“I Really Don’t Care A Lot, Do U?” (with Roxane Gay) | Crooked Media
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February 24, 2021
Keep It
“I Really Don’t Care A Lot, Do U?” (with Roxane Gay)

In This Episode


Roxane’s recs:

Klancy Miller, a black chef and writer

Asha Grant, who is opening The Salt Eaters, a black feminist bookstore and literary hub in Los Angeles

Rivers Solomon, a writer






Ira Madison: All right, y’all, it’s all new Keep It. We’re tuning in. I’m Ira Madison III. We’re live. 


Louis Virtel: Are you like a, were you somebody who tried out for Do the Right Thing? 


Aida Osman: Yeah, Grandmaster Ira. 


Louis Virtel: And then you were, and Spike Lee was like: Please don’t ruin my career. I’m Louis Virtel.


Aida Osman: I’m Aida Osman. 


Ira Madison: I’m da sixth blood. 


Louis Virtel: Oh. 


Aida Osman: Oh, God. 


Louis Virtel: Have we even talked about that movie? I did see it. DelRoy Lindo, very good. Entertaining. I, like, I didn’t know it was going to become like an adventure movie. Nobody, like, the reviews did not lead me to that. So that was exciting. 


Aida Osman: I will go anywhere that Jonathan Majors is present without a shirt. That’s just my one criteria for films now.


Ira Madison: Listen, I would have finished Lovecraft Country if that were the case. 


Aida Osman: Mm-mm. 


Ira Madison: We’ll talk about Da 5 Bloods later because we’re talking about the Globes this week. 


Louis Virtel: My favorite institution. I don’t know if you’ve heard about them, but you can trust them for anything: integrity, golden things and alcohol. So . . .


Aida Osman: Louis is actually recording this podcast from the yacht that he was just gifted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. We know, Louis, we know.


Louis Virtel: As the executive producer of Sia’s music, I am now a proud boat owner. 


Aida Osman: OK, but then they did have an autistic person working on the movie. [laughs] I’m kidding. 


Louis Virtel: Oh god! That was, that was good. She had a good one. 


Aida Osman: Halfway into it, I was like: stop it, stop. And here we are. It’s love. It’s love. 


Ira Madison: I actually forgot that the Globes were this Sunday. And Louis and I are fully going on NPR this week to talk about the Globes. And in my mind—


Aida Osman: What are you going to talk about? 


Ira Madison: Well, in my mind, I did not even think: oh, we’re having this convo about the Globes because they’re this week. 


Louis Virtel: Oh, right. They’re just a vague idea in space right now. 


Ira Madison: I’m just like, they’re, there somewhere. 


Aida Osman: Damn. Yeah. I’m having the realization as we’re talking about it, too. I thought we were talking about it because of the scandal. But, it’s a coming, this weekend. It really is.


Louis Virtel: I feel bad or I don’t know if I feel bad. I’m excited, I guess, for the writing staff who now has to write ten to fifteen jokes about everybody being paid off. So I guess if you write for the Golden Globes, you’re already writing those jokes because their whole thing is they’re in on it or whatever. 


Ira Madison: Right. We’ll get all that. But it is sort of weird how they are a very corrupt institution that just acknowledges that they’re corrupt. 


Louis Virtel: Yeah, it’s like the judging on Whose Line is it Anyway? The points don’t matter. 


Ira Madison: Before we get this episode started, I do want to point out that I, Ira Madison III, host of The View, do not know when or where I can get vaccinated. And it upsets me. 


Aida Osman: It’s not looking good. 


Louis Virtel: Meghan McCain has now reached that echelon of people who, when they’re trending, like Twitter needs to be rebooted. You know, Piers Morgan, Azealia Banks, just like it’s like, why how is this happening? It was a week and a half ago she was last on my feed because she snivelled the words “my father” as somebody else made a wonderful point. 


Aida Osman: OK, but I might be with her. I, too, am over. Dr. Fauci, don’t need to be seeing him every day. I’m tired of that, man. I’m tired of him. 


Ira Madison: You’re tired of Dr. Fauci?! 


Aida Osman: and all the hard work that he’s doing. Yeah. I’m tired.


Ira Madison: I just wonder, you know, this man has been around for so many infectious diseases and outbreaks. When are we going to start asking if he is the problem? 


Louis Virtel: Right. 


Aida Osman: Dr. Fauci, a petri dish of a man! 


Ira Madison: Dr. Fauci—maybe he, maybe he was out there creating AIDS. 


Aida Osman: In the field. 


Ira Madison: Maybe he came up with SARS. 


Louis Virtel: You think he’s just behind some test tube sprinkling things in and cackling and stuff? 


Ira Madison: Yeah, he’s like—


Aida Osman: It’s the intro sequence to Powerpuff Girls, but Dr. Fauci and he’s creating mass illness. 


Ira Madison: I was going to call him Dr. Blight from Captain Planet. 


Louis Virtel: Oh, I love Dr. Blight. She was the one with hair over her eye. Women with hair over one eye, there’s not that many of them in popular culture. Veronica Lake, Dr. Blight. That might be it. 


Ira Madison: I also think Meg Ryan could play Dr. Fauci. 


Louis Virtel: Oh, yes. Oh, my God. Remember how celebrities voiced people on Captain Planet, including Neil Patrick Harris, star of It’s a Sin, who we’re going to talk about too. 


Ira Madison: Oh, yeah, we’re going to talk about It’s a Sin this week, which does reveal that Dr. Fauci was behind AIDS. 


Louis Virtel: Oh! 


Ira Madison: He’s the villain in the finale. So . . . 


Louis Virtel: I see. 


Ira Madison: Yeah, yeah. Just a theory but I love, I love this pseudo history, you know, suggestive history, as it were. 


Louis Virtel: Right?


Aida Osman: If you squint, he’s actually at the bar at all the gay clubs in every scene. He’s there, he’s dancing with them. He’s cueing the laser beams. 


Ira Madison: He’s actually the main character in Perestroika, so . . . 


Louis Virtel: Oh, right.  He and Roy Cohn, winking at each other. 


Ira Madison: Oh, we are going to talk about It’s a Sin this week. We’re also going to talk about the hottest movie to hit Netflix in quite some time, I Care a Lot. 


Louis Virtel: Which, by the way, I was set up to like I was, I was already to be into this movie and then the movie had other plans. 


Ira Madison: I mean, it’s Rosamund Pike in a bob.


Louis Virtel: Right? 


Ira Madison: I thought that we, you know, made an agreement here, Netflix, that this is supposed to be good. 


Louis Virtel: Yeah, right. 


Ira Madison: And then, of course, the Golden Globes are embroiled in scandal, as usual. But this is more scandalous than normal. 


Louis Virtel: Yes. Emily in Peril, if you will. 


Ira Madison: And we will be joined by the very fantastic Roxane Gay to talk about her new MasterClass, but also to talk about reality TV. 


Louis Virtel: Right? 


Aida Osman: Yeah. Yeah, because Ira was involved. And also they, they they share that. 


Ira Madison: So we love ourselves some Bravo. 


Louis Virtel: Also, if you know Roxane Gay from one type of writing, you can check out any other type of writing and she has done that too. 


Ira Madison: Truly, truly. I’m like, girl, when is the poetry slam? 


Louis Virtel: Yeah, seriously. 


Aida Osman: Right. 


Louis Virtel: It almost feels like a betrayal when people know how to write in more than one way. Like, I can only do a joke that ends in like 140 characters. I don’t, you don’t want to see me go into a paragraph space. Meanwhile, she can do it all. 


Ira Madison: Well, we’ll talk to her about doing it all and having it all, as I believe women can do. 


Louis Virtel: Very risky of you. I don’t know. You’re going to put a lot of ideas in people’s heads. 


Aida Osman: Wow. 


Ira Madison: She is Sarah Jessica Parker and I don’t know how she does it. 


Louis Virtel: One of the great movie posters, I will have to say. As if she’s sort of like: I don’t know either. 


Ira Madison: All right. We’ll be right back. 


Ira Madison: All right, so it turns out that there was a death this week that we have to talk about—


Louis Virtel: Huh? 


Ira Madison: As usual, only this time it is—


Aida Osman: We have to. 


Ira Madison: It is the death of Daft Punk. 


Aida Osman: Oh. I, I thought for a moment we were going to have a Rush Limbaugh conversation that I didn’t know was going to happen. 


Ira Madison: I don’t care about that— [laughs] 


Aida Osman: I really thought you were setting it up [laughs] to mourn Rush. 


Ira Madison: Actually RIP Rush. He was an inspiration, you know. 


Louis Virtel: I mean, somebody was going to brainwash my aunt. It may as well be that bastard. 


Ira Madison: No, I meant that my little French electronic duo, Daft Punk is no more. That was very sad news. 


Louis Virtel: Yeah. 


Ira Madison: Even though it’s not like, you know, they’ve been doing much since the Tron soundtrack. 


Louis Virtel: Right. Though they were also the living embodiment of the Tron soundtrack. So you still wanted them around. They kind of were like the even cooler version of someone like Moby, which is to say, you always were hearing their music always in a commercial of some kind, and then they themselves had a sort of mysterious presence. And for example, when they won the Grammy for Album of the year, that was like the perfect confluence of things the Grammys want to be, which is: cool but then also you would definitely hear Get Lucky at a wedding—so nobody felt alienated by the coolness. 


