA: Me too, yeah.
AMY: Because I think it’s having us question what truth is, and I think we need to question what truth is. I think that for too long, we often think like, oh, this was published in the New York Times, or this was a documentary film that looks great, and it’s been cut into 90 minutes, so it must be true. But as human beings, when we’re talking about the fiction pieces, that like truth can mean different things for different people sometimes.
DAHLIA: And something that Wormwood sort of plays with is truth means different things at different times.
AMY: Mm. I cannot wait!
AMY: This is so good. Wow, this is my favorite recommendation segment so far.
DAHLIA: Yeah, we’re on a roll.
AMY: Yes! And to close out this show, I wanted to recommend this artist. Her name is Cupcakke two Ks. She’s a hip-hop artist, and her latest track Crayons is a super LGBTQ-pozzi fun song. She has super fun rhymes and lines, and I can’t stop listening to this track. Her name is Cupcakke, and the track is called Crayons. Thanks for listening!
DAHLIA: Thanks for listening.
♪ Man got a man, that’s what’s up (that’s what’s up)
Love is love, who give a fuck? (give a fuck)
Girl on girl, they like “yup”
But when it’s man on man they like “yuck”
Motherfuckers need be gone with that shit
Bitch, we ain’t playing along, ain’t no skits
Drag shows be so bomb and so lit
Throwin’ wigs in the air, ping-ponging that shit (catch it)
Lesbian gon’ head and eat it
Get the dildo and Michael Jackson - Beat It
Get that pussy upset, get it heated
I might try since my middle name Eden
Gay guy brave takin’ anal
When it cum that’s a volcano
Tell her that the dick gives you lingo
Then curve that bitch like a rainbow
Boy on boy, girl on girl
Boy on boy, girl on girl
Boy on boy, girl on girl
Like who the fuck you, like fuck the world
Boy on boy, girl on girl
Boy on boy, girl on girl
Boy on boy, girl on girl
Like who the fuck you, like fuck the world…. ♪
DAHLIA: Thanks for listening to Backtalk. This show is produced by Ashley Duchemin. Bitch Media is a reader- and listener-supported feminist non-profit. If you wanna support the show and our work, please head over to BitchMedia.org and donate.
♪ It’s all about the taste the rainbow with colours
The gays gon’ serve you life like a butler
Bitches need to take notes in they binders
His dick might be Tinder but he post it on Grindr
She lookin’ like a whole pack o’ crayons
Rainbow colours, that’s the gay bar
That’s when I noticed she was bi, said “Hi”
‘Cause she tried to pull me and my guy
Ain’t no confusion, everybody human ♪