'Candyman' Gets An Update, And The Horror Is Gentrification : Pop Culture Happy Hour Legend has it that if you say "Candyman" in front of a mirror five times, you'll summon the spirit of a terrifying killer with a hook for a hand, who's constantly surrounded by a swarm of bees. That's the premise of the 1992 horror movie Candyman, about a white Chicago grad student who becomes obsessed with an urban myth haunting Black residents of the notorious Cabrini-Green housing projects. Now there's a sequel, directed by Nia DaCosta and co-written with Jordan Peele, that brings back the villain for a modern audience, and it stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Teyonah Parris as a couple living in a now-gentrified Cabrini-Green.

'Candyman' Gets An Update, And The Horror Is Gentrification

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AISHA HARRIS, HOST:

Legend has it that if you say Candyman in front of a mirror five times, you'll summon the spirit of a terrifying killer with a hook for a hand who's constantly surrounded by a swarm of bees. At least, that's the basic premise of the 1992 horror movie "Candyman," about a white Chicago grad student who becomes obsessed with an urban myth haunting Black residents of the notorious Cabrini-Green housing projects. Now there's a sequel that brings back the villain for a modern audience. And it stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Teyonah Parris as a couple living in a now-gentrified Cabrini-Green. The update is directed by promising up-and-coming filmmaker Nia DaCosta, who co-wrote the screenplay along the Jordan Peele and Win Rosenfeld.

I'm Aisha Harris. And today, we're talking about "Candyman" on POP CULTURE HAPPY HOUR from NPR.

Here with me today is NPR White House correspondent Ayesha Rascoe. Welcome back, Ayesha.

AYESHA RASCOE, BYLINE: Hey, glad to be here.

HARRIS: Yes. I love that you've become our resident horror...

(LAUGHTER)

RASCOE: I am, too. That's like super exciting for me. I love the - being a horror correspondent. This is like a dream come true.

HARRIS: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS: And from his home in Denver, Colo., is writer and film critic Walter Chaw. Welcome back, Walter.

WALTER CHAW, BYLINE: I'm so excited to be here with you. Thank you so much for having me.

HARRIS: And joining us again is Morning Edition producer Marc Rivers - great to have you back as well, Marc.

MARC RIVERS, BYLINE: Hey, Aisha. Thanks for having me.

HARRIS: So in the new "Candyman," it's 2019. And like pretty much every major American metropolis, Chicago's Cabrini-Green neighborhood has been gentrified by upwardly mobile millennials. Emerging artist Anthony McCoy, played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and his girlfriend and gallery director Brianna Cartwright, played by Teyonah Parris, are a part of that gentrification, having just moved into a luxury building near where the housing projects once stood. Anthony learns of the urban legend of Candyman, a serial killer with a hook for a hand from William Burke, an old resident of those housing projects, played by Colman Domingo. He's inspired to incorporate the myth into a new art project interrogating white flight and racism. And Candyman is summoned again, this time murdering the people in Anthony's life.

So the creators make a lot of callbacks to the original 1992 film of the same name, which starred Virginia Madsen as Helen Lyle and Tony Todd in the title role. But if you've never seen the first movie or it's been a while, this new version does a pretty good job laying out all the connections to what happened then while adding some new details through the folklore. Also, just a warning for everyone, there may be some minor spoilers in our conversation, so proceed with caution.

So I think we've all seen the original "Candyman." If not, there were two other sequels that came after it before this one, all of them released in the '90s.

RIVERS: Less said about those, the better, Aisha.

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS: Yeah. So we're not really going to talk about those. But I am excited to hear your thoughts. Ayesha, let's start with you.

RASCOE: Yeah. So I have to say that I was so excited about this movie. It's been a long time since I saw the original "Candyman." I didn't have much memory of it. But I was so excited when I saw this because I am very afraid of mirrors. And I will, you know, set this up by saying I have a full-length mirror in my room that I turn around every night to make sure that I don't see it as I'm sleeping 'cause I don't look at mirrors in the dark.

(LAUGHTER)

RASCOE: And before I even watched this movie, I made sure the mirror was turned around.

HARRIS: (Laughter).

RASCOE: But I really liked this one. Like, I feel like it really stuck with me - I mean, to the point where after I had watched the movie, it was time to go to bed, I was like, do I want to cut these lights off? I don't know.

HARRIS: (Laughter).