Ira Madison: Right. And also they’ve been around for so long, it almost feels like you’re awarding a legacy artist. 


Louis Virtel: Right? Mm hmm. 


Ira Madison: Yeah. Because I you know, I was listening to Da Funk off of homework back in high school. 


Ira Madison: Da Funk was that’s the one that was remixed with, I think, Like a Prayer at some point, which for some reason I heard constantly growing up. Maybe it’s because I downloaded it and liked it. 


Ira Madison: Yeah, off Kazaa? 


Louis Virtel: Kazaa for sure it is. I can picture the font on the Kazaa I downloaded. Yes. 


Aida Osman: I feel like a lot of my relationship with Daft Punk has been learning about them after they came into maybe my pop culture awareness after Kanye West brought to the forefront. So I thought Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger was a Kanye West song. And then going back and discovering all these albums of some of the dopest music I’d ever heard. Like I also remember after they won the Grammy in 2013, I just went back and I haven’t been able to stop listening to their albums as if it’s not new music. Like I consume Daft Punk every day. Game of Love, my favorite track. 


Ira Madison: I think because it was awarded, you know, and like, Get Lucky was everywhere. Right? And it was also sort of that era where Pharrell even became like the old guard, which makes sense because he looks like a character from the old guard. That man is 10,000 years old. But Random Access Memories are such a really good album, you know, and the Tron soundtrack is amazing, too. And I will admit, I have not seen either Tron, which is which is weird for my brand, but maybe it’s not. 


Aida Osman: Yeah. 


Louis Virtel: Uh no. I would say it’s not actually. It’s the kind of thing where the feel of the movie is classic and specific but I don’t know that people are utterly obsessed with the content of either movie, especially now. I mean, if you’re talking about even the legacy of Jeff Bridges, I mean, I would go through 10 other movies before you got to that. But also about Random Access Memories. I know what my specific Grammy memory about that is, is Taylor Swift almost getting out of her chair when they start to say re— and she thinks they’re about to Red. 


Aida Osman: Oh, Red. 


Ira Madison: Yeah, they got me again!


Aida Osman: Yeah. And of course, she would pick up a second one. 


Aida Osman: I’m thinking how pivotal watching the One More Time music video was and all of the graphics and animation and thinking, oh, God! Between Daft Punk and the Gorillaz, my favorite music videos to have ever existed. 


Ira Madison: I always think that the Gorillaz are French too. Just because the first time I discovered the Gorillaz, it was on my— 


Aida Osman: Za gorillahs. 


Ira Madison: It was on my freshman year of high school trip to Paris. And I heard them in a music store and saw their video there on like French MTV in the hotel. So I became obsessed with them there. And in my mind, I always think they’re French because I, I love a French music group, you know. I love Air. 


Louis Virtel: OK, yes. True. 


Ira Madison: Yeah. We don’t talk about them as much anymore. 


Louis Virtel: Air is very like what would be number three on a Pitchfork year end list from 2001 or so. I know them from lists. 


Ira Madison: Giving you sexy lounge music. 


Louis Virtel: Yes, quite. 


Ira Madison: Which is wild because that is what Daft Punk descended into. They started out very much like: we’re giving you futuristic music. And it’s like they’ve influenced so much of like, you know, like the electronic game since then. Their albums descended into nostalgia for the era and influences that they had. Random Access Memories has that song with Giorgio Moroder. 


Aida Osman: Oof. 


Ira Madison: The King. You know. And then it’s weird to think about them in the context of nostalgia, because I was already getting that nostalgic last year. Because it’s from one of my favorite scenes in I May Destroy You when Arabella’s sitting on the beach with her Italian lover and there’s Something About Us plays. So it was already clicking like a nostalgia twinge in my brain. And I think now that they’re gone, that music will start to reflect that way, Interestingly enough. 


Aida Osman: Also them breaking up was a necessary step in a reunion album. So let’s just get to where we need to be for the next project to come. 


Louis Virtel: Yeah, you’re right. It does feel it does feel like when people break up maybe earlier than you’d think they would, it is because later there will be a joyous revival of some kind. This is a Pollyanna optimism on my part. This is also me speaking out to REM, get it together and come back. 


Ira Madison: Some people are very of the mind that, like, they never wanted to be like a museum piece. So maybe they won’t come back, but we’ll see. Anything can happen.


Aida Osman: They can come back, do like a Speakerboxxx/The Love Below type collab album. Give us two separate understandings of their music and see how it can coalesce. But I don’t know. We’ll see. Twenty eight years is a long time. 


Louis Virtel: Yeah, that is true. You know who is a huge part of Random Access Memories, by the way, that I always forgot about: Paul Williams who wrote like We’ve Only Just Begun. Like Carpenter songs. And like the fact that they could roll him into this album, like, really spoke to their musical literacy, too. So look up Paul Williams. The Carpenters did a, sorry to bring this back to The Carpenters.  


Ira Madison: As always. 


Aida Osman: You always find a way. So. . . 


Louis Virtel: They did a medley of Paul Williams’s songs on The Carol Burnett Show with Carol Burnett once. Look that up. That’s a great medley. 


Ira Madison: And one of the best songs that Julian Casablancas has ever sang, on that album. 


Louis Virtel: Oh, yeah, right. He wrote Rainbow Connection too. Muppet Show. Yeah, The Muppet Movie. 


Ira Madison: Oh, that’s so cute. 


Louis Virtel: It’s a great song. 


Ira Madison: All right. 


Louis Virtel: Lost the Oscar to It Goes Like It Goes from Norma Rae, which I would argue is a better song. You can fight me on Twitter about that one. I’m available. 


Ira Madison: Glad to miss that! 


[all laugh]


Ira Madison: Other sad news, I did watch the new Netflix film, I Care A Lot, starring Rosamund Pike, this weekend. 


Louis Virtel: They’re there. 


Aida Osman: So that’s what I want to know is should I care a lot? Should I now go watch this movie?


Ira Madison: Baby! This movie? It is wild. It has actually been quite a long time since I’ve seen a movie that, like, I just was so angry at in the midst of watching it. 


Louis Virtel: And the whole time, too, I would say there’s not a part where I’m like: oh, I’m in for right now. 


Ira Madison: Except for when Dianne Wiest threatens Rosamund Pike. 


Louis Virtel: Totally! Because, by the way, Diane Wiest in pissed off mode: underrated. I found her quite commanding. And also we never get two Dianne Wiest movies in a year. And now we have this and Let Them All Talk. Look at, I mean, the last thing she did was that goddamn movie The Mule, where she had a deal with, you know, that scarecrow, Clint Eastwood. 


Ira Madison: She’s also one of the best parts of Let Them All Talk. 


Louis Virtel: Oh, yeah. Very funny. Very funny. Candice. Very funny, too. So definitely if you want to skim for the parts where Diane is salty, great. However, it is really brutal to get into the movie because it’s about a woman who takes advantage of older people and basically forces them to live in elder care facilities where, and then she then takes all of their stuff and money and then she has a run in with the mob because Dianne has connections to the mob. And I would say both sides of this equation, Rosamund Pike, the scammer, and Peter Dinklage, the mob person, are clichés of clichés. And mixing them up is not entertaining. 


Ira Madison: So, uh, so like not fun to watch either of them. Peter Dinklage’s character really descends into like, wacky mob cliche. You know, it’s like we’ve already got Smokin Aces. 


Louis Virtel: Yeah. Oh my God. You just brought me back to when I was an RA on an honors floor and I was like: I’ll put on any movie you want for the fucking movie night. And these losers chose Smokin Aces. I am still mad. 


Aida Osman: Like to haunt you. A real like earnest interest. 


Louis Virtel: They’re like: Louis, We love it! you got to put on Smokin Aces. And I was like, I guess I believe you. What?! Meanwhile, at that time I was like: can we watch Vera Drake? Like, I had other ideas. 


Aida Osman: I would give anything, I would give anything to watch  you have to deal with a bunch of college boys, anything. 


Louis Virtel: They were all named Justin. Yeah.


Aida Osman: Yeah. 


Ira Madison: Smokin Aces and The Boondocks Saints were a certain kind of movie that straight white college boys were always throwing on. 


Louis Virtel: Totally. They were like, way too violent and way too vulgar. But that’s it. That’s what they liked. There, no upside to it. 


Ira Madison: Meanwhile, I was the only one over here stan’ing Lucky Number Slevin. 


Louis Virtel: Oh, are you my brother Mark? He loves that movie too. Is that Josh Hartnett? 


Louis Virtel: It is. 


Ira Madison: Yes, he always has my heart-nett. 


Aida Osman: OK. 


Louis Virtel: Whenever I leave a workout class, I am embarrassed for being Irish and Polish. I’m the sweatiest person in the room. But when I’m leaving the room I try to move my hair into place like I did it on purpose and it’s always going for Josh Hartnett late 90s photoshoot look. 


Ira Madison: I thought you were going to say that whenever you are in a work out class, you’re thinking of the Josh Hartnett Harrison Ford scene in Hollywood Homicide, where they’re in yoga together. 


