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Arts And Culture

It’s Hollywood’s Biggest Night And All The Stars Are Out, With Vince Mancini

David Spade on the set of his 2019 late-night series on Comedy Central.
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Comedy Central

There are a handful of extremely good, culturally significant things—in many instances, among my favorite things on earth—that seem to me to be things that contemporary culture would be incapable of creating had they not inherited them. I should say that I have no evidence for this beyond looking at the way that people and things broadly are at this moment. I think about that and then think about, like, a suspension bridge or a Sazerac, to take two things at random, and then try to imagine the version of any of those important things that contemporary American culture and its various incentives and pressures and defects would create.

These legacies still exist, blessedly, but they are in many cases not doing so great, or anyway not being treated with much in the way of care or respect. There are still movies, for example, but if there weren't it's tough to imagine American culture creating and producing anything much more ennobling or significant than the sort of content that gets described as "video," or just the sort of content that gets described as "content." Handing the lessons and tools of our rich cultural heritage to culture lords who are cynical, boring, and in some cases apparently forgetting how to read is going to produce, and currently is producing, some real uncanny shit.

All of which is to say that we mostly talked about the movies in this episode, with some help from Uproxx film critic, podcaster, and returning champion guest Vince Mancini. Some of this conversation was dedicated to a more comprehensive rundown of this year's various Oscar contenders than the one we did last week with Israel Daramola, and some of it was more global. The Distraction is of course not the only place where you can find a consideration of film's broader cultural position and significance and ambiguous future and the year's Best Actor nominees, but as it is our podcast it is a place where you can get all that plus my extremely overstated imitation of Austin Butler's relatively understated imitation of Elvis in Baz Luhrmann's Elvis.

The usual back and forth between trying to do a good job talking about something we care about and I just thought of something funny that once happened to me and am going to say it in a silly voice is pretty much the order of the day. Vince knows a lot and is fun to talk to and, as part of his work, has actually seen virtually everything that's been nominated; this left Drew and Vince to tag team on their criticism of Tár and me to talk about having seen To Leslie on an airplane and share my opinion of the 90 minutes of Elvis that I managed to watch. I was also rude to Eddie Redmayne's whole thing in what was probably an unfair way. A conversation doesn't have to be "actually informed" to be "entertaining." Anyway, this is what I'm telling myself right now. I was on surer footing during the brief part of it where we talked about baseball's new, strange, so far rather delightful pitch clock.

As usual, most of the best stuff comes at the end, once we've stopped trying to do a responsible job talking about the ostensible subject of the episode and embraced the chaos of the Funbag/Guy-Remembering portion of the show. There we briefly celebrated rectangular former Niners bruiser Tom Rathman and were treated to a delightful new pronunciation of Kyle Juszczyk's name, and then considered the possibility of late-career dramatic turns from David Spade or Rob Schneider. I will not reveal the circumstances under which all three of us wound up doing Schneider's "makin' copies" voice from Saturday Night Live except to say that it is significantly stupider than you probably expect even if you listen to the podcast every week. We also considered aggro thin-skinned sportswriter types, with special attention to Pete Prisco's remarkable body of work, and pondered the fate of Hideki Matsui's historically significant collection of pornography. It sort of seemed like this would be the end of the episode, but there was somehow still room to celebrate Erroll Morris's non-Chipotle work and remember Vince's early career stint in the digitization department of an adult film company. All in all, probably about the best work that our culture—or, anyway, our brains—could produce at this point.

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