Gabfest Radio: The Django Dreamed a Dream Edition

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On this week’s episode of Gabfest Radio from Slate and WNYC, Political Gabfest panelists Emily Bazelon and David Plotz, and special guest David Weigel, discuss the fiscal cliff deal and the decision by the Journal News to publish a map of gun permit owners.

Then on the Culture Gabfest portion of the show, panelists Stephen Metcalf and Dana Stevens are joined by Slate Brow Beat assistant Aisha Harris to discuss Quentin Tarantino’s new blaxploitation western "Django Unchained," whether the director successfully takes on the slavery revenge fantasy, and all the ways the movie both dazzles and disgusts.

The Gabfesters then dive into "Les Misérables," discussing the show’s timeless appeal and whether Tom Hooper’s new movie version, with its emotionally soaring show stoppers and uneven performances, adds up to a movie worth seeing. Finally, they discuss the website Quora, its unique contribution of voice to the online Q-and-A format and its experientially rich but informationally questionable content.

Join the Gabfest discussion all week long at the Political Gabfest Facebook page and the Culture Gabfest Facebook page.

Here are links to some of the items mentioned in this week’s episode:


POLITICAL GABFEST (Click here for this week’s individual episode at Slate):

David mentions Matt Yglesias’s support for the payroll tax; Matt also reviewed the winners and losers in the fiscal cliff deal.

Dave Weigel mentions a tax that benefits Puerto Rican rum; Wonkblog’s Brad Plumer looks at all of the weirdest instances of fiscal cliff pork.

David asks Emily if Obama can use legal jiu-jitsu to get around a debt ceiling stand-off. Among others, Jack Balkin has looked at how the 14th Amendment might affect a debt ceiling crisis. And The New Republic’s Jeffrey Rosen analyzed how the Supreme Court might react if the President acted unilaterally.

By another strategy, Matt Ygelsias explores the platinum coin option.

Emily says the “big sort” could inhibit deal-making in Congress; she’s referring to Bill Bishop’s exploration of whether American neighborhoods are becoming more politically homogenous.

Another factor, Dave Weigel agrees, is gerrymandered districts. Dave refers to analyses showing that despite their minority, Democratic House candidates won the popular vote.

Emily has more on the decision by the Journal News to publish a map showing every handgun permit holder in two New York counties.

Slate’s own data project is tracking every gun death since the Newtown shooting tragedy.


CULTURE GABFEST (Click here for this week’s individual episode at Slate):

The Quentin Tarantino movies "Pulp Fiction" and "Inglorious Basterds."

Dana’s review of "Django Unchained" for Slate and her Spoiler Special with Tanner Colby on the movie.

Aisha Harris’ pieces for Slate on "Django Unchained," including “When Blaxploitation Went West,” “Conservatives Freak Out About 'Django Unchained,'” and “Was There Really 'Mandingo Fighting,' Like in 'Django Unchained?'”

Jeffrey T. Kuhner’s Washington Times piece about “the rise of black bigotry.”

Dana’s review of "Les Misérables" for Slate.

The Victor Hugo novel "Les Misérables."

“I Dreamed a Tween": Rachel Maddux for Slate on why kids’ will never stop loving "Les Misérables."

David Haglund’s Brow Beat post about why teenage boys love Jean Valjean.

The composer Claude-Michel Schönberg, who wrote the music for "Les Misérables" and Herbert Kretzmer, the lyricist for its English-language musical adaptation.

Slate’s partnership with Quora which highlights some of Quora’s notable content.

The New York Times’ David Pogue on Quora.

A few selected Quora threads, including: “Why is U2 so popular?,” “What are the top ten most culturally significant films?, “Is the movie 'Groundhog Day' based on a book?,” “What does it feel like to have schizophrenia?,” and “Is Wikipedia collecting more money than required?”

Christie Barakat for SocialTimes on “Why Quora Won’t Scale.”

Gary Rivlin’s 2011 piece for, “Does Quora Really Have All the Answers?”



Dana’s pick: The ballet-in-outer-space dancing of Lil Buck, who jooked live to Yo-Yo Ma’s rendition of “The Swan.”

Julia’s pick: The strangely mesmerizing novel "Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk," the story of an Iraq war veteran with the structure of a “one-crazy-night” movie.

Stephen’s pick: The movie "Night at the Museum" and its sequel "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian," particularly Hank Azaria’s performance in the latter.


[Outro: “Unchained (The Payback/ Untouchable)” by James Brown and 2Pac.]