Backtalk: The Power of the People

This week, Dahlia and Amy dig into the mass protest movements across the globe. From Puerto Rico to Portland, Oregon, people are showing up to have their voices heard en masse, demonstrating that the power of people to bring down oppressive systems is inspiring and necessary. 


HBO’s Years and Years is a near-future dystopia centered on the Lyons, a British family, and how they deal with life in extraordinarily fucked up times.


The New York Time’s 1619 Project is a reframing of American history, centering on the first enslaved Africans and the effects of slavery that can still be felt to this day. The project is a reminder that history isn’t static and can only benefit from more perspectives. 


The Argentinian rapper Cazzu described her musical persona as a superhero. Listen to her on “Mucha Data.”


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[theme music plays]
AMY: Hi! Welcome to Backtalk, the feminist response to pop culture podcast. I’m Amy Lam.
DAHLIA: I’m Dahlia Balcazar.
AMY: And we start each episode by talking about our favorite pop culture moment. What’s yours, Dahlia?
DAHLIA: I have been waiting all summer for one of my favorite shows, Succession, to come back. Over at Vulture, there is a montage of all of the meanest insults from Season 1 that I highly recommend. But this moment from Season 1 of Succession, you don’t even really need any context. It is, like I cannot stop listening to it. It’s so funny.
[recorded clip plays]
MAN 1: I’m driving my grandpa down for Thanksgiving.
MAN 2: All right. Fuck your grandpa.
MAN 1: Okay. You’re on, you’re on speaker phone, Tom….
MAN 2: Well I shouldn’t be, Greg.
DAHLIA: Succession is a show that I did not expect to like. It is about a family that’s sort of based on the Murdoch family. They have something like a Fox/Disney big enterprise, and it’s about sort of shifting power dynamics between the siblings and their father and who is gonna own all the company in the end. It is very much about capitalism but so funny! And it just took me off guard with how funny it is. It’s almost as if the level of funniness is almost as if some of it was improv. But I’m sure it’s all scripted ’cause it’s so excellent.
Before we started taping, Amy was saying that the sense of humor is kind of like Veep, which they’re both on HBO. So, I think that’s a fair comparison. Maybe Veep is slightly dirtier-funnier, but Succession is so funny. And I’m so glad to have it back in my life.
AMY: I just think that it’s so funny, but the aesthetics of the show is very like drama-ish.
AMY: So, when you first watch it, you’re kind of confused. You’re like, okay, this is a drama. But everybody’s like cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. [Laughs.]
AMY: So, you’re, yeah, you’re just kinda, it’s just kind of confusing. But once I think you get into it, it’s enjoyable. But I was also telling Dahlia that like I kinda have a little bit of a hard time watching it because one of the characters reminds me of a former boss I had. [Laughs.] So, a former boss who I did not particularly like, so it took me want moment to get over it.
DAHLIA: [Laughs.]
AMY: It’s so bizarre how weird personal things like that can really get in the way, like become an obstacle to enjoy a piece of media sometimes.
DAHLIA: Totally.
AMY: So, my favorite pop culture moment is about a man named Jose Bello who is from southern California, Bakersfield, California. Recently, he was detained by ICE after he read a poem at a Kern County Board meeting in May. So, he was detained for, I think, about almost 90 days. And in the poem, it’s called “Dear America,” and it talks about demanding respect and dignity and for all the people who are being detained by ICE. And so, he’s being detained, and he has no money for bail. And there is like a nice part to the story. I know that ICE detainment is just very heartbreaking right now. And the nice part of the story is that there are two NFL players named Josh Norman and Demario Davis who are part of a player coalition that seeks social justice and racial equity. They put up the bail for a few thousand dollars bail to help Jose Bello get out of ICE detention. And I just, it was just like a heartwarming story to hear in a time of so much heartbreak when it comes to ICE detention. And I think that it really does kind of show how, in a way, we just all need each other at this time.
And also, I wanna talk about this piece in particular because we’re not hearing that much about it. You know, this happened last week, and I had barely heard anything about it. I just recently saw a tweet about it, and I was like, wow, how come I didn’t hear about this? This is like the sort of coming together of so many things I love like activists, athletes, and helping somebody out when they’re being detained by ICE. And just this notion of people working together to help one another in this almost sort of draconian time. So, that is my favorite pop culture moment.
