By: Nancy Rommelmann & Sarah HepolaPublished: September 11, 2022

Go Ahead and Worry, Darling

SpitGate proves we don't need gossip mags for celebrity scandal, while a college confrontation turns into (another) culture-war flashpoint. Also discussed: Publishing woes, Title IX, Queen Elizabeth

It was hard to be a person on the Internet last week without getting sucked into the sordid drama of Don’t Worry Darling, whose premiere at the Venice Film Festival brought a carpet-bombing of memes and gossip and online buffoonery that proved just how badly we all needed a collective experience. The psychological thriller, directed by Olivia Wilde, got middling reviews but captivated the masses with backstage feuds, both real and imagined (“Q’Anon for very online people” as one Twitter user called it), culminating in SpitGate, in which Harry Styles may have spit on co-star Chris Pine, who may have also just discovered his sunglasses between his thighs at the moment Styles sat down. Gossip rags used to generate this kind of melodrama, but now we the people are the National Enquirer.

Internet drama is the subject of our next discussion, as we look at a sad dust-up at Arizona State University, yet another tale in which a low-stakes but racially charged moment turns into a culture-war flashpoint that rattles young lives. This week’sNew York Times magazine has a nuanced portrait of the controversy by ASU professor Sarah Viren, who experienced her own nightmare a few years ago when her partner, another ASU professor, was falsely accused of sexual harassment, which she unfolds in a different (but also riveting) NYT mag story.

Also discussed: Is the publishing industry broken? What’s in the hot box? And lastly, a coda:

We started this episode speaking of an ailing Queen Elizabeth, but as we write these episode notes, we wish her Godspeed. Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, Elizabeth II, died Sept. 7, 2022, at the age of 96. Her reign of 70 years and 214 days was the longest of any British monarch; she ruled for one-third of the time America has been a country, and during some of the 20th centuries most trying times. We can only hope some of you have met Brits who lived in London during WWII, who developed a tenacity and even keel that puts the truth (is that an expression?) to Keep Calm and Carry On, the slogan on the motivational posters in 1939, when Britain was threatened with massive air attacks. British friends sometimes refer to Elizabeth as “our dear queen,” a fealty Americans do not come by honestly, but we can pause and remember a figure whose like we will not see again. We can also enjoy this piece from June.

Full episode show notes at Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em on Substack

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