This podcast is brought to you by the Albany Public Library main branch and the generosity of listeners like you. What is a podcast? God daddy, these people talk as much as you do! Razib Khan's Unsupervised Learning.
Hey everybody. This is Razib Khan with the Unsupervised Learning podcast. And today I am here with Kat Rosenfield. Kat, can you introduce yourself to the listeners?
Sure. Hi. I'm Kat Rosenfield. I'm a freelance writer. I am a contributor right now to places like "Reason" I used to write for "Vulture", I can be found in "Tablet" sometimes. And I write for "Unherd" pretty regularly. I'm also a novelist. And my new book is coming out in October. It's called "No One Will Miss Her".
Yeah, so I actually saw some of your stuff in Unherd because I write for them less regularly. And so it was just on the front page. So we have that in common. But that's but I actually have known your stuff. And I you know, I listened to "Feminine Chaos" every now and then. So you know, I know your oeuvra that way. And obviously, you know, you're on social media and the internet. And I want to talk about you know, your trajectory in your career because I just want some clarification because I'm just I'm kind of curious about it. Because I know you were on Fox News recently. So I'm talking about that. And like, you know how that's changed perceptions but um, I want to talk about your recent recent piece in Unherd about Andrew Cuomo. So I have like a very simple, like, I haven't thought about this in detail, but um, it seems to me that Andrew Cuomo was a dick, and a very, like, aggressive, harsh human being who ruled by fear. And, you know, I'm extremely angry about him about the whole COVID-19 thing for various reasons, because I think he botched that and was responsible for a lot of deaths. And, you know, I can't say that I've read every single article about his recent, you know, sexual harassment scandal, which basically led him to, to resigning - recently as as we're recording this, but, you know, when I read it, I kind of thought that - I mean, there wasn't that much there. There was some stuff that was like, okay, you should resign, but a lot of this stuff was like, he was a dirty old man. And if that's the criteria, there's a lot of people, in fact, like, there's even women to be frank. But that's the whole separate story. That should resign, you know, and so I didn't really understand what was going on here. So that's my perception from the outside. Can you talk about what your take was, and though the general lesson that you've drawn from this, because you related to "#metoo", which, obviously you have to kind of because of the moment we're in?
Yeah. So I think, what, what Cuomo's... the allegations against him reminded me of you, although there are some key differences was the campaign that ended up taking down Al Franken a couple of years ago, or I guess it was back in 2017. Now, so it's been a little while longer. But, you know, at the time, you know, what happened there was you had one allegation that seemed questionable, it seemed like it might be politically motivated. But it opened the floodgates for other people to start coming forward. And I think it was pretty well concluded, like in this sort of post mortem by Jane Mayer way after the fact in the New Yorker, that some of the the allegations that this attracted, you know, as it started kind of rolling downhill, we're not really on the up and up, or were sort of embellished or outright fabricated. But at the time, the sheer volume of accusers really combined to create this impression of a man who'd been getting away with just doing terrible, terrible things to women for years, just, you know, flagrantly abusing women. And he resigned under pressure from his peers much in the way that Andrew Cuomo did. And, you know, like I said, I think there are key differences. I think andrew cuomo pushed the envelope a lot more in terms of what kind of behavior he would engage in with women who were in his orbit professionally. I think he kind of leaned into the idea that he was like, gregarious, and he was handsy. And he, you know, he could kind of like, be casual and be flirty with people, and it was fine because it was him.