RASCOE: Like - and that's my gauge of whether a horror movie really stuck with me is when I'm like, I think I'm going to leave the lights on. I don't want to turn them off right now. I felt like it did so much - and I'm sure we'll get into it - for this moment, dealing with...

HARRIS: Yeah.

RASCOE: ...The depictions of violence against Black people, what that is, whether it's just entertainment, the line for that, the repercussions of that. And so I feel like it was so of this moment. It had a message I felt like, but it wasn't, like, over the top beating you with the message. But it was also very much told from a Black perspective, which I appreciated because you did not see Black people, for the most part, in this movie going Candyman, summoning him, which I felt like was real...

HARRIS: Yes.

RASCOE: ...Because when Teyonah Parris - somebody said to her, you want to summon Candyman? - her response, and my response at the same time, was - and since it's a family show, I'll say, heck no. But I said - I was like, ha.

HARRIS: (Laughter).

RASCOE: Are you - no. We ain't summoning nothing. And so I felt like it was very real. So I really liked this.

HARRIS: Yeah. There's even a moment where one character comments on how, like, Black people don't do that. We don't...

RASCOE: We don't be summoning people.

RIVERS: (Laughter).

HARRIS: We don't conjure these things.

(LAUGHTER)

RASCOE: Listen.

HARRIS: Well, I'm so glad that it scared you because, like you said, that is a good hint at whether or not a horror movie is doing its job.

RASCOE: Yes.

HARRIS: Marc, did this horror movie do its job for you?

RIVERS: You know, I think so. I mean, I don't get scared too easily by these kinds of movies.

RASCOE: (Laughter) Oh, he tough. He tough.

HARRIS: (Laughter).

RASCOE: He don't get scared.

RIVERS: But there are - like, this is definitely, I think, a step up from her first movie, "Little Woods," which - Nia DaCosta's first movie. It was kind of this small indie that kind of tackled women's health care and the opioid crisis in this, like, beaten-down North Dakota town. And you kind of felt that, like, she didn't - it didn't have the perspective of someone who actually knew this world. And I think this movie works so much better because she's clearly intimately involved with what it's about, which is, like, the artist's responsibility to, like, Black trauma or Black pain. And I think it gives her storytelling greater punch.

The movie's 90 minutes. Thank God for that, you know?

HARRIS: Tight - a tight 90...

RIVERS: Like, it's a tight movie.

RASCOE: Yes.

HARRIS: ...Which I just, like - yes.

RASCOE: Yes. Yes.

HARRIS: (Laughter).

RIVERS: It doesn't want to, like, leave you guessing as to what it's about. It kind of, like, tells you, like, pretty early through the characters. It's like, hey, did you know that you live in a gentrified neighborhood? Why, yes, character...

(LAUGHTER)

RIVERS: ...You know, I did know that. So it doesn't want you to guess as to what its intentions are. But I think its intentions are pretty potent, as Ayesha said, for the time as well. I think it's very timely, in a time of "Them" or "Antebellum," "Underground Railroad." It's like, what do we do with Black trauma, and also, in a more upsetting way, if the trauma could talk, like, what would it say?

HARRIS: Yeah. I'm so glad you brought up, you know, "Them," something like "Lovecraft Country" because to me, those horrors did not work, in part because...

RIVERS: Candyman will be going after those creators. Candyman will be going right after them.

RASCOE: (Laughter).

HARRIS: Oh, yeah.

RASCOE: I liked "Lovecraft." I liked "Lovecraft."

HARRIS: Right.

RASCOE: But "Them" I couldn't get with. So...

HARRIS: Yeah.

RASCOE: ...I think it's a line. And I think that's what I was glad that this explored - that there is a line where - where does Black trauma become your exploring a subject, and where does it become entertainment...

RIVERS: Yeah.

HARRIS: Yeah.

RASCOE: ...And you're using this for consumption?

RIVERS: Yeah.

HARRIS: Yeah.

RASCOE: ...And I think that line is different for different people. But there is a line, and I think it gets crossed.

HARRIS: Yes, yes (laughter). Walter, what are your thoughts on "Candyman"? I know you really like the original movie.

CHAW: Yeah. I love this series. I really do. I think it's one of the great movie bogies because he's such a tragic figure. You know, he has a real tragic story. He has a real purpose. And, you know, for me, it's like - it starts with the Clive Barker short story, which is good, but it's set in London. Candyman in the story is described as waxy, yellow and pale. You know, he's sort of like a demonic clown figure in that one. There's no saying things in the mirror and stuff. And, you know, I'm not afraid of mirrors, but mirrors are afraid of me, I guess, I would say. But...

