Still Processing

Still Processing

Wesley Morris and J Wortham are working it out in this weekly show about culture in the broadest sense. That means television, film, books, music — but also the culture of work, dating, the internet and how those all fit together. Listen to this podcast in New York Times Audio, our new iOS app for news subscribers. Download now at nytimes.com/audioapp

Episodes

December 6, 2022 39 mins

Today: The undoing of Kanye West. “We’re in deeply vile territory, and I can’t make intellectual sense of that,” Wesley Morris says about West, who now goes by Ye.

In 2004, when Ye released “College Dropout," he seemed to be challenging Black orthodoxy in ways that felt exciting and risky. But over the years, his expression of “freedom” has felt anything but free. His embrace of anti-Black, antisemitic and white supremacist language...

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“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” came into theaters with a huge responsibility: It had to address the death of Chadwick Boseman, the star of the first “Black Panther” movie, who died of cancer in August 2020.

Wesley and J discuss how the film offers the audience an experience of collective grief and mourning — something that never happened in the United States in response to the losses of 2020. They interrogate what it means that th...

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November 22, 2022 27 mins

Beyoncé’s latest album, “Renaissance,” showcases a pop star letting go of all expectations. Wesley and J go deep into the album and this new era of Beyoncé. It’s an era of play, freedom, comedy and queerness — unlike anything we’ve ever heard from Beyoncé Knowles-Carter before.

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November 15, 2022 32 mins

Wesley and J discuss the push to “return to office” — and what it means for their lives, as well as American culture as a whole. What have 50 years of workplace sitcoms, from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” to “Abbott Elementary,” taught us about our romance with the office? And what do TikTok parodies and the TV show “Severance” get right about the history of labor in America? In this period of returning to so-called normalcy, Wesley ...

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November 8, 2022 26 mins

Donna Summer’s 1977 hit “I Feel Love” is the inspiration for the final track on Beyoncé’s new album, “Renaissance.” Summer became the queen of disco in the ’70s, but her catalog goes much further than that. You can hear her legacy in decades of electronic and R&B. “She is an architect of the pop culture we experience today,” J says.

In this episode, J and Wesley revisit her 1982 album, “Donna Summer” — and explore why, out of all of...

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November 1, 2022 31 mins

J Wortham and Wesley Morris are back, just in time for Scorpio season. Ever since they watched Jordan Peele’s latest film, “Nope,” together over the summer, they haven’t been able to stop talking about it. The film stars Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer as siblings whose family horse ranch is threatened by an otherworldly creature. But instead of escaping or destroying the monster, they are determined to take a picture of it. Why is ...

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June 16, 2022 23 mins

Reunited at last, J Wortham joins Wesley Morris in the studio for the last episode of the season. They reflect on the challenges of being apart for almost a year while J was on book leave.

How did J deal with the inevitable stretches of loneliness? How do you re-enter your home and your relationships after so much time away?

J and Wesley discuss how they managed to stay connected over the past year, and the role of community and inti...

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June 9, 2022 36 mins

Today, Wesley leaves the studio – and goes home. He embarks on a journey that involves a car named Khad'ija, a tireless 92-year-old activist and one Chinatown. Last year, President Biden signed a $1 trillion infrastructure bill into law. One part of the initiative especially struck Wesley: the federal government’s acknowledgment that its mid-century push to build a massive highway system had caused suffering. Wesley started thinkin...

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June 2, 2022 19 mins

"This Is How We Do It" by Montell Jordan is an unforgettable hip-hop relic, a jam whose opening six words alone make you want to party. Wesley has heard this 1995 hit countless times since he was a teenager, but it wasn’t until hearing it recently at the gym that he had an epiphany: It’s a country song. It belongs to a long tradition of country music that expresses love and respect for one's hometown. 

Wesley explores other songs th...

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May 26, 2022 31 mins

When Wesley was 11, he wanted to be just like Sandra from the sitcom “227,” played by Jackée Harry. Sandra was sassy, boisterous and always got what she wanted. But it took reading Margo Jefferson’s latest book, “Constructing a Nervous System: A Memoir,” for Wesley understand the complexity of this memory. On today's episode, Wesley and Margo Jefferson sift through their most deep-rooted, and sometimes difficult-to-explain cultural...