Whereas I don't think Al Franken really had that same kind of, I'm trying to think of how to put it like overtly sexual energy. I think that you know, Cuomo was more aggressive in that way just in the way he projected himself. But there was something similar where you know, you had this initial allegation of Lindsey Boylan, who started by just saying that she had been a toxic work environment, and then sort of upped the ante in a way that was odd, you know, by saying, also, he sexually harassed me. And at the time, it was really interesting. I wrote about this for "The Spectator", you know, what did it- What did it mean that she had decided to make this allegation the way she did, and then refused to cooperate with the press, she wouldn't talk about it when people started trying to report the story. And it was fascinating to see that, basically, somebody could make this allegation. And it could really be more about making the allegation for their own sake, to sort of project to the world that like, they were brave, and they were gonna, you know, take on a powerful man. She didn't need to cooperate with any kind of investigation, because it didn't really have that much to do with Andrew Cuomo. I don't think she was really... I mean, just speculating here. I don't think that really she cared what happened to him as a result of this. But once she had made this allegation, it opened the door for other people to start coming forward. And that's what happened. And then, you know, you had this - you know, nine months later, this report comes out, saying that he had sexually harassed something like 11 women over the course of many years. And what was interesting about the timing of this was that it took such a long time for those allegations to get any traction. And in the meantime, there were a million other things that Andrew Cuomo did that really should have resulted in people scrutinizing him, you know, things that he did related to the COVID responses, you know, his nursing home protocol, the way he diverted testing to his friends and family and colleagues, you know, when tests were scarce, you know, he's, he's just clearly a very corrupt individual. And yet, people wanted him so badly to be kind of our COVID hero in New York, I think, partly because it suggested that By comparison, you know, we were taking COVID seriously, unlike, you know, all of those bad folks down on the south who weren't masking and who, you know, weren't locking down and this and that, you know, people were very unwilling to scrutinize him or to criticize him in a way that he really very frankly deserved. And once people had been letting that stuff slide, they couldn't just kind of retro actively go back and say, actually, you know, this was really bad, you, you basically killed 15,000 grandparents, and then you tried to cover it up, and we want you out. Um, I think that what ended up happening was that this mentality arose where, you know, people knew that he had done a lot of bad things, but it seemed like none of this stuff, none of this scandal would stick to him. until somebody came up with a #metoo allegation and that stuck. And, you know, in my piece for unhurt, I talked about the idea of #metoo, as a sort of a silver bullet. I do think that you get this prosecutorial mindset where people are like, let's find some way to take him down. And right now one of the most ironclad ways to do that is to allege sexual misconduct, especially if the allegations hold any water whatsoever, which in this case, they clearly do, because like you said, he is kind of a dirty old man.
Yeah, yeah. So one of the issues that I just want to bring up is, um, I feel like you know, some of the stuff that I read and this is a like, for example, like the Franken stuff just seemed frankly trivial compared to some of the other stuff that were contemporaneous that was coming out so I mean, that but but he had to resign in a way the consequences are the same because you know, aside from Weinstein, many of these people, the consequences are basically resignations, social ostracism, etc, they're not prosecuted. And so with Cuomo, one thing that I'm curious about is what's up with I mean, there was you know, he grabbed someone's breast that's... okay, that's just - that's kind of that's assault, right? But then there's other issues where I saw like, you know, someone claimed that he looked them up and down. And so I mean, why are these? I mean, am I missing something? Or is this just strange to put these two together like they seem totally different things you know?
Well I think that this is the thing is you know, one of the the ways that #metoo allegations gain traction now is to make it about quantity over quality and you actually see this in a lot of different circumstances where you're the one that I actually I always bring it up is what happened to Jack Smith the fourth who I believe was a reporter at "Mic" and there was this piece for in a "Jezebel" is supposedly about how you know, the next step for #metoo, was to kind of like go into the gray areas of things that were abusive or non consensual and This story, I still find it very, very distasteful, I just want to, you know, be upfront about that, you know, the vast majority of the things being described, it was like, he was a bad boyfriend, he like he wasn't nice to me or like, he made me feel like I needed to wear a certain kind of eye makeup before we would have sex. And I resented that. And you know, in retrospect, I felt like that was rape. And so in a bit, all of this stuff that was just like you said, kind of trivial, or really just absurd. There was one allegation that he'd non consensually choked somebody during sex. And the fact that this was in there, even though it was very much like one of these things does not belong, one of these things is not like the others, the inclusion of that allegation, led the other ones to be framed as a pattern. You know, it was like he did this really bad thing. And then also all of these like, a little bit bad things, borderline bad things. But the point is five women said that he was bad, so he must be bad. And I think that that's a similar thing here. You know, you've got instances in which Cuomo behaved flirtatiously, you know, you could say arguably inappropriately with women who he was in contact with professionally, but the women themselves didn't mind it. And, you know, there was nevertheless framed as being part of this pattern of harassment. So I think, you know, that's, that's sort of a similarity there. And that's why you end up with all of these things getting lumped together, because the idea is to, you know, create this volume of allegations that make it look much more serious.
