By Kevin Heffernan
Unpacking the evolution of American society in pop culture and real life, through diverse lenses
Fresh off a weekend in Brooklyn with On Air Fest, we’ve returned home with an arsenal of ideas, strategies, stories and lessons learned. Season 2 of our podcast LIFTED is in full production swing! More on that below.
Jenna Wortham, co-host of Still Processing, was an inspiring presenter at that conference, and her work, opinions and logic are on full display in each episode of this cast, available wherever you get your podcasts.
Wortham, along with Lesley Morris are both culture writers for the New York Times. This is evident in their preparation for the show, their critical thought streams laid out on the podcast, and their intellectual conversation that keeps passion at bay, and logic first and foremost.
Often, in podcasts that choose a cultural topic, hot in that moment, to dissect, the hosts come in with nothing prepared except their own beliefs and opinions, fire them at each other, agree sometimes, and agree to disagree others, and no one moves forward.
Morris and Wortham do things differently. Shows come out weekly, and your hosts have spent the prior week researching movies past and present, news reports past and present, and their cultural impact then and now.
Within the “Fantasies” episode, they discuss The Green Book and its pending win at the Oscars (it did win best picture…). Ultimately, Green Book has been criticized for not being based in reality. Where a white man can be credited as “not such a bad racist, because at least he’s not violent,” but is still pretty much a racist, and yet, the hero of the film. Winner! Why?
This episode dives into the bubble that Hollywood has created where we see white people being somewhat decent, and some black people getting ahead, without ever confronting reality and truth. They touch on Forrest Gump, and his assistance of Vivian Mallone as she drops her notebook on her way through the doors of the University of Alabama after desegregation. Forrest, not a racist due to sheer ignorance, picks it up, hands it to her, and that’s the last we see of Vivian. Your hosts argue that Forrest Gump is a great movie, but Vivian Mallone’s story is probably more worthy of being put to film, no?
The discussion purposely turns toward “Do the Right Thing” and its subsequent snub in the 1989 Oscars. The hosts claim this was the best film in regards to telling the truth about culture in America. Even today, 30 years later, it stands strong. They break down scenes that portray with no illusions the people, police violence, riots, gentrification, and most of all, power.
Additional episodes break down the Jessie Smollett saga, or the injustice facing Colin Kaepernick. What I have often heard or been told directly in attempting to better understand black culture in America, oppression, racism, and more, is “We’re not going to teach you. You have to figure it out yourself.”
One place to start that effort is to listen to two black people talking about all of these hot topic issues from their point of view, and a well-researched and logical point of view at that. We are often tempted to chime in to a conversation like this to either question the logic, or display our own wokeness etc. But the beauty of a podcast is that you can simply shut up, listen, learn, and contemplate.
Check out these episodes. They’re upbeat, they include mixed media to break up the 2-person format much better than others out there, and they may leave you with far more questions about society in America than you had before the episode – and that’s the point.
Season 2 of our own LIFTED by Rise Collaborative is coming to your favorite podcast app soon. There are still 4 spots left for advertisers, and you can learn how to insert your brand on the platform that outperforms ALL OTHER platforms in media in regards to brand recall, right here.
Listen to it, and learn about our diverse cast of subject if you haven’t yet, right here: