Welcome back podcaster Brittany Luse to discuss Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma by Claire Dederer. We discuss how race does and doesn’t show up in the book, and what worked for us versus what didn’t. We also consider the nature of punishment and redemption when it comes to monstrous celebrities, and ask whose genius we miss out on when we make space for monstrous artists.
Be sure to listen to the end of today’s episode to find out what our book club pick will be for October 2023.
*Due to the nature of podcast advertising, these timestamps are not 100% accurate and will vary.
Traci Thomas 0:09
Welcome to The Stacks, a podcast about books and the people who read them. I’m your host Traci Thomas and today is The Stacks book club day. We’re welcoming back fellow podcaster Brittany Luse, who hosts NPR’s It’s Been a Minute, she is here to help me break down Monsters: A fan’s dilemma by Claire Dederer. Monsters is an expansion of the author’s 2017 Viral Paris Review essay entitled What do we do with the art of monstrous men? Part memoir and part inquiry. This book forces the reader to think deeply about what we’re willing to accept from our favorite artists and celebrities. Today, Brittany and I talk about the many questions and ideas that this book brought up for us from monstrous women in their relationship to motherhood to our collective love of punishment. There are no spoilers on today’s episode, make sure you listen through to the end of the episode to find out what our October book club pick will be. Quick reminder, everything we talked about on each episode of the stacks can be found in the link in the show notes. Also, while you’re there, will you go ahead and leave the stacks a rating and a review. It goes a long way to helping folks find this podcast. September marks two years of making the stacks as an independent podcast and I am so so so grateful to be able to make the show that I love in the way that I want to make it and I could not do it without the support of the Stacks pack over on Patreon. This community not only gives me the space to hire a team of incredibly talented folks that make this show possible, you know, Christian, our editor, and Lauren, our production assistant, but it also provides a community for so many other book lovers to engage around books, politics, and of course, snacks. So if you liked the show, or if you’d like books, or if you like snacks, and you want to be part of a community that is excited about all of those things and more head to patreon.com/the stacks, and join the stacks pack. It’s just $5 a month, you get to be part of making this show possible. Plus, you get perks for yourself like our virtual book club meetups, our Discord that has the best book recommendations ever in the history of the world and our monthly bonus episodes. And you also get shout outs on the show. If you’re not in the stacks pack yet have no fear you can go to patreon.com/thestacks and join I promise you it is never too late to show your support for this podcast or for any of your favorite artists and creatives. Alright, that was a lot but now it is time for my conversation with Brittany Luse about Monsters by Claire Dederer.
Alright, everybody. I am so excited. It is The Stacks book club day I am joined again by NPR’s Brittany Luse. Brittany, welcome back.
Brittany Luse 3:00
Thank you. It’s so good to be back.
Traci Thomas 3:02
I am so excited to talk to you about Monsters a fans dilemma by Claire Dederer. For people who have not read the book yet. We are going to talk in detail. So there might be some spoilers I’m not sure you can really spoil a book like this. But if you’re nervous about that, don’t listen yet. But let me tell people what the book is about. Basically, it is a collection of essays by a cultural critic named Claire Deidre, that’s examining this big question of what do we do with the art of monsterous artists? The term monster is sort of broad. But you know, she starts it with Woody Allen Roman Polanski people that I think we can all agree have some monsterous accusations against them or, or more, and then it sort of goes all over the place. And we’ll talk about all of that soon. But Brittany, where we always start with these book club episodes is sort of generally what did you think of the book?
Brittany Luse 3:56
Generally, I found okay, I appreciated the the ambition of the book, it was for everything that it covered and for all of the references it was very well written very very, very easy to read I don’t mean easy to read isn’t like she was a simple language or something like that all the time. But it just it wasn’t it. I felt like the writing never got in the way of Yeah, but the point of the book, I was like, Oh, this is elegantly written and well edited. I think that overall this is like an exploration of how one very thoughtful very well read very experienced critic who’s also like a Gen X white woman, guys who was like from the Pacific Northwest and lives on like, cute little island. Yeah. I think that like, like, it’s definitely like I was coming. I just come at the idea of like, art and artists and and Who are these monstrous men and sometimes women monstrous people who make work that we love, I come at it from just a different generation, a different racial, ethnic experience, different cultural experience, different background. And so some of my references are a little bit different. But I will say to that end, though she does consistently, again and again, throughout the book grounded in her point of view, her experience. So there are some aspects, there are some parts of the book that I got way more out of than other parts. I would say like the second half to me really is when I felt like I was like, okay, things are interesting picking up steam for me. But also, though, I will say the second half also has to do a lot with, like motherhood in a way that that so I be really, I’m really curious to hear what you have to say about that. But, but also, again, my references for thinking about those things are different than the offers. So I felt like it was a very, she’s trying to answer a big collective question through the specificity of her own experience as a point of view. And I think she does that.
Traci Thomas 6:10
Yeah. Okay. So this is my second time reading the book. When I read the book earlier this year, I had a lot of thoughts and feelings about Claire Dieter as our guide, which I would definitely want to talk about today, because I think she is for me, a black millennial woman from a major urban center who’s lived in major urban centers and, and consumes different pop culture. It’s I think she’s an imperfect guide for me. However, the thing that I loved about this book, and the thing, the reason that I wanted to do it on this show, specifically with a black woman, you enter Brittany, I had a feeling once I was reading, I was like, I see what she called me. Yeah, I was like this. I was like, I want to do this with like, I need the right person. But the reason I wanted to do this is because there were so many things that came up in this book that resonated with me, and how I think and talk about art, regardless of how Claire deed or whatever her answers were, like, it asked him questions that I want to be talking about as a person who talks about art and culture constantly. It was making me question, you know, why do I feel this way? How come I have weird feelings about being an authority? What’s that coming from? What is a stain mean to me? Like, what are the things that are stained? It brought up all that kind of stuff? And like, what is redemption look like? And I want to get to all of that. So I recognize that Claire Dieter is an imperfect, you know, lens through which to ask these questions in some ways, but also, maybe she’s the perfect person because she’s willing to be subjective. And I feel like that’s sort of the point of the book is like, yeah, all of this is super subjective. You’re not going to get it over and over again. Yeah, yeah, she’s like, there isn’t a calculator. I’d love a calculator. There’s not one. So I felt I feel like this is a worthy book for discussion, regardless of my personal feelings or ability to relate or not relate to Claire dt, or, which to your point, like talks about how good the writing is, and like she really craft some really strong arguments, even if I don’t agree with them. And I think like, that is also part of the question of this book. Like, how much do we have to like the person even if they’re not a monster, even if they’re just a white lady from an island in Seattle? Like, how much does she mattered to me in this book, or should she or whatever so all of that, I also did not like the back half. I really, I think after the Wagner essay, that sort of where i i Both times I sort of like clicked out a little bit the last essay I loved but the mother stuff-
Brittany Luse 8:39
I’m excited to talk about the last essay because I already that was that for me mad at miles we’ll get there but that okay, the the writing that she talks about in the last chapter is that’s my magnum opus when I think about how to think about engaging with the work of a monster as a fan.
Traci Thomas 8:57
Okay, I have not read that so you have to tell me more about it but it’s really good. Okay, so I want to start I guess I think we should just start with Claire and kind of get it out of the way because I feel like she’s lingers in the book. There’s something about Claire deters writing that she makes me feel like she’s a pick me lady, like, Oh, I’m a girl like a cool girl. You know, like how she-
Brittany Luse 9:19
Is that what she copped to though, like wanting?