Yeah, well, you know, I have to ask you a question. This is just because because you pay attention to this stuff. So I know. So I have a there's a prominent scientist, I'm not going to name who the person is. They're, they're pretty woke now, they've kind of gone through an evolution. And a friend of mine doesn't like this person, and has a story where basically, they were at a conference, and they're a bunch of people in the room. And I'm including graduate students, female graduate students, and he started watching. He started watching cable porn or whatever, you know, the porn you order, you know, and he started watching it. Now this was in like, the late 2000s was a long time ago. But my friends always like, you know, I hate that guy. He's so self righteous, I could just destroy him if I just like, I mean, do you think that that could destroy someone? I mean, I just don't know, like, how it works, because I don't even know what the norms of this were because like, I would never imagine doing that. But whatever. Like, you know, I mean, people are some people are more liberal about that. Some people are less liberal. But I mean, is this kind of thing that that you think could happen? I mean, you know, it's just that's just weird. But there are facts like this about a lot of people - people change. Sure, but sometimes it doesn't matter. You know?
if the right person told that story, and they told it in the right way. Yeah, I absolutely think that could take somebody down.
Yeah, so my... because my friend is I mean, he wouldn't do this, but he's fantasizing because he has other beefs with this guy. I'm not gonna lie. But he's like, I know, some of those women, if they told that story if they remembered, but they're not going to tell it because they probably like this guy. You know. But I mean, that was I mean, that wasn't I mean, even at the time, that wouldn't be appropriate. But I think I think of things like this, where it's like, oh, I know this, and I know this and, and it's like, you look back into the life - lifespan of somebody. I'm sure there's something I mean, there's something in everyone where that's like, out of the norm. And so what I'm starting to think is some of these #metoo's. Some of these scandals are basically showing someone's power level, where, you know, Biden, I don't know what happened. Like, I don't know, I haven't explored it in detail. And, you know, this, this woman that made an accusation, which was a pretty horrific accusation, like in the details of what she described, whether you believe it or not, but you know, he survived it. Well, why did he survive it? Well, he had the backing of, you know, the primary electorate. And, you know, like, it just showed his power level, I felt it was like a lower rank politician, like someone famous enough to be worth taking down, but not famous enough that their power level was was there, it probably would have taken them down, right? So it's not like the act, it's who you're accusing, and who you are, right, it's the people not necessarily the act a lot of the time. What do you think of that perception?
Yeah, I think you're onto something. I would just say that, you know, the thing with Joe Biden too, is it's not just that he's powerful - It's that he seems like a nice man, you know, it's that you could, I think it's it's plausible that when he does this, you know, sort of handsy stuff. And he's been very openly affectionate with people on the campaign trail, like, or over the course of his political career. He's been in the public eye for a really long time, and he's always been like this. So you can just point at this and say, Look, he's a nice man, like, he clearly is like affectionate, he cares, you know, and these are framed as good things. And he, I mean, not for nothing. He's, you know, a devoted husband and father and grandfather. There's some identity based stuff going on here, too. That just creates some padding for him some protection for him from being accused of being a sleaze that someone like Andrew Cuomo didn't have. I mean, I think that - I'm trying to think about this. I mean, you know, when you look at things like what happened with the allegations against Donald Trump, you know, before the election, the real issue there was that I think his voters just didn't care and didn't either didn't see the more serious allegations as credible and didn't see the sort of, you know, the gross talk the "grab them by the pussy" thing. They didn't see that as a big deal. It was just gross talk. But, yeah, you know, but there was never this sense of like, Oh, well, you know, he didn't mean it in any way, because he's a nice guy. You know, he's like this neutered grandfatherly type. That's what Joe Biden projects. And I think that has a lot to do with the the way that he was able to overcome what would have otherwise been a campaign ending scandal, had Andrew Cuomo up and running for president, and had, you know, the same allegation come out against him, he would have been toast.