(LAUGHTER)

CHAW: And then Bernard Rose, the British director, takes that story, the seed of that story, and turns it into this story about Cabrini-Green in Chicago. He moves it to the United States. Ultimately, the story of "Candyman," the original movie, is so rich with all of the themes, but it's rich with those without actually having to come out and lecture about them. And I use the term lecture carefully because I don't want to sound like one of those old Archie Bunker types. I really love horror movies because they are so rich in that kind of subtext.

I mean, "Night Of The Living Dead," I think, is the most important civil rights movie ever made. So "Candyman" does something like that. It is as important, I think, a film in many ways as "Night Of The Living Dead." What the DaCosta film for me was - it was, like, in the first 10 minutes of the movie - and I timed it - there are two speeches about gentrification, about white supremacy. It's just laid out there. It's almost like a CliffsNotes for the themes of "Candyman."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "CANDYMAN")

YAHYA ABDUL-MATEEN II: (As Anthony) It was the projects. It was affordable housing that had a particularly bad reputation.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) You would never know.

ABDUL-MATEEN: (As Anthony) Yeah because they tore it down and gentrified the [expletive] out of it.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) Translation - white people built the ghetto and then erased it when they realized they built the ghetto.

CHAW: And it's like, OK, this is an urgent theme. But now it's sort of like, here it is. We're going to lay it out for you real carefully. And I got an issue with that because now it becomes something like a TED Talk rather than a horror film.

HARRIS: Yeah.

CHAW: And I also have an issue with the messing around with the mythos. And I don't want to get into too many spoilers, but I will say that you cannot have an intellectually disabled man as a serial killer in your movie. You just can't. In this day and age - we're talking about this day and age - should've had a second thought about it.

HARRIS: Yeah.

CHAW: But, you know, I found it to be - all the things that the white art critic that they hate so much of this movie.

RASCOE: Oh, they hated her.

(LAUGHTER)

CHAW: Oh, man. She wore silk pajamas and listened to Fiona Apple.

(LAUGHTER)

CHAW: The only thing missing from this picture is boxed wine.

(LAUGHTER)

CHAW: You got everything except for the boxed wine. They hate her so much. And she says about the art show that - she says it's didactic, knee-jerk cliche about the ambient violence of the gentrification cycle. And I guess I would say the same thing about the film. It's a didactic, knee-jerk cliche about the ambient violence of the gentrification cycle. It's like - all of these topics deserve a more serious reckoning than this. You know, I didn't find it to be scary, either. I didn't find it to be, you know, all those things. There was one kill in it that I think is brilliant and reminded me of a Dario Argento kill. It is so awesome. I think she shot it with a drone.

But all the subtext has been brought into the light. And once you empty the basement of subtext, you have an empty basement. You got nothing underneath in the film. It's telling you exactly what it means. I wish the whole thing was shadow puppets. You know the shadow puppets they used?

RIVERS: The shadow puppets are the best part of the movie.

RASCOE: Yeah, they were cool.

HARRIS: I loved them.

CHAW: Amazing. Amazing.

RASCOE: I liked the shadow puppets.

RIVERS: Yeah.

HARRIS: So I fall, I think, somewhere in between Walter and you, Ayesha, and Marc, in that I feel like it did some really good things in terms of updating this story, but I agree with you, Walter. There is a lot of exposition in this movie. And some of it is warranted because that's what you always get in these movies. And it's a movie about mythmaking and telling stories. And so, of course, there's going to be some exposition. It walks a very fine line between satirizing art and the idea of art about Black trauma being too violent and the way in which white people connect with it - sometimes giving into those proclivities unintentionally, I think.

But, for me, the things that worked were that kill that you're talking about, Walter. I loved that shot. I think as a director, she is just doing some really interesting things that I love. I think, visually, I was struck by it. And I loved those moments where - you know, there's another scene where we see a kill through a mirror, but it's not the normal mirror that we see. And I thought that was really cool, as well. There is gore, and I think there's some callbacks to the Cronenberg "Fly," which I really appreciated. I liked the way in which, you know, the Anthony character - I don't think it's a spoiler to say he's, like, slowly being consumed by his art in a way. And it's taking over his body in the same way that Jeff Goldblum (laughter) in "The Fly" is, like, becoming this grotesque figure. And I really appreciated those, like, very specific body horror moments.

