Culture Gabfest: Disco, Donna Summer and Robin Gibb, The Bachelorette, Commencement Speeches

Slate's weekly roundtable.
May 23 2012 10:46 AM

The Culture Gabfest, “I Think We Really Made a Connection” Edition

Listen to Slate's show about the contributions of Robin Gibb and Donna Summer to the legacy of disco, The Bachelorette, and the art of the commencement speech.


Listen to Culture Gabfest No. 192 with Stephen Metcalf, Jody Rosen, Dana Stevens, and Julia Turner by clicking the arrow on the audio player below:

And join the lively conversation on the Culturefest Facebook page here:

The sponsor of today’s show is Bloodman, the new thriller by Robert Pobi. Get your copy in Kindle edition, paperback or hardcover. The show is also sponsored by

The Slate Culture Gabfest is coming to the Greene Space on May 31 to team up with Movies on the Radio’s David Garland. We’ll be talking about music and the movies. Get tickets here.

In this week's Culture Gabfest, our panelists are joined by Slate music critic Jody Rosen to discuss the contributions of Donna Summer and Robin Gibb to the legacy of disco. Our critics then explore the strange appeal of The Bachelor/Bachelorette reality TV franchise and finally discuss the unique sermon-toast hybrid that is the commencement speech and note some storied examples of the form.


Here are some links to the things we discussed this week:


Dana’s picks: Terry Gross’ 1987 “Fresh Air” interview with Carlos Fuentes and Joseph Green’s piece for the San Antonio Progressive Examiner, “Remembering Carlos Fuentes.”

Julia’s pick: All things Rich Sommer, including his contributions to the Slate Mad Men TV Club, his Twitter account, and his blog about board games, Rich Likes Games.

Stephen’s picks: The weekly radio show “Radio Deluxe” with John Pizzarelli and Jessica Molaskey. Also, Ella Fitzgerald singing “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered” by Rodgers and Hart from the 1940 musical Pal Joey.

Outro: Ella Fitzgerald’s rendition of “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered."

You can email us at

This podcast was produced by Mark Phillips. Our intern is Sally Tamarkin.

Follow us on the new Culturefest Twitter feed. And please like the Culture Gabfest on Facebook.

Stephen Metcalf is Slate's critic at large. He is working on a book about the 1980s.

Jody Rosen is a Slate contributor.

Dana Stevens is Slate's movie critic.

Julia Turner is the editor in chief of Slate and a regular on Slate's Culture Gabfest podcast.



Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Altered State

The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender

What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?

Surprise! The Women Hired to Fix the NFL Think the NFL Is Just Great.

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Altered State
Sept. 17 2014 11:51 PM The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
Sept. 17 2014 6:53 PM LGBTQ Luminaries Honored With MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 8:25 PM A New Song and Music Video From Angel Olsen, Indie’s Next Big Thing
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 9:00 PM Amazon Is Now a Gadget Company
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 17 2014 11:48 PM Spanking Is Great for Sex Which is why it’s grotesque for parenting.
Sports Nut
Sept. 17 2014 3:51 PM NFL Jerk Watch: Roger Goodell How much should you loathe the pro football commissioner?