Traci Thomas 9:22
She does, she does but even even though she cops to it, I feel like she’s sort of okay with it. Do you know me? Like, you know, it’s like they’re, she’s talking about, like in the Wagner essay, she’s talking about, like, you know, the Jewish problem of like, anti semitism and how it always shows up and like how someone and then she sort of like off handedly defends Woody Allen and Roman Polanski by being like, because they’re Jewish and like, they like there’s always these little moments where I’m like, you’re still defending these people that you’re like, I don’t know. There’s something about there was something about her, like brand of feminine His that felt really rooted in her wanting to be accepted by the boys. That was off putting to me because I felt like I’m following her argument. But I’m also like, you’re not even following your own argument.
Brittany Luse 10:15
The Cool Girl stuff that you’re bringing up that I didn’t catch so much. I think that some of like the idea that she had this close artistic connection to Woody Allen and Roman Polanski to me are like that she like looked at them as like people who were like heroes like artistically people whose that she really like viewed as like some kind of North Star. To me, I chalked that up to like a cultural and yeah, generational divide. So like, I was in kindergarten, like my whole like, I was in kindergarten, when like the stuff about SUNY and Woody Allen came out and effectively Yes, he is not technically cancelled, like Woody Allen is still continued, he still continues to, I mean, literally, he debuted, like, I think he gave us some new work this week, or he was at least I think, the Venice Film Festival at the time of this recording. And so he’s obviously technically not canceled because he can still work. And he still got defenders. But like for my life, he kind of was out of the public eye ever since I think like his relationship with soon Yi Previn became public knowledge. And they became like a public item. Pretty much. I just felt like he wasn’t really a part of like, like, he wasn’t really at the center of like, the cultural zeitgeist the way that he was in the 80s, and certainly not the 70s. And so I think I thought that like her connection, like I like she was born I think of the late 60s, I thought her connection to Woody Allen specifically as a filmmaker was that she grew up loving and watching his movies. And so there’s like this long, almost like the way I think many people think about many people of our generation may think about Michael Jackson, for example, even though Michael Jackson also had allegations out by the time people already like it kindergarten, first grade. Still, society was different back then media was different back then they weren’t thought of in the same way, as people might think about like child abuse allegations today. But Michael Jackson was somebody who like, in my, like, my, like, I grew up with his music and I, like my, my parents grew up with his music, right? Right. There was this like, sort of inescapable nature to his cultural contributions. I thought about it. Like, that’s maybe how she thinks about Woody Allen and probably also Roman Polanski, as somebody who had been doing film who like cut their teeth, right? In film criticism in the 90s. It’s like, Oh, of course, the people who’ve been making films in the 90s would be directly influenced by Woody Allen and Roman Polanski. And so that visual language would be something that she would have a lot of attachment to. So I kind of chalked up like her, like obsessions with these filmmakers, and even to like the desire to be a part of like, even when she talked about like, you know, film criticism in the 90s. At this alt weekly in Seattle was like a boys club. I just felt like, that is just a generational sort of, yeah. The I just, it’s not it wasn’t it’s not really in the same way a part of my reality. But I didn’t I didn’t necessarily take it as a pic and take her for a pick me in that way, though.
Traci Thomas 13:36
Okay, what about the like, lack of black people in this book, they show up a little bit, but so barely, until the last essay when she then uses Pearl Craig’s like her work to kind of center her own work, but like, Michael Jackson just like, is a blip. Kanye West is a blip. Cosby is a blip. And yes, I have a lot of like, I don’t know, I have theories about maybe why I just felt like such a missed opportunity to me, because I really feel like there. There’s a conversation to be had about white consumers and their relationship to black people when when allegations come out or like when they’re accused or when they do a bad monsterous thing that I wish that Claire did or would examine through her own subjective lens. Like I’m curious about how a white woman engages with these these accusations versus how she engages with an accusation against Woody Allen?
Brittany Luse 14:37
That’s a very good question. I kind of wondered the same thing. And I was thinking I was going back and forth about that in in reading the book. But the thing I kept coming back around to was, well, I have two thoughts, I want to say has to do with the chapter on anti semitism and racism, which we’re going to come back to, but the first thought that I had was that like, I I am actually glad that she did not spend as much time or ink on talking about, like, artists and abusers of color. Because I got the sense from reading the book when I was like looking, I felt like I was getting a mental map of like the soundtrack to her life and the movies that like all the things that that sort of like I was getting, like a mental map of her cultural references and touch. Yes. And I think I was kind of like, well, what about this person? I like you said I was there was a chapter that has Michael Jackson basically, like in the title. It’s like, Yeah, but then you read the chapter. I’m like, Okay, is it? Where’s did it is the Michael Jackson in the room with us? What’s happened? But I also was thinking about it. And I’m like, Okay, well, then what are the other two options, like she could do a bad job, trying to incorporate these references and these artistic heroes that aren’t relevant to her or natural for her to speak on. Especially if you, if you’re going to open up the Michael Jackson Pandora’s Box, baby, there’s so many things you’ve got to get to, but she may have felt this, I don’t have the depth. I don’t have the depth. I don’t have that depth of experience to get into that. But they’re also or she could do the thing of like, and I know there’s this all this other stuff that you know, I could reference, you know, which some people sometimes do, they’ll be like, well, you know, they’ll do sort of like a I don’t know how to put it, but they’ll kind of put in like almost like a lazy or like a like a like back into referencing like, well, I know that there’s all this other stuff going on. But I’m just gonna focus on this thing that I already know. And I’m like, I’d be annoyed if she’d said that. She might also be undercutting herself, like as an authority, but also to I’d be annoyed if she decided to like loop all these other guys in so I was kind of like, I’m actually okay with her keep in she kept again, bringing the focus back to her. But right in the in the Wagner chapter, which was titled, hold on, let me correct,
Traci Thomas 17:08
The anti Semite, the racist and the problem of time.
Brittany Luse 17:12
Yeah the anti Semite, the racist and the problem of time, which I thought was, I actually, I thought that that chapter as it related to anti semitism was really thoughtfully written and researched. And I, yeah, and I was, I was, I was, like, really, really stunned by some of the things that she had uncovered and talked about and talking about, like, Winifred Wagner, like, oh, my gosh, yeah, like, basically, you know, his daughter in law or whatever, who was kind of like, a Nazi to the bone. And also like the person who was like the keeper of his legacy. But I, but racism gets like a passing mention in that chapter. And that is a chapter I wish, I wish that she would have actually just left the racism out of it. Because the anti semitism, so good was so good that it was so strong, like all of that was really, really thoughtfully researched and mapped out. I don’t know, her religious or cultural background, other than I know that she’s a white woman, as she says in the book. So I don’t know if that if, like if she’s Jewish, and that is something that like she,
Traci Thomas 18:09
I didn’t, I didn’t think she was Jewish, because she kept mentioning how she asked her Jewish friends-
Brittany Luse 18:13
Friends, that’s what I was thinking too. So that was my inference as well. But the thing about that, though, is that it also made me wonder like, Okay, well, if you did all of this deep research, and you were so stunned, by I mean, vogner is really horrifying, anti semitism and how that, you know, influenced people, you know, influenced Nazis like the soundtrack to the Nazis. I’m like, why couldn’t you have done that level? Right. One of the things I’m very curious to hear what you what your thoughts on this is that kind of took me out of the book, was that the her really deep asking of these questions was something that really occurred to her in like 2014. And she says, also in 2016, is when it really started to coalesce for her. And that comes with the grabbing by the pussy moment with Donald Trump. And, and she’s like, you know, we were about to enter into an age where our heroes would fall and I’m thinking none of the people who fell were my heroes. In 2017, after the metering movement, none of those were my heroes. So I was a little kind of like, okay, I don’t know as a black woman, I as somebody who grew up listening to rap. It hasn’t really been a pop fan. I came out the womb trying to balance this Yeah, how do I like the art and the way that Andy artists and the way the artist talks about people like me, how all of that, that is something I think that that I kind of, I felt like that really shone through in the volume chapter. I was like, oh, when it comes to something, even if you don’t have personal experience with it, you still felt comfortable doing research and really expounding upon this in a way that’s really effective.
