The labor movement in 2021; Rose Dommu and Fran Tirado on 'Like a Virgin' : It's Been a Minute Was 2021 the labor movement's year? It certainly felt like it — thousands of workers went on strike this year, at numbers considerably higher than in 2020. But in the context of American labor history, this year's organized strikes are small in comparison. Sam chats with author and labor historian at Georgetown University Lane Windham about why labor activism might be on the rise again. Plus, Rose Dommu and Fran Tirado chat about their new podcast, Like a Virgin, and how they bring their different cultural backgrounds and pop culture sensibilities together. They also play Who Said That?

Was 2021 labor's year? Plus, 'Like a Virgin'

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AUNT BETTY, BYLINE: Hey, y'all. This is Sam's Aunt Betty. This week, looking back at this year in labor. All right. Let's start the show.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SAM SANDERS, HOST:

Hey, y'all. You're listening to IT'S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR. I'm Sam Sanders.

Somehow, it is already December. This year is almost done. And a lot has happened in 2021, and we're going to spend a few episodes between now and the new year recapping some stuff. Today on this episode, we're going to look back on one of the biggest business stories of 2021 - labor. And it might've been one of the biggest stories of this year, period. You know, 2021 saw millions of people quit their jobs across the country, and there were strikes all across America, and walkouts and efforts to unionize and union bust.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Amazon workers in Alabama will get a second chance to unionize.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Workers at all of the Kellogg Company's U.S. cereal plants walked off the job this week.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: Workers at the Nabisco bakery in northeast Portland held a rally today to support their strike against the company.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: You can see behind me a group of miners protesting right now. They're chanting, no fair contract, no coal. And take a look at some of their signs.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: Thousands of John Deere workers have been on strike for a month now. It is the biggest private sector strike of the U.S. since 2019.

SANDERS: So just how big was this year for the labor movement? How does the wave of organizing we've seen compare to years past? And what, if anything, will actually change going forward? To find out, we called up Lane Windham. She's a labor historian at Georgetown University.

LANE WINDHAM: I think we are living through a worker rights revival. Economists call it the great resignation, right? We had - 4.1 million people left their jobs in September. But let's call it what it is. It is this sort of slow-moving general strike. People just aren't accepting those low-wage jobs, those no-benefits jobs that leave them feeling so burned out and insecure. They're looking at other options, and they are waiting employers out.

SANDERS: Windham studies how working people build power. But before getting a Ph.D. in U.S. history and writing a book about union organizing in the '70s, Lane Windham herself worked in the union movement. She was an organizer and an activist.

WINDHAM: People are fed up. They're fed up with the long hours, with the low wages. You know, during the pandemic, we celebrated essential workers. We banged pots and pans. We saluted nurses. And then people had to go back to the same kind of dead-end jobs with no respect. People's wages are too low to cover housing, education, health care. They just aren't taking it anymore.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SANDERS: You know, when we compare this to other big moments in labor history here in the states, how does it stack up? You know, the Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks large work stoppages - strikes or lockouts that involve a thousand or more workers. And so far, they have tracked, like, 12 of those this year, and that seems like a lot. But in 1979, for instance, there were 235 work stoppages of the same scale. So my first question is, are we actually experiencing a strike wave?

WINDHAM: That's a great question. Yeah, some historians will say this is a strike wave. Others will say it's not. I weigh in on the side that I think it is a strike wave. You know, Striketober, Strikesgiving of 2021 are actually part of a longer strike wave that started in 2018, 2019, when nearly half a million workers a year in those years went on strike. Remember all those teachers who struck?

SANDERS: Oh, yeah. It was a wave of teachers strikes...

WINDHAM: Yeah, right?

SANDERS: ...State by state for months. Yeah.

WINDHAM: Red for Ed. We had a big GM strike. We had the Stop & Shop workers struck, right? And so in 2018 and 2019, the number of workers - nearly half a million a year - that was the most workers that had been on strike in 30 years.

SANDERS: Wow.

WINDHAM: Since the mid-1980s.

SANDERS: Wow.

WINDHAM: You're right that we have not reached the historically high strike levels of the 1950s through the '70s. Those times, you'd often have between 1 million and 2 million workers a year on strike.

SANDERS: Really?