Louis Virtel: I have not seen that movie and you have inspired me, so . . .


Ira Madison: I mean, that reminds us of a random moment that does not even make our Roxana interview. But she talks about watching the movie Paycheck. And I’m like, that is from that era movies that came out when Louis and I were specifically in high school—and I think we’ve talked about this before—where you, because you were in high school and in the Midwest, you would see any movie every weekend because what else are you going to do? So it’s like, oh, this is out. Oh, Roger Ebert gave it one star. Guess I’m still seeing it. 


Louis Virtel: Right! No, nothing could dissuade me. It could be February, like just the worst time of the year. I still, the worst movie that people fucking love—we’ll move on from this conversation, I’m sorry—is Rat Race. That movie fucking sucks. I’m so mad that people love that movie. 


Ira Madison: We’ve argued about Rat Race before. I think I like it. 


Louis Virtel:  Yes. It’s still fresh on my mind. 


Ira Madison: I don’t think on this show. I think just in person. 


Aida Osman: I think it also supports my theory that queer people like to sit in dark rooms, regardless of what’s happening in front of them. 


Louis Virtel: Right. 


Aida Osman: We are constantly finding a theater, a light room, just anything that is dark. 


Ira Madison: I will point out that, yes, it’s interesting to have a character like Rosamund Pike who is, you know, sort of like, morally questionable. I love villainous female characters. But this character, like, goes beyond villainous to there’s no nuance. You know? It’s almost like a wannabe Nurse Ratched kind of character. But there was something so chilling about not really knowing Nurse Ratched’s origins in the film. And also, she wasn’t the main character. Right? And, you know, she’s evil. And you’re not asked to sympathize with her unless you’re watching Ratched. But this I’m just like, am I supposed to care about her? Because she’s like, I don’t know, licking this other character’s box? Like, you find out she’s a lesbian and it’s like, is that the rootable thing about her? 


Aida Osman: They’re like, we need to make her redeemable, make her eat pussy. That’s all, that’s what happened. Ok.


Louis Virtel: Good instinct, but—


Aida Osman: Classic move. It’s a classic move. 


Louis Virtel: No but you’re right. Like because Rosemund does the evil things with such a straight face that’s supposed to count as interesting character nuance. But all it is, is she’s horrible. That’s it. 


Aida Osman: OK. Yeah. 


Ira Madison: And not even in the way that, like Amy is horrible, but in an interesting way in Gone Girl. 


Louis Virtel: Right. Well, at least at the beginning of that movie, you think one thing about her and even if you have suspicions, what she turns into is not what you expect. 


Ira Madison: Yeah. This is, you don’t learn anything about her, basically. And when she does talk about her upbringing at the end, it’s like: this is lazy. 


Louis Virtel: Yeah. 


Aida Osman: Well, it’s written by someone named Jay Blakeson, who is just a old English man. So I don’t know what we expected for, you know, these complicated female characters. 


Louis Virtel: What’s interesting is, if it were a man, there would be it would be so cliched, there would be so nothing to this person. You would wonder why there was even a movie about it. I also want to add that Rosamund Pike and the roles she’s playing, it’s sort of like we’re treating her like leftover Jessica Chastain in that we give her smart lady roles—like she’s played Marie Curie—like like very like progressive women, and then also slightly evil women. And I feel like Jessica Chastain kind of does both those things. But by the way, I definitely prefer Rosamund Pike. I mean, Rosamund Pike has a, has a kind of, I don’t want to say gravitas, but I do want to say weird intensity that is genuine. 


Ira Madison: I would say it’s interesting that you brought up Jessica Chastain, because for Rosamund, I feel like a film like Crimson Peak is definitely a sweet spot for her that I would love to see her in. 


Louis Virtel: Yeah. Oh, totally. Yeah. We need more action stuff for Rosamund. That would be great.  


Ira Madison: This weekend, I also got into It’s a Sin on HBO Max, the British series which finally hit America from Russell Davies, the creator of Queer as Folk. I want to point out that I’m an idiot because of my brain I kept delaying watching it because I kept thinking: oh my God, this is from the creator of Queer as Folk, thinking the creator of the American Queer as Folk. 


Louis Virtel: Ah, right. 


Ira Madison: And I was like, what the fuck am I about to be watching? But no. British Queer as Folk, which was quaint and good. And It’s a Sin, was, it’s a really fun show that I will recommend. It’s weird to call a show that is about the AIDS epidemic with something like 18-year olds in London and how they progressed through the 80s and into the 90s. But I think the overall thesis of this show—and that’s a hit in the finale of it, too, it’s only five episodes—it’s just that we always get these stories about people who’ve lost their lives from AIDS but what people really want you to remember from that era is just like, how fun life was for gay people back then, before this happened. 


Louis Virtel: Mm hmm. Some of the show reminded me a little bit of Sex Education in the way where sexual discovery is treated as kind of a quaintly fun thing. You know, there’s a wholesomeness to the discovery, even though you associate this era with growing up too quickly and, you know, the morbidity, etc.. 


Aida Osman: There’s I mean, this show just makes you want to grab all your queer friends and hold them and hug them and kiss them. And you remember that very specific moment—there’s an actor in it,  he plays Colin, his name is Callum Scott Howells, he’s the Welsh one who works in the, you know, the tweed shop. 


Ira Madison: He is so fucking so good—


Aida Osman: —so fucking good. So good. 


Ira Madison: And so, so cute. And I had to look at Instagram and like, ask a friend like, is he gay? And then I realized, oh, wait, the gay actors in this show are gay. They’re being played by gay people. 


Aida Osman: Exactly. 


Ira Madison: So that, that was like, I don’t know why that was a shock to me in 2021, but—


Louis Virtel: But still, it’s like, give them the Nobel Prize. 


Aida Osman: Yeah, you’0er traumatized. Oh, you’re traumatized for the past 20 years. But he, there’s a scene where he is finally at the house that, this like queer home that they’ve all created and you see the wonder in his eye of seeing all this community and love  and it just reminded me of those feelings of the first time that I saw queerness represented right in front of me. And it’s beautiful. It’s nostalgic. 


Ira Madison: Oh, definitely a beautiful montage, yeah, where you see him like, going from party to party, taking in, you know, like what everyone else has sort of discovered. And there’s, you know, a moment like midway through where you learn, you know, like his sort of queer origins. It is, it’s so sweet and a really beautiful watch. I would say the best part of it is the acting and the direction. The script is a little . . . there, but . . . [laughs] 


Ira Madison: OK. Lydia West, this girl who plays Jill does, I need her. I need her, I need her to be cast in every single movie. 


Ira Madison: Yeah. 


Aida Osman: I love this girl. Tessa Thompson, scoot over. I’m sorry. There can only be one light skinned curly-haired woman. But, at least she’s the British one. 


Ira Madison: It makes me want to go watch Years and Years, which I didn’t want to watch just because people kept saying: oh, it’s so, like, depressing, and for the Trump era, you know? And I was like, I’m not trying to do this right now. But I feel like now, you know, that we’re in Biden’s America, what else am I going to do while I’m waiting for my check? 


Louis Virtel: Right. 


Aida Osman: Truly. 


Louis Virtel: What did you think of this show as a Neil Patrick Harris renaissance? 


Louis Virtel: [sighs] No. 




Ira Madison: No. I like, I like Neil, actually. I love his acting actually. 


Louis Virtel: Talented, yes. 


Aida Osman: Same. 


Ira Madison: This was a bit too, over the top. 


Aida Osman: Much. It was a bit too much. 


Ira Madison: He was a character from the Ryan Murphy version of It’s a Sin, let’s put it that way. And everyone else is in a different show. 


Louis Virtel: Yeah. He plays it foppish, which that’s what the character is, but it does run slightly into—And I know this is something Neil is probably obsessed with—murder mystery acting. You know, from the dressing to the posture to the, you know, the camp of it and. Not the people like that don’t exist, but uh . . . 


Ira Madison: Of course, it was Nancy Reagan, with the AIDS, in the Parlor. 


Aida Osman: All this to say, though, I was so refreshed to see the AIDS crisis happening in London and their view of people in America. Like there are the scenes where they’re just like: well, just don’t have sex with the boys in New York and you’ll be fine. That was not a British accent.


Ira Madison: Yes1. 


Aida Osman: But that stuff was hilarious to me. Those were genuine fears that they had and they were totally justified because nobody knew what the fuck was going on with AIDS. 


Louis Virtel: In a Fran Lebowitz interview recently, she talked about how people thought you got AIDS from poppers, which people ingested in all sorts of strange ways back then. If you don’t know poppers, I’ll explain them very quickly. Amyl nitrates, they’re like these sniffable things, and had sex, specifically if you’re gay. But anybody can— 


Aida Osman: Louis [unclear] gay. 


Louis Virtel: Yeah, right. 


Ira Madison: And like used as like a party drug. A party inhalant. It’s like gay whippets. 


Louis Virtel: Yes, yeah. Gay whippets. And people would put them on bandanas and like put them in their mouth and inhale them that way too, which is VERY extreme. But . . .


Ira Madison: Um, I’ve been sort of in the mix of like this 80s, like gay—I was reading Lanford Wilson’s Burn This earlier. Yeah. It’s just, just nice to see, sort of like a fun, different adaptation of what was going on in that period. And I do want to point out we talked about Callum and Lydia, but I know Ali Alexander personally from years and years. 