[cutesy bells ring]
And I wanna take this time to thank folks who are rating and reviewing us on iTunes. Once again, I read them all because I love notes that tell us that we’re doing a good job. [Laughs.] And one of the reviews that I wanted to read is called, the subject heading was, “Like having two woke best friends.” Thank you so much! The review says, “I’m a U.S. emigrant, and sometimes I’m out of the loop on things happening in my home country. But every time I see a new episode of Backtalk pop up, I play it immediately because I know they’ll let me in on something I’ve missed. The podcast is light and friendly but doesn’t pull punches. It’s exactly what you need if you’re the type that gets overwhelmed by the dour tone of the news.” Thank you so much.
And I think we’ve said this before how one of our goals is to sort of let you know what’s going on, but in a way that feels like you’re talking with friends. Because the conversation between Dahlia and I, because we are friends off of the show, it is in a way like the two of us processing what’s happening in the news and current events and pop culture. And we’re just grateful that we get to share with you guys, and then you all are able to listen in. So, I just wanna take this time again to thank folks who are rating and reviewing us, and if you haven’t done so yet, please head over to iTunes to take a moment to do it. It really means a lot to us. It helps us to boost visibility and to get more listeners.
DAHLIA: And we wanted to give a shout out to our sister podcast Popaganda. Popaganda is a deep dive into larger feminist pop culture stories. And the newest episode of Popaganda is about burnout and what a feminist treatment of burnout looks like and how we have to keep going even though we are burned out. You used to be able to listen to Popaganda on the same feed as Backtalk, but that’s no longer the case. But if you just search Popaganda wherever you listen to your podcasts, there it will be.
[cutesy bells ring]
In our main segment, we wanted to talk about the protests that have been going on this summer. It’s really easy to feel like a lot of the attention so far, politically, this summer has been focused on the 2020 presidential election, with good reason because Trump is already or maybe still spending huge amounts of taxpayer money on his rallies. But in other parts of the world though, this summer has held huge, dynamic shifting protests. In Puerto Rico, Governor Ricardo Roselló resigned after a week of protests kicked off by the discovery of leaked group chats that showed the governor engaged in crude and criminal behavior. In Hong Kong right now, protesters are headed into their 12 week of mass demonstrations as they fight for greater democracy and demanding investigations of police brutality. Over the past few months, these demonstrations in Hong Kong have taken the form of millions marching through the streets, and a group of protesters stormed government headquarters and shut down the city’s international airport for two days. In Mexico City, hundreds have been gathering to protest police violence and demand punishment for police officers accused of raping minors. Something that I have noticed in a lot of online conversations about these marches and protests just over the past few months, I’ve read a lot of people saying things like, “This kind of energy is what we need to get rid of Trump. This is what we should be doing.” And it’s been making me think about not just the goals but also the audience for protests and demonstrations.
Over the weekend in Portland, the Proud Boys, which are a white supremacist, fascist group that has been classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, held a rally where they were hugely outnumbered by about 1,000 counter protesters. The morning of the rally, Trump had tweeted this lie: “Major consideration is being given to naming Antifa an organization of terror.”
DAHLIA: “Portland is being watched very closely. Hopefully the mayor will be able to properly do his job,” which is of course saying, Trump is saying, “I’m gonna be watching.” So, counterprotesters showed up in huge numbers including in costumes. There was even a banana brass band. And Pop Mob, which was a coalition of leftist groups that organized the counter protest said that, “The costumes were a tactic, in part, meant to disrupt the ‘toxic masculinity riot porn’ that the Proud Boys produce after these rallies for propaganda purposes.” So, taking video of the rallies and then using them on their own channels. So, political change of course, does come from people mobilizing in the streets. But I think in these cases, it’s really interesting to consider the specific audiences for the actions and how these tactics change based on what these demonstrations are trying to accomplish and who’s watching.
AMY: Yeah. And I mean the reason why Dahlia and I wanted to talk about this is because I think it’s fair to say that we felt very disheartened about the news recently. And I mean not just recently but this continuous bombardment of just very bad, sad news. No other way of saying it. And I think we do need these beacons of hope moments where we can see that mass movements and people power where people are showing up to voice their dissent against oppressive tactics or oppressive governments. And in these instances that Dahlia had mentioned, this is such a huge grassroot mobilization of folks coming out and showing up and telling people, not just telling their own governments or telling their own local governments, but like telling the world, “We will not stand for this.”