Yeah, so you know, this kind of, I mean, it's a good segue to the next topic, I want to talk about your piece about, you know, canceled culture, and how it's more dangerous to liberals or that let's just say left left of center, then conservatives, I mean, I can tell you like, from a conservative perspective, a lot of times, the assumption is that the press isn't going to be unfair, I will, I will pass on, like your things with low credibility. So even if it's true or not, your prior, like from the right is just assume it's fake or false, or you're just gonna say, we're gonna give this person the benefit of the doubt, because we don't trust the press, you know, I feel like, you know, it's a little different, the relationship with the press is different for liberals. And I do think it's also true, like, I mean, you're out, I think your observation is just patently obvious that the people who get canceled are getting canceled by their in group and they're being ostracized from the community, and the social connections, professional connections that they have. And, you know, I've told this story on my substack, I have an acquaintance... And, you know, he was basically in democratic politics. And he sent a memo, that people interpreted the wrong way, and he was cancelled. And he's not someone famous. But he was someone with a career and he was making good money. And he thought he was making a difference. And all this stuff. And now he's in a different career, basically, he's doing something totally different. He can't ever go back. And it was, you know, obviously super traumatizing for him. And you don't know this person. Nobody knows this person. People in democratic politics who are in some, you know, in certain areas, they do know who he is. But this is just, you know, just a random person. Some... well he's not random.... But, um, so, you know, I wonder how often this sort of thing happens. And so I think it is true, yes, it's affecting liberals. But you're saying that, you know, you you think that you know, it might just burn out eventually and I was actually had not seen as Ziad Jilani's piece where he reported on the polling that Gen Z is just over it. Which which, which was hopeful. What is your I mean, you weren't 100% assured, what is your probability? What is your calculus that this will burn out, say, like the Cultural Revolution, and this isn't going to be the new normal, because I don't, I have a lot of I have a lot of liberal friends, like, you know, coming out of academia who wanted to be over, they've wanted to be over every year since 2016. Like this is the year and it hasn't worked out that way.
Well, there's a difference between wanting it to be over and being willing to say, I want it to be over I think there are a lot of people who are exhausted by this stuff, but who aren't willing to take the risk of saying so out loud. As for my prediction, I am not comfortable you know, trying to say one way or another I'm much better at observing what is happening right now than I am guessing what's going to happen in the future. What I can do is look at what preceded this you know, before this incredibly strident sort of woke moment or whatever you want to call it. We had this weird little spasm of obsessive purity culture on the right and you know, all of the pop stars were taking purity pledges and saying that they wouldn't have sex until marriage and we had you know, all of these battles over abstinence only sex ed in schools. Before that, we had the you know, the sort of PC excesses of the late 80s and early 90s. Um, you know, before that, We have the satanic panic. So I think that this stuff just kind of, it's always just pushing back and forth. And i don't... iIdon't know i. So I feel optimistic from that perspective that the pendulum will always swing back, the thing that gives me pause, is that there does seem to be this divergence happening where the right can be politically dominant, they can control all three branches of government, and the left doesn't really care. Because their path to power is to dominate non elected institutions. You know, they dominate the arts, they're the ones making the art, making the movies, writing the books, they dominate academia, they're the ones teaching your children, you know, they dominate now, like, this 80 something billion dollar diversity industry that is slowly lacing itself into the bureaucracy of all of these major corporations. So, you know, that, I think is maybe new, and that makes me worried, you know, has the left simply decided to forego political power? Because it's realized that political power isn't that important that you can, you can own the culture completely. You know, you can own corporations, you can own academia, you can own the arts. And, you know, do you need political power? If you have all of those things? I have no idea what the answer to this is. But I can imagine a scenario in which this is what the left commits to, and things remain very, very ugly for a really long time.