But, yeah, I think that it's a tough thing to do. And this movie was supposed to come out last year, and I can't say that so much has changed, but a lot has changed even in the year that it was supposed to come out in terms of how we're thinking about it. Again, we have things like "Lovecraft Country" and "Them" and "The Underground Railroad," who are all reckoning with these things to various degrees of success. And I have to say that once we get to the end of this movie, to be honest, I was actually kind of confused. As much exposition as there is, I wasn't exactly sure what we were supposed to take away from the very end of it. There's another monologue that happens, and I had similar feelings about Jordan Peele's "Us" and the way they lay out stuff at the end of that movie. I was just was like, wait. What?

RASCOE: Don't make this "Us." Don't make this "Us."

HARRIS: As confusing as "Us" was and sometimes, like, a little too up its own, you know...

RASCOE: It didn't make no sense. It made no sense (laughter).

HARRIS: ...I still appreciated "Us" for, like, trying to go there, but I did feel like it was kind of suffering - the end of this movie was kind of suffering from the same issues that the end of that movie was because I was paying attention, but I was also like, wait. How are we supposed to feel about this? What is this, like, final scene supposed to mean?

CHAW: I think, you know, this is about storytelling. This is a series about storytelling and mythologies and the things that we tell each other as a culture to retain cohesion among our culture. The original "Candyman" does such a brilliant job because it is - you know, Helen, the star of that, is a grad student studying graffiti and studying urban legends and the Cabrini-Green thing. And the idea of Candyman was that he didn't want to be forgotten. He wanted the stories about him to be told and the fear of him to remain fresh among the citizens. And it's that fear sort of binds him, the fear that in a community like Cabrini-Green, you could get murdered in your apartment, and the police don't even care.

HARRIS: Right.

CHAW: And there's arbitrariness about their existence. And there's, like, an idea that their lives don't matter. They got each other. That's it. Candyman in this movie is an - seems to me to be, like, some kind of avenging angel, a thing that, you know, because of Black rage and the violence against Black people comes back and gives the same back and more to the people who've been tormenting Black people.

RASCOE: The avenging angel thing I think is true. It's the idea that, OK, I don't want to see Black trauma. Do you want to see white trauma? Do you want see white people attacked? - that - it's...

HARRIS: Right (laughter).

RASCOE: ...A tough needle to thread. But it's also, like, this feeling of we've been under attack. And some of the feelings that I've had with some of these other movies - it's like, I don't want to see Black people getting beat up over and over again. They got to deal with racism. They got to deal with the police. And now they got to deal with some monster killing them, too.

Like, my goodness. Can we get a break? And in this (laughter) case, it's like look, there's a monster, but it's not attacking this community, right?

HARRIS: Right. Right.

RASCOE: Like, there's a monster out there. And the white supremacy is out there. But it's not attacking the people who are already under attack...

HARRIS: Right. Right.

RASCOE: ...Right? And so I'm not saying that's right, but I think that's why it's kind of of the moment.

CHAW: No. I think it's totally right. And I think, Aisha, you're sort of touching on this with the idea that it was supposed to have been released last year, and things have changes, that already the train is sort of leaving the station on the relevance of this. And it's always going to be relevant - the white supremacy, all that and everything. But the Candyman as a character's like - you know, I'm not sure that this avenging angel aspect of "Candyman" works.

And, you know, in the original film, I think he kills one white person and one Black person. And it's like, why are Black people being killed by Candyman? And again, I think it reflects this really harsh reality that whenever we look at victims of you know, white supremacy, it's going to be a Black body.

RASCOE: Yes.

CHAW: ...Unfortunately. And it's reflecting that rather than addressing that.

RIVERS: I mean, I think what was so potent about the original "Candyman" is that, like, it came out at a time when there was a lot of these movies that was kind of engaging in like an urban panic. And in the original "Candyman," it is about that urban panic and also interrogating that, like, the way a housing project like Cabrini-Green becomes more than a housing project through the fears of those who are like - don't even want to drive through. And I loved the idea that the Candyman was created by those who killed him. It's like, racism, like, created him. And like...

HARRIS: Right.

RIVERS: ...It kind of fades into this idea of, like, you know, this monstrous Black man that only really exists in the white man's imagination. And while this movie does make the subtext of the first one text, I think the text is kind of so strong that it can just kind of work as just kind of a crowd-pleaser kind of movie.

HARRIS: Yeah. And I think it's worth just one final point, which is that in case you haven't seen the movie in a while, the folklore in the first "Candyman" movie is that he was the victim of a lynching.