Ira Madison: You lucky son of a bitch. 


Ira Madison: I was like, but I’ve what I did not know that he had this in him. I was floored. 


Louis Virtel: Right! Great performance. 


Ira Madison: He is amazing in this show, like, truly amazing. And I really think the directing and acting elevate the material because the story itself could sometimes be a little, you know, like quaint and trite. But you keep being brought back to the emotion by everyone else involved. And it is, I really recommend this show, you know?


Aida Osman: And quick, quick nod to Omari Douglas, who plays what I’m believing is a West African character who leaves his home. 


Ira Madison: Yes. Yes. 


Aida Osman: I mean, sometimes I get frustrated with those storylines that are like, oh, the black one is from African household where they have to strike the gay out of him. Like, I get frustrated by those, but right, for that experience, it’s pretty real. So I have no choice. 


Ira Madison: And the stuff with his father ends up actually being like something that broke me. So, yeah. 


Aida Osman: Me as well. 


Ira Madison: Yeah. And it’s just that it’s nice to see this embracing sort of this new era we’ve seen of queer storytelling where, you know, sort of like HIV-positive people are telling their own very interesting stories. And I would say one complaint is—I guess it is London, but, you know, it’s like a lot of white people, again and like less women than you would expect. Then there’s always that one saintly woman character who helps all the gays, which is true. 


Louis Virtel: The, Sharon Gless. 


Aida Osman: Or, the Aida. [laughs] Always been the little hag. 


Ira Madison: She’s less three dimensional than you’d expect because she has to be sort of selfless. Right? And she doesn’t get to be, you know, a full character, I would say. You know, but it makes me love, like the writing of people like George Johnson and like the poems of like Danez Smith, you know, seeing people writing about queer people of color in the present who are living with HIV. And I love those stories. 


Aida Osman: Well, that’s what this show excites me about—sorry, just to say one last thing—what excites me is we’ll finally get to see movies about AIDS and HIV where the black characters get to die. If that makes sense, because it’s not, right now, they don’t. 


Ira Madison: They never get to die. They watch their white friends die because the white creators also are like, well, I can’t kill the Black person.


Aida Osman: I can’t kill the Black person. 


Ira Madison: But what I can have them do is be like the local drag queen and like sing I Feel Love or, you know, like some other like Stephanie Mills song to the white cast members. 


Aida Osman: Yeah, yeah. They can be the Pray Tell of the show. 


Louis Virtel: I also just want to give a shout out to the literal bodies on the show, because sometimes when you watch like, stuff about this period, like everybody is like, still ripped because we’re in 2021. Like if you watch The Normal Heart, people are muscular in a way that did not really exist in 1981. 


Ira Madison: Yeah. 


Ira Madison: Matt Palmer, you ain’t got no AIDS. 


Louis Virtel: Whereas when I watch the show, I’m like, oh, I feel I feel like I’m in 1981, you know? 


Aida Osman: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s svelte, it’s svelte. Louis they have your build is what you’re saying? 


Louis Virtel: I know, I feel. Yes. Ectomorph representation: important. 


Aida Osman: What am ,I what does that make me, endomorph? The one where you just gain weight. 


Louis Virtel: I think that’s what an endomorph is supposed to be. 


Aida Osman: Yeah. I’m the warmth. 


Ira Madison: Is that the ghost from Ghostbusters? 


Louis Virtel: Yeah. Slimer? 


Aida Osman: Me being Leslie Jones once again. 


Ira Madison: I love Slimer so much. 


Louis Virtel: Very funny and fun in the cartoon. 


Ira Madison: Yeah. Well all the while all that was going on, my 80s experience was an obsession with the Ghostbusters and I had the Ghostbusters house where you would pour slime on the top and that’s my 80s documentary. 


Louis Virtel: Oh I just had a portrait of Annie Potts. That was my Ghostbusters experience. 


Ira Madison: I see that for you. 


Aida Osman: I would love a Web series that you two host Ira and Louis: the science guys explain to the world what’s in poppers and how to play with Ghostbusters slime. 


Ira Madison: It’s like a mix of Bill Nye and drunk. It’s true. 


Aida Osman: John Lovett, you’re listening? Make it happen. 


Ira Madison: He’s just going to steal it and put that segment in Lovett Or Leave It. 


Aida Osman: True. 


Ira Madison: All right. When we’re back, we’ll be joined by Roxane Gay to talk about her new MasterClass. 


[ad break]


Ira Madison: Our guest today is a writer, a thinker, a teacher and a critic. She’s a cultural commentator and now with her new MasterClass, you too, will be able to glean some of her brilliance. Please welcome Roxane Gay. 


Roxane Gay: Hello. 


Ira Madison: Hello. 


Aida Osman: Hello. 


Louis Virtel: So democratic of you to dole out the brilliance to everybody else. Everybody is thankful. 


Aida Osman: So kind. 


Roxane Gay: Of democratic or capitalistic, one of the two. 


Louis Virtel: Well, congrats on both fronts. 


Roxane Gay: No, it was a lot of fun to be able to do it because people often ask, can I take a class with you? Which I am flattered by, but generally no. And so this is a great way to sort of let people take something resembling a class in a realistic way where you can’t necessarily enroll at whatever university I happen to be teaching at. 


Ira Madison: Honestly, I wish that I could have taken, you know, like my grad school classes like this because I was watching the MasterClass yesterday and just like letting you just go and, you know, I’m just like lying in bed watching it and I was like, this is a perfect way to take a class. 


Roxane Gay: Yes, it really is. At your own pace. Just do what you want. 


Ira Madison: Also, you look great in it too. The leather jacket. The swoop. It’s all really working. 


Roxane Gay: Yeah. You know, the interesting thing about MasterClass is that they film their classes like they’re filming a movie or a television show. So I had a stylist and I had clothing options and they had a makeup and hair crew. And so I was like, OK, I can do this because some film and television, they’re like, we’re not really going to do much and you’re going to look like shit. The answer is no, no thank you. 


Aida Osman: And the set is gorgeous, too, with all the papers suspended and—


Ira Madison: Dramatic. 


Aida Osman: I feel like I’m in your mind. 


Roxane Gay: Yeah. It is. They printed out like 300 pages of my work and then like this hanging sculptural presentation. It was lovely. 


Ira Madison: So Easter egg, if you like, Zoom in. 


Roxane Gay: Yes. Yes. If you really like— 


Aida Osman: I’m not buying Bad Feminist, I’m just Zooming in the—


Roxane Gay: No need right there. It’s just right there for you. 


Ira Madison: I want to ask a bit about preparing for this MasterClass. You know, we read your recent interview with Monica Lewinsky about writing trauma, which was great, and you’ve also taught a class about this as well. You know what goes into: I’m sitting down, I’m going to be doing a MasterClass—and like I also just have questions about, like how long it takes to even do this, you know? Because I imagine you’re sitting in front of the camera talking all day for—


Louis Virtel: The audio book that never ends?


Roxane Gay: No. So, the preparation process took about six weeks leading up to filming and they flew us to Iceland, my wife and I to Iceland, because it—yeah, they did, because of COVID. And in Iceland, COVID is under control. Like, people don’t even wear masks. It was wonderful. And so first we come up with an outline and they actually read all of your work and so on and watch a bunch of videos of your work and so they come up with an outline that you get to then revise and provide feedback on. And you go through that process two or three times and then they start coming up with lessons and getting more specific and they just work with you until it’s time to shoot the class. And then we shot it in two days, which was fine and fun. Long days. But it was still, I enjoyed the whole process. And you sit like, during most of it, I was sitting across from a producer who you don’t see. Her name is Diane Hauslan, and she would ask me questions and I would answer them. And then they like, put it all together in a coherent manner. Imagine.


Ira Madison: OK.


Louis Virtel: And it really is coherent. It kind of feels like you just sat down for however long it took and read it to us. But it’s nice that it could be so concise. I think something I love about your MasterClass in particular is, though it’s about formally writing for social change, it’s also about productivity for writers. And I was wondering just in the past ten months, have you been surprised by what you are inspired by as a writer? Just having to—I’ll speak for myself, I’ve consumed so much mundane media over time, you know, Instagram, etc.. Has what you are inspired by changed over the past ten months or so? 


Roxane Gay: Yes, in that I used to have to really dig deep for inspiration only because I was getting a little burnt out, pre-COVID, and now almost anything inspires me because we never go anywhere. And so everything is exciting. Everything. Oh my God, we’re getting a delivery. What is it? Who’s there? Like we actually compete for who gets to get the mail, and that’s sad, but that’s where we are. And so I have found that I am probably, I guess, more open to being inspired by more things than I was before. And that is good. But am I doing anything with that inspiration? Not necessarily. 


Aida Osman: I feel like, you know, what I loved about listening to your MasterClass was that it reminded me of what should be like the most basic tenets of being a writer sometimes but you need to have reiterated for you, that was just, you know, like researching and making sure you keep track of your research. Like, why is that not something I’m always thinking about? It should be. But I wanted to ask you, what do you do when you feel like your relationship with writings is changing? Like your, you have to nurture it and you have to remember that you enjoy writing. What do you do when that seems to not be at the forefront? 


