Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
New film podcast recalls how <i>Do The Right Thing</i> made white critics paranoid

New film podcast recalls how Do The Right Thing made white critics paranoid

PodmassPodmassIn Podmass, The A.V. Club sifts through the ever-expanding world of podcasts and recommends the previous week’s best episodes. Have your own favorite? Let us know in the comments or at podmass@avclub.com.

Blowback
Electioneering

Illustration for article titled New film podcast recalls how iDo The Right Thing/i made white critics paranoid
Image: Apple Podcasts

This unabashedly leftist 10-part retrospective on America’s violent compulsion to meddle in Iraq tags the second U.S. invasion in 2003 as the greatest crime of the 21st century. This episode, coming toward the end of the show’s run, tells the tale of two elections. Back at home George W. Bush secures reelection against John Kerry while Iraq embarks on a three-stage push to birth democracy in 2005 amid an insurgency spiraling toward civil war. Even newshounds with long memories will learn from the show’s deep sourcing of events, drawn from archival footage, government documents, and multiple firsthand accounts published years after the initial invasion. The whole chaotic world is recounted in painstaking detail by reporter Noah Kulwin and Chapo Trap House alum Brendan James, who sweep from the CIA assets and Iran-backed double-agents jockeying for power in Baghdad, to the palace intrigue in Bush’s cabinet, where Condoleezza Rice (recently elevated to Secretary Of State) squares off with Donald Rumsfeld. [Zach Brooke]


Fun City Cinema
Fight the Power

Illustration for article titled New film podcast recalls how iDo The Right Thing/i made white critics paranoid
Image: Apple Podcasts

The debut episode of this movie podcast, which examines the most iconic films made in the Big Apple, really comes out of the gate blazing. That’s because the first film on the docket is Spike Lee’s incendiary, forever relevant 1989 work Do the Right Thing. Author/critic Jason Bailey (who has a book on New York cinema coming out next year) and co-host Michael Hull break down not only the making of the film and its controversy-fueled aftermath (some of the reviews were downright paranoid, with white critics afraid Black moviegoers would start rioting after viewing it), but also all the racially motivated things that went down in NYC that inspired Lee to make this film in the first place: Mayor Ed Koch’s oppressive reign and the murders of Michael Stewart and Eleanor Bumpurs by the NYPD, to name a few. The hosts also interview indie film dealmaker and longtime Lee associate John Pierson and Rolling Stone reporter Jamil Smith, who admits to getting an Africa medallion after seeing the movie as a kid. [Craig D. Lindsey]


Nice White Parents
“I Still Believe In It” 

Illustration for article titled New film podcast recalls how iDo The Right Thing/i made white critics paranoid
Image: Apple Podcasts

Chana Joffe-Walt’s Nice White Parents, the first release from Serial Productions since it was acquired by The New York Times, is a story about a public school in Brooklyn and the power that white parents wield there. The limited series spans the six-decade history of IS-293, now known as Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill School For International Studies. “I Still Believe In It” takes us back in time, just after the landmark 1954 Supreme Court case Brown V. Board Of Education. Using archival documents and interviews, Nice White Parents composes a compelling collage, centering IS-293 while contextualizing larger trends in education at the time. At the heart of this episode are the letters from the white IS-293 parents expressing their desire for schools to be desegregated, though most don’t end up enrolling their children. The same letter writers are interviewed 52 years later to talk about their decision, and wow. Joffe-Walt is unflinching as she confronts white families in this micro view of a macro structure, asking who, ultimately, this school and thousands like it were built to serve. [Morgan McNaught]


The Bomb
Moonshine

Illustration for article titled New film podcast recalls how iDo The Right Thing/i made white critics paranoid
Image: Apple Podcasts

A new documentary series from the BBC delves into the life of Leo Szilard, a Jewish Hungarian scientist of such genius that his breakthroughs would lead to the creation of the atomic bomb. Host Emily Strasser begins the series with an overview of the horrific destruction of Hiroshima in 1945 before introducing Szilard, who would try to stop the bombing, and the chain reaction of historical events that would make that atrocity possible. Listeners first meet Szilard as a teenage wunderkind who bluffs his way into the most prestigious university in Berlin, where he quickly befriends Albert Einstein and becomes a star in the world of theoretical physics. Eventually Szilard is forced to flee Berlin with the rise of the Nazi party and ends up in England, where he would make his most important discoveries. Strasser intermingles Szilard’s story with accessible illustrations of atomic theory, including the steps that would lead to Szilard unlocking the power of the atom. The BBC’s sterling production and Strasser’s canny storytelling form a fascinating portrait of a lesser known figure who nonetheless reshaped our world. [Anthony D Herrera]

Marnie Shure is editor in chief of The Takeout.

Cinematic Antihero

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