Listen to Culture Gabfest No. 225 with Dan Engber, Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens, and Julia Turner by clicking the arrow on the audio player below:
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On this week’s episode, our critics discuss the year in movies including the best of 2012, standouts previously discussed on the Culturefest, and Gabfester favorites. Then, Slate columnist Dan Engber joins the conversation to discuss the NBC reality show The Biggest Loser, obesity in American culture, and a study that sheds new light on the link between weight and mortality. Finally, the critics consider the American shopping mall and how it came to be, its unique place in popular culture, and whether we’ll miss the mall when it’s gone.
Here are some links to the things we discussed this week:
- The 2013 Slate Movie Club, a conversation about the year in movies between Dana Stevens, Wesley Morris, Keith Phipps, and Stephanie Zacharek.
- A.O. Scott’s favorite movies from 2012.
- David Edelstein’s Top 10 movies from 2012.
- Movies discussed on the Culturefest throughout 2012: Django Unchained, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Magic Mike, Zero Dark Thirty, Queen of Versailles, Pitch Perfect, Argo, Flight, and The Master.
- Other notable 2012 movies: Lincoln, How to Survive a Plague, and The Central Park Five.
- The study in Journal of the American Medical Association that sheds new light on the link between weight and mortality.
- “What Does The Biggest Loser Do for Obesity?” by Margaret Hartmann for Jezebel.
- Paul Campos for the New York Times on our culture’s fear of fat.
- A “where are their weights now?” roundup of past contestants on The Biggest Loser.
- Jeff Jordan on the decline of the American shopping mall for the Atlantic’s Cities blog.
- The Economist on the rise and fall of the shopping mall.
- Malcolm Gladwell for The New Yorker on the origins of the mall.
- Deadmalls and Labelscar, online clearinghouses for information about defunct malls and shopping centers.
- Joan Didion’s essay “On the Mall” in her book The White Album.
- Joel Lovell’s New York Times piece “George Saunders Has Written the Best Book You’ll Read This Year.”
Dana’s pick: The Slate Book Review’s author-editor interview between George Saunders and Andy Ward, a touching dialogue between a writer and his editor.
Julia’s pick: Tom Hooper’s 2008 HBO series John Adams.
Stephen’s pick: My Man Godfrey, one the great American comedies.
Outro: “Valley of the Malls” by Fountains of Wayne
TODAY IN SLATE
More Than Scottish Pride
Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself.
What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture
Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You
Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows
Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?
The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.
Happy Constitution Day!
Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.