Roxane Gay: I try to forget about publishing and I always try to keep in my mind a separation between writing and publishing because they are two very different things. And so when I start to lose the love for it, when I start to feel like I’m on a hamster wheel, which most writers, you’re going to feel like you’re on the hamster wheel a lot. So I just try to write something for myself that I haven’t already sold or pitched or anything like that. And if there’s no one waiting for it, there’s so much less at stake. And I can just get to the enjoyment of the thing. And sometimes I just step away from writing for, you know, hours or—I never really step away for days—but I just go and do something else, whether it’s take a walk around the neighborhood, or watch really terrible television like irredeemable television, Bling, Empire, Selling Sunset, you know, something without any virtue. And I find that to be very inspirational. 


Ira Madison: Bling was very bad. 


Roxane Gay: Oh, my God, it was so bad. Like bless his heart, the dumb one, the dumb model who didn’t have any money? I just wanted to hug him every time. I was just like, oh, my God. First of all, you’re so beautiful but thank God you have that, because, mmm, not all God’s children are smart. 


Ira Madison: I’ve always been, and I think you know, because we’ve talked about it, like a Bravo person and I’ve always found, you know, the Housewives like at least inspiring and like a good way to view, you know, sort of like, like you said, how women are viewed by the media and how they can be stereotyped in these kinds of shows. But I truly did reach a point in quarantine where I was like, you know what, I don’t need to be scraping the bottom of the Bravo barrel. Maybe I don’t need to watch Below Deck Sailing Yacht. Unless I do! 


Roxane Gay: Blasphemy.  You know what, you actually—I love Below Deck, but the sailing yacht one was, it was weird. It was not—I just didn’t find it as enjoyable and I’m not sure why. I think part of it was that the head stews weren’t as compelling and as messy. And so if there’s not going to be any mess, what’s the point? But there were also like two of the crew are in a relationship and it wasn’t really fun to see the disintegration of their actual real-world relationship against the backdrop of the show. Like it’s, it’s entertaining when they meet someone on this show and everyone is on the same page, like we’re just doing this for the clicks. But when it’s a real relationship and then reality TV does what it does, it’s just like, oh, I don’t know that I like this. And also the people were just kind of boring. 


Louis Virtel: Now, I say this as a fan of the shows I’m about to bring up, but we sort of treat like the Below Decks, the Bravo-type shows as the most irredeemable, when really I think it is still like Survivor Big Brother because, because it’s the competitive—like on a show like Below Deck, it’s just those people’s lives. Right? Like they’re not really fighting for anything. It’s like CBS has tricked us into believing just because it’s so popular that they’re, I don’t know, above board in some way, but they actually aren’t. 


Roxane Gay: You know, they’re not. What’s interesting about those particular shows, CBS really tries to put this like veneer of class on their reality TV offerings where like there’s competition and skill involved. 


Aida Osman: The stakes are death. 


Roxane Gay: Right. I will say I think Survivor and the Amazing Race are not on the same level as Big Brother. Big Brother is just trash. It’s like let’s find the worst people we can imagine and then put them in an artificial situation from which there is no escape and just see what happens. 


Ira Madison: And usually like two people of color for them to torment and throw it out. 


Roxane Gay: Every time and then the edits that the people of color get are so unforgivable, and it just makes me—I haven’t watched Big Brother in probably 10 years simply because the black women in particular are never treated right on that show. 


Aida Osman: Well, it is a reality show. 


Roxane Gay: It is. At least in Atlanta, the black women are treated like people. And over at CBS, which is where black women go to die, no, it’s not good. 


Louis Virtel: I also was thinking recently why there’s not ever like to queer people, like two gay men or two lesbians on Big Brother. And I realized, oh, it’s a live show on CBS. So if a romance breaks out, they would be forced to show it? I think that’s the reason—


Roxane Gay: Correct. I think it’s a big part of it. I think it’s the Highlander mentality of there can be only one. 


Aida Osman: Mm hmm. 


Ira Madison: I would argue to that one point, though, Louis, that the, what I truly enjoy about, like the Bravo shows is that they are competitive, because you are competing sort of for a storyline and the audience’s interest so you could stay. So it is interesting watching the people who are Bravo stars once they’ve figured out how to survive and become a star of the show from season to season. 


Aida Osman: It is funny when you’re not a fan of Bravo shows and you just hear the vernacular like: she just did that to keep her peach. And you’re like: why is losing fruit so difficult? Like, what’s the situation here? 


Roxane Gay: It’s a very special piece. [all laugh] But it’s true. Like, my parents—my mom watches Bravo shows, but my dad sort of only does it because he’s married. And it’s interesting to talk about the shows with people who really are not as deeply connected with these shows or don’t watch them at all. When I start to—like my wife doesn’t do reality TV and so when I start to explain to Debbie, like the plot and the reason why we need to watch something, she just looks at me like: where’s my wife? Bring her back from whatever place you’re in. And then I just have to stop and just say, you know what? It doesn’t matter. It’s fine. I did get her into Selling Sunset. I’m very proud of that. 


Ira Madison: That’s great. To take a brief detour into that. You know, I think you had recently written something sharing a bit how you met Debbie and how she had been interested in your work, trying to get you on the podcast, etc.. I’m so interested. I mean, especially since the other three of us are writers, too, like what it’s like as a writer to generally have people into your work and into you as a person? But how does it feel different and how do you know it’s different when someone is into that, but also pursuing you romantically? How do you know when it’s different than someone just being like: I read Bad Feminist like six times and it means so much to me. I have to meet Roxane Gay. 


Roxane Gay: Mm hmm. You have to see if there’s a willingness for them to recognize that you are someone beyond whatever they know you for. A lot of times, especially, I will say this, for young women—and I love them, they’re great—but they’ll come up to me at events and they’ll be like: oh, my God, we’re best friends. And it’s very flattering, and I try to really honor that because as a writer, you generally, we don’t know if anyone’s going to read our work and it’s, writing can be so thankless and it’s so thankless for so long. Like I spent 20 years in obscurity before anything happened. And so I never take it for granted. But so often I just think: you actually don’t know me, you know what you read from a book I wrote ten years ago. And thank you, but like, it’s not enough to really be a foundation for anything other than this five-minute conversation. And that’s OK. You know, when, when people like, want more, in the olden days, you know, I was just very hesitant because I just thought it’s easier for me to stick with the people I knew before 2014 because they know the real me. They know like, it’s not that great. And so I don’t have to try and be anything that they might be expecting me to be because they know the real me. With Debbie, she was just so persistent and she never, like, let up and it was like, really attractive. And for me, like, you have to be really persistent because I’ll never figure it out and then you have to spell it out for me in very short words. And so when she was so patient and then we had a really great first date and I could just tell, OK, she’s not just here because she thinks that I am summarized by Hunger, which is the book that she particularly loved, it just, I just knew and there, it just she was looking at me as me, and that was really great. And it ended up being the right choice. 


Louis Virtel: Speaking of people meeting someone based on their writing, you have mastered the art of directness. And because of that, I feel like I never have questions about what you have written. Like the directness is the point. You know what I mean? Like, I don’t like, you said it. There it is.  And I was wondering because directness can seem just so without craft, like, you don’t have to do it, it just comes out of nowhere even though it’s writing. So it is craft. Is that something you had to perfect over a long period of time or did being a good writer come first and then the directness or was it the opposite? 


Roxane Gay: I would say being a good writer came first. I’ve been working at writing for a very long time and I was certainly a very mediocre writer for a long time and some of my critics say I still am. And so it took a concerted effort in my mid 30s when I just, the older I got, the less interested I am in wasting time. And I just realized, let me just be direct. There’s no need to dance around this. I can write well and write strategically and write beautifully and still just get to the point. Ambiguity is overrated. I don’t need to be ambiguous about the things I care about, especially when I’m writing about race and gender, sexuality, sexual violence—like there’s just no room there. I can be ambiguous about other things, but not that. And so I just started to try directness and I had a day job, so I just thought, whatever happens, happens. I don’t, you know, I’m not living on this $50 from Salon. I’m just doing what I do. And I, I, my bills are still going to be paid. And I think that gave me the freedom to be direct and to say what I wanted to say because I wasn’t going to pay my rent based on how well the work was received. 


Aida Osman: Your MasterClass touches a lot on how you write about trauma and how you warn writers to, you know, make sure they’re in an emotionally distant place from their trauma before they start writing about it, so they’re okay. But I’ve also been interested in how have you felt, like let’s say after the Hunger press tour when you had to talk about it all the time, every day, did that ever re-traumatize you or do you feel like you developed an apathy about your trauma and traumatic experiences? 


Roxane Gay: I think I developed something of an apathy simply because I was talking about it so much and in different countries even, and each country would have a different type of bullshit. And so I just had to become a little apathetic just to get through it. You know, book promotion is one of the key ways that you sell books and so you really don’t have a choice. If you want to publish another book, then to just lean into it and do what you need to do. So it was challenging, especially because I don’t mind talking about my books—I wrote them, I’m happy to talk about them—but with Hunger, people really showed they’re asses. I was not only having to deal with talking about the book over and over again, I was having to deal with true bullshit from people who should know better. I also just had to disassociate a little bit so that I didn’t completely pop off at people who I probably should not pop off at. But I did pop off. 