RIVERS: Right.

HARRIS: ...For miscegenation. And I think that's part of, for me at least, why this new "Candyman," even though it does fall into these trappings, so many of these reimaginings are often taking text that did not initially have that sort of social component already baked into it. I give it a little bit more leeway for still engaging with that, if on a different complete level.

CHAW: I love that you mentioned that because Black men are saddled with the stereotype in this culture of being sexually predacious, right?

HARRIS: And predatory - yeah.

CHAW: And predatory - and in this film, there's a scene where he goes to the library to do some research. Who does that?

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS: In 2019? I don't know (laughter).

RIVERS: He's old-school.

RASCOE: No (laughter).

CHAW: He's old-school like that. He goes to the library. And this white librarian gets super flustered, gets super interested, wants to flirt with him.

RASCOE: Well, it's Yahya. I mean, he's a nice...

CHAW: It's Yahya.

RASCOE: As a film critic, he is a nice-looking man. I'm saying that as a critic.

(LAUGHTER)

CHAW: Can I tell you? I would act exactly the same way if I met Yahya - handsome man.

HARRIS: He is.

CHAW: I don't blame her one bit.

RASCOE: (Laughter).

CHAW: In a movie, though, about a person who has been saddled with this stereotype, I think it's dangerous again to not be in control of these moments that you think are funny. We have to be careful with some of those images - right? - when it plays into this stuff. And the really awesome murder scene that we're talking about - after it, Yahya has just left this really, really nice apartment. I'm sure there are security films everywhere. People know he's been there. In this world - right? - in the world outside of "Candyman," 2021, he is prime suspect No. 1 and...

RASCOE: Yeah. Yeah.

CHAW: ...Maybe - probably is not making it to the station.

RASCOE: Yeah.

CHAW: For me, I'm like - I'm missing that part of the social consciousness. And I'm getting instead sort of the ventriloquism of social consciousness filtered through, you know, all these speeches - really - 15 minute mark - there's three separate people that says, well, gentrification is actually dot, dot, dot.

RASCOE: (Laughter).

RIVERS: Yeah.

CHAW: I cannot believe that you're doing this, right?

RASCOE: Yeah.

RIVERS: It's doing more telling than showing for sure.

RASCOE: Yeah.

CHAW: It is.

RASCOE: Yeah.

HARRIS: Yeah. Well, we want to know what you think about "Candyman." You can find us on Facebook at facebook.com/pchh or tweet us @pchh. And when we come back, it'll be time to talk about what's making us happy this week. So come right back.

Welcome back to POP CULTURE HAPPY HOUR. It's time for our favorite segment of this week and every week, What's Making Us Happy? Ayesha, let's start with you.

RASCOE: So I'm going back into the, you know, kind of crates on this one. And sometimes when life gets really hard and it's been a rough few weeks, I like to watch things that are really, like, cartoons. Like, sometimes, even reality TV is too serious for me. I need something really light. And so I have been watching "Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated." This is on - it's on Netflix. It's on Boomerang, if you have that. But it is a version of Scooby Doo with a connective storyline. So it's set with the gang in Crystal Cove. There are mysteries for each show, obviously, and people in masks and stuff. But there's also this larger mystery. There was a group of kids, years before, who disappeared. There was another Scooby Gang that disappeared, and we don't know why they disappeared. And that is the world in which this is set.

I will give a warning. There are some very trite, like, teenage love stories. They try to Velma in love with Shaggy. It's really - and they kind of make the women - in a very misogynistic way, kind of make them nags a bit. That is very dated. It's not good. But get past that. It's a nice little show. Watch "Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated."

HARRIS: Awesome. Thank you so much for that, Ayesha. Marc, what is making you happy this week?

RIVERS: So I tried to start Mike White's "White Lotus." At this point, I don't know how much I can take these characters. I'm still going to finish it...

HARRIS: (Laughter).

RIVERS: ...But right now, I'm kind of like, eh (ph). But it made me want to go back to his previous show, "Enlightened," which was this HBO show. It only lasted two seasons. It stars Laura Dern - this great sense of performance. This woman - she's this, like, sales executive. And she has this bit of a nervous breakdown at work. And then she comes out of this rehab stint, trying to be a better person. She becomes this kind of moral crusader in a way, but she's also kind of insufferable as a person. Like, you don't want to be around her, even though she's kind of right about a lot of things. The show is, like, really unconventional. It's more - it just finds great drama in just the mundane and just the way that life around you seems to be out to embarrass you. This show really understands that in a way that I think anybody can relate to. So if you're into "White Lotus," I would say go back to "Enlightened" - great show. Only two seasons - you'll get through it quick.