Traci Thomas 19:57
And then she brings up like two or three Little House on the Prairie as well. I’m like, Baby, you can find that.
Brittany Luse 20:02
So I was thinking I was like, there’s so many there’s ways, just thinking like you’re talking about vogner In Germany, very consequential, very important. But I’m like, as an American, you found some examples from, like, 150 100 years ago, and that’s yeah, I was just kind of like, like, I don’t know, I was like, there’s like, you, child. I’m like, we’ve kind of gone back to Huckleberry Finn. So much. There’s so much I kind of felt like it was a big oversight. And I kind of wish that she had just left the racism out of it. Because you’re giving it its own chapter. Or giving its own chapter and done done at the proper justice.
Traci Thomas 20:43
Yeah that’s how I feel like I understand like, I don’t want Claire Dieter, er, to tell me about racism. But I’m interested in what Claire Dieter or thinks about racism, you know what I mean? Like, I don’t like I don’t want a white woman to be like, This is how racism feels for black people or whatever, like, no, no, thank you. But I do think that it was an omission on purpose. Like, I think she was like, I don’t want to do the racism part. And let me just slide it in here. And to me, that’s annoying, because I think like, I know, she also did the thing very early in the book, which pissed me off where she was like, we’re not going to talk about athletes. And I think that was a big mistake. Because I think that athlete racialized to me, I’m not gonna, like, super racist. But also, like, I think about like, OJ Simpson. Imagine what a chapter about that could have looked like, for someone of that age, a white woman, like there was such a cultural phenomenon. He was an actor before. And like, what it looks like to be someone that everyone’s rooted for. And then people like, there, I just feel like that chapter. I was like, I wish that was there. Because that could have been her entry point into being a white woman navigating talking about race, you know what I mean? Like, and not like a perfect entry for her. But her being like, we’re not talking about athletes. I literally was like, this bitch. How dare you like, like, let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about it.
Brittany Luse 22:00
Because I want to talk about it or don’t or don’t mention it, which I was. I don’t casually mention that. Yeah. Yeah, I don’t especially because sports don’t doesn’t come up the whole rest of the book. So I was like, Oh, why? Why was the the rest? Like I said, so much of the book is so carefully written and edited. You can tell.
Traci Thomas 22:16
And it was like she was listing monsters. And then she was like, some athletes like, oh, but we’re not going to do athletes because that would be a whole other thing. Like, yeah. Yeah, we’d be held to it was like, Okay, well, you know what? I don’t I don’t appreciate that. I don’t like that attitude. Okay, I want to talk about this. I wanted to get your thoughts and feelings on ethical thoughts versus moral feelings. This is a distinction that she makes in the book and kind of brings it up throughout. I think Did you feel clear on the differences between those two things?
Brittany Luse 22:50
I thought that was a me thing. I because I’m like, I thought that was a me thing. Also, too, I think, well, well, I know we’re gonna get to this. But like, as you mentioned, in the last chapter of the book, she relies upon a really seminal writing by a fantastic black feminist writer, Pearl Clegg. On fact, ProClick and my auntie, were best friends in high school, Becca? Oh, yes. And I actually did like that chapter. And I love I love the essay that she that she refers to, but we’ll get there. But I, one of the things that she says at that point is that like, Pearl Clegg is writing about her monster Miles Davis. As with with, like, we’re fully aware of her subjectivity as a black woman as an abuse survivor, as a feminist. And I think that because of like, the cultural work that I do, and have always done, I’ve come from, like, a space of like a self started self funded show that focused on black people and black culture. And that’s like what I did for like the first eight years of my career, like it also too, because I am a black woman, subjectivity is assumed weight, many white people look at me, right? So subjectivity is assumed when many, you know, as she talks to get to this, when many men look at her. When she when she was an early film critic, she got the sense that they had assumptions about her, her ability to remain objective. I have a lot of thoughts about we, and another time I have a lot of thoughts about like the utility of objectivity in journalism as a traditionally thought about but I don’t have access to people assuming that I’m going to be neutral or feel neutral, right? So the idea of objective of like, the thoughts versus feelings like moral feelings and what was the other objects I call thoughts, ethical thoughts versus moral feelings. To me, I didn’t. It didn’t latch on for me, like I didn’t want I didn’t latch on to it, but I guess I didn’t. I think I’m coming from a place of like Nobody thinks my acid subject is objective, right?
Traci Thomas 25:02
But what’s weird is like, when she brought it up, she talked about how her friend had some comment about Woody Allen or whatever. And then she’s like, Oh, that’s to her feelings. I thought she was going to share her thoughts. And I’m like, How are you making that distinction? Like, how do you like, is it? Is it up to the person who’s receiving the information to decide what’s a thought or a feeling? Is there actually a difference to her? How does she know when something is a feeling versus a thought when we’re talking about things that are entangled with feelings and thoughts? Like, it just, I just couldn’t quite get there. And to me, it also feels like a distinction without a difference. Like, even if I understood her distinction. It didn’t, it doesn’t feel like it matters. Yeah. Like, it doesn’t feel like who cares if it’s a feeling or a thought, it’s how I’m feeling. I’m thinking about these things. This thing, this piece of art, this person, and I felt like, you know, for as much as I really appreciated, the questions at the book brought up this. i This is like one of those moments where I felt that like pick me energy of her being like, Oh, this woman’s just having feelings about it. I’m like, Well, so are you then-
Brittany Luse 26:10
An embarrassment around emotion is something that actually shows up repeatedly throughout the book, I think about Yeah, it’s a scene where she’s in a college class. And her class finds out that Raymond Carver died. And one of her female classmates, like burst into tears. And she was embarrassed by that. Or there was like, another point in the book where she describes like, a cry in like a form of protest against Oh, yeah, just were women came to like one of the last, we came to a showing of his and laid on the ground in front of his work and cried like bros burst into sobs. And she was saying that, like, this was in metallics in the book, it made her feel extremely uncommon, uncomfortable, like, the idea, just the thought of that made her feel uncomfortable. And I was thinking, Hmm, something to target. So we have an interesting feeling. And emotion is like, should should be completely shut out of the way you view something is that’s so interesting throughout the book.
