BFG Podcast #037: Norman Mailer, ‘Don’t Look Up,’ and Losing on a Game Show

Our editor and writers break down the culture and losing on a game show

In this week’s undeniably exciting BFGWeek in Review, renowned book critic Carolyn Kellogg joins Neal Pollack to talk about the posthumous Norman Mailer controversy, wherein Random House strangely pulled a Mailer book at the 11th hour, sending it over to a conservative pres. Carolyn refers to the second half of Harlot’s Ghost as a great book, and says that even when she didn’t agree with Mailer’s outrageous opinions, he always gave her something interesting to argue about. She also marvels at how Joyce Carol Oates always seems to be on the absolute wrong side of every Twitter controversy. It’s almost like a superpower. Neal, as usual, boldly states that all censorship is wrong.

Then William Schwartz swings by the BFG podcast barn to talk about the discourse surrounding ‘Don’t Look Up.’ This is the rare movie where what’s actually in the movie matters less than the discussion around it. Both Neal and William marvel at the strange bedfellows lining up to either praise or disparage Don’t Look Up. Traditional categories of high and low, left- and right-wing don’t apply here. William concludes that Don’t Look Up may be a more potent conversation piece than usual because Adam McKay put it on Netflix, where everyone can watch it more or less for free, and forever.

Finally, Nellie Kuh visits Neal in the House of Sad, as they both lament losing more than $150,000 each to James Holzhauer, Trivia Crusher of Dreams, on the ABC game show The Chase. Both Neal and Nellie are driving discount cars in the slow lane today, but they offer all kinds of insight on what it takes to make it to the game-show spotlight, and what it takes to win.

It’s the greatest entertainment podcast on Earth. Enjoy!

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