Well, so let me tell you what I know. And I'm curious what you know, because you obviously know different people than than I do. You know, a lot of my friends are still in academia. And I've seen that, you know, the awokening, kind of from the outside since I left in 2016. Over the last four to five years, I've had You know, Friends become ex friends because of basically conversions. And, you know, I'll tell you one thing that's just I can't handle is really disturbing over the last year. And I'm not saying this to be pejorative, but like I've had white women explain racism to me multiple times, and it's just super weird. And that used to never happen. Usually they would be like okay, maybe you understand it a little better. But I've had white women get super didactic at me and it's just like really weird to me and I've talked to other non white people and they've had the same same experience so there's something different in the air right now. But you know, a privately a lot of people you know, they're just like yeah, people are sick of this. There's a lot of preference falsification, which people are faking it, there's people there's people who are being... okay, like so like, to give you a concrete example. I know a woman she's a woman of color, she got a good tenured spot and she talks about social justice all the time. I happen to know that she's filthy rich, this is not something she divulges but you know she didn't she didn't TA when she was in graduate school because her parents thought she should focus on her research so they just paid for it they paid for the tuition and they paid for her to live this is like extremely wealthy person. So this sort of stuff is kind of building up in the background you know where you see all these hypocracys and everything like that. So you know the hope is at some point someone will just stand up and say enough this is enough enough so that's that's what my friends are hoping and academia like what do you hear like what do you hear in the back channels? Because I know that people present different faces in public to what they are privately I've heard this from like about so many different people. And so I mean, like, is this I mean, I'm just wondering are people telling me what I want to hear or do I know the people that are saying this and that most people are going along? I mean, what's your perception
Um, so I can't really speak to what's going on with sort of like the journalist in group because I've never been part of it I've been a freelancer my whole life and you know, I have never been a staff writer anywhere have never been in that club and actually it - it was like, maybe two years ago that I realized that all of the people who work in New York media they all know each other because they all went to the same 20 schools and you know, I - I was just completely unaware it's it's this like dark matter universe that you don't realize exists until you bump right into it. So um, and you know, it's, it's interesting, you mentioned that you this, you know, very woke woman who's also filthy rich, because I think that that's a pretty common through line and some of the most strident, most militant people that often they come from backgrounds of immense privilege. You know, you You've got journalism evolving in this way from something that used to be you know, a middle class pursuit, you could start working class, you could start as like, you know, just a shoe leather beat reporter walking around looking for stories, and you can work your way up through the ranks, to become, you know, a reporter who was making a living. But now, the path into journalism is much more likely to be, you went to a really good school, you graduated, you went to a really good journalism school, you graduated from there, and you're hired to write like listicles at BuzzFeed, and that's your entree. And you know, on top of the fact that that's a very privileged path to the workforce. There's also this bubble that never gets popped if you grow up privileged, and you never have to do the traditional work of journalism that involves like, going out and mingling with people and like spending a lot of time with people who are not like you people from all different kinds of communities trying to find and understand their perspectives. I think that, you know, you can really get this kind of ideological closure, which is something that clearly is happening in journalism right now. So, you know, obviously, I'm speculating a lot at this point about the backgrounds of people who I don't know very well, who I'm not friends with. But um, you know, the one thing that I definitely can speak to is the pressure that's being placed, you know, you said that you have white women lecturing you about racism, and I'm sure that they are, and I'm sure that that's because they have been instructed that this is their job, particularly white women are kind of the main target right now, you are told that, you know, it's your duty, where, you know, it used to be like, Oh, you should work on yourself to, you know, to find a husband or to become a girl boss, or whatever. Now, it's like, you have to work on your problematic-ness and your racism, like you have to journal your way through your anti-racist journey. And this is your job, and it's your responsibility. So and there's a lot of fear that if you're, if you're perceived to not be doing that, um, depending on what kind of peer group you have, you can really come under fire. You know, I'm grateful that that's not my social circle. My real life friends are extremely not online. But I've seen this happen to friends of mine who they seem to be completely captured, but I really don't know if they genuinely are into this stuff, or if they're responding to the perceived pressure to be into this stuff.
Mm hmm. Yeah, I mean, I guess I guess we're in the same situation. With that, where it's like, sometimes I don't, I mean, I'm, I stay civil and friendly to people until they're unfriendly to me, basically. But some of the stuff I see them say is pretty weird, that I'll leave it at that. So I want to ask, I want to ask and serve in terms of in groups? I don't know, I think you and Phoebe have said, you guys are kind of IDW adjacent when IDW was the thing. I mean, I don't even maybe adjacent to the adjacent is more like, you know? I don't know, but you went on Fox News recently. Um, how do you feel about that? That's a thing where you have to think about, you know, people are gonna say she went on Fox News. So I mean, you know, what, what do you think?