Traci Thomas 27:06
And it’s interesting, because like, she’s an art critic, and art is supposed to evoke feelings, you know, like art that’s like, what art is supposed to do, you know, kind of air quotes around supposed to, but like, I think if you talk to any artist of any medium, they’re like, I want people to have feelings about what I’ve made. Like, I want people to engage with it. And I want it to resonate, you know, those are the words you hear. So this idea that this art critic is like, so uncomfortable with any form of feeling. And that like feeling is less than thinking to her. It’s just so it’s so injured. It’s just interesting to me, like, I don’t get it. You know, I love when I see a thing. And I’m like, Oh, my God, I have goosebumps, right? Like, that’s feeling. Yeah, that’s just like, and she talks about that in the stain that involuntary reaction to the art that like when something is stained, even if you don’t want to, you can’t help but be affected by the stain. And she talks about it being involuntary. And she talks about it again, at the end. In the last essay, the beloved, or the Beloved’s where she talks about loving an art piece of art. You can’t help it. It just happened. And to me, I guess that would be the difference between feeling and thinking. But it’s so small. I’m not sure I feel a difference. 100% agree. How did you think about the stain? The stain is her idea that like these, the crimes of monstrous people are analogous to a stain on a piece of clothing.
Brittany Luse 28:46
Yeah, I thought that was I thought it was a good idea. I thought it was clear. I thought it was a nice analogy. It wasn’t. It didn’t feel like a new idea to me it but I’ll say I can’t actually recall whether or not she presented it as a new idea. I think she moreso presented it as her she said it was someone else through it.
Traci Thomas 29:05
Yeah. But yeah, someone else had said it had come to the same right idea of the state. Exactly.
Brittany Luse 29:11
Yeah. So I I liked that chapter. And I understood what she was talking about. I mean, recently, I was at a family birthday party for an older family member. And, you know, there was a DJ and there was Michael Jackson playing sometimes. And it’s absolutely uh, she says something in the book or about like, you know, when it’s hard to resist, that you kind of can’t resist when you hear Michael Jackson’s music wafting through the air. And like Michael Jackson was a person who like I had spent a decent amount of time thinking about because I had to listen to this whole like 10 episode like podcast series to interview the makers for it’s been a minute and it was a great series called Think twice Very good. That gets into like his allegations and his alleged crimes against children and alleged abuse of children. Um, so I spent a lot of time thinking about this, I’ve read on Michael Jackson, which is a great essay collection by Margo Jefferson, which really gets into his genius and like, hit the mark that he’s left on American culture. And I still don’t feel comfortable listening to him, like, really at all anymore at all. But when I was at my aunt’s 75th birthday party, and I forget which song it was, but it was like, it might have been Billie Jean or something like that. But when it comes on, I was like, 45 seconds into the song dancing before I was like, oh, yeah, yeah, I feel icky. But that like when she talks about like that, sort of like, that’s, that’s me confronting the stain, the stain is there. And there’s nothing you can really do to kind of get it out. And yeah, so I thought it was a helpful way of thinking about it. But it was like, it didn’t feel new to me. I know, that’s not everybody’s like, measure for how to think about a book like this. But I have. It’s a personal peccadillo, for me that I get impatient when I read books that are about ideas. And I’m confronted with something that I already I’m like, Okay, let’s, let’s keep going. That’s how I felt about the chapter about the state. What about you?
Traci Thomas 31:13
Interesting, I really liked the analogy. It didn’t feel new to me either. But I liked thinking about it. I like thinking about if the stain moves backwards in time. Like if someone is stained at 40 years old, does that then infect their work that they did at 2015? At three? Because I think like, another part of this book that I’d like to talk about in a little bit is about sort of, or maybe we talked about now is sort of like this, the abolitionist lens of all of this, like, what can monsters do to be redeemed? Can they ever be redeemed? What does it take? Because there are people in popular culture who have done monstrous things, and have righted the ship. And so I think this idea of like, the stain moving backwards in time, is like, deeply not abolitionist, right? It’s deeply like to like, say that a three year old like to say that any work that Michael Jackson did, and obviously, he’s very complicated, because he was abused as a child. And so that gets really complicated. But to say that anything that he has ever created, even if it was long before, right, the crime is like off limits because of the crime. And even before he was famous, like, is he a ruined person? Is he a stained person? Or is the art stained? Right? Like, like, like Quentin Tarantino? The accusations against him is that he was a real big bully asshole treated Uma Thurman like shit, right? abused her. But does that mean that all of his other movies are stained to or does that mean that he became a monster at that point? Is he still a monster? Like, what does that look like? And so I think that thinking about the stain as like an actual object on a piece of work was helpful to me because like, I think about a shirt, I have this Beyonce shirt that I love, and it definitely has stains on it. And I wear it all the time. I don’t care, because I love the shirt so much. I’m maybe not going to wear it if I’m gonna go meet Barack Obama. But like, I definitely wear it all day, every day in my home. And like, I love it. So like, what does you know, like, so what does that look like if we transfer that analogy to art? And so I think that’s kind of how I was thinking about this chapter. And also how I think I thought a lot about the book is like, Claire Diderot presented an idea. And then my brain was like, let’s run with it. Like, what does that look like? And I think that’s why I really liked this book, is that maybe it’s not a perfect book, but the ideas in it were so generative for me and like so provoking. Yeah. And you know what I mean? Like, it’s like, okay, Claire did or not, like, wish there are more black people. But also, I can just apply this to black people. You know, so, so the stain part was, I think, really, that chapter I I really liked a lot, because it gave me a framework to think about the monsters in my life and like, I’ll be really frank with people. Please don’t yell at me. Please don’t cancel me. I’m just going to be honest, I have started to listen to Kanye West’s music. Again, more since reading this book. I just started doing it. I just feel like his stain for me does not impact his older work. So like, I still have been able to listen to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy because I sort of don’t think of that book, as or that saw that music as his stain era. I haven’t listened to the new stuff.
Brittany Luse 34:33
But like I can totally understand that. I absolutely, totally, I totally can understand that. I think that that like, makes a lot of logical sense. Also, it makes me think about what you were saying earlier about her love for Woody Allen like, one day. I mean, like, your kids are gonna be like, I’m so used. Listen to this Kanye guy.
Traci Thomas 34:53
Well, okay, so my kids love Kanye. They’re only three but I haven’t explained it to them yet.
Brittany Luse 34:58
But they love him. The future they’re going to have some understanding of him that’s going to be post all of this stuff. It’s going to be totally different than, you know, people our age who live literally live. My life fell in love with soundtrack to our lives for so long, but know that that’s really really.
Traci Thomas 35:18
And I don’t feel like his sins show up in his work his early work, like I think with Woody Allen, there’s an argument to be made that his love of young women shows up in his work, so it’s easy to see it, whereas Kanye stain, I’m like, it doesn’t really show up till later.
