Slate’s Culture Gabfest on the Academy Awards, the excesses of American fraternities, and the “normcore” aesthetic.

Who’s Responsible for the Bad Behavior of Frat Brothers?

Who’s Responsible for the Bad Behavior of Frat Brothers?

Slate's weekly roundtable.
March 5 2014 2:39 PM

The Culture Gabfest “Travoltified” Edition

Slate’s Culture Gabfest on the Academy Awards, American fraternities, and the “normcore” aesthetic.

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Listen to Culture Gabfest No. 285 with Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens, and Julia Turner with the audio player below.

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On this week’s episode, the critics discuss the Academy Awards: a four-hour spectacle of celebrity blunders and hosting gags (sponsored by Samsung). Next the gabbers welcome Slate’s own Mike Pesca to discuss Caitlin Flanagan’s Atlantic cover story “The Dark Power of Fraternities.” Can Pesca, an Alpha Epsilon Pi brother, shed light on the appeal of frat culture given Flanagan’s findings? And finally, the critics turn to “normcore,” fashion’s latest anti-aesthetic, as defined by Fiona Duncan on the Cut. Is the sartorial pendulum swinging away from individualization—from all things bespoke, personalized, and handcrafted—and toward mass-produced, anonymous basics?

Links to some of the things we discussed this week follow:



Dana: Malcolm Clarke’s The Lady in Number 6, which won this year’s Academy Award for Best Documentary Short

Steve: George Orwell’s “Lear, Tolstoy, and the Fool

Outro: Razzamatazz,” as performed by John Travolta

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This podcast was produced by Ann Heppermann. Our intern is Anna Shechtman.

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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, the former editor in chief of Slate, is a regular on Slate’s Culture Gabfest podcast.