Aida Osman: I was going to say it’s easier said than done. 


Roxane Gay: Yah, it’s somewhat easier said and done. They’re just things like where it’s like, oh man, I’m going to regret this, but . . .


Ira Madison: That’s so interesting to hear too, because I also know during the interview with Monica Lewinsky to which she talked about how I think she walked out of the Terry Gross interview and you talked about how, you know, Terry Gross just made you so uncomfortable and you weren’t expecting that. I guess that’s another thing about knowing a writer. Right? You know, I feel like people would never expect that from the directness you seem to have on social media, for instance, and then interacting with someone like Terry on the podcast. How did you find that social media can be sort of like freeing in a different sort of way for you to write and communicate your ideas than when you’re actually writing? And this is so interesting to me now, you know, being banned from Twitter. [laughs] 


Why do they keep banning you? It’s not right. Free Ira! 


Louis Virtel: That’s going on a book jacket now just to be—


Roxane Gay: It has to, it absolutely has to! 


Louis Virtel: You may have set something in motion. 


Roxane Gay: Travesty. Twitter’s a mess. The person I am on social media is me. In real life, I’m very quiet and I’m very shy and I’m fine with that. I’m 46. This is who I am. It’s not changing. But on social media because I in many ways grew up on social media as an adult I’m very comfortable and I will say anything to anyone at any time. I just don’t care. And that’s freeing to just, and again, I always had a day job, so it just didn’t matter. Like, I don’t care what you think of me, I clock in at 8:00 and I clock out at 5:00. Good night. And—well not really those hours—but I just had my own thing going on that had nothing to do with Twitter and writing or anything like that. And that was really the best gift I gave to myself. That was the right choice for me because I don’t like to be stressed out about money. On Twitter, I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about the medium that demands concision and I think when you really want to get your point across, you can. And when you really want to tell someone about themselves, you can. And there are fewer barriers than in real life. I can’t tell you the number of people who talk all kinds of shit to me on Twitter and then at a book signing wait in line and are like: oh my God, I’m so glad to meet you, I’m someone so and so on Twitter.  And I’m like: who are you? Okay, Jack 3724. There’s none of that sort of ballsiness or courage to be an asshole. And so, you know, I think like most people, it’s just easier to say exactly what I want to say to the people I want to say it to. Now, I would say anything I say on Twitter to someone’s face, and I have. But it does not come easily face to face. It comes easily for me if I can type it. And so Twitter has done that. For better and worse. But, you know, I’m trying to chill out a little bit. 


Louis Virtel: I just want to say before we wrap up, I also randomly recently picked up this book on Best Actress winners, and you wrote the foreword. And I just, I wanted to thank you for that and just was wondering, are you an obsessive film historian person? Are you somebody who’s constantly watching old stuff? And what actors do you root for et cetera? 


Roxane Gay: I don’t know that I watch old stuff, but I love movies and pre-COVID, I would see almost everything in theaters. I love going to the theater, especially here in L.A. There are some really great movie theaters, the IPIC in Westwood. I mean, it’s just flawless. 


Louis Virtel: Got a marquee. 


Roxane Gay: Yes. You just sit, you have a little seat. They bring you little snacks. It’s super cute. And so when they asked me to do best actress, I have a hard time saying no. And that’s why you’ll see me write forwards for a lot of things you’d be like: wow, would not have seen that coming. It’s like, yes, because I was too cowardly to say no, and with best actress I actually just love movies and I did not write the introduction that they wanted, because they wanted just something like celebrating best actresses and I was like, one woman has won, one Black woman has won best actress, let’s talk about that. And you knew who I was when you asked me to write this. So I don’t know why you would think I would do anything but who I am. So I, I’m now starting to watch a lot of older movies. I had not historically watched older movies, but Debbie’s into older movies. And so I’ve been doing that. And I just like following, sort of actors and seeing what they might become. I recently saw Promising Young Woman and it’s interesting to see like, where Carey Mulligan seems to be going with her career. And so it’s, yeah, I do like to follow what actors are doing. Plus, even though they never make it to the screen, I write movies. And so, you know, I keep, I like to stay abreast of what actors are doing and who’s doing interesting work if and when we ever get to cast something. 


Ira Madison: And I love Carrie. Do not follow her to The Dig, though. 


Louis Virtel: Oh, I was just going to ask you if you saw that yet. I haven’t seen it yet.


Roxane Gay: I would see, I keep, like Netflix keeps trying to serve that shit down my throat and it does not look appealing to me at all. 


Ira Madison: Even the description to me, was a nap. 


Roxane Gay: Right, I was just like, why would you make this movie? And then think people would want to like, who is this for? But I know who it’s for. It’s for like, a bunch of gray haired people somewhere, who just want to watch something sweet and gentle. But no, I’m good. 


Ira Madison: Well, thank you so much for being here, Roxane. 


Roxane Gay: Thanks for having me, guys. I appreciate it. 


Aida Osman: We appreciate you. 


Ira Madison: OK, Now Listen is a bi-weekly podcast hosted by Scottie Beam and Sylvia Obell, brought to you by Netflix and Strong Black Lead. Join these best friends as they talk openly and honestly about what’s on their minds, what they’re bingeing and what’s blowing up in their timelines. Probably me. 


Aida Osman: These greens have the range. Seriously, Scottie Beam and Sylvia are two very funny women and really insightful. And they cover all types of different things, everything from Cuffing Season to Jazmine Sullivan’s Hotels—that goddamn album I can’t stop listening to—to ways we can use social media to heal. Scottie Beam is a media personality and music enthusiast and a wing connoisseur. Sylvia Obell’s a culture writer, producer and lover of Beyonce. Oh, no, I don’t know how I’m going to ever relate to her. A podcast by and about Black women who love all things Netflix and beyond. Way, way beyond. So naturally, they also have the best Netflix recommendations and exclusive celebrity interviews like Issa Rae and Zendaya. 


Louis Virtel: Never seen their work. Maybe one day. New episodes drop every other Thursday. Subscribe now wherever you get your podcasts and follow @strongBlacklead on all the socials to stay up to date. 


Ira Madison: After bombshell reporting from the L.A. Times revealing laughably predictable ethical issues surrounding the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, including having zero Negroes among them, and accepting lavish vacations framed as set visits, and paying huge sums to its members, despite being a tax exempt nonprofit, it seems like a good time to do a deep dive into this year’s nominees and the entirety of what the Golden Globes are. They sound like a church [laughs] Nonprofit scammers! Tax exempt! C’mon.


Aida Osman: Girl, I love a kickback. 


Louis Virtel: Yeah, right. Classic Catholic tactics. I do think the number one funniest thing about the HFPA first of all is that, I mean, they’re literally members of the press, like their whole thing is to be outward-facing. Like, you know, if we can agree what the press does, i’ts getting the word out. And yet who are they? Like they’re supposed to be nothing but a byline basically, and yet they are shrouded in darkness still. So that’s your first clue that something is amiss. 


Aida Osman: I just want to know what Ryan, what did Ryan Murphy give them for James Corden to be up for the prom? 


Ira Madison: It is 85 people living in Southern California who write, or at least have written for non U.S. publications. And it’s just sort of a random assortment of members who don’t really seem to have any real journalistic or like critical careers. You know, because like you said, Louis, it’s like we don’t we don’t know who these damn people are. 


Aida Osman: Reveal yourselves! Did you write for Daily Mail? Do you write for Daily Mail or another publication? I need to know where you journal. 


Ira Madison: So it’s not like you’re reading their work and knowing, like what these critics even critically think of anything, you know, it’s not like the critics choice awards. And, you know, there was the revelation from the L.A. Times that there were zero Black journalists and they allow their members to behave in ways that are unethical, like the Emily in Paris set visit, where they just stayed like nice hotels in Paris. I’m like this—of course, that show got a nomination. 


Louis Virtel: Right. Well, I think in general, people are a little bit clueless about how much money just goes to promotion on a movie or a TV show in general. For example, years ago I wrote for some website that no longer exists, barely existed to begin with, and still, I could have gone to Dubai to interview the cast of the Fast and the Furious. Like Dubai. For an interview that you watch in a video. Like, do I need to be in Dubai for that? No. But they would still throw money at me, like writing for nothing.buzz, you know. 


Ira Madison: Yeah, I got an offer once to like, be flown to Mexico to like, interview the set of some movie. It’s like, no, I’m not doing this. [laughs] I should have. 


Louis Virtel: I went to Mexico for Specter and I went to London for Steve Jobs. Isn’t that bizarre? 


Aida Osman: Wow. I miss the pre-pandemic journalism world I might have been invited into. I want these kickbacks. 


Ira Madison: I got sent to Iceland, like Roxane Gay discussed, she was sent to Iceland for a MasterClass. Like I got sent to Iceland, like Iceland Glacier Water, once. 


Louis Virtel: Right. Frightening. No, like, are you, are you in some sort of Icelandic mob now? 


Aida Osman: Oh, So that’s where the foreign press is keeping all their Black people, they’re just like go to Iceland, you’ll be okay. 