Brittany Luse 35:33
But I think what I will say is like, Okay, well, one, just a quick aside about Kanye. For me, I haven’t looked at Kanye with a side eye for a really long time. I still did listen to music, because he always made really wild comments about black women. So I was already like, I mean, I was again, but that’s like being that’s being a hip hop fan, where you’re like, all right, like, this is a good blocking out. But I’m glad you brought up the point about Woody Allen. And like, like, his stain, because in his stain, you know of like, you know, wanting to, you know, abuse and sleep with young women. Girls really, that like being the allegations against him, and also that being also him being married to his stepdaughter. And also, you know, that being like Manhattan, the film Manhattan is about a guy who’s like a grown ass middle aged man dating a 70 year old girl who’s still in high school. And the thing is, is like, I the way glad you brought Woody Allen because I also think about our Kelly in that way. I think about Michael Jackson in that way. I’m actually glad you brought up Quentin Tarantino because I also kind of think about him in that way. I’ll explain what Wait a second. These are all people for whom their art is, in many ways a calling card for the sort of abuse allegations or actual abuse, you know, that they were acting against other people so like, yes, quitting Tarantino, his Leary gaze bleary gaze that he has learned of the way a female characters are often treated in his films. You know, there’s that, that that tracks with, you know, with what was saying, the way that Michael Jackson used his music to kind of put forth and uses music and also his PR team to put forth this very childlike image. It’s like Michael Jackson is a friend of kids are Kelly, you know, the pied piper Pied Piper? You know what I mean? Like this guy who, who’s just like, got so much sex appeal to all the girls are going crazy for him, even if they’re in the eighth grade. Like, right Woody Allen like I’m making the film Manhattan enough said, there’s a lot too. I want something I wish maybe that the like, if there’s one more thing that I wish, like I like that she could have really dug into in this book is like how to think about people who use their art as like the ultimate shield, the ultimate back pass was a calling card for the abuses. They were, you know, like the, you know, for the abuses that they were enacting on other people or they’d be accused of enacting on other people. That’s the thing that I think about, right?
Traci Thomas 38:15
Because that this, then that makes the stain show up even more like Yeah, can you look away from the stain?
Brittany Luse 38:23
It’s like, that’s what she was what she was talking about. Cavan watch The Cosby Show, and she kind of gets at that a little bit because he’s like, who what he was doing and who he’s supposed to be on the show are so far apart from each other. She’s like, Yeah, and I get I get because I can’t even I haven’t even seen the Cosby Show in over a decade. Because
Traci Thomas 38:39
I know people who can watch The Cosby Show because they feel like his crimes don’t appear in the art in the same way that if you watch Manhattan, it’s like you’re super confronted with Woody Allen’s crime
Brittany Luse 38:49
it’s so interesting cuz my thing is is like even though the crimes don’t like show up in the art, let’s say although cliff is a gynecologist, which is free, which is where a frico in his house free in the basement free kosher, honestly. And but like I I do, but the thing for me is, is that that public persona, like it’s still for me, fed into this public persona of him as a dad that gave him cover it’s like does your is your image giving you cover? Or is your image providing like a way like an easy explainer like you know, Michael Jackson being the damaged the poor, damaged child? Is it giving you a cover? Is it giving you like, an easy like explanation for why you’re abusing other people?
Traci Thomas 39:28
When she talks about like, I gotta find out she talks about like, eventful eventful assholes and like how we love we love events, we love drama. And and she taught like, and she talks about that’s why we love the genius or whatever, because they are giving us events. They’re Johnny Depp is giving us this trial to like, you know, be tough to be a part of to watch to root for. And for me again, this brought me back to this absolute like abolitionist thinking about punishment and It’s not just that we love eventful assholes. We also love collective punishment. We love throwing someone in the garbage can even and I’m not saying like canceled culture. I’m gonna mean like someone like Sinead O’Connor. Right was like a fury of pleasure to hate her was a joyful event for her sins, which now would seem like, basic.
Brittany Luse 40:24
Like it’d be Tuesday.
Traci Thomas 40:26
Yeah. Right. But it’s like, it feels good to collectively hate a thing or punish a person, or, or root for one side or the other. Right? Like, there is joy in throwing away a person that I wish she dug into. Because I think that that again, is like, that’s art imitating life or life imitating art right? Like we people love the jails, they love the prisons lock her up. Like, there’s so much about, it’s not just about the person giving us an event, it’s about the person giving us something to rally around something to talk about. It’s giving us discourse on punishment. And just like, those feelings, again, feelings, add to the art, right? Like, that’s what I kept thinking about. And that’s what I keep thinking about about this book. Because again, it comes back to my question is like, how is there redemption? Right? Like, there really never was redemption truly on a large scale for someone like Sinead O’Connor. Right? You know, I think through the passing of time, people’s younger people like us saw what she did. You know, I don’t remember it at the time I was young, young, young, but like, I remember learning about him being like, this seems stupid, like, this is silly. And like she was wrong. Okay. So yeah, like, like, now I’m like, this was wrong. And I think, you know, at her death, people kind of talked to that and spoke to that, but I don’t think there was ever a redemption for her. And like another person who died prematurely, who I think did have a redemptive arc, which I wish she talked about, but she didn’t talk about athletes is Kobe Bryant, Kobe Bryant became America’s girl, dad. I’m like, how does that happen? And I know in to me, I mean, I have a theory, my theory is that people, he was still an active athlete, so people could still root for him. And they were able to root for him as Lakers fans. And so therefore, they were able to feel like they could root for him as a person again, he had the opportunity to brand through that. Yeah, exactly. And like, and he was a winner. He wasn’t a loser. He he won a lot of titles after that. And bingo, you know. And so I like this, I just keep thinking about like, who, who has successfully beat a monster FIDE themselves? And how and why? And like, you know, what is the road to be on monstering? I wish that that was in the book, you know,
Brittany Luse 42:47
I’m glad that I’m really interested in this abolitionist lens that you brought to the book, because it does give me like, Yeah, another way of thinking about it. I the thing, though, that same, that same section, you mentioned where she was talking about how like, you know, on some level we like, we like we’re interested, we’re attracted to the monster because of the genius. That’s from the chapter that she had about Hemingway and Picasso. And, you know, both of them being like, serial abusers of women, sometimes, in Hemingway’s case of children, often having in this case, like a serious drunk and all this stuff. But like, also just an aside, she brings up the Sun Also Rises in this chapter, which is a book that actually I do, I do like, and it was so interesting to me that later, there’s a chapter about racism. And I’m like, maybe there is it the beginning of the book and the earliest chapters, there’s a really nasty weird mention, like, wanting to do sexual tourism in Africa. So I’m kind of like, right.
Traci Thomas 43:56
There opportunities to talk about racism.
Brittany Luse 43:59
Exactly. As Joni Mitchell wet face, anybody? Yeah, there’s, there’s there’s opportunity there. But um, that chapter was interesting enough to me, but also like, I have been thinking about, like about genius and who gets to be one and all of the privileges that that are his constant genius. Most recently, I think that least among like, black Hollywood slash creative circles, that word has been thrown around a lot with regard to Kendrick Lamar and Kendrick Lamar in music and Donald Glover in TV with Atlanta. And I mean, I’ll say I liked a lot of Atlanta. I really liked a lot of Atlanta. I thought it was really great. And I really like most of Kendrick Mars music I think it’s really great this most last album, I was like, What the fuck is going on this year begin to chip a little recycled and sonically it wasn’t giving me a lot as bad lyrically it wasn’t given me a lot No, because does anybody know the songs? No. Do you hear the play? No, no. So it wasn’t. But I’m not arguing people but I something I always have been thinking about is black female genius. That is something I think about all the time because genius again, for me a lot of my earliest references to cultural conversations around genius. Go back to hip hop. So yeah, Kanye West is at the forefront of that conversation. Lamar is at the forefront of that conversation to some talk. Yeah, Dr. Dre for sure. So some poor misguided people, Eminem is at the forefront of the conversation. Prayer, I asked you to seek a prayer. But like in also again, but like those geniuses have opportunities to the it gives them a pass to you know, like, the Beyonce is Renaissance show, which I went and I went to, was amazing. Ride is this old, a beautiful old and I really mean this wholeheartedly to, you know, to Black joy to black queer joy, though specifically, it was really deeply influenced by and created by people on that community. And yet with Kendrick Lamar, his most recent album, which features quite a few F bombs, and I’m not talking about fuck, and has like some weird, like, stereotypical depictions of women, and they feel kind of goofy. And it just really to, like, the kind of details like how shitty he is to his wife, but how he should kind of be absolved. And he doesn’t want to be a genius. And don’t pay attention to me and don’t look at me but like, but I’m right, you know, almost like don’t look at it without like the like the album equivalent of like, don’t look at me, even though I’m on live crying. Like, and yet he was still brought out. I mean, the black queer community trans community were incensed at Kendrick Lamar ‘s most recent album, and yet, when Beyonce did a remix of one of the songs from the album, she included Kendrick, and he came to her birthday show and performed with her. And that to me was like, Uh, huh, you didn’t give anybody space and food. But you know, Kendrick Lamar is he’s a genius. Same thing with Kanye West, which people were rocking with Kanye up until he made anti semitic remarks, which are totally unacceptable, completely unacceptable. But I find it very interesting that that was the focal point. Yeah, a lot of wild shit about black women beforehand. So yeah, I think that like that was like the genius conversation thing was interesting. But I just kind of found myself like, Okay, I know I am with you. And I get it like genius does allow a lot but I think way more interesting conversation that I wanted to get into, which kind of does get into a little bit is like, who’s genius? Do we miss when we’re giving all these other people passes? I always want i That’s the question that has been way more interesting to me. I’m a child of Tumblr. A lot of the things that are in this book are really well argued, well argued, well written. And I enjoyed reading them. But as far as like new ideas, the first half of the book to me felt a little bit lacking.
