Slate’s Culture Gabfest on Jonah Lehrer, the Olympics, and Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

Slate's weekly roundtable.
Aug. 1 2012 5:47 PM

The Culture Gabfest: Scary Mascot Edition

Slate's podcast about Jonah Lehrer’s fabrication and resignation, the London Olympics, and the documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry.


Listen to Culture Gabfest No. 202 with Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens, Seth Stevenson, and Julia Turner by clicking the arrow on the audio player below:

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

The sponsors of today’s show are and Go to and use the promo code “CULTUREFEST” for your no-risk free trial and bonus offer. Get a free audiobook from Audible’s collection of more than 100,000 titles and a subscription to a daily audio digest when you sign up for a 30-day free trial at

On this week’s Culture Gabfest, our critics consider Jonah Lehrer’s resignation from the New Yorker following the discovery that some of the quotes he attributed to Bob Dylan in his latest book were fabricated. The Gabfesters are then joined by Slate contributor Seth Stevenson to contemplate the 2012 London Olympics mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville, and their place in the Olympic mascot pantheon. To set the stage for a discussion of the opening ceremony, Julia provides a vivid recap of Danny Boyle’s witty, wacky, and distinctly British 2012 offering. Finally, the critics discuss the documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry and the work of the Chinese artist, dissident, and provocateur Ai Weiwei.

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


Dana’s pick: Total Recall, the 1990 smart science fiction movie from director Paul Verhoeven, in advance of the reboot coming out this week.

Julia’s picks: The entirety of Slate’s coverage of the 2012 Olympic Games and diving into AMC’s dark-comedy hit series, Breaking Bad.

Stephen’s picks: La Jetée, the 1962 short sci-fi film by Chris Marker, the French filmmaker who died on Monday. And a brief reading from last week’s endorsement,Randall Jarrell’s Pictures From an Institution.

Outro: “Jerusalem” by Hubert Parry and performed by the Choir of Westminster Abbey from The Royal Wedding: The Official Album.

You can email us at

This podcast was produced by Jesse Baker. 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.

Dana Stevens is Slate's movie critic.

Seth Stevenson is a frequent contributor to Slate. He is the author of Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World.

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


Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

There Are New Abuse Allegations Against Adrian Peterson

After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales

John Oliver Pleads for Scotland to Stay With the U.K.

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter


Don’t Expect Adrian Peterson to Go to Prison

In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 

The Juice

Ford’s Big Gamble

It’s completely transforming America’s best-selling vehicle.

I Tried to Write an Honest Profile of One of Bollywood’s Biggest Stars. It Didn’t Go Well.

Here’s Why College Women Don’t Take Rape Allegations to the Police

The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 1:51 PM Here’s Why College Women Don’t Take Rape Allegations to the Police
  News & Politics
Sept. 15 2014 8:56 PM The Benghazi Whistleblower Who Might Have Revealed a Massive Scandal on his Poetry Blog
Sept. 15 2014 7:27 PM Could IUDs Be the Next Great Weapon in the Battle Against Poverty?
Sept. 15 2014 4:38 PM What Is Straight Ice Cream?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
Brow Beat
Sept. 15 2014 8:58 PM Lorde Does an Excellent Cover of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights”
Future Tense
Sept. 15 2014 4:49 PM Cheetah Robot Is Now Wireless and Gallivanting on MIT’s Campus
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 15 2014 11:00 AM The Comet and the Cosmic Beehive
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.