Louis Virtel: I do want to say, though, OK, this article paints a necessary and disgusting portrait of this organization or whatever. I still think, though, that the TV side feels way more corrupt somehow than the movie side, even though, whatever the Sia movie got nominated and the I Care a Lot got nominated, et cetera, I still feel like the TV nominations in general are way more bizarre. And again, you would never, ever remember that a TV actor won a Golden Globe. Like, I look back and I’m like, did Jon Hamm win or did? You know, it just, it’s not even coming to mind exactly. We’ve all placed them in so little esteem over the years. 


Ira Madison: Right. There is sort of this notion that we’ve always assumed or known that the Golden Globes are corrupt. Right? And it’s always—it’s an award show, and that’s just what the HFPA does, who cares? You know, and they always make jokes about buying off the HFPA too, you know? But at a certain point, you realize that, like, the Globes are always part of the conversation of what will be nominated for the Oscars. Right? Or it’s always like, it’s a, it’s a highly-rated award show, so it’s like movies and actors and things that people are talking about. Right? So if you have a certain body that continues to just nominate the same people who, you know, like, lavished them with gifts and other bribes and, you know, they’re mostly white people, you know, what does that say about what’s being introduced into the conversation? You know, I think one of the grossest things they did this year was making Minari be a foreign film. You know, just because they’re speaking Korean in it. 


Louis Virtel: Right. And at the Oscars, it’s specifically foreign language film, which, I mean, sort of changes the discussion a little bit. But, yeah, I was just thinking about Minari. Good movie. The ending is too quaint for me. I wish they had a different ending. 


Ira Madison: Love the grass. Very pretty. 


Aida Osman: Yeah. The grass the, the houses on wheels. It’s so beautiful. 


Louis Virtel: Mm hmm. Oh yeah. It’s very like Norman Rockwell-y and yeah. 


Ira Madison: That Nomadland had me thinking about nature a lot. But the actual opening of Minari and because it’s an A24 movie, you could be forgiven if you thought that it was going to be a horror movie. 


Louis Virtel: Totally. Oh my god. 


Ira Madison: It is, it is very much like a South Korean version of The Witch Set in the 80s. 


Aida Osman: Yes, if Parasite and Hereditary came together and had a child. But I will also thank Minari for introducing another young Asian actor into our lexicon after, you know, Barb and Star go to Vista Del Mar. We have to, now, we have two cute, hilarious little Asian boys who are very good at acting. 


Ira Madison: Yeah. Where’s their Spy Kids? 


Aida Osman: Exactly. 


Ira Madison: Their surf ninjas. 


Louis Virtel: Though say the word, and that’ll be rebooted and in like 11 seconds. 


Aida Osman: I know. Be careful. You’ll have to write it. 


Louis Virtel: And by the way, there’s already like 11 of them. 


Ira Madison: Is one of them Shark Boy? 


Aida Osman: Not Taylor Lautner. 


Louis Virtel: Yeah. Unfortunately, some of this, to my ears works in the Globe’s favor because now I’m like, oh, I get to watch Tina Fey and Amy Poehler make fun of this now. And I unfortunately, am still really excited for that because how often do we get to see Tina Fey cracking jokes anymore? You know, that feels like this lost era of TV to me almost. She hosted a tribute to Broadway not long ago during the pandemic but that wasn’t really her, you know, riffing about whoever George Clooney is hobnobbing with. 


Ira Madison: Here’s a thing about the Globes that I want to ask: were all the jokes that we used to hear of like, award shows like that, did you always get them? Because there’s the idea that, like, I rewatched like, the Tina and Amy, the first ones, right? And it’s like so many of the jokes hit more after you’re like, working in Hollywood.


Aida Osman: And have access to the level of corruption. 


Ira Madison: Or you’ve been like, you know, like even working as like, a journalist or, you know, like a cultural critic and like you’re reading more of like the trades and like just aware of what happens in the city. Right? Because a lot of the jokes, you know, like that Kathryn Bigelow won, you know, about like, being married to James Cameron, you know, like the general public, like you don’t know James Cameron’s an asshole. 


Louis Virtel: Yeah, right. 


Aida Osman: Yeah. You don’t know. Maybe the Kathryn Bigelow is, you know, The Hurt Locker woman and that we still have questions. 


Louis Virtel: Yeah, I think there might be just an association with the fact that someone, a director of epic movies, would necessarily be a narcissist or an asshole or something and they’re sort of banking on that perception. Yeah I don’t know how much about James Cameron in particular had gotten out by that point? Even as I said here, I’m not thinking of, like, specific instances of him throwing chairs or whatever. I know nothing like that. 


Ira Madison: I feel like the Globes are always fun because, you know, it’s part of, you know, like the in-crowd making jokes about one another, you know? Yeah. I mean, that’s the appeal of it, too, like you’re peering in on a private party. 


Aida Osman: Yeah. And also I actually, you know, I’ve learned some sense since, but I always enjoyed watching Ricky Gervais just maintain his position as the like, crotchety old hateful comedian. That was always enjoyable for me. 


Louis Virtel: I would have liked it more if he didn’t seem above the occasion for me. A lot of the time I felt the jokes, even though even if they were fun, like his whole thing was, I’m not like the other celebrities. It’s like you could not be more of a conventional celebrity, like you’re obsessed with us finding you cool. 


Ira Madison: Yeah. You know, they usually have like a television actor or someone too, you know, like making fun of like A-list movie actors. So that’s always a benefit too. 


Louis Virtel: Yes, yeah. Yeah. That’s a fun dynamic, too, like Sandra Oh reaching over to whomever, Julia Roberts. I like that. 


Ira Madison: Yeah.  But it is interesting that like, when you have someone like, a Tina or Amy, right, because I feel like SNL is such an equalizer where it’s like, it’s not like a random person in TV or film like hosting it. Right? Like if you’re part of the SNL cast, it’s sort of like you’ve met a lot of these celebrities when they’ve hosted. 


Louis Virtel: Right. Right, right. Yeah. The nature of the show is you’re adjacent to A-listers anyway and A-listers don’t think you’re weird. You know? 


Aida Osman: Something Louis can’t say, right? Jimmy Kimmel. Did you get to meet a lot of the guests on the show, or were you, were you like, you know, somewhere in a corner just: here Jimmy, hear my jokes? 


Louis Virtel: No, actually, I’ve only ever talked to one guest on the show because I knew him personally. That was it. 


Aida Osman: So they don’t like, the writers don’t have full access to the people. 


Louis Virtel: No. No, no no. It would be so weird if we did too. 


Aida Osman: It would be super weird. 


Louis Virtel: The way we’re dressed, it’s just not right. 


Ira Madison: Ms. Blanchett. Hello. 


Louis Virtel: Oh, my friend was a PA on Kimmel at one point and Cate Blanchett did wink at him. What the fuck? 


Aida Osman: Oh, wow. 


Louis Virtel: You get to die with that memory. I’m so mad. 


Ira Madison: I absolutely love her. I mean, I think I told the story before about when I profiled Taika Waititi for GQ and like I was interviewing the Thor Ragnarok cast, and like, you truly haven’t lived until your phone rings in your studio apartment in Virgil Village and it’s “Ello, Ira? It’s Cate Here.” [laughs]


Aida Osman: Spit take. You can’t see me, but I’m doing a spit take. 


Ira Madison: And then being on the phone with Chris Hemsworth: Caio. 


Louis Virtel: And he has a very sexy voice too. Not just a sexy person.


Ira Madison: Truly. Truly, truly. 


Hi. Hey IRA. It’s me, Chris. 


Ira Madison: My Crocodile Dundees were wet. 


Louis Virtel: Oh good Lord. 


Aida Osman: End the segment! End the segment!


Ira Madison: Alright. When we’re back: Keep It.  


Ira Madison: And we’re back with our favorite segment of the episode. It is Keep It. What are we saying Keep It to this week? 


Louis Virtel: Mine’s quick and dirty and related to a show we have actually talked about, not ad nauseum, but quite a bit. Johnny-come-latelys on Twitter, and I am talking mainly about gay men who are, I’ll say, about five years younger than I am, who yell things, like “all the awards” at Kathryn Hahn on WondaVision.


Ira Madison: Oh, my God! This was going to my Keep It. 


Louis Virtel: No! 


Aida Osman: I love this. 


Ira Madison: People talking about the [—] because they’ve just discovered Kathryn Hahn. 


Louis Virtel: It’s like, OK, we love the woman. Yes, she’s great. She’s the other Ana Gasteyer, but not like, on Ana Gasteyer at all. Put that together. But on this show, like, if you haven’t seen the new WandaVision episode yet, I don’t want to spoil the whole thing but she becomes a much more significant character in a way. And she’s been the nosy neighbor in the first couple episodes in the vignette-based TV parodies they’re doing, which, if you know, the format of the show, turns out to mean something totally different later on. But guys, what happens to her on the show is not an acting triumph. Literally, it is a plot twist, that is, that, she does not deserve Emmys specifically for that. And I just want to say in general, can we avoid just anybody on Twitter or disregard the opinion of people on Twitter who use the phrase “all the awards”? What the fuck does that mean? First of all, there’s not that many, so stop pretending they deserve all of them. 