Traci Thomas 48:03
Yeah, let’s get to Becca, let’s get to the back half. So I felt like Claire Dieter, or wrote the first half of the book felt really good. Turned it in and her editor was like, okay, but you have to include monstrous women. And she was like, okay.
Brittany Luse 48:22
Okay, that’s a very good point there two monsters woman chapters that I was back after I was like-
Traci Thomas 48:30
The am I a monster because I want to write a good book? And I’m ambitious chapter was literally felt like nails on the chalkboard to me, because I like Claire, you’re setting women back 50 years right now by talking about how terrible you feel about doing your fucking job. So you have the you are a you are a writer, you’re a professional writer, you get to live the dream of so many people. And you’re like, Well, I closed the door on my kids. I feel terrible about who I am. And I’m just like, I get it. Like, I’m currently on tour. And I do feel bad when I leave for five days. And I’m like, here’s a list of things to do. But I’m also like, I can’t wait to do my show in LA and bring my fucking kids and have them see me do a thing.
Brittany Luse 49:16
I fantasize and becoming a parent. That’s one of the things that I think worse. Yes, investing that my child and helping them grow. Yes. But selfishly, I’m like, I don’t know. Like the feeling. I have enjoyed the feeling of feeling proud of a parent and feeling really impressed by them.
Traci Thomas 49:31
I cried at Beyonce. When blue IV came. I cried so high. goosebumps just saying that I didn’t think I was gonna care because I saw I saw it online. I saw it in LA. So I’ve seen every other concert basically on Tik Tok, but I was like, overwhelmed by the pride that I felt, you know, third hand for Beyonce as a parent for blue as a young child to be that focus and capable and I just thought like That’s right. That’s also parenting. And like, I’m just sick and tired of this idea that if you’re a woman who chooses to have children, that you’re a bad person, if you also choose to have a job, I just that’s lazy. And it’s so old.
Brittany Luse 50:15
I say this, as somebody who grew up with my mom worked until I’m a second born, I worked, she worked until I was born. So she had like, 1012 year career as a social worker before I was born. And then she became a stay at home parent. So I experienced my entire life. My mother was a stay at home parent. And she did have other jobs, but her but they would be part time sometimes. And she it wasn’t like an all the time thing, that it was definitely what once my younger sister and I were a little bit older, and my father didn’t travel as much for work. So there’s a very different relationship, speaking specifically only about black women and white women in the United States. Yeah, very different relationship to the idea of being a working mother. Because by and large, most black women have always worked. Now, my grandmother, she did work, but sometimes she didn’t work because she was disabled, she had disability. And but my mother started my mother start working when she was seven. And she started actually, like, she started working, like, you know, like, under the table money, little errands and stuff, right? When she was seven, my mother started working in a doctor’s office when she was like 10 or 12. Like working. So my mother worked from then, until she had me when she was 33. So that’s 20 year career, my mother had basically worrying all the time, and supporting, you know, like, you know, her kids, her, you know, you know, lots of different her family, extended family, and taking care of people and you know, being a part of a family community. So like, not just money, but babysitting, and you know, all that sort of stuff. So my mom has always worked in take taking care of people. And so for my mom to stay home was a really immense privilege. And that’s something that she took a lot of pride in. And I will say I love my mother, because my mother never lied to me about it being easy. I could see, I had eyes, I could see that it was hard to be a stay at home parent for a variety of reasons. The mental load alone, driving us anywhere alone, things that maybe she maybe was interested in, that she didn’t get to try or didn’t get to do and translator alone. I understood all of that. And she was honest with me about it being hard. But she I also know that me and my sisters are the most important things in the world to her. But going back to this idea of black women always working, or most black women always working. There’s never this like, am I gonna be a mother? Am I gonna? How can I work? Now I have some of that because I grew up with a stay at home mom. So I have a little bit of that like, more mainstream traditional, like idea of what a mom is in my head that is kind of hard for me to reconcile with. And that’s something I’m dealing with myself. But culturally, I also understand that that’s not most black people’s experience. And also like when I think about a mother writer, I think about Toni Morrison, Toni Morrison, I’m not trying to shake Claire Dieter, because everyone out there will experience but Toni Morrison has like, you know, obviously everybody knows the story about how she get up at five o’clock in the morning and write, you know, in long form on yellow legal pads where it sounds better haven’t had to go to medical school, but also when you learn about her life story. And when you read and listen to some of her interviews, you know that she had family help, which is again, something very normalized in the black community. You don’t raise your child by yourself. You have cousins, aunties, sisters, friends, you know, uncles, grandparents, all these things, don’t raise your child alone. Childcare is not something that you have to do by yourself. But also, although childcare is a big thing, and I want to acknowledge that, but also like Toni Morrison, she had this quote, I can’t remember all of it. But she was asked something about like, the product was the 90s, like the teenage mother problems. And she was saying that, like, I think that if a young woman gets pregnant, then the family should help her take care of the baby, her life doesn’t have to end it should just the child is part of the family. And so the family should help take care of them so that the mother can can continue on and take care of like, you know, gain the skills or the education or the experience that she needs to be able to contribute not just to her child’s life, but to the family in general. And that sort of like community mindedness. I bring up Toni Morrison, obviously, because she’s brilliant writer, artists thinker, but also because she is of a previous generation to us and Claire Dieter. And so the whole idea of like, how am I going to work and how am I going to be a parent is so for black women, to me, it’s like not really, it’s not really a thing in the same way. We don’t have the lineage of that being like a big thing. I will say the other thing I’ll say, this just maybe about where I’m coming from. And as somebody who really wants to become a parent at some point in the next couple of years. I think like I hit a point where I was very nervous for a lot of the things that she outlined in the book. I was very nervous to become a parent and also want to continue forward in grow in a creative career and try different things and do new stuff. But I realized after a while, that the reasons why I didn’t why I was on the fence about having children and the reasons why I didn’t want to have children were are all the reasons why did want to have children, we’re all emotional. And also it felt possible. And I felt like me and my husband and grandparents and I also like really like want, I want to, you know, invest in this young person, my child, I guess, eventually and help them grow and see them grow and really embrace them. And you know, the challenges that come with that. But also, like, I, they were all love emotional reasons, and the reasons why I didn’t want to become a parent. Were all systemic reasons. And there’s so many points in in here, where I’m like, I kind of have like, I’m like, Wow, so many things could be fixed if childcare was something that our country took seriously. Yeah, or of health care was something that our country took more seriously. And that, you know, like some of the some of these things. I’m like, there’s other developed nations that have economies that operate similar to United States for a closer comparison, who don’t have these same exact issues, child care, and who’s going to do what for the house? And, you know, there’s, there’s like another way and systemic change to me felt like this thing that was like, kind of looming over that whole point of the book. Now, there are some passages in there, I thought were that were really interesting, which is why I enjoyed, like reading that chapter. But I agree. I was, I was I was kind of like, it felt a little like you said, she said his back 50 years, I kind of felt like, I’m just kind of like, oh, this is kind of date. Like this is a little stale.