HARRIS: Perfect. I love it even more (laughter). Walter, what is making you happy?

CHAW: Well, first, I've got to say my mind is blown by the Scooby-Doo description that you just gave.

(LAUGHTER)

CHAW: I grew up on "Scooby-Doo." Just to think that there's more than one gang - that is freaking me out a little bit.

RIVERS: Like, the "Scooby-Doo" expanded universe.

(LAUGHTER)

CHAW: Yeah, you're just making me more excited to watch it. You know, this whole last week - last two weeks, I've been covering this festival out of Montreal called Fantasia Fest, and they show so many, dozens and dozens of films - science fiction, horror generally, but all sorts of other stuff, too. And the movies I've seen there are so, so good. I mean, the opening night film was "Suicide Squad," the James Gunn, which I liked a lot. But there's an exorcism movie called "Agnes" by an Oklahoma filmmaker named Mickey Reece that is brilliant. There's a Japanese time travel movie called "Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes" by Junta Yamaguchi, "Hellbender" by this family of filmmakers - you know, it's this mother and daughter witches. They play in a punk band, and they live by themselves in the woods. And it's just...

(LAUGHTER)

CHAW: ...Man, there's some really, really exciting stuff going on in genre filmmaking right now. And I got to see so much of it. That's what I was excited about.

HARRIS: Yes. Thank you, Walter. That's a lot of movies we have to look for in the coming year or so. So I actually just want to play my happy this week.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "VAX THAT THANG UP")

JUVENILE: (Rapping) Girl, you looks good. Won't you vax that thang (ph) up? You's a handsome young brother. Won't you vax that thang up? Date in real life, you need to vax that thang up. Feeling freaky all night, you need to vax that thang up.

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS: So (laughter) in honor of the FDA finally approving the Pfizer vaccine this week and hopefully - I hope that people decide to get vaxxed.

RIVERS: If you can't listen to Dr. Fauci, like, please listen to Juvenile. Like, come on.

(LAUGHTER)

RASCOE: I want to see Dr. Fauci backing that thang up to "Vax That Thang Up." That's what I want to see.

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS: Yeah. So this song and video came out, actually, in July, so earlier this summer. It was a collaboration between Juvenile, Mannie Fresh, Mia X and BLK. It's a dating app for singles. And they put out this video and updated the "Back That Thang Up" song to be about vaxxing that thing up. And (laughter) I love how it's, like, part safe sex and also part, like, safe COVID or safe pandemic.

(LAUGHTER)

RASCOE: Well, you got to be safe because, you know, you exchange those COVID vibes when you out there dating.

HARRIS: Exactly.

RASCOE: Yeah.

HARRIS: (Laughter) So it's just making me so happy that it exists. I love that, you know, especially earlier this week, Busta Rhymes came out as a - I don't know what we want to call them - a pandemic...

RASCOE: Anti-masker - whatever. Yeah.

RIVERS: Anti-vaxxer (ph).

HARRIS: Anti-masker - you know, the worst possible thing we want anyone to be right now. So seeing Juvenile and Mannie Fresh and Mia X doing their thing and vaxxing that thing - I'm all for it. So...

RASCOE: Yes, yes. I'm with you on that.

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS: ...That is what is making me happy this week.

And if you want links for what we recommended, plus some more recommendations, subscribe to our newsletter at npr.org/popculturenewsletter. And that brings us to the end of our show. You can find all of us on Twitter. I'm at @craftingmystyle. You can find the other Ayesha at @ayesharascoe, Marc at @marcarivers and Walter at @mangiotto. You can follow editor Jessica Reedy at @jessica_reedy, producer at Candice Lim @thecandicelim and producer Jared Gair at @jaredmgair. And you can follow producer Mike Katzif at @mikekatzif. That's K-A-T-Z-I-F. Mike's band Hello Come In provides music you are almost certainly bobbing your head to right now. And thank you all for being here.

RASCOE: Thanks. I had fun.

RIVERS: Thanks for having me, guys.

CHAW: So great to be here.

HARRIS: And thank you for listening to POP CULTURE HAPPY HOUR from NPR. We'll see you all next week when we'll be talking about happy endings.

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