WINDHAM: Yeah. But we are seeing levels that this nation hasn't seen in a generation or more.

SANDERS: Yeah. How much of that difference in between strike numbers now and strike numbers a few decades ago is actually just a metric of how many people are in unions? You know, you can't actually officially strike unless you're in a union, otherwise you're just walking off the job or quitting. So seeing less people on strike than in the '70s, that's also just a testament to fewer people being in unions now than then, right?

WINDHAM: Well, it is certainly true that there are far fewer people in unions than there were in the 1960s and the 1970s. Today, like, 10% of workers are part of a union. About 6% of private sector workers are part of a union. But, Sam, there's a big difference that I want to point out...

SANDERS: Yeah.

WINDHAM: ...Which is that a lot of the workers today who are striking are women. It was during the 1970s, during the 1980s when millions of women, for the first time, came into the paid workforce. Now, many women had worked for years. Especially women of color had worked for pay for many years. But millions and millions of women came into the workforce in the late 1970s into the 1980s. It was one of the biggest changes we saw in this country in the late 20th century, right?

The strike wave that we are in right now is the largest strike wave that this nation has seen since you've had mass entry of women into the workforce. And who's leading those strikes? It's teachers.

SANDERS: Women, yeah.

WINDHAM: We almost had a strike among 26,000 nurses at Kaiser Permanente, right? Who led that...

SANDERS: Yeah.

WINDHAM: ...Amazon worker...

SANDERS: No, that makes sense.

WINDHAM: ...Effort down in Alabama? Women of color, right? So what we don't want to do is compare today's workforce and today's economy and say, oh, look; you're not having the same numbers of people when we had an industrial economy where it was mostly men - lots of white men - who were in the unions and were leading it. We've had a big change in our working class.

SANDERS: Yeah, yeah. You know, when we think back to, like, the post-World War II era through, like, the mid-'60s, if you are a white male working, you're doing really good. Your job is going to give you a pension and benefits, and you can afford to buy a home, right? But we see those benefits that some workers would receive start to be chipped away in the '70s and the '80s, if not before. I know that, like, there was never a time when all workers had those kind of benefits. But how much of the worker discontent that we see now is about any semblance of that safety net provided by the employer kind of going away?

WINDHAM: I think you have absolutely hit on it, right? We built a system in this country after World War II. Unlike Europe - right? - where people get their health care, they get their pensions, they get a lot of the social safety net through the government, in this country, we said - you know what? - we're going to ask employers to do that, but we're never going to actually require employers to do that, right? The only thing we're going to require employers to do is bargain with a union if the workers jump through all the hoops they have to do to get a union. And so collective bargaining and unions end up playing this sort of redistribution role that the government does in Europe.

But there was a fatal flaw - you're absolutely right - which is that many women and many people of color couldn't get those jobs, and they couldn't be part of the unions.

SANDERS: Yeah.

WINDHAM: And it does start to change. After the Civil Rights Act in 1964, you see many more women and people of color who do begin to get those jobs. And there's a large wave of union organizing in the 1970s, just like we're seeing today. And just like workers today are hitting a wall of resistance from employers, that's what happened 30, 40 years ago, too.

SANDERS: All right, so you've already mentioned that this wave of strikes, it actually was beginning before the pandemic. As early as 2018, 2019, we were seeing big strikes here in the U.S. But I feel personally like the pandemic sped that train along. Is it fair to assume that? How has the pandemic played into this great year of labor, and how much of it has it caused?

WINDHAM: I definitely think the pandemic has been key. And, you know, this is true historically that when we see that there are periods of crisis, like war or depression or pandemic, there is often great churning and great change, and there is often great worker action and activity. There was a giant strike wave in 1919 after World War I. 1946 was a huge strike wave after World War II. Of course, during the Depression, there was tons of activity. Especially 1934, there was lots of strikes. And so, yes, I definitely think that people recognize what they have been putting up with, essentially, in these really terrible jobs - that they're just not going to do it anymore.

And there's some element of the fact that the pandemic has slowed shipping, has made it more difficult to get some products that workers may feel that they have a little more leverage because their employers can't just as quickly hire people or that the employers are under the gun with all the shortages. There's some element of that that is certainly true.