Traci Thomas 56:25
You know, yeah, it’s stale, and like, and then it takes us to the chapter about women who abandon right? And it’s like, she tries to say that Joni Mitchell is a monster for giving up her child for adoption. But to me, it feels like that’s not monstrous at all. That’s like no Joni Mitchell’s No, Joni Mitchell. No, she can’t do it. She can’t do it. And like I think that she’s trying to say that that’s like what people think about Yes, women who do that kind of stuff. But I just don’t think that the narrative around women who give up their children for adoption is that they’re monsters. I think that it’s that they’re that they’re, you know, underwater that they know that they can’t do it, or that they don’t want it or they’re not able to live that life and I don’t. To me, it doesn’t feel like a monster. Like there are monsters women like where is my chapter on Roseanne Barr, let’s talk about that monster.
Brittany Luse 57:13
You know what I need them saying-
Traci Thomas 57:15
You’re trying to force like to say that the worst thing that a woman can be is a bad mother. Well, what about women who aren’t mothers? Are they not capable of being monsters? Or are they monsters because they chose not to have kids? Like, I just wanted more of the argument to be clear to me because the argument felt very wishy washy.
Brittany Luse 57:33
Yes, that chapter specifically about like, abandoning mothers, like coming after this chapter. Like you said, Am I a monster, where she’s kind of like, there’s a chapter where she’s like wrestling with, you know, am I a monster, she’s wrestling with being a mother and being an artist. And then the following chapter is like, well, then then the next it seems like the only thing you can do is just abandon your kids. These are meant to be in conversation.
Traci Thomas 57:59
Wonderwoman abandoned her to have her kids but she didn’t take the third kid with her. So she was still a mother.
Brittany Luse 58:05
I mean, she was gonna say she’s still a mother. And she’s still in it. However, you know, was, however, narcissistic, or codependent, she may have been she also did find other ways to, like be a mother to mother or to men who were very closely in a non traditional sense, that also kind of put her in a position of like someone’s mother. So I was like, okay, like you said, she still had the one kid like one out of three is still one.
Traci Thomas 58:35
Yeah, it’s still early duty there. Still nicer.
Brittany Luse 58:37
Okay, I kind of got that. It did make me want to know more about Doris Lessing. And I will say for that chapter. It made me way more interested in learning about Doris Lessing and getting into her. Because I think for the time, like abandoning your children at all, I mean, still for the time for now. Shit. That was a very provocative idea. But yeah, the idea of Joni Mitchell as like a the idea of Joni Mitchell is like, you know, I mean, adoption, there’s so many things to get into with that. And culturally, it’s been very interesting to see how conversations around adoption have really shifted and changed even just so acutely in the past two years. But I like Joni Mitchell’s reasons for putting her child up for adoption, or like, I don’t know, it’s just cultural. It’s almost like I was like, I feel like we also need to like ground culturally, like ourselves in that time to understand like, the context in which that adoption would have been taking place and all the other factors that might have been at play, it’s not the same as somebody who may decide that motherhood is not for them because they have an array of options or something like that. Right? Because like, they’re just, you know, I don’t know, I thought that the way that it was framed was a little iffy that chapter and then another chapter about female monsters about Valerie Solana. In Virginia, yeah. Also to Lady Lazarus or something. Yeah. Those to me also, that chapter also to me was kind of like, not fully. It wasn’t fully landing for me. And it wasn’t fully Yeah. Yeah. The also the idea of suicide is a self crime to me was kind of like, I had a took issue with that. That’s good, too. Yeah. And I’m not like up to, I wouldn’t say that I’m like, up to date. journalistically or psychologically on like the correct or most eloquent ways to speak about suicide. So I don’t want to say that I’m some sort of expert, but I felt like presenting suicide as a self crime was kind of bizarre, like the idea that I think she was trying to also just it felt like the idea that she was trying to get with that, like Virginia Woolf died by suicide and then abandoned her children that also felt like more thematically tied to your previous chapter about Yeah, female monsters?
Traci Thomas 1:00:57
Yeah, I just, I feel like there are female monsters that I wish she had talked about. And none of them are the ones that she chose to talk about. Or, like, I wish that she treated women the same way that she treated men and talked about women who had done, you know, terrible things that are objectively terrible things like yeah, I guess, Valerie Solanas, like attempted murder that’s worthy of considering this, I guess, you know, like, I get that.
Brittany Luse 1:01:21
Yeah, I also felt like, I did think it was a little strange when she said, like, oh, I don’t know, Valerie shot Andy Warhol, because that was not the right target for her. I. I thought that was like a strange judgment to, like, from outside the club. I mean, unless I mean, I don’t know anything about data or sexuality. But it seemed as if to me, she was writing from somebody outside of the LGBTQ plus community. And I’m like, just as a black person are everybody has their own intercommunity shit. And just having some understanding of like, even though Andy Warhol was not, nothing should have shot him. That’s not what I’m trying to say. I’m trying to say is, it seems like throughout so many, even in the first chapter or two of the book, she has all of these ways in which she can lay out things that may have happened to Woody Allen or Roman Polanski. That might have been traumatic. It might have affected their behavior with Valerie Solanas, she was like, I don’t even understand why she’d want to shoot Andy Warhol because he’s a gay man. And they were, I’m thinking like, well, that’s like painting with a broad brush to assume that Valerie Santos and Andy Warhol were having, in any way similar experiences, as he was somebody who was way more way more institutional support and love and somebody who was becoming a part of the art establishment, and was like a wealthy white man. It kind of was like a I don’t know if I’m not saying I’m authorized to speak on it, but I’m like, oh, no, if you’re authorized I don’t know if you are either.
Traci Thomas 1:02:47
Yeah. We’re like out of time, but I just I know, you mentioned that you had other things you wanted to say about the last chapter? Was there anything that you really wanted to mention?
Brittany Luse 1:02:59
Yes, yes. Yes. Um, so with the last chapter of the book, which is called Beloved’s? It focuses on this essay by Pearl Clegg and a writer who I love if you haven’t read mad at miles, which is the essay that’s discussing this chapter. Oh my god, go find it. I have a copy actually of the book mad at my little Lincoln in the show notes as well. Yes. So good. I have a copy of the book man and mouse which I went to somebody which I was like, I wanted to look at it and I was like, damn it. That that for me like Pearl Clegg’s? You know, do you ever give us it gives the essay a lot of a lot of time and space. And she really credits Clegg. I feel like I was reading the chapter, I felt like she was crediting her with kind of giving her a way to think about these things or a path forward to figuring out what to do with the love that you have for someone’s art, but also really considering their legacy. And so it was interesting to arrive at this because I was also I came into it thinking like ProClick already said some of these things. And I got to the end and I was like okay, so we agree.
