How Do You Like It So Far uses pop culture to take soundings of a society in transition, exploring intersections with civic imagination and engagement, and social and political change. Henry Jenkins and Colin Maclay are your guides on this adventure.

Episode 27: Critics of color: The added value of subtleties, with Eric Deggans

In our third and final installment of the need for critics of color, Eric Deggans, NPR’s first full-time TV critic and author of Race Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation, talks to Henry and Colin about his longtime trajectory in radio and print media. Our guest speaks about how his first encounter with white culture was through radio, and asserts that “podcasting is radio for young people” now. When starting he thought, how can we talk about culture in a unique way, of things that other people cannot see? In his case he thought not only about race, but also about other dimensions, such as being a musician. In terms of television, we talk about how critics of color are needed not only to understand the new shows that better represent minority culture, but also to make visible the prevalence of and default to white culture in general. He says that Luke Cage, for example, hit a few touchstones of growing up black in that time, creating a powerful feeling of nostalgia and understanding that he could not get, for example, with The Sopranos, which he enjoyed as an outsider.

Here are some of the things mentioned in this episode, for those who want to dig a little deeper:

My Proudest Moment as a Pundit: Bill O’Reilly Calls Me a Race Baiter

Our producer Rennie recommends this opinion piece by columnist Leonard Pitts

Eric’s profile of Luke Cage showrunner Cheo Coker

Eric’s review of The Chi

Eric’s podcast recommendations:

It’s Been a Minute with Sam Sanders

Pop Culture Happy Hour

We’ll be taking a break for the rest of the year, but have already recorded some great episodes you can expect in mid-January. And make sure to let us know how you like it so far!

Episode 26: Reimagining the ecology of cultural criticism: Elizabeth Mendez Berry and Carolina A. Miranda

This week we continue with the second installment of our conversation about critics of color. Colin and Henry talk to Carolina Miranda, a writer and art critic at the LA Times, and Elizabeth Mendez Berry, Director of Voice, Creativity and Culture at the Nathan Cummings Foundation. Both critics came from a background of studying social movements and politics, but realized they could make a living as critics of art and music. We discuss that as a critic of color, you understand not to pigeonhole an artist, and that ethnicity or race can influence a piece of art, yet so can a film watched in childhood. Yet in a moment where artists have direct access to their audience online, does everyone want criticism, and if so, how do we create a more inclusive infrastructure and economy to incentivize a diversity of voices?

Here are some of the things mentioned in this episode, for those who want to dig a little deeper:

Carolina’s critique on the redesign of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

What it Means to Write About Art by Jarrett Earnest

ARTS.BLACK – a journal of art criticism from Black perspectives

SongExploder podcast

Elizabeth’s essay, Why Cultural Critics of Color Matter

Episode 25 The growing hunger: why do we need more critics of color?

Today is our first of three episodes exploring why we all need critics of color. Colin talks to Jeff Yang, an American writer, journalist, and business/media consultant who has written for The Wall Street Journal and CNN, and, Mauricio Mota, a producer of East Los High, an award-winning Hulu drama series that has earned five Emmy nominations for its realistic portrayal of Latinx high school students. We talk about the gatekeeping responsibility and power of the few critics of color when they are critiquing media coming from their own communities: They can break or make a show or movie. We also discuss their importance for unpacking the cultural context and nuance of movies such as Crazy Rich Asians and Coco within their fan community and for those encountering these more inclusive representations for the first time. We also discuss how globalization should, and can, work in unexpected ways: Coco did very well in China, for example. How do we move forward? “Everyone can be a critic” says Mota, but for a long time “we were not allowed to have taste in this town.”

 

Here are some of the things mentioned in this episode, for those who want to dig a little deeper:

Jeff Yang’s mahjong explainer for Crazy Rich Asians

Margaret Cho’s All American Girl

Yang’s review of All American Girl for the Village Voice is not available online, but this NYT article on his son Hudson covers some of it

Rotten Tomatoes‘ recent move to add over 200 critics to increase its diversity

Maureen Ryan’s column on The Leftovers