Yeah, you know, I thought hard about that. Because, you know, I am still on the left. And I do have strong feelings about Fox News as a liberal person. You know, I don't don't love their vibe. I don't love a lot of the people who are on there. Although of course, I also don't love a lot of people in left wing media At this point, I used to be one of those people who would tell truth has a liberal bias. And I've since come to feel just very jaded about the entire enterprise, I no longer really think that anybody's doing a very good job of this. So what sort of sold me on - on that was it's, you know, a late night show, it skews libertarian, it was a panel discussion... And, you know, frankly, I am a working writer, I'm not affiliated with anybody, I have a book coming out, you know, there are some opportunities that even if they're maybe a little bit ideologically, iffy or not quite in my wheelhouse, it would be very foolish of me not to take them. So yeah, I went on, and, um, I don't really have a lot to say about that experience, except that everyone was very nice. And I felt at the time that you know, I was not quite or didn't quite fit in. I was a little bit the odd one out, and I'm not sure whether that has really more to do with ideological background or the fact that I was the only person there who doesn't have a career on camera or in front of a microphone already. So I was very, very nerous... And yeah, but you know, I? I don't know, it's, it's funny to think about how fraught It is like Fox News is like the devil, you know? Because when you think about it like had I been asked to go on CNN or MSNBC I wouldn't have thought twice about it even though you know, many of the shows on those networks are just as partisan and just as full of shit. Can I swear on your podcast?
Yeah, yeah, go ahead. Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's all good. Yeah, um, well, I mean, I'm assuming, like you said, you know, Greg Gutfeld, I think you're on his show. And he's kind of a libertarian type guy. One of those guys, if Tucker had asked you to come on the show, I think you would have maybe given a different answer. Maybe
I probably would have said no, yeah, you know, it really, it really depends. I had I had a perspective that I wanted to share and had I, you know, had, I've been confident that I could do that without being led by a host into territory that I didn't want to go into, you know, I would still consider it. But you know, this has a lot more to do with my comfort level of being on camera. I'm a very nervous, very awkward person. So yeah, you know, I would have to think about that, from that perspective. I've never been super preoccupied with the idea of guilt by association.
Okay. Okay. So I mean, this is why you're kind of out of step with the left though then, I mean, to be entirely frank, I feel like, there's this like, Well, you know, this person or you talk to this person, you know, I'll give you a concrete example of some of the stuff that I've seen. Or I've heard of like a buddy of mine. I said something about the graduate record examinations, the GRE. So I don't know if you know, but they're getting rid of the GRE, some of the argument is just for equity, pretty much. I don't want to get into it. It's a fake argument, but it is what it is. So I tweet out like something that shows that it's a fake argument, and a friend of mine messages me. And he said, Oh, I totally agree with you. And I'm like, why are you privately messaging me, you should just reply to me. And he's like, Oh, I can't like say anything good about the GRE. Because I was responding to another guy who talks about it a lot., an academic, I was responding to his thread positively. And my wife was asked at the faculty meeting, cuz they're not in the same department, but they're in biology at the same university, what was up with me being pro GRE? So his wife was giving him a hard time because she was getting a hard time because he responded to someone else positively on a tweet. I was just like, Don't they have grants too write? I mean, what's going on here? But this is not this is not an atypical example. I've talked to multiple people that I've experienced, like, Oh, you were seeing, like, following this person. And I mean, like, I mean, what is going on with our culture? It's like, I don't think this is sustainable. I don't know, like, what's going on. But I mean, I've seen the same things in journalism. Just a lot of these professional managerial class, you know, that's like out there, like on social media, they seem to be engaging this, like conservatives do it too. But since conservatives are not very powerful, to be frank, culturally, I think they give a lot more slack. I mean, what do you think about that argument?
Yeah, I suppose that's true. I mean, the guilt by association thing in this very high school style policing of who's talking to whom and who ate lunch with whom and who liked whose tweet. I want absolutely no part of that. And I think it's very discouraging that people are engaged in this kind of behavior as adults.