And I think that to talk about what happened with the Proud Boys in Portland, Oregon, in the weeks leading up to it, I think there was a lot of tension being felt by folks who live in this city and especially, by folks who are marginalized, like from marginalized communities like Black and brown folks who just felt like, well, what’s gonna happen to Portland, Oregon, when this Proud Boy rally happens?” And this isn’t the first time that white nationalists have decided to come to Portland to use it as a stage to shout their rhetoric. And like the Pop Mob group was saying, they come here because they know that there are a lot of anti-fascist groups here and some of them who will not stand for their violence and will fight back. And I think that the Pop Mob tactic to make a spectacle, and in terms of making it absurd, making their stance feel absurd by showing up, like you’re saying, in banana costumes playing trombones and playing a brass band. There were these local houses that do ball dancing, and I guess they call themselves Portland Kiki Houses, like the House of Ada and the House of Flora who showed up and were just voguing. And there were other groups like the Portland DSA showed up, and they were dressed in bright red with face paint.
And they made, I think they made it so that it didn’t feel tension in terms of violence but it helped to diffuse it by showing the Proud Boys that like, you guys can come into the city, but we will not stoop to your level and engage with you in the way that you want to engage with us. So, we’re gonna show up and show you that this is a city where we are absurd, and we’re quote-unquote weird. And we’re going to diffuse this by being silly. And I think that that’s one tactic that completely worked, ‘cause like you said, the situation got diffused. And I think in a way, even then there were like very small, isolated incidences where there were a little bit of violence, but I think that in general, it just diffused the situation to the point where the Proud Boys didn’t know what to do!
In an official OPB—which is the Oregon Public Broadcasting—article, it says that, they just kinda stood around, and then decided okay, we’re just gonna go to Vancouver in Washington to go to a barbecue ‘cause they didn’t know what else to do since nobody was sort of egging them on, asking for violent interactions in a way. And I think that that was an interesting thing to see and an interesting tactic to use as compared to what happened over the weekend in Hong Kong where there’s an estimated like 1.7 million people showed up. In a population of 7 million people that’s a lot. I think it was estimated that like one in four or one in five Hong Kongers showed up, and they had a very peaceful rally where they all showed up. And it was like rainy weather, and they all had their umbrellas out. And so, you see these aerial shots of their protests where there’s literal millions of people in the streets just showing up to say, we will not stand for this. And I think that those are really heartening images for us to take in and to know that we can also show up to tell this administration that we will not stand for all of the fucked up shit that they’re doing.
DAHLIA: Amy, you’re bringing up a really interesting point about optics, I think. Like you said, this is not the first time that the Proud Boys have had a rally in Portland. In fact, I had been to this exact event last summer. And there were a large number of counterprotesters, but it was a very different atmosphere because people were expecting violence. It was very tense and very scary. And I think that the Proud Boys were accomplishing a lot of what they wanted, which is for people to feel afraid and threatened. And in this case this year, the rally was very much diffused because so many people were detracting attention away from the Proud Boys to the banana bands and to all the other humorous things that were happening. No one was paying attention to the rally itself. And in fact, the Proud Boys ended up deciding that they wanted to cross a bridge. After about 30 minutes of the rally, they decided, they got a police escort across the bridge, and like you said Amy, they went to Vancouver.
AMY: I mean it was kind of funny to hear that they just kind of decided to move on because they didn’t know what else to do. And I think that other murmurings that I had heard about the local rally was about people being inconvenienced ‘cause there were a lot of warnings to not go to downtown on Saturday when the rally was happening. And I think that that’s another thing that, another reason why it’s important to talk about the need for this type of mass movements where parts of the city will get shut down. I think like in Hong Kong, a lot of what’s happening there makes it so that a lot of infrastructure or a lot of businesses cannot stay open because these protests need to happen. And I think we need to think about what does it mean to be inconvenienced versus being systemically oppressed?
I think about how you had mentioned the Hong Kong protesters shut down their airport for two days. And there was this moment where the New York Times tweeted that they were asking for stories from people who were inconvenienced by the airport shut down. And they were soundly mocked for asking this.