SANDERS: Yeah.

WINDHAM: But I think that no matter what happens once we come through this pandemic or into the next stage of this pandemic, the conversation in this country on worker rights has fundamentally shifted and changed. Now, that's...

SANDERS: Totally.

WINDHAM: ...Not the same thing as me saying that working people are necessarily going to have more power because I think we're in a moment of contestation. There's no guarantee that working people are going to win in this moment. They did not win in the 1970s when there was a time of contestation. But I do think that we are having a different conversation than we were even five, 10 years ago.

SANDERS: And now we're clearly in this moment of ascendant labor and labor organizing. And even if folks aren't going on strike, they're trying to unionize even more at places like Starbucks and Amazon. A lot of people directly involved in this work might see their jobs change. But given this moment and this moment of labor, how will it change jobs for people who aren't striking, for people who aren't organizing, for all the rest of us?

WINDHAM: You know, that's a great question. And just as we were discussing a moment ago about how the way we built our social compact in this country was built on employers providing that social safety net - right? - we are actually in the middle of having a conversation in this country about rethinking our social contract. We are starting to say, hey, maybe there should be sort of a - if not a base wage, at least some basic wages that are coming in. We've seen the government giving Americans checks, basically, during the pandemic. That is new. We are revisiting the way that we've been doing unemployment. We are revisiting issues such as child care, elder care, et cetera. We're actually looking at many, many aspects of the social compact and saying, is there a different way we can do this? Now, a lot of that hasn't necessarily passed, and a lot of it's in Biden's second infrastructure bill. But I think that even if it doesn't pass that we are fundamentally having a different conversation about the role that we want employers to play in our social compact.

And let's be clear. We are having that conversation in this country not out of goodwill of Biden or whatever, right? It's happening in part because of the great resignation or the general strike that's happening, because of the fact that there is so much worker activism. Working people aren't willing to accept those terrible jobs anymore. That's putting pressure on policymakers.

SANDERS: Yeah.

WINDHAM: And you've certainly seen that happen in other years, too. You know, one of the reasons that Franklin Delano Roosevelt actually passed the National Labor Relations Act, or the Wagner Act, which is the federal law which says that workers have the freedom to form unions - that passed after a major strike wave in 1934, including 400,000 textile workers who struck. Roosevelt...

SANDERS: Wow.

WINDHAM: ...In many ways, was pushed into passing that law.

SANDERS: Yeah. You know, there is some polling data that suggests a clear majority of Americans right now support unions and the work that labor unions do - something like, I want to say, 68%, according to Gallup. But there are a lot of people and a lot of politicians who are on the other side of this issue. I think I know where you stand on it, but when...

WINDHAM: (Laughter).

SANDERS: ...There is political discourse and debate about the role of unions and whether they should have more or less rights or whether strikes should be happening - when you hear arguments from that other side, does anything about what they say jive with you?

WINDHAM: That's exactly right. Sixty-eight percent of people say that they support unions. That is the highest it's been since 1965.

SANDERS: Wow.

WINDHAM: And if you dig a little deeper, 77% of young people ages 18 to 34 say that they approve of labor unions.

SANDERS: Wow.

WINDHAM: That's huge. That's the next generation. So...

SANDERS: Yeah.

WINDHAM: ...It kind of doesn't matter what I think. That's the people who matter.

SANDERS: Thanks again to Lane Windham. She's the associate director of the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University. And she has a book about labor. It's called "Knocking On Labor's Door: Union Organizing In The 1970s And The Roots Of A New Economic Divide."

And we should note here NPR is a union shop. I am a proud member of SAG-AFTRA. And Amazon is among NPR's financial supporters.

All right, listeners, stay with us. Coming up, Rose Dommu and Fran Tirado. They talk with me about their new podcast called "Like A Virgin," and we also throw a lot of shade on one of the stranger movies of this year, "House Of Gucci."

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SANDERS: I am begging the production team to insert the Madonna song underneath us every time we say the words like a virgin.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LIKE A VIRGIN")

MADONNA: (Singing) Like a virgin...

FRAN TIRADO: OK, but please don't get us sued.

(LAUGHTER)

ROSE DOMMU: If Madonna sued us, it would be very good for business - like, great PR.

SANDERS: It'd be good for the brand.

DOMMU: That's right. That's right.

SANDERS: That's Rose Dommu and Fran Tirado. They are close friends and the two hosts of the new iHeartRadio podcast "Like A Virgin." On this podcast, they show each other pieces of culture for the very first time.

TIRADO: The show kind of aims to, you know, pop the cherries, as it were, of people's, like, pop cultural knowledge. For a lot of it, it is often, like, the first time I or Rose have watched whatever that kind of pop cultural object is.

SANDERS: I had so much fun talking with them about their show and about how so much of the pop culture that we consume on a regular basis is kind of secretly queer. All right. Hope you enjoy.

(SOUNDBITE OF FLEVANS' "FLICKER")

SANDERS: You know, I have so many questions for you both. But first, I assume I know why, but maybe I don't. Why this name for y'all's podcast, "Like A Virgin"?

TIRADO: You know, the show was kind of born out of this dynamic between Rose and I, where, you know, she would be talking about Spice World or "America's Next Top Model," and I would be like, oh, I've actually never seen that. And she'd be like, what? And I grew up in this, like, kind of weird, like, fundamentalist Christian cultural vacuum where my parents really guarded a lot of content that I consumed. And Rose was the opposite of that.

DOMMU: I grew up with, like, unfettered access to pop culture, and so I spent a lot of time at Hot Topic or, like, reading fan fiction at 3 a.m. Really, what the show is about is, like, that feeling when - that - what you have when you're obsessed with something in pop culture so much that if the people you love don't know about it, you have to share it with them.

SANDERS: If they don't come to love it, too, you're like, can I love you? I don't know (laughter).

DOMMU: Yeah. You're like, we need to get a divorce, a la Adam Driver and Lady Gaga in "House Of Gucci."

(LAUGHTER)

DOMMU: And maybe have the other person murdered.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: So, Rose, what has been the one thing that you have seen - and, I guess, Fran's pop culture blind spots from his upbringing - where you've been, like, you didn't watch that? You didn't hear that? Like, what was the most egregious thing that he missed?

DOMMU: There are so many of them that it's - because - I think - you know, I guess I have always kind of defined myself by the things that I like, as someone who has always been so obsessed with pop culture. I think it's - I think maybe, like, the most, like, jarring things for me were things that, like, we consider, you know, queer pop cultural canon. Like, the things that, for me, were some of the first pieces of media or experiences I had that, like, signified, you know, like, otherness or, like, camp or queer coded-ness (ph) to me. I think, like, one of the first things that I actively broke Fran's cherry on was "Romy And Michele's High School Reunion."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ROMY AND MICHELE'S HIGH SCHOOL REUNION")

MIRA SORVINO: (As Romy White) God, Michele, I've never seen this side of your personality before. You're so bossy and domineering. I like it.

LISA KUDROW: (As Michele Weinberger) Me, too.

DOMMU: Because I couldn't believe he had never seen it. So I took him to a Cinespia screening, and we saw it at a - at the Greek at a drive-in.

SANDERS: Fran, what's your review of "Romy And Michele"?

TIRADO: You know, first of all, I kept calling it "Romy And Michele's High School Reunion," not Romy.

DOMMU: Which angered me...

SANDERS: (Laughter) Canceled.

DOMMU: ...So much.

SANDERS: Canceled.

TIRADO: (Laughter) Second of all, I mean, Alan Cumming is a dream in that movie. I did not know he was in it. But we also - I should disclose that we did not have a good spot at the drive-in theater. So we saw - I saw - a third of the screen was missing.

SANDERS: (Laughter).

DOMMU: We're possibly going to have to revisit it.

SANDERS: As someone who grew up very religious but still was able to consume a lot of pop culture - because I would just sneak around my parents - the most fun thing about being adult and re-consuming that pop culture with your gay friends is that they, like, show you how all of this stuff was secretly gay anyway. You know, like, there's that moment...

TIRADO: Totally.

SANDERS: ...When you realize that every Disney villain is actually queer coded. Every single one.

TIRADO: Yes.

DOMMU: It's so heavy-handed.

TIRADO: Yeah, yeah. It really is.

SANDERS: Like Scar, the villain from "The Lion King."

DOMMU: Scar's hot.

