Slate’s Culture Gabfest on U2’s new album Songs of Innocence, an upset in the world of competitive chess, and the corrosive “angry black woman” stereotyping of Shonda Rhimes.

If Bono Were a Chess Piece

If Bono Were a Chess Piece

Slate's weekly roundtable.
Sept. 24 2014 6:56 PM

The Culture Gabfest “If Bono Were a Chess Piece” Edition

Slate’s Culture Gabfest on U2, the secret world of competitive chess, and the unfairness of framing Shonda Rhimes as an “angry black woman.”

The Culture Gabfest has moved! Find new episodes here.


Illustration by Robert Neubecker

Listen to Culture Gabfest No. 314 with Stephen Metcalf, Julia Turner, Carl Wilson, Seth Stevenson, and Willa Paskin with the audio player below.

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


This week Slate Plus listeners will hear Julia and Steve answer a listener’s question about their shameful displeasures: the cultural touchstones they are supposed to like but just … don’t.  Go to to learn more about Slate Plus and join today.

We have exciting live shows coming up! On Oct. 8 we are coming to downtown Los Angeles. We’ll be joined by John August and Craig Mazin of the Scriptnotes podcast, plus a soon-to-be-announced special guest. Nota bene: Steve is scheming to bring some of the finest pie in upstate New York. Next up, the Oct. 20 Boston live show! Join us in Julia’s hometown.

And don’t forget you can find Culture Gabfest T-shirts for sale in the Slate store.

This week on the Slate Culture Gabfest, Julia and Steve are joined by three guests, in lieu of the irreplaceable Dana. Carl Wilson comes into the studio to talk about rockasaurs U2, whose new album you probably have, whether you like it or not. Do Bono and Co. have any credibility left? Next, Seth Stevenson recently reported on a huge upset in the world of competitive chess. What was this drama, exactly, and why wasn’t anybody else paying attention? Finally, Willa Paskin joins the gabbers to discuss Shonda Rhimes and explain why the New York Times’ use of the “angry black woman” stereotype to talk about her work was off-base, out of touch, and just plain wrong. 


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


Willa: The third book in Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend trilogy, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay


Julia: The app Citymapper

Steve: Garry Wills’ Reagan’s America: Innocents at Home

Outro: U2, “One

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This podcast was produced by Andy Bowers and Ann Heppermann. Our intern is Josephine Livingstone.

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

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