DAHLIA: [Laughs.]
AMY: And for trying to make a news story about people who were inconvenienced. And you a lot of folks replied by saying, you know, one of the famous sort of remarks about what happened with the Montgomery bus strike was like, you can’t cover the Montgomery bus strike during the Civil Rights Movement as a transit issue. It isn’t about whether or not the buses are running; it’s about why people are boycotting the buses or keeping them from running. And it was a Civil Rights issue. So, I think that there needs to be a baseline understanding of how we cover these events and how people who are affected by it understand these events. You know, there were some viral videos that happened out of the Hong Kong airport where you see white tourists who were stuck in the airport, and they seemed so— Yes, and I understand. I’m empathetic to the fact that they’re very exhausted. They just wanna return home or to get to wherever they need, but they’re stranded in the airport. But I think that if anything that we’ve seen about the Hong Kong protesters is that they are exceedingly polite!
BOTH: [Chuckle.]
AMY: Unless they’re up against like the police officers who are arms of the state essentially, who use very violent tactics against them. But for bystanders, they are exceedingly polite, and they ask these tourists for forgiveness. They’re saying, “We’re very sorry that we had shut down the airport, but we are demanding a democratic freedom here. I’m sorry you can’t get into your own bed for a couple days and that your flight is delayed, but this is way more important.” And I think that that’s a real statement to how movements like this mean that we have to be uncomfortable and that we have to make sacrifices. You know, these Hong Kong protesters, a lot of them are very young. And they’ve not only been protesting this summer for months, but there was the umbrella protest from a few years ago. And they’re often being charged by young people who have the energy, but they are putting their bodies on the line to show up and to do this. And so, they’re sacrificing some parts of themselves.
When we think about the protesters in Portland, the counterprotesters who were making a spectacle of the event, I think that it’d be naive to think that that they showed up without part of them thinking that perhaps they might have to endure something very awful. So, I think that like when there are instances like this and we see this in the news and we think about perhaps, well, how will I be inconvenienced by this protest, I think we need to shift our thinking to say, what are they fighting for? And if it’s something that I also believe in, how can I support them if I cannot show up? Or if I do wanna show up, how can I protect myself? But the part is that we show up in some way to show these powers that be, these systems that are working every day to fuck us up that we will not stand for it, and that we will be there to show them that we won’t stand for it.
DAHLIA: And I think there’s a real shift in sort of imagining what a protest can do and in you’re saying, Amy. It’s like some form of protest is just people taking to the streets with signs—I’m thinking about the Women’s March—gathering and speaking and sort of showing collective strength. But then there’s another kind of protest that specifically seeks to disrupt a system like shutting down the airport. Or like in Puerto Rico, there were so many people out in the streets that major, major cities, I think highways were shut down. And I think obviously, it is much easier to create discomfort within a system, like maybe say, not disrupting normal traffic patterns, but still having a protest on the side of the street or something like that. But I think that we live in a world where money talks so loudly that capitalist disruption has to occur for many influential people to care or even notice, you know.
AMY: Yeah, and I’m reminded of a time when there were a lot of Black Lives Matter protests happening around the country. And thinking of times when it was happening, I think like in Oakland or even in Portland, when protesters got onto the freeway and just stopped traffic in Oakland, some really big freeway where people were coming home from work. And it happened in Portland as well. And I remember people being very upset. They were like, “I just wanna get home from work, and you’re fucking up my commute. And now I’m sitting in traffic. This is not the way to engender support for your movement.”
DAHLIA: Mmhmm.
AMY: And I think that that does kind of speak to this notion that like it does have to do with systems of capitalism, where people are like, “I’m late for work or I’m coming home from work. I need to rest so I can go to work tomorrow and earn money so I could pay rent. I’m too exhausted to endure your oppression,” you know. And I think that that’s the system of capitalism. It’s made to wear us down so that we don’t have the energy to fight for larger issues. I think also in those instances, especially because it was a Black Lives Matter protest, is that I think it also goes to show what people’s real sort of support means or where it really goes to. I understand being very tired after a long day at work and sitting in traffic and not wanting to sit in traffic one minute longer and then realizing that like, wow, I’m in this two-hour traffic jam because some protesters have taken to the streets and have blocked the road. It doesn’t feel good. But I think that this notion where you are prioritizing your own time over the time of a movement that’s trying to highlight police brutality against Black folks, I think that that can really go to show one’s true colors. So, I think that like on a micro level, that’s how we can think about how we can sort of reassess our own feelings about these types of protests. But like you’re saying, on a more macro level in terms of systems, I think that that large type of disruption where it’s costing businesses money or it’s costing infrastructure issues, it’s a way of shaking things up and of waking up these giants that wouldn’t listen to people’s voices ‘cause they don’t think that a singular voice means anything. So, you have to show up en masse in order to be heard.
