Slate’s Culture Gabfest on Zero Dark Thirty, Celebrity Journalism, and Dear Abby

Slate's weekly roundtable.
Jan. 23 2013 2:34 PM

The Culture Gabfest: This Is an Aztec Sacrifice of My Time Edition

Slate's podcast about Zero Dark Thirty, the highs and lows of celebrity journalism, and the legacy of Dear Abby’s Pauline Phillips.


Listen to Culture Gabfest No. 227 with Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens, Julia Turner and Emily Yoffe by clicking the arrow on the audio player below:

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


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Culturefest is on the radio! “Gabfest Radio” combines Slate’s Culture and Political Gabfests in one show—listen on Saturdays at 7 a.m. and Sundays at 6 p.m. on WNYC’s AM 820.

On this week’s Culturefest, our critics dive into the controversy surrounding torture, moral ambiguity, and blood lust in Kathryn Bigelow’s Oscar-nominated Zero Dark Thirty. Then, in light of Esquire’s recent profile of Megan Fox, the Gabfesters discuss the state of celebrity journalism—from the “rules of the game” to the best and worst of the form. Finally, Slate contributor and “Dear Prudence” advice columnist Emily Yoffe joins the conversation to talk about the history of the advice column and the legacy of Pauline Phillips, better known as Dear Abby.

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

Dana Stevens’ review of Zero Dark Thirty for Slate.

The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald on the “pernicious propaganda” of Zero Dark Thirty and Andrew O’Hehir for Salon on the danger of reducing the conversation about the movie to a political debate.

Kathryn Bigelow for the L.A. Times responding to criticisms about the movie’s depiction of torture.

Peter Maass for the Atlantic on “government-embedded filmmaking.”

Esquire’s profile of Megan Fox for their February 2013 issue.

Esquire’s Women We Love” feature.

Here Is What Happens When You Cast Lindsay Lohan in Your Movie,” Stephen Rodrick’s terrific profile of Lindsay Lohan for the New York Times.

Lynn Hirschberg’s 2009 profile of Megan Fox for the New York Times.

Ron Rosenbaum for Slate on the worst celebrity profile ever written and the rules of conducting celebrity interviews.

Slate’s Emily Yoffe on the timeless charm of Dear Abby.

Margalit Fox’s obituary of Pauline Phillips for the New York Times.

Jessica Weisberg for The New Yorker online on Tiny Beautiful Things, the collected advice columns of the Rumpus’ Dear Sugar.

Athenian Mercury Project, a website that reprints questions and answers from the first English-language newspaper advice column.

Dorothy Dix, the forerunner of the modern advice columnist.

Saturday by Ian McEwan.


Dana’s pick: Alexandra Horowitz’s Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know, a fascinating read discovered by way of Adam Gopnik’s New Yorker piece about the evolution of dogs and the human-dog relationship.

Julia’s pick: In light of reading Ian McEwan’s Sweet Tooth, which features a poorly drawn female heroine, a plea to listeners to recommend a great essay about McEwan and gender.

Stephen’s pick: The 1989 British miniseries Traffik, which was the basis for Stephen Soderbergh’s 2000 movie Traffic.

Outro: “Dear Abby” by John Prine.

You can email us at

This podcast was produced by Julia Furlan. 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.

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

Emily Yoffe is a regular Slate contributor. She writes the Dear Prudence column. 


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