TIRADO: Scar's hot.

DOMMU: I mean, you see, you see it in all the Disney movies because it's, like, you know, a holdover from the Hays Code, essentially where, like, you could only put queer people in films if you were making them evil, and they were getting some kind of, like, comeuppance from their actions. And so you see the legacy of that in things like Disney movies where the villains are, like, so, so queer. It's, like, not really even coding, but because of that, they always end up being the best, most memorable parts of those movies.

TIRADO: Yeah. The queer communal experience of, like, watching something really, like, makes the experience of it. Like, I mean, I think a lot about, like, the first time I ever watched "Moonstruck."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "MOONSTRUCK")

CHER: (As Loretta Castorini) You know what? All right. The engagement is off.

DANNY AIELLO: (As Johnny Cammareri) In time, you will see that this was the best thing...

CHER: (As Loretta Castorini) In time, you'll drop dead, and I'll come to your funeral in a red dress.

TIRADO: Which was, like, first year of college. And I watched it with a bunch of new queer friends that I had. And if I had watched that movie alone, I don't really think I would have understood it the same way. But because we were watching it together, I honestly think it's, like, one of my first memories of really understanding what camp is. And I feel like, when I watch things, like, as a group, like, I really do, like, soak in the knowledge of the people around me. You know, I think a lot about - actually something that you said once, Sam, about, like, how pop culture history, like, is history. You know what I mean? I really would have benefited from, like, learning about that.

SANDERS: Come on.

TIRADO: Like, why was I in high school, like, learning about trigonometry when I should have learned about, like, Janet Jackson? You know what I mean? Like...

SANDERS: Yeah (laughter).

TIRADO: ...That, I think, is, like, a lot of, like, kind of what I get out of, like, the experience of just doing this with Rose and also just, like, watching things with my friends.

SANDERS: Yes. I would love for you both to stick around. After the break, we'll play my favorite pop culture game. It's called, Who Said That? Will you stick around?

TIRADO: Absolutely.

DOMMU: Twist my arm, why don't you?

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SANDERS: Let's play a game, shall we?

TIRADO: Yes.

DOMMU: That's very "Jigsaw" of you. Do you want to play a game?

SANDERS: (Laughter) Also queer. Also queer.

TIRADO: Also queer.

DOMMU: Absolutely. She hit the slay button.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: All right. This game is called, Who Said That?

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ATLANTA")

KANDI BURRUSS: Who had been saying that?

PORSHA WILLIAMS: Who said that?

KENYA MOORE: Who said that?

SANDERS: It is very simple. I share three quotes from this week of news. You have to guess who said it or get a keyword or two, guess what the story is about. I'll give you a lot of hints. I'll be really bad at keeping score. And there will be no buzzers or prizes, OK?

TIRADO: Love that.

DOMMU: OK.

TIRADO: Love low stakes.

SANDERS: Yes.

DOMMU: What is the prize?

SANDERS: Bragging rights.

DOMMU: OK.

SANDERS: That's all you get.

DOMMU: Cool.

SANDERS: And even then, I might even, like, contest the winner. I don't know. See how I feel.

TIRADO: Love.

DOMMU: OK. I will stage an appeal.

SANDERS: Wow (laughter). Recount on this one. So I'm just going to say the quote. And just yell out the answer when you think you have it.

TIRADO: Sounds good.

SANDERS: Here's the first quote. "May you continue to shine like a diamond." Who said that?

DOMMU: Bella Swan to Edward Cullen.

(SOUNDBITE OF BUZZER, LAUGHTER)

TIRADO: I am - I actually am not sure. I mean, will I say - I'll guess Lady Gaga.

(SOUNDBITE OF BUZZER)

SANDERS: This phrase was uttered about a pop star who has...

TIRADO: Oh, Rihanna. It was Rihanna.

SANDERS: ...A big song. Who said it about her?

TIRADO: The ambassador to Barbados.

SANDERS: That's close enough. I'll give it to you.

TIRADO: Some - OK.

SANDERS: Let me - I'll give either of you one more chance to be a little more specific about what Barbadian official said that quote.

TIRADO: So...

SANDERS: What title of person would be doing this?

TIRADO: Maybe the president.