Ira Madison: Nobel Peace Prize to Kathryn Hahn. 


Louis Virtel: The Pritzker Prize. Yeah, the Spingarn. 


Ira Madison: Eminem-NASCAR Award. 


Louis Virtel: Yeah, I think we should find a way and by we I mean, not me, because I’m not the person who’s saying these sort of things so you have to sort out who we is in the scenario, we need to find a way to key into the language of hard stan’ing and get to a correct level of appreciation for someone like Kathryn Hahn. It jumps from zero to 1,000 immediately and there could be something interesting to be said about the kinds of roles Catherine Hahn should get in the future based on this show, for example. And I feel like the conversation is halted as squee, to use an old Internet turn. 


Aida Osman: You’re expecting other people to have the same level of tact as you and it shocks me every time. It shocks me every time. 


Louis Virtel: I believe it’s optimistic. That’s what I believe it is. And I’m going to stick with it. Though you’re right, I’m doomed. 


Ira Madison: Louis wants everyone to possess his austere restraint. You are, you are, Mrs. Danvers. 


Louis Virtel: That’s right. In my head to toe black frock, nodding at Kathryn Hahn’s talent and then moving away to the drawing room. 


Ira Madison: I just wish the stans were funnier. You know, like if they stan Kathryn Hahn, like the Barbs stan Nikki, that be funny, you know. Go, go and doxx someone in the name of Kathryn Hahn. How about that? 


Louis Virtel: You’re right. 


Aida Osman: You really show your devotion. 


Louis Virtel: Yeah, I want some content that has shown some mastery of what she’s done in the past, even if it’s just a couple of rolls. Have you seen that weird movie, The D Train with Jack Black? She was great in that. Bring up something else. It’s you know, it’s like with Laura Dern last year. Do you know anything about her for real? Anyway. 


Ira Madison: Still one of my favorite moments of when I used to be on Twitter when I tweeted after she won the award, I said this, Laura Dern seems great. Uh, what’s she been in? 


Louis Virtel: Oh and people responding like: you have to see Jurassic Park. 


Ira Madison: People who followed me too. Like, come on. 


Louis Virtel: Really disappointing. 


Ira Madison: I stan’ed Enlightened. I guess I need to come up with a new Keep It. Well, I used doing this, although my Keep It was technically to the fact that I try to avoid the spoilers for WandaVision since it drops on Friday. You know, sometimes like we were watching Drag Race and like Royce and I don’t get to watch it and all like either right before Drag Race or Saturday morning just because we’re working during the day on Friday. But specifically, when she becomes the more significant character this week? Social media like Instagram is like, flooded with like, the exact scene that is the twist. And I’m like, I get it. I know that you’re watching this television show. You don’t have to drop the entire scene wholesale into your story on Saturday just to let people know that you’ve seen it. 


Louis Virtel: Right. Right. No, the people that are most like—


Ira Madison: Because now you’re ruining it. 


Louis Virtel: The people who are most defensive about being able to post immediately after an episode comes out of anything, always have the least to say. The people who do it on, about Drag Race, it’ll literally be like: so and so won. I’m like, that’s not a discussion. You’re just saying what happened? 


Ira Madison: You just got to be the first person to do it. Like, I will never forgive that half of Kacey Musgraves at her concert the night that Trinity and Monet won. I’m at her concert, Drag Race is DVR’ing, and she brings out the Queens who just want Drag Race. I’m like, bitch, the show is airing! 


Aida Osman: Oh, my God! 


Louis Virtel: We’re at the concert. Yeah, we can’t see it.


Ira Madison: Aida, what’s your Keep It? 


Aida Osman: Wow, I’m sorry I’m so frazzled that Kasey did that to you and I’m going to go to her home, her cottage, wherever that’s at and smash her acoustic guitar for you. OK, my Keep It’s a little bit serious, but it’s also just rappers doing stupid shit, as per usual. 


Ira Madison: Azealia for getting engaged to a Jewish man and calling herself the juicy diva? 


Aida Osman: No. if anything, that’s behavior I support. So the other day I was really, I was sitting in my room thinking about who is going to be the first idiot to make an insensitive Kobe lyric. And I knew I had to come because it’s been about a year since Kobe’s passed. And, you know, rappers love to get their little bars off. They need to be the first one to do it. And then Meek Mill does a song with lil Baby. 


Ira Madison: Of course it’s Meek Mill. 


Aida Osman: Of course it’s Meek Mill. I don’t know what rock that man is living under, I don’t know what society he’s living in. I know they don’t have, like, machines there. I’m going to move on. He releases a song recently with the lyrics: This bitch I’m fucking always tell me that she loved me, but she ain’t never showed me, yeah, and if I ever lack, I’m going out with my chopper, it be another Kobe. 


Louis Virtel: Hmm. 


Aida Osman: What does that mean, first of all? What does it mean? I’m really struggling to put the pieces together. 2) It has been a little bit over a year since Kobe’s passed. His family is still mourning him. And you wouldn’t, you didn’t even have, like, the wherewithal to be clever, like, that’s so disrespectful. And I immediately when people started talking about it, he came to social media and was like: you guys are spinning a narrative. He didn’t say that. That’s a lot of words. You guys are, you, what is this, Zombieland? And everyone so, so irritated with him. And the best part of this story is Vanessa Bryant, you know, the mother to Gianna, and Kobe’s widow, and all this overall wonderful woman said: I am not familiar with any of your music, but I believe you can do better than this. 


Ira Madison: Yeah. [laughs]


Louis Virtel: Wow. 


Ira Madison: Sadly, you know what I was going to say, sadly, he can’t, but you know what? Going Bad was it. 


Aida Osman: Ira, this is not the time! Let us have a moment. This man is out here re-traumatizing people, re-traumatizing this family that is still grieving the loss of their daughter and husband and father. And just, it blows my mind. 


Ira Madison: It doesn’t even make sense too. Because like, oh, you’re disrespecting so I’m going to go out like Kobe on the chopper. So you mean you’re going to get on a helicopter and then the pilot will fly unsafely in weather conditions? Like what what is, the, what is the leap here? 


Aida Osman: Seven people died! Seven people died for you to get a really cold sixteen. That’s insane. 


Ira Madison: You know what? 


Louis Virtel: Did he really use the phrase Zombieland? 


Aida Osman: Yeah, he really said it’s like Zombieland. 


Louis Virtel: OK, here’s the thing, though. That is Abigail Breslin’s best credit, you need to let her have that. OK? So stop, stop throwing Zombieland under the bus too. 


Ira Madison: You know what? If you’re going to, like, once again be like the Barbs, if you’re going to make fun of a dead person, you know, look no better than Nicki Minaj’s: like MJ’s doctor, they killing me, propofol, I know they hope I fall. 


Aida Osman: That’s a bar. That’s a bar. She waited, she waited a respectable seven to eight years until we got healed from it and we were ready for the humor, but I’m not ready for no Kobe jokes. 


Ira Madison: And she did it on a Beyonce track. So, you know, that was cleared with Joe Jackson. 


Aida Osman: Joe ghostwrote. 


Ira Madison: All right. That’s our show this week. 


Aida Osman: Ira did you do Keep It? 


Ira Madison: That’s mine. My Keep It is to the WandaVision stans. Leave me alone. Spoil the episode later. And spoil Drag Race later. And actually to the UK Queens of Drag Race who dropped their looks like Thursday morning before like Americans or even people in the UK can get to like watch it on the World of Wonder App. Stop it. You stop it.


Louis Virtel: Yeah. Wow. He is mad? I think we should actually team up on Keep It’s more often. I feel like they add something. 


Ira Madison: Yeah. 


Aida Osman: Yeah, team Keep Its. 


Ira Madison: We’re Team Rocket. 


Louis Virtel: Oh right. Now see I’m not Pokémon in any way. If I am on a dating app and someone is into Pokemon in some way: I’m like, this can’t work out between us. 


Aida Osman: First of all, how fucking often do you go on a dating app and someone’s like main, main thing they present by themselves is loving Pokemon. 


Louis Virtel: Gets this more than you think. 


Aida Osman: What are the gays up to? 


Louis Virtel: If you were born in the 1989 zone, it’s probably a part of your identity and like you’re talking about like grass Pokemon or whatever the groups are? Guys, they’re just like mediocre cartoons. I don’t know what to tell you. 


Ira Madison: You know those bottoms on Grindr love to catch it all. 


Louis Virtel: Right. [laughs]


Aida Osman: Yeah. And I have a feeling Mewtwo is gay representation. 


Ira Madison: That’s, that’s T, that’s T. He did he did murder Rita Ora in Detective Pikachu. That is gay history. 


Louis Virtel: Wow. 


Aida Osman: Beyonce’s revenge. 


Ira Madison: All right, that’s our episode. Thank you to Roxane Gay for joining the circus. We’ll see you next week. 


Ira Madison: Keep it is a Crooked Media production. The show is produced by Caroline Reston and Brian Semel is our associate producer. Our executive producer is Ira Madison III—I think I’ve heard of him. Our editor is Bill Lance and Kyle Seglin is our sound engineer. Thank you to our digital team, Matt DeGroot, Narineh Melkonian and Milo Kim for production support every week. Stay safe. Be blessed. God loves you.