Traci Thomas 1:04:05
She even says in the acknowledgments. Thanks to Pearl Cleage for getting it right.
Brittany Luse 1:04:09
Exactly, exactly. And I totally agree. But I my path to thinking about a lot of these things is really colored by like I said, me being a black woman and hip hop fan. And then looking also around though, like Oh, Sam Cooke. Oh, okay. Oh, like you don’t say like looking around, like every buddy else looking. I’m like, Oh, Marvin Gaye. Okay, cool. Okay, all right. You know, like so many of the people whose music that I grew up with and that I enjoyed, and still do enjoy in many cases, you know, for better or worse, like Miles Davis. The way that she came around to thinking about that and reading her grapple through that through essays was just really powerful for for me and really meaningful for me. So I was really glad so I would say like, I mean, I think this book is actually I think this book is really well written. I think it’s really good again, I think that she grounds it in her specific experience. But you if you’re gonna read this, you have to read mad at miles you have to read it and also to proclaims memoirs, that’s another really good audio book. Okay. So, alright remembers her diaries. So, so good. But yeah, I, I, it doesn’t surprise me that a black woman had a lot of these thoughts, and expressed them and yeah, like 3040 years ago and express them so eloquently doesn’t surprise me.
Traci Thomas 1:05:33
Yeah, I just I think what I really appreciate about that last essay is like, people who are so dogmatic about I will not listen to this, I will not watch this because of the crimes of the monster and can feel strong in that and just say that out loud. To me, I find that to be really irritating, because I’m like, there’s so much to grapple with here. And like, Sure, you can close the book on all of these people. But like, then what happens when the next person comes out, you’re just going to stop, like, I think like to love art is to I think, you know, Dieter says is to love monsters. Like, sometimes that is part of it. And whether or not you decide to, to listen or not listen, or watch or not watch, there has to be some grappling. And I think that people who are just like, oh, this accusation was made, I’m never gonna look at this thing again. I’m just like, I don’t think that’s real. I don’t think that you’re fully like loving the art. Like, I just, I don’t know, there’s something about it. This feels like so, like, for example, for me, I am like, I never read Harry Potter. I’m never gonna read Harry Potter. But that’s also because I never read Harry Potter. It was easy for me to say, I hate JK Rowling. Because I don’t care. I’ve seen to Woody Allen movies and my whole life I didn’t like, I don’t care. I’m never gonna watch a Woody Allen movie again. Because he doesn’t mean anything. Right? It’s so much harder when the art actually means something to you. And that, like the monsters are meaningful and have impact. And so I appreciated that last essay, because I feel like the loving of the art is what’s so painful when these things come about. And like that, that was acknowledged to like, as a fan, it hurts. It’s sad. I’m like, I have to let go of Michael Jackson, who my dad loves so much. And my dad has passed away. And it’s like, that was a thing we had. And now we don’t, I don’t get to have that. Because because he was a monster. And like, I can’t enjoy it anymore. And that is sad to me, you know? And like, I’m glad that we talked about the love that she talked about the love part of it, because I think that’s so important.
Brittany Luse 1:07:29
Yeah, no, I 100% agree. I mean, cuz it like you said, it gets that like, the sense of loss. Like these are kind of like, these. These are all we talk about these things because we enjoy them. They make us feel human. They bring us so much joy. And when you feel like I mean for me, sometimes I’ll be like, Oh, I can’t I’m not I won’t listen to this person. I’m not going to watch this. But more so what happens more frequently for me as somebody who has survived some traumas at the hands with some monsters? I more so can’t i can’t i There was that movie beyond the lights? Gina Prince bheith what baby that is so fucking good. But stars a Parker and those allegations against him. And what happened to the young woman afterward? Yeah, I I can’t. It’s hard for me. I can’t really get i It’s really that I love so much that i want i i watched it twice in theaters and I cried, I brought somebody with me. I hadn’t felt that intense about a movie since I was like a team. But yeah, I can’t really rewatch it. I would like to, but I can’t. And I said that to me that yeah, that’s the thing that I felt like the last chapter. Kind of really?
Traci Thomas 1:08:47
Yeah, yes, I think because then because you are truly grappling with loving the thing and hating the thing at the same time. And I feel like there are people who are just like, so, like, holier than thou about some of the stuff that I’m like, well, then you didn’t really love the thing, because it’s not that easy. If you really love the thing. If you really care about the art. I don’t think it’s possible to just be like, Well, I’m done with it. You know? That’s just my feeling about it. We always talked about the cover and the title. And I know we’re almost done. But I just want to say about the cover. I love the cover. And for people who don’t know, that’s a photo of Pablo Picasso. I didn’t know oh my god, so it makes it an even better cover. A lot of people were like, I don’t I don’t like this cover whatever.
Brittany Luse 1:09:27
I’m like, No, this cover is fucking brilliant. No, this literally by the title sitting on the couch. Yeah, the monster titles great. And also I like a fans dilemma. I love it. Because she’s just like, I’m a fan. I’m one of you. But also this is a fan. I am a fan. This is coming from my point of view. And these are Yeah, I touched Yeah. And I thought that was really smart. But the photo my husband saw sitting on the couch and he was like, That’s good book cover never said that. I read books all the time for workers.
Traci Thomas 1:09:53
It’s so good. Brittany, this has been such a dreaming conversation. I feel like there’s so many other things we didn’t get Talk about that I wish we could have but thank you so much for being here. This was such a joy.
Brittany Luse 1:10:04
Oh, this was so much fun. I had the best time ever. Oh my god, let’s make someone to have a book club ever real life.
Traci Thomas 1:10:08
Okay, let’s do it. I would love to talk about books with you anytime. Everyone else listen to the end of this episode to find out what our October book club pick is going to be. Brittany, thank you so much and everyone else I will see you in the stacks.
Alright y’all, that does it for us today. Thank you so much for listening. And thank you, of course to Brittany Luse for being our guest. And I’d also like to thank Emma Gordon for helping to make this episode possible. All right, it is now time to announce our October book club pick. You’ve waited long enough. We are doing Toni Morrison in October and our book is The 1981 novel Tar Baby. Make sure you listen to our episode on October 4 to find out who our guest will be for the book club episode of Tar Baby on October 25. If you love the show and you want inside access to it, head to patreon.com/the stacks and join the stacks pack. Make sure you’re subscribed to the stacks wherever you listen to your podcasts and if you’re listening through Apple podcasts, be sure to leave us a rating and a review. For more from the stacks. You can follow us on social media at the stacks pod on Instagram and tick tock am threads and at the stacks pod underscore on Twitter. And you can always check out our website at the stacks podcast.com This episode of the stacks was edited by Christian Duenas with production assistance from Lauren Tyree. The stacks is created and produced by me Traci Thomas.
To support The Stacks and find out more from this week’s sponsors, click here.
The Stacks participates in affiliate programs. We receive a small commission when products are purchased through links on this website, and this comes at no cost to you. This in no way effects opinions on books and products reviewed here. For more information click here.