SANDERS: Yes, that's it. That's - the president is close enough. I will give it to you, Fran. That quote actually comes from the prime minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley. And this week at a ceremony, Mottley and other officials declared Rihanna the national hero of Barbados.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRIME MINISTER MIA MOTTLEY: The designee for national hero of Barbados, Ambassador Robyn Rihanna Fenty.

SANDERS: And in this declaration, they quoted Rihanna's hit song from 2012 called "Diamonds."

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MOTTLEY: May you continue to shine like a diamond and bring honor to your nation by your words, by your actions, and to do credit wherever you shall go.

DOMMU: And to release your next album, queen. Please.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DIAMONDS")

RIHANNA: (Singing) We're beautiful like diamonds in the sky.

TIRADO: I really loved reading about this. I was seeing that, like, I think they, like, basically cut ties with the queen and, like, replaced the queen with Rihanna or whatever.

SANDERS: Yeah.

TIRADO: Or, like, that's, like, the gist of what's going on. And I really feel like we, as a society, should remove all of our imperialist figures and just replace them...

SANDERS: There you go.

TIRADO: ...With pop stars.

SANDERS: No. So this event where they named Rihanna the national hero of Barbados. At the same event, Barbados officially became a republic and removed Queen Elizabeth as the head of state. So literally, they took the crown...

DOMMU: Wow.

SANDERS: ...Off Queen Elizabeth's head and put it on Rihanna's - I mean, come on.

DOMMU: Wow. Queen Elizabeth really in her flop era.

(LAUGHTER)

DOMMU: Actually, actually, no question.

SANDERS: That's it. All right, here is the next quote - just yell out the answer when you have it. "Am I dipping into the spiritual realm and the infinite game of life? Damn right, I am." Who said that?

TIRADO: Oh, no.

DOMMU: Oh, wow.

TIRADO: It sounds like...

DOMMU: Is it Cher?

(SOUNDBITE OF BUZZER)

DOMMU: No, that's, like, far too coherent for something Cher would tweet.

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: A famous actor.

TIRADO: It sounds like...

SANDERS: Can I give you his catchphrase?

DOMMU: Yeah, please.

SANDERS: All right. All right. All right. All right, all right, all right.

TIRADO: Oh, it's [expletive] - oh, my gosh, I'm so sorry. His name is...

SANDERS: All right, all right, all right.

TIRADO: Oh, my God. All right. Matthew McConaughey.

SANDERS: That's...

(SOUNDBITE OF VICTORY TUNE)

DOMMU: Oh, my God.

SANDERS: How many times do a horrible Matthew McConaughey impression before y'all got it?

TIRADO: I'm so sorry I'm not on the beat of McConaughey news.

SANDERS: I am. As a Texan, we have to watch that guy. He's one of us. But that quote comes from Matthew McConaughey in a new profile for The New York Times Magazine that was released this week. And in that article, he talked about what he's been talking about for a while - whether or not he's going to run for governor of Texas. It had been rumored. Folks have been waiting for him to announce. But later this week, in a video, he said, nah, I'm not going to do it. And in the interview...

DOMMU: He said how to lose an election in 10 days.

(LAUGHTER)

TIRADO: Unless you are Cynthia Nixon, I do not need you running for office in any part of this country. Thank you.

SANDERS: But did she win?

TIRADO: No, she did not...

SANDERS: (Laughter).

TIRADO: ...But I would vote for her if she ran again. Sorry.

SANDERS: So this interview that Matthew McConaughey did for the Times, it's so interesting, as is the video that he released later that week announcing that he wouldn't run.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY: As a simple kid born in the little town of Uvalde, Texas, it never occurred to me that I would one day be considered for political leadership. It's a humbling and inspiring path to ponder. It is also a path that I'm choosing not to take at this moment.

SANDERS: But one of the other lines from that Times Magazine profile that he said was, quote, "do my gifts fit into being effective as a politician? Good question, because I'm not historically a politico. I'm a folk-singing philosopher poet who has a gift for storytelling, for freedom."

DOMMU: Wait - he sings - so he's a folk singing...

SANDERS: (Laughter).

DOMMU: What?

TIRADO: In the true, you know, kind of conceit of the show, we really are virgins to Matthew McConaughey culture. Thank you for inducting us. I appreciate this.