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May 19, 2022 27 mins

What happens when athletes decide to act? And what doesn’t happen? Wesley Morris and Bill Simmons, sportswriter and founder of The Ringer, break down the history of athletes in movies. They start with Jackie Robinson playing himself in 1950, discuss the Blaxpoitation-era stars and make their way to the ’90s, from “He Got Game” (where Ray Allen turns in a solid performance opposite Denzel Washington, directed by Spike Lee) to “Space...

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May 12, 2022 26 mins

Wesley wants to get to the bottom of Keanu Reeves — and to understand “why we get so much out of a movie star who appears to give us so little.” He’s joined by Alex Pappademas, the author of “Keanu Reeves: Most Triumphant: The Movies and Meaning of an Irrepressible Icon,” to solve this mystery. They discuss Keanu’s three-decade acting career, how he became the internet’s adorably tragic boyfriend and why we are seeing ourselves whe...

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May 5, 2022 32 mins

"Fatal Attraction" came out in 1987 when Wesley was 11, and it made a permanent impression on the way he thinks about certain aspects of lust and suspense. With Jenna away on book leave, he welcomed Parul Sehgal, a staff writer at The New Yorker, to the show. Both Wesley and Parul watched “Fatal Attraction” over and over as preteens, and they’ve rewatched it multiple times in the years since. As they break down the most powerful sc...

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April 28, 2022 29 mins

In the 20th century, method acting was everywhere. Actors went to extreme lengths to inhabit the complicated psyche of a character, sometimes making audiences deeply uncomfortable. Think Robert De Niro in “Raging Bull” or Marlon Brando in “Apocalypse Now.” But in 2022, in our heyday of superhero blockbusters and bingeable story lines, the Method seems to be fading away. Wesley invites Isaac Butler — critic, historian and author of ...

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April 21, 2022 21 mins

Wesley worries the “skip intro” button is killing the TV theme song. He takes his concern to his friend Hanif Abdurraqib, a poet, music critic and MacArthur “genius grant” winner. Together, they explore their childhood memories of “Good Times,” “The Wonder Years” and “The Jeffersons.” Then, producer Hans Buetow unearths a rendition of a theme song that blows their minds — and they vow never to hit “skip intro” on it.

We have a speci...

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April 14, 2022 37 mins

Wesley has been obsessed with lists since he was a child — think Casey Kasem’s American Top 40, the Academy Awards and Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Albums of All Time. Now, he wants to think more seriously about expanding what we call the canon, making sure more people have a say in which works of art are considered great, enduring and important.

For guidance, Wesley sits down with Daphne A. Brooks, an academic, critic and music lover, t...

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April 7, 2022 4 mins

We’re back with a new season on April 14! Jenna Wortham is on book leave, so Wesley Morris will be taking on solo hosting duties for much of this spring. He will be joined by a stellar cast of guests, including Daphne Brooks to talk pop culture hierarchies, Hanif Abdurraqib to examine television theme songs (and that polarizing “skip intro” button) and Bill Simmons on what happens when athletes try to act. We can’t kick off this se...

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May 20, 2021 43 mins

When the three opening notes of the song hit, there’s only one thing to do: Find your people and dance. Today, we’re talking about “Before I Let Go,” by Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, and the song’s unique ability to gather and galvanize. It wasn’t a huge hit when it came out in 1981, but it has become a unifying Black anthem and an unfailing source of joy. We dissect Beyoncé’s cover, and we hear from friends, listeners and the Ph...

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May 13, 2021 39 mins

A powerful — and revealing — aspect of the Derek Chauvin trial was the community it created out of strangers. Week later, we’re still thinking about the witnesses, and the way they were connected in telling the story of how George Floyd lost his life. This phenomenon is reflected in works of art, like Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing,” which explores the conflict inherent in a community.

You can find more info on today's episode here...

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May 6, 2021 42 mins

She’s simply the best. A new documentary on HBO (called, simply, “Tina”) explores Tina Turner’s tremendous triumphs, but we wanted to go deeper. We talk about how her entire career was an act of repossession: Taking back her name, her voice, her image, her vitality and her spirituality made her one of the biggest rock stars in the world, even in her 50s. 

You can find more info about today's episode here, and follow Wesley’s playlis...

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