Yeah, yeah. They're, they're not they're not they're not even embarrassed about it. They've I mean, they'll talk about it. And you know, I have like, you know, I blocked these people whenever, but occasionally, my tweets when they go viral, they'll go into parts of the twittersphere that I don't know about. And somehow one of my tweets got to Ann Coulter. She retweeted it. And I'm like, whatever, I don't really care. And then like people start messaging me like, what do you think? How do you feel about the fact that Ann Coulter retweeted your tweet from two weeks ago? I'm like, What does that even mean? She can retweet whatever she wants to retweet. Am I supposed to like change what I think based on what someone like seven retweets down the line... you know? I mean this sort of stuff but this is the people are serious about this and so that's the world we live in.
Yeah, I mean, you know, it's - it is frustrating to know that you know, you can say something that is true, and that is wise. And then you can be excoriated for it because the wrong person agreed with you you know, even even people on the right can you know, agree with statements that are true. I mean, I don't know it's just like if you tweeted that you liked pizza and Ann Coulter retweeted that you'd like to pizza, would you have to stop liking pizza because it was now problematic adjacent?
Yeah, yeah. I mean, basically you're you're ceding power to the people you disagree with If what people you disagree with what they agree with is, you know, it's just, it's like a super weird, it's a super weird behavior. So I want to ask you, you still identify on the left as a liberal, but I mean, would you define yourself as anti-woke?
Um, I don't really like the idea of, of defining myself in opposition to something, you know, I think that the binary of the, you know, are you with us or against us, I really dislike that in basically every form. I hated it when it was, you know, like a patriotism purity test after 911 I hate the anti racist version of it that's proliferating now, you know, I just, I just want to talk about, you know, my ideas. And I, you know, I still identify as on the left, because a lot of what I believe is the best and most productive policy to be found is, you know, is stuff that's associated with the left. That said, I have certainly begun to skew more libertarian over the past couple years, particularly. And I think that has more to do with the fact that the earth is shifting under my feet, then then that my mind has particularly changed or that my values have changed. But yeah, you know, I've also never I'm perfectly comfortable to land where I land, I've never really had a tribe. So if, you know, if people don't want to be friends with me, that's fine.
I mean, so I guess what you're saying is like, your principles haven't really changed. It's just that the coalition's around, you have changed their principles somewhat, you know, so for example, free speech. Yeah. I mean, it's weird to see liberal people, you scare quotes around free speech, I'm like, What's going on here? I mean, this is like a, like a sea change...
So yeah, I'm old enough to remember, when, you know, we were very, very furiously fighting against the Moral Majority to, you know, to stop them from banning music and banning books, and, you know, banning Southpark, from television. And suddenly, all of these same arguments about things that are harmful and need to be censored are being made by people who are supposed to be on my side. And I find that very, very weird to see.
Hmm, well, I mean, I think the key that you're illustrating there, when you say Moral Majority is that doesn't say anything about what the morality would be. So there's a new Moral Majority. You know, when I was a kid, you know, growing up in Eastern Oregon, I had some friends who were super conservative Christian, and they'd be like, you know, they would say, like, Oh, you can't read that. That's not a Christian author. You know, they would say, like, - I just kind of snicker and laugh. But you know, I've had friends I've had, like, you know, I guess they're woke, you know, but or they've said things where it's like, Yeah, well, I wouldn't read that because that person is a libertarian, or that person's a Republican, or that person was anti-woman, like, you know, I have an acquaintance who basically was, and she's a college graduate was like, you know, oh, yeah, like, you know, I don't read Shakespeare the classics, you know, because I'm a feminist. I was like, Okay, yeah, just just admit you don't read? I don't know. I don't know... she's a smart person. But that was like, I don't even know what to say cuz that's just like weird. I mean, ah, you know, Emmanuel Kant was a racist, but he's still brilliant guy. I mean, you know, and I talked to Skip Gates, Jr. - Skip Gates about this, you know, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. And he was like, yeah, manual, Kant was a racist, but he's still like, you know, there's still some profundity there. And you got to appreciate that I thought that was being quote, liberal, being broad, but I guess that's not anymore. I want to close out I want to talk about Stan Lee a little bit. I know that you worked with him before he passed. I don't really I don't I watch Marvel movies. I'm gonna be honest, mostly so I can... So I don't play video games and working in tech for a lot of my adulthood, that's caused some difficulty with understanding what other guys are talking about, like I stopped playing video games when I was 16. So I decided, basically, in the late 2000s, I was like, well, I'll just watch Marvel movies. And that way I can get involved in those conversations. And so I actually have watched every single Marvel marvel movie and I'm not a big movie watcher anymore, but I do it specifically so I can understand what people are talking about. Just like in you know, casual conversation. I feel like Marvel movies are kind of like the closest thing we have to water cooler visual media anymore. I mean, I don't know a lot of people that do appointment television and those sorts of things. Yeah, like you binge on Netflix, but that's not the same, because you can like put that off and whatnot. Did Stan Lee, did you talk to him enough to get a sense if he understood what a big influence his creations were all of a sudden having in the 21st century? Because I think it was, I mean, I didn't read comics... I'm not a comic book nerd. I don't read comic books as a kid, I think yeah, we knew about Marvel. We knew about these characters, but they weren't... They were not like a central part of the pop culture in the same way.