And it’s so true that it really does take so many people shouting in order for these gigantic systems to sort of even shudder a little bit. And to put pressure on them so that perhaps these gigantic corporations could then put pressures on governments to like, can you please improve these systems? Can you please improve your policies so that it’s not disrupting my cash flow anymore? Which is such a fucked up, shitty thing to think about, but it is so true. And it is another way of getting your voice heard.
DAHLIA: A lot of these protests that have occurred this summer are historic. The protests that brought out brought down the governor of Puerto Rico, that was the largest protest in Puerto Rican history. These Hong Kong protests, we’ve never seen anything like this. And it’s, I think, a really exciting time to see how people are mobilizing and demonstrating differently. And we’re seeing that there are people willing to do these massive disruptions to stop airline travel or to shut down major streets. And like you’re saying, Amy, it does feel like a shitty situation to have to say like, well, if we put this in place and this in place, then maybe corporations are going to listen. But I think that we have every reason to be hopeful that people are listening. These protests that are happening all over the world of course, not just the summer, but that are sort of gaining momentum in the past few weeks, it’s the kind of thing that we’ve never seen before. And these kinds of disruptions, I think, have the possibility to be really meaningful, historically meaningful, as they were in Puerto Rico.
AMY: And I am just, I don’t know, I’m just sitting here refreshing my Twitter feed or like these other groups that I belong to see when there will be an organizing for a huge protest to talk about the inhumane things that are happening at ICE detention centers, to talk about all the inhumane things that are happening at the border, to talk about the inhumane things that are happening within like a chicken factory in Mississippi where on one single day, ICE detained 680 people, nearly wiping out an entire small town in Mississippi. And where kids just started school for the first day of school, and then they had to come home to possibly homes where their parents weren’t going to be. I think that this is really a moment where as Americans, as folks who believe that we have this right to assembly, that we need to show up for other Americans essentially. And I hope that I don’t come off saying this sounding like this American exceptionalism because I think that the things that are happening to so many marginalized communities isn’t an exception in the history of America but sort of the status quo in a way. But I think we need to really show up to say that this cannot happen in this way. And that this cannot happen essentially on our watch. And how do we get ourselves heard besides just lamenting it on Twitter or writing think pieces about it? We need to show up to say this cannot continue to happen, this further marginalization of already marginalized people. And that we need to show up to say this loudly and as loudly as possible.
DAHLIA: And I think sometimes, like we’re saying, I think that means, especially now, it means saying well, fuck that law if that law is unjust. Or we’re gonna shut down this highway because people need to be paying attention. I’m thinking about this story from a few weeks ago about a man who was being sought by ICE agents, and everyone in his neighborhood sort of came up and showed up around his car and sort of created a people tunnel so that he could get out of his car and into his house. And all this time, the ICE agents are saying like, “You are breaking the law. We’re gonna arrest you,” not just to this man who they were seeking but to his neighbors and to his friends and family. But these people, they did interviews after, they were like, “No. We don’t care if they say this is illegal. Like this is our neighbor, and we’re gonna protect him.” And of course taking action like that is scary and risky, but I think that we have to be willing to break, to disrupt systems and not just to make systems like slightly inconvenient or not just show systems to be fraudulent or empty or immoral. Because they are, you know! We know that ICE’s procedures and systems are immoral and totally morally bankrupt. I think that disrupting those systems does so much more than just protesting those systems. And I think that hopefully, we can be inspired by the things that people are doing to disrupt systems that are harming their families and their communities all over the world.
[cutesy bells ring]
AMY: So, we wrap up each episode by giving you our recommendations for what we’re reading, watching, and listening to. And in our reading pick, it is the New York Times 1619 Project. And the 1619 Project debuted this Sunday in the Sunday Edition. And if you go to the website, you can access it there too, especially if you have a digital subscription. Sadly, I am at zero articles remaining, but!
