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Culture Gabfest

By Slate Magazine

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New York Times critic Dwight Garner says “The Slate Culture Gabfest is one of the highlights of my week.” The award-winning Culturefest features Slate culture critics Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens, and Julia Turner debating the week in culture, from highbrow to pop.

Customer Reviews

Needs a little pepper

Sadly, the Slate Culture Gabfest doesn't hold a candle to the Political Gabfest. Even for a culture snob like me, this show is a little hard to take. One problem is the main host, Stephen Metcalf. He has a creepy way of overenunciating—it sounds like he chews each word twelve times before swallowing it. That, combined with his use of pretentious phrases like "the creative underclass" (referring to himself) and occasional lapses into French, induce mild nausea after prolonged exposure. The other participants, Turner and Stevens, are easier on the ears and slightly more down-to-earth. And all of the hosts are clearly intelligent and well-informed. But since they all have two conflicting opinions about almost everything, the conversation gets bogged down and goes nowhere. Everything good is a guilty pleasure, and everything bad has some sort of redemptive flipside. And you can cut the pretension in the air with a knife. The Culture Gabfest needs a co-host with a functioning BS detector. Someone smart and funny, who can state strong opinions in an entertaining way, and who can stick a pin into Stephen Metcalf once in a while to let the air out. (How about Emily Bazelon and David Plotz, from the Slate Political Gabfest? They deflate John Dickerson regularly.)

Slate, a Modern Media Midas

Slate's Culture Gabfest is an informative and erudite conversation about some of the major "cultural" events and trends in our country, and like everything else Slate does, it is top-notch. The panelists are extremely well-learned and admirably articulate, the topics selected for discussion are mainstream without being overly saturated in pop, and the breadth of discusses ranges from literature and film to reality television and social mores, with plenty in between. Highly recommended for those with eclectic tastes and a flair for pretentiousness!

Could be worse

Slate consistently produces quality written and spoken fare, opinions that reach past the usual range found elsewhere and this cast is no exception. One caveat I have is the contributors are simply in love with their intellect and it intrudes on the experience. And host Metcalf will treat you to at least one pretentious French phrase, so possibly you can make a game of keeping track of them.