What we learnt from the hosts of podcast “STILL PROCESSING”
WORDS BY BIANKA FARMAKIS
The pigeon pair of podcasting, Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris, hosted two talks at the Sydney Writer’s Festival on FRIDAY. Discussing power, politics and pop culture all at once, here’s what we are 'STILL PROCESSING' from the night.
S is for SEX IN THE 21st CENTURY
Navigating the influence of dating apps on sex and sexuality in detail, Jenna and Wesley highlighted the pluses and perils of sex in the 21st century. In one respect “we leave ourselves vulnerable to these Tinder criteria’s we can’t satisfy and get swiped left away” – on the other – “I’ve had sex I never would have had without social media”.
T is for TIM TAMS
Despite Arnott’s being bought out by Americans, the double-coated chocolate treat is yet to hit US shores. We were informed the pair were given extensive wish lists that put Tim Tams at the top.
I is for “IMAGINE JIMMY KIMMEL HAVING TO DO AN ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF COUNTRY”
Infatuated with Australia’s ‘Acknowledgement of Country’, Jenna and Wesley expressed how difficult such dialogue would be to have back home in the United States, despite it’s overwhelming necessity. “We don’t acknowledge anything” Wesley said, in a hilariously dark point, commenting on the complexity of race relations in the United States.
L is for LOTS ON KANYE WEST
“Why do we care about what Kanye West says about slavery or Trump?” the pair posed to the audience. West’s Twitter inevitably became a microcosm of race issues, political contentions and cultural inequities that the pair dissected throughout their talk. Under the festival’s theme of #power, Jenna and Wesley summarised the influence of the rapper on global conversation with simple rhetoric:
“What aren’t we talking about when we’re talking about Kanye West?”
L, again, is for LIKE, LOTS OF KANYE
Speaking for over forty minutes on Kanye West, the pair agreed to end their analysis of his recent Twitter tirade with an analogy on the controversial rapper’s engagement with President Donald Trump: “Kanye engaging with Trump is like Kanye going to Disneyland – he just wants to be near this spectacle.”
P is for POWER TOPS & POWER BOTTOMS
Possibly my new favourite game – Jenna and Wesley went through a series of celebrities and discussed whether they were ‘power tops’ (dominating, controlling presences that make you beg to give you what THEY want) or ‘power bottoms’ (the ones who take control by letting you think you’re calling the shots). Subjects included: Beyoncé (bottom), Rihanna (top), Mark Zuckerberg (starfish) and Melania Trump (ugh).
R is for REFERENCES TO POP CULTURE
Rife with pop culture based anecdotes, Jenna and Wesley illustrated the crux of why they focus so distinctly on the typically ‘low brow’ choices of topic – “Pop culture is entertainment as creation, the thing we all care about”.
O is for OLD CLARE HOTEL NUDES
Fifteen minutes late for their first talk at the University of Sydney, Jenna apologised and said “I was busy taking nudes in this red bikini… the lighting in my hotel room was too good not to”.
C is for CULTURAL EFFECTS OF AMERICAN ACTIONS
There were more than just a few occasions where Wesley and Jenna were shocked to see just how much even a country as far as Australia knew, and had strong opinions on American politicians and influencers.
E is for ENGAGING WITH THEIR AUDIENCE
For two creators used to speaking without interruption, the two we’re friendly and engaging when it came to taking questions from the audience. Every time they said my name, I seriously thought I was that step closer to actually being as memorable to them as they were to me.
S is for SLAVERY RANTS
Most aspects of their conversation really did come back to Kanye - “To have him say something that affects people on a day to day basis is really damaging."
S is SUBTLE STILL PROCESSING PLUGS
“We’re ‘still processing it" Jenna laughed, quickly acknowledging the intentional show promotion during the talk.
I is for IM LANGUAGE
In the least cringe-worthy way, the pair mixed eloquent prose with the occasional “TBH”, “CBF”, “MOFO” and “IDK".
N is for NON-NEUTRALITY OF INSTAGRAM
Engaging with a pressing feminist issue of social media discrimination, Jenna articulated the non-neutral position of Instagram. The refusal to allow photos of women’s nipples in photography on the app, she argued, reinforced rigid patriarchal power structures that have subjugated the female sexuality in a contemporary context.
G is for GAY BEAR BAR ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF COUNTRY
Possibly the best anecdote mentioned was the duo’s experience of hearing a ‘Welcome to Country’ at a gay bar in Melbourne. Jenna highlighted several of the guests at the bar were angry that a welcome to country was made ‘because there are no aboriginals here’ and reiterated that’s it’s just another reason why it’s so important to have one. Wesley made sure we were also all aware it was a bear bar. It’s the details that are crucial, really.