BOTH: [Chuckle.]
AMY: But I’m still able to open up the landing page for it to read a lot of what the project is about. And I think that the thesis of the project is right on the landing page where it says, “In August of 1619, a ship appeared on the horizon near Point Comfort, a coastal port in the British colony of Virginia. It carried more than 20 enslaved Africans who were sold to the colonists. No aspect of the country that would be formed here has been untouched by years of slavery that followed. On the 400 anniversary of this fateful moment, it is finally time to tell our story truthfully.”
DAHLIA: So, the 1619 Project is a multimedia whole New York Times project. Like Amy was saying, you can look at it digitally. And it is one of those digital journalism projects that just looks so beautiful and interesting as you scroll through the photos and the texts. I heard an interview a few weeks ago where someone said like, so many people are trying to not talk about race right now when race is like, that is the story of America. And that’s certainly the story behind so much what’s happening right now in this political moment. And I think it is so incredible, so fascinating, so interesting. The New York Times, they describe the project as, “placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.”
I think it’s just so important and so interesting. And I just like, I’m really excited by sort of packaged digital journalism that puts together really interesting multimedia ways to understand and experience journalism and photography and storytelling. So, it looks beautiful, it is fascinating, and it is really, really great. I wanna recommend. The 1619 Project sort of takes little snippets of history and sees them through this larger context, and I was really fascinated by reading about medicine and how much of medical standards, institutions, practices, techniques, all of that came from really unethical medical practice on slaves and how much of just like American history is founded on a history that we very rarely talk about. So, it’s so cool, and Amy and I both were texting about it. I think we both— Well, Amy is on zero of zero New York Times articles, but it’s so good.
AMY: [Laughs.]
DAHLIA: I really recommend it.
AMY: And I had heard lots of people tweeting about how they rushed to their bodega or wherever they buy the newspaper. And the Sunday issue just sold out everywhere because it’s such an important project. And I think this project that actually was edited and at the helm with Nikole Hannah-Jones, who is a staff writer at The New York Times. She’s also a MacArthur Genius Grant recipient.
AMY: But I think she did an incredible job at rounding up these thinkers and these folks who can really sort of like go into history and to frame it in a way that’s more honest. And I think this project also goes to show how, in a way, history is speculative. You know, I think that like, we’ve talked about this on Backtalk before, but when we’re in school and there’s this hardbound textbook that we have that’s 600 pages, when you’re like you know 11, 12, or 13, or whatever, and you’re like, wow. This book is very official because it’s so fucking heavy. [Laughs.] And in it, you learn about mostly conflicts, mostly wars, and you learn about which country won which land and which man, which white man led which country to which victory or whatever. I think there’s a real flattening of history in that way, and it’s being told from a very specific perspective. But we’re teaching it as if it’s the objective truth and that’s the only history that exists.
And I think that a project like the 1619 Project is a way to say that no, history needs more voices. And this is one. This is a very important voice to tell you that the founding of this country, it is much more than white men in wigs sitting in Philadelphia signing shit. It was founded on the backs of enslaved people, and the legacy of America is founded on the backs of enslaved Africans. And we need to recognize this, and like you’re saying, and see the influence of what it meant to have enslaved Africans in this country and the effects of their presence here and their labor. And I think that a project since this is so important. It’s not only important from a writing perspective, a historical perspective. I think it’s just important from a perspective of understanding what this country is as much as possible in a holistic way. So, I think it’s so exciting that this exists, and I’m so ready for my month to [laughs] to regenerate so that I can click onto more articles and read this amazing span of work. So, I just wanna shout out Nikole Hannah-Jones for putting this together. And I just cannot wait to delve into more of these essays.
And for my watch pick, which is sort of like on the other end of what’s speculative. It is a limited series on HBO that was produced by the BBC in partnership with the BBC. It’s called Years and Years. [ominous, driving theme music from the show plays as Amy talks]
So, the show has wrapped up, so that if you have HBO Go, you can watch it all in one fell swoop. I actually tried to stretch it for as long as possible because the show is so fucked up, I couldn’t take more of it then per episode. So, the synopsis is that it’s sort of like a near future dystopia. It follows this one seemingly very ordinary white British family called the Lyons and sort of like the extraordinary bullshit that they go through during a time of great turmoil spanning I think about two decades about 15 or 20 years.