SANDERS: (Laughter) I love it. I love it. Who got that point? I'm telling you, I'm bad at scorekeeping. I'm just trusting, y'all.

DOMMU: Neither of us.

TIRADO: I said, Matthew.

DOMMU: Yeah, you did.

TIRADO: I think we both got it at the same - I think it was me. I think it was me.

DOMMU: It was you.

TIRADO: Fran, Fran.

SANDERS: OK, OK, so this game is a little lopsided, but that's life. Here's the last quote. Y'all ready?

DOMMU: Yes.

SANDERS: "I did it all. I was snorting lines of arrabbiata sauce by the middle of this movie. I had olive oil for blood. This was a deep dive I did. If you took a biopsy of my skin, it would come back as parmesan cheese. This is my love letter to Italy." Who said that?

DOMMU: Was it Lady Gaga?

(SOUNDBITE OF BUZZER)

SANDERS: Another one from that movie.

DOMMU: Jared Leto?

(SOUNDBITE OF VICTORY TUNE)

SANDERS: Yes. Who got that one?

DOMMU: It was Rose.

SANDERS: So, yeah, this quote - did y'all read this article?

DOMMU: No, I haven't. I've tried to stay away from anything Jared Leto related concerning "House Of Gucci."

SANDERS: So Jared Leto gave an interview to Vice talking about his role as Paolo Gucci in the new film "House Of Gucci." He probably has the most cartoonish Italian accent in the film.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "HOUSE OF GUCCI")

JARED LETO: (As Paolo Gucci) Nobody has ever said that to me - nobody.

SANDERS: It's like a mockery of Mario and Luigi.

DOMMU: Yeah, or like Geppetto in "Pinocchio."

SANDERS: Yeah, yeah. But in this interview with Vice, he's saying, oh, no, no, no, no. I worked really hard on that and that was on purpose and it was serious. He also said in this interview, quote, "bringing Paolo to life was like birthing a bowling ball out of my sphincter. I keep saying my butt was shaking like two little chicken bones on that set. It was a very physical performance. There's something about corduroy, I think. When you put it on, it's like you can catch fire."

DOMMU: What is wrong with him?

(LAUGHTER)

DOMMU: Why is he saying all this? Stop interviewing celebrities and letting them say these things. Like truly, like, tell them to show up at the red carpet and then tell them to go home.

SANDERS: Well, I don't understand is how there were, like, 11 different Italian accents in this film. Every actor was...

DOMMU: Different regions, I guess.

SANDERS: ...Doing a different kind of Italian.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "HOUSE OF GUCCI")

AL PACINO: (As Aldo Gucci) Ah, Maurizio, my nephew.

SALMA HAYEK: (As Pina Auriemma) An attempt to deceive you in your own house, you understand?

ADAM DRIVER: (As Maurizio Gucci) As far as fakes go, they're pretty good.

LADY GAGA: (As Patrizia Reggiani) You want to keep selling coffee mugs in airports?

LETO: (As Paolo Gucci) I can't afford to get serious.

TIRADO: I kind of almost felt bad for having contributed to the Gaga's accent is bad discourse after seeing the movie because she was the most redeeming element of the show.

SANDERS: Oh, yeah.

DOMMU: She was the only one who knew what movie she was in. And she was playing...

TIRADO: Exactly.

DOMMU: ...A real character, although, as we know, she was not basing it on the real person because she refused to meet Patrizia Reggiani.

SANDERS: Oh, really?

DOMMU: Yes. She - yeah.

SANDERS: I pulled up the statement that the Gucci family released about "House Of Gucci." And y'all, they were mad. They said, quote, "the production of the film did not bother to consult the heirs before describing Aldo Gucci and the members of the Gucci family as thugs, ignorant and insensitive to the world around them." They called it extremely painful from a human point of view and an insult to the legacy on which the brand is built today.

DOMMU: Oh, yeah. They were cyberbullying all the cast, telling them they looked ugly.

SANDERS: Wait, really?

DOMMU: Yes.

TIRADO: They were just kind of like, no, our family was not that ugly. No, our family was not that - this is so embarrassing. And we're like, yeah. Your family is embarrassing. That's why they made a movie about it. Like, come on. Like...

SANDERS: (Laughter).

DOMMU: Yeah. Read the room, babe.

SANDERS: Wow. Wow. This game is complete. Y'all know who won. Fran, congratulations.

TIRADO: Thank you.

SANDERS: Who do you want to dedicate this win to?

TIRADO: I will dedicate this win to obviously my co-host, Rose Dommu. Thank you so much for...

DOMMU: Aw.

SANDERS: Aw.

TIRADO: ...Being the person to...

DOMMU: Thank you so much.

TIRADO: ...Induct me into culture over and over again. I owe it all to you...

DOMMU: That's...

TIRADO: It's because of you that I've learned.

DOMMU: That's so sweet. And so ultimately, I won.

SANDERS: (Laughter) That's right. That's right.

DOMMU: Yeah.

SANDERS: Well, thank you both for playing and for talking pop culture with me. You can listen to Fran Tirado and Rose Dommu wherever you want on their new iHeartRadio podcast called "Like A Virgin." The latest episode of that show is all about "House Of Gucci." All right. Cue Madonna.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LIKE A VIRGIN")

MADONNA: (Singing) Like a virgin touched for the very first time.

SANDERS: Bye, y'all.

DOMMU: Bye.

TIRADO: Bye.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LIKE A VIRGIN")

MADONNA: (Singing) Like a virgin when your heart beats next to mine.

AUNT BETTY: Now it's time to end the show as we always do. Every week, listeners share the best thing that happened to them all week. We encourage folks to brag, and they do. Let's hear a few of those submissions.

MADDIE: Hi, Sam. My name's Maddie (ph), and I'm from Colorado. And the best thing that happened to me this week is that I was finally accepted to a medical school program. I've wanted to be a doctor since I can remember. And when I started listening to this podcast at the beginning of the pandemic, when I was studying for the MCAT, I promised myself that if I was able to get into medical school on my first attempt, I would record this message.

MAGGIE: Hi, Sam. This is Maggie (ph) from St. Paul, Minn. When I retired four years ago at the age of 65, I took up acting. The best part of my week was opening night in my fourth show in one of the Twin Cities' fabulous community theaters.

JANET LAWLESS CHRISTEN: Hey, Sam. This is Janet Lawless Christen (ph) - Leucadia, Calif. And the best part of my week this week is just an amazing and simple thing. I was telling my husband how I'm just kind of blue these days. I don't know why. He said, I'm about to have to head out to the store. But he came home with the ingredients to make bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches. He said, you know, a few weeks ago, you said I could use a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, so I think today calls for it. It was amazing, changed my whole energy.

KATIE: Hi, Sam. This is Katie (ph) from Muncie, Ind. I'm calling just to say the best thing that's happened to me all week was that my husband finally was given the all clear. He is cancer-free. He was diagnosed with stage 3 Hodgkin's lymphoma back in April of this year. But he's clear. He's in the clear. And it feels amazing to say that. Your podcast has brought me through a lot of hard and impossible days in the last year. And I am just so thankful for what you do.

LAWLESS CHRISTEN: Thanks, Sam. Have a great weekend.

MAGGIE: Love your show, Sam. Thanks.

SANDERS: Thanks again to those listeners you heard there - Maddie, Maggie, Janet and Katie. Got to say, best part of my week happened here in San Antonio, Texas. I came down for Thanksgiving and stayed an extra week. And I have been able in this time here to see my godson play basketball. He's 11. But he made the A-Team at his middle school. He scored the first two points for his team in their game on Tuesday. Isaiah (ph), so proud of you.

All right, listeners. You can share the best part of your week at any point throughout any week. We always want to hear from you. Just record yourselves and send the voice memo to samsanders@npr.org - at samsanders@npr.org.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SANDERS: All right. This week's episode of IT'S BEEN A MINUTE was produced by Jinae West, Anjuli Sastry Krbechek, Liam McBain and Audrey Nguyen. Our intern is Nathan Pugh. Our engineer on this episode was Gilly Moon. Our fearless editor is Jordana Hochman. And our big boss is NPR's senior VP of programming, Anya Grundmann. All right, listeners. Till next time, be good to yourselves. I'm Sam Sanders. We'll talk soon.

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