Yeah, you know, I mean, I was very privileged to be able to work with Stan briefly before he passed, and, you know, the, the impression that I came away with was, you know that yes, you know, he certainly understood and appreciated that this thing that he had helped create had taken on a life of its own and had become just this cultural juggernaut. But Stan was, you know, first and foremost, and to the end a storyteller, he was always about, you know, looking for what was new, you know, looking for a new way and, and a new way to explore the world that we were living in. And I don't think that he ever really dwelled on his legacy or on his laurels inthat way, you know, he was just too excited about whatever the next thing was.
Hmm, okay. Well, I mean, so what was the most surprising thing about him? I don't know, like you met you met the man. I mean, it's just I don't know. I just feel weird asking people what it's like to meet famous people, because they're just people, but I don't know, what's the most surprising thing about him?
Gosh, I mean, he was so interested in the internet, you know, and he was, like, 95 years old. And he was just, you know, he was still fascinated by all of the, you know, all of the questions that that I think, you know, fascinate younger people, and that drives storytelling right now is, you know, what is the internet doing to us? What is what does it mean for our relationships and for our sense of identity, and our sense of reality, that we have so much of this interaction with screens as an intermediary? And, you know, obviously, like, once you reach your 90s, or even your 80s I feel like, you know, if you would prefer not to be interested in that stuff, like you have every right to just sit back and be like, No, I'm gonna eat some creamed corn and watch Matlock. Like, I'm good. Um, but you know, but he he was just completely engaged. He never stopped being completely engaged in you know, in contemporary questions like that.
Mm hmm. That's cool. I mean, that's good. That's cool. I mean, he seemed just a very curious, open person, just like cuz I did watch interviews with them. And, you know, some people seemed kind of guarded. That dude did not seem very guarded at all.
Okay. All right. That's, that's the impression I get. So can I ask you what your book is about
My new book. It's called "No One Will Miss Her". It is the first thing that I have done since I collaborated with Stan. This is a thriller. It's for adults. I used to write YA fiction, I don't anymore. And it's -
I think I know, I know why. You listen to your podcast. That stuff is just crazy.
That's an entire other hour of conversation. Yeah. Yeah. And there are some stories from that time that I will never tell. But But yeah, this book is a thriller. It's basically we're calling it Gone Girl for the gig economy. And it I have to be careful about how much I talk about it because you know, I don't want to spoil anything. It is as twisty and turny, as you might expect, but the book opens on a beautiful October morning in rural Maine, in town called Copper Falls, the junk yard is on fire. And in a house by a lake, a woman named Lizzie Willet his dead and you find out over the course of the book, through the eyes of the state trooper investigating the murder. What happened to her and where her husband is because he's missing and how she was connected to another woman named Adrian Richards who is a sort of an Instagram influencer type from the city, and how their relationship you know, ultimately had very tragic results for Lizzie It's October 12, being published by William Morrow and if I can tell your audience that it's available for pre order any place that you buy books, so I would appreciate your support. I'm podcasting solo with a series of guests while Phoebe yeah has a baby. You know I when I have something to write about what usually amounts to two or three times a month.
Well it was great talking to you Kat and thank you for your time.