But the show is essentially about the worst of us. And when I say the worst of us, I mean like the worst of government entities, the worst of technology, the worst of our own sort of instincts in how we should behave when the world around us is crumbling. The show made me so anxious I was just, I actually texted my friends. I was just like, I have this group chat with some of my writer friends, and I was like, “Hey, guys. There’s this HBO show called Years and Years, don’t watch it.” [Laughs.]
DAHLIA: [Laughs.]
AMY: One of my friends, Matt—shout out to Matt—he was just like, wow. Way to sell this show. But I was like, my thing is like don’t watch it, but watch it. But really, really watch it. Because I think it’s showing us where we could be headed in terms of how governments can work to fuck us up. But also how we can also grow very complacent in these situations and without really thinking about what our father future will look like.
And I do wanna say that this show can feel like you’re enduring something, much like when I watch The Handmaid’s Tale. But I think that the very last episode, there are moments where I did feel some hope, and it did make the entire series very worth it for me. And for folks who haven’t watched it, for folks who have watched it, I did have one qualm about it because it’s so sharp. It has this exceptional performance by Emma Thompson who plays like a Trump-esque character. She’s so good in it! It’s frightening. And the characters that are in the immediate Lyons family, such good performances. Such a good show. But I did have one qualm about it in the writing is that like I think if you do watch the show, you might understand this. This is a critique that I’ve heard about some fiction or television or film where like if this one thing had happened, then the show couldn’t exist. And I think that this show doesn’t say enough about the surveillance state and how technology plays into it. Because if there was exceeding surveillance that we actually are experiencing at this time with technology, I think that some of the plot points or some of the turns in this show [laughing] couldn’t have happened the way they did. But that’s a very minor qualm that I have. But I really couldn’t stop thinking about it as I was watching it.
But it is an extraordinary show, Years and Years on HBO. Get a password. Watch it. I think it’s sort of like a cautionary tale but also an envisioning of where we could be headed if we don’t take care of each other, essentially. So, that is my watch pick.
DAHLIA: That sounds really good. I’m gonna I definitely watch it even though you said don’t watch it, but watch it.
AMY: [Laughs.]
DAHLIA: I’m gonna watch it is what I’m gonna do.
My music pick today is which “Mucha” Data by Cazzu. She is an Argentinean rapper. I read an interview where she said that Cazzu is like her superhero alter ego, and I really like that image of her. So, this is our last episode of the summer, and I wanted to leave the summer with a nice summer soundtrack kind of dancey song. So, this is “Mucha Data” by Cazzu.
[“Mucha Data” by Cazzu plays]
♪ “Y de toda’ la mejor (¡Wuh!)/
En tu vida no vas a conocer ninguna p ibita como yo (Yo)/
And everything’ the best (Wuh!)/
In your life you will not know any little boy like me (I)/
Esos negocios ya no me interesan/
Si hasta hace poco picha-ban…./
Those businesses no longer interest me/ 
If until recently picha-ban” ♪
AMY: Thanks for listening.
DAHLIA: Thanks for listening.
♪ “Puta (Puta), jaja, puta pero no tarada/
Debería ser abogada: no se/
Me escapa ninguna jugada 9-8-0k, sólo en enero, pa’/
En el año son cien má’/
Llueve money, quiero má’/
Quiero má’, quiero má, quiero má’/
Él me llama, dice “Quiero má’/
Quiero má’, quiero má, quiero má’/
Para usté’ aquí ya no va” ♪
DAHLIA: Thanks for listening to Backtalk. This show is produced by Cher Vincent. Bitch Media is a reader- and listener-supported feminist nonprofit. If you wanna support the show and our work, please head over to and donate.
by Amy Lam
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Amy Lam was a contributing editor and co-host of Backtalk at Bitch Media. Find her at & Twitter / Instagram.

by Dahlia Balcazar
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Dahlia Balcazar was a senior editor at Bitch Media, the co-host of the podcast Backtalk, and the host of the live show Feminist Snack Break. She’s passionate about horror films, ’90s music, girl gangs, and Shirley Jackson. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter.