AUNT BETTY, BYLINE: Hey, y'all. This is Sam's Aunt Betty. This week, are colleges playing fair with financial aid, and the host of the podcast "For Colored Nerds." 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. You know, the last two years or so and this pandemic - it's all put a big strain on America's higher education system. Lots of students are still taking college classes online, and it's not clear when campus life will get back to normal. And this week, new data showed that college enrollment is down by more than 1 million students since the pandemic began.
With all that bad news, I saw another headline about college this week that kind of floored me. A lawsuit was filed against 16 elite universities accusing them of price fixing - yeah, price fixing. The claim is that schools like Georgetown and Yale and Duke - they fix financial aid decisions and admissions decisions in a way that favors wealthy students who can pay full price and limit the aid they offer to students with need. And they do this while working together to create financial aid formulas.
That part seems weird to me. Imagine different businesses getting together to set prices for widgets. That's illegal, yet colleges are allowed to do this. And this practice goes way back. A few colleges got into trouble for something similar over 30 years ago. The Department of Justice said, no, you can't do that.
DANIELLE DOUGLAS-GABRIEL: The problem back then was they would talk about individual offers that they were considering for students, and that...
SANDERS: No way.
DOUGLAS-GABRIEL: ...Actually violated...
SANDERS: No way.
DOUGLAS-GABRIEL: Yeah - antitrust laws. So, you know...
SANDERS: That is Danielle Douglas-Gabriel. She is the national higher education reporter for The Washington Post. She told me that back then, in the early '90s, Congress got involved.
DOUGLAS-GABRIEL: Congress decided that they would create this exemption to the antitrust law that said, hey, if you promise to be need-blind in your admissions - meaning that you will look at applicants without any consideration of their ability to pay - then all right, you guys can get together and figure out some guidelines as to how to go about offering financial aid.
SANDERS: Danielle and I talked about this new case, how colleges might be violating the terms of that old antitrust exemption and whether higher education itself, with all these problems, is at a turning point. But first, she explained how all of this works.
DOUGLAS-GABRIEL: I think the broader issue is if you are a student who is the son or daughter of someone who can afford to donate quite a bit of money to the school, even if your grades are OK and your - you know, your test scores are OK, the idea that you could potentially bring in more money and bring in more prestige because of who your parents are could get you a leg up in admissions at some of these schools. And that violates the tenets of the law.
How this kind of harms low- and middle-income students is that because wealthier students can pay the full costs of school, or almost full costs for - in many instances, they are more attractive to these schools because that means that there's less financial aid dollars that the institutions have to donate or dedicate to them and their needs. And what this means is that if these - if this lawsuit is correct, these schools were potentially colluding to keep their financial aid artificially low - right? - making the calculation that if we only give, say, $10,000 a year when we actually individually could afford to give more, then they'll come because they're not going to get a better offer from you because we're all...
DOUGLAS-GABRIEL: ...Offering the same thing.
SANDERS: OK. So let me make sure that I'm hearing this right. Hypothetically, under these allegations, a working-class or a middle-class family could have a student that gets into one of these elite colleges. But because the college might be more interested in a legacy student or a rich student who can pay full tuition, these schools might collude to keep down the aid they give that working-class kid so they're less likely to go and the rich kid is more likely to go?
DOUGLAS-GABRIEL: In part, yeah.
DOUGLAS-GABRIEL: Now, to be sure, these schools are saying that's - they are not doing that. They're saying, no, that's not true. We are very generous in our financial aid to low-income and middle-income students. And in a lot of cases, that's true. But if you start to look at what percentage of their overall student body population actually is - constitutes middle- or low-income, it's fairly small. We're talking about the teens, right? In terms of like 10%...
DOUGLAS-GABRIEL: ...15% of...
DOUGLAS-GABRIEL: ...The population - not half. Certainly not half.
DOUGLAS-GABRIEL: Certainly not even a quarter.
SANDERS: Yeah. So when I read these stories about all these colleges getting together to potentially trade notes on things like financial aid given to students, it seems incredibly not OK. I think of other industries or types of work. It's like, I'd be very mad if Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts got together once a month to discuss coffee prices. And I think it's kind of illegal. Why are colleges allowed to do this? How do they defend this practice?
DOUGLAS-GABRIEL: Well, you know, it is illegal.
DOUGLAS-GABRIEL: That's why this exemption carved out these schools if they were to adhere to this system of not thinking about people's ability to pay. You know, when the exemption was created, I think Barney Frank, who was in Congress at the time, said we need to be concerned about a student's ability to do the work, not where their parents came from, not how much money they make. And so these schools said, yeah, OK. We agree to that. But in doing so, they may be creating a system that actually works to the disadvantage of the people that they purport to help.
SANDERS: You know, also, what we see happening at the same time are prices for elite colleges just going up a lot, period. How much does this collaboration between colleges over things like financial aid and admissions contribute to that? Or are rising elite college tuition prices a whole nother thing?
DOUGLAS-GABRIEL: I mean, you know, if you were to believe what this lawsuit is saying, then there is a direct link to these sorts of things. It's also a part because of decades of state disinvestment has shifted the cost burden from the government - from states and federal government - over to families. And I think once they opened that door, it was a lot easier to justify a continuation of that trend, and that's where we are now. There was a point in time in the '70s and '80s where the state would pay up to 70% of the cost in terms of - to educate students. That is no longer the case and hasn't been for years. And we're not - you know, there is often a lot of focus on the private elite schools and really selective schools. But it is costing families - goodness - hundreds of thousands of dollars to send their kids to state schools, to...
SANDERS: To state schools.
DOUGLAS-GABRIEL: ...Regional schools - not just...
DOUGLAS-GABRIEL: ...The public flagships, but the regional schools. And that's an untenable and unsustainable situation.
SANDERS: So without more government support on the state level or other level, without more subsidies for working-class and middle-class kids who can pay some but not full tuition at some of these schools, how else can schools subsidize those students and make that sustainable? I mean, I'm sitting here thinking about my time in undergrad doing work study. Like, what's the fix, like, in the meantime for those kids who can pay some but not all?
DOUGLAS-GABRIEL: I mean, certainly, you know, at more well-heeled private institutions and some public ones, I think you're seeing a lot more exploration of increasing institutional dollars, more scholarship dollars. You know, there were stories about Ohio State, Smith College instituting these no-loan policies - right? - promising students we will find a way to ensure that you don't have to borrow, or if you do, it'll be as minimal as possible. And they're doing that through fundraising. They're doing that through philanthropy and such. And I have a sense that more schools are going to have to look at ways to attract students, to bring students in without saddling them with crushing or crippling debt when they graduate.
SANDERS: Yeah. Well, because a lot of these schools have massive endowments, some over $1 billion. And you walk on these campuses, it's a country club. And part of me is like, y'all probably somewhere got enough money to keep all these kids in here for free. But that's just me. That's just me.
DOUGLAS-GABRIEL: Well, that is the argument that the school...
DOUGLAS-GABRIEL: ...A lot of the students who attend those schools make all the time. I mean, if you talk to a student at Yale, they'll say, yeah, this school could afford to pay for all of us. If you talk to a student at Harvard, they'd be like, this school is actually a hedge fund that has a nice library.
DOUGLAS-GABRIEL: They could afford to pay for all of us. So, you know, that pressure - as much as the schools say that they are trying to adhere to their mission and they care about being able to educate diverse populations, I do believe that that pressure coming from the outside, coming not only from students and alumni and legislatures and such questioning how are these schools using this money that they have, is - they're feeling it.
SANDERS: Oh, yeah. So all of this is happening as a pandemic is still raging. And you got a bunch of college students paying quarter, half, full price - tens of thousands of dollars a year - to go to college in their parents' homes, right? And it's raising even bigger questions about whether college, an elite college, is worth it. And I'll talk with people who have college students in their family or are paying for higher ed right now, and sometimes, they're saying without saying I think this might be a scam. I think that, like, this was not worth it. And increasingly, the argument around higher education and student loan debt and the forgiveness of debt and lawsuits like these - it feels like a higher number of people are questioning the worth of this stuff. Are you seeing that in your reporting? Like, are more and more Americans over it, expensive college?
DOUGLAS-GABRIEL: I mean, they are. There are people who are definitely disillusioned by the cost, by the debt. But at the same time, they are lured by the prestige, the possibility, you know, of what a degree from one of these elite schools would mean for their life and for the lives of their families. In order to really significantly lower the costs of education, this - our system would have to strip down all the frilly things that we're used to and really...
DOUGLAS-GABRIEL: ...Go bare bones. If you look at places like Germany and elsewhere, where people are always like, look at the European model of education; they don't require folks to take on all this debt - well, they have nothing. You get a class and a teacher (laughter).
SANDERS: But you know what?
DOUGLAS-GABRIEL: You know what I mean? Like...
SANDERS: That's all you need. That's all you need.
DOUGLAS-GABRIEL: That's all you really need. But we're so used to our nice student activity centers and, you know, decent-looking dorms and all. But I don't know. I just wonder, are people willing to make those tradeoffs so that they don't have to spend their 20s and part of their 30s...
SANDERS: Come on.
SANDERS: Come on.
DOUGLAS-GABRIEL: ...You know, burdened with debt?
SANDERS: Thanks again to Danielle Douglas-Gabriel. She reports on higher education for The Washington Post.
Coming up, I talk with Eric Eddings and Brittany Luse. They're the hosts of the podcast "For Colored Nerds." We talk about what I am calling an era of Black abundance.
(SOUNDBITE OF FLEVANS' "FLICKER")
SANDERS: Y'all know that I talk about TV a lot on this show. And one of the things I've noticed watching TV the last few years, especially during the pandemic, especially during this era of peak streaming, is that there's a lot of Black TV and movies to consume right now. "Insecure."
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "INSECURE")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) It is so great that everyone we know is actually making decisions.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "ATLANTA")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) With our new initiative, we believe racism will be done by 2024.
SANDERS: "Black-ish," "Summer Of Soul."
(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "SUMMER OF SOUL")
NINA SIMONE: Are you ready, Black people?
SANDERS: "Bad Trip," "Passing."
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "PASSING")
TESSA THOMPSON: (As Irene) Things aren't always what they seem.
SANDERS: I could go on. A lot of this content - it is considered prestige, and audiences of all backgrounds like it. I've taken to calling this creative period that we are in right now an era of Black abundance - more Black content to consume and more Black creators making that content. I like it. For this next segment, I'm going to talk about that with two podcasters who have also been following this trend, Brittany Luse and Eric Eddings.
(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, "FOR COLORED NERDS")
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: In a world gripped by questions of famine, pandemic and culture wars come the most anticipated creative project of 2021.
ERIC EDDINGS: We are back.
BRITTANY LUSE: Yes, we're back. I'm Brittany.
EDDINGS: I'm Eric.
LUSE: And this is "For Colored Nerds."
SANDERS: It's a show all about Black culture and the conversations Black people have when no one else is listening.
My first question, from one colored nerd to another, what is the last conversation you two had that you wouldn't have had in front of other people, aka white people?
LUSE: We just finished recording.
SANDERS: Tell me everything.
EDDINGS: I think a lot of the things that we used to be maybe afraid of is to, like, sometimes critique Blackness.
LUSE: Well, not even critique Blackness, but critique, like...
EDDINGS: Black art, yeah.
LUSE: Yeah, Black art or aspects of Black culture that people sometimes are afraid to touch.
EDDINGS: Yeah, 'cause, like, you get the, like, wait; if we don't go see "Red Tails" - it always...
EDDINGS: ...Comes back to "Red Tails."
SANDERS: Oh, Lord. Or the Jackie Robinson movie.
EDDINGS: Or the - yeah.
SANDERS: Remember that one? Yeah.
EDDINGS: And so, you know, I think there could be a hesitancy sometimes to, like, you know, say, like, oh, I'm glad this thing got made and, like, some Black people won, but maybe I didn't, like, dig these parts of it. I think a lot of my friend group - we struggled with that. But I think it's been so exciting to, like, challenge our own culture with each other and kind of ignore the fact that, you know, for what it's worth, that a lot of white people are listening in.
SANDERS: The white people who listen to this show have decided to practice allyship, and I think they're...
EDDINGS: Thank you.
SANDERS: ...A cut above - some of the folks.
SANDERS: So they can take it. They can take it.
LUSE: Thank you. Thank you. We appreciate it.
SANDERS: (Laughter) I will say it is an interesting moment to think about how we discuss Black art amongst just Black people or in wider company because there's just been an abundance, it feels like, recently of Black art to consume, especially on screen.
SANDERS: And every few months, I feel like I don't know if the opinion I have on a thing is the right opinion. And I'm going to just be honest right now and speak my truth that a recent Black cowboy Western - what was it called, "Harder They Fall"?
LUSE: "The Harder They Fall."
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE HARDER THEY FALL")
JONATHAN MAJORS: (As Nat Love) Man or devil, this going to be Buck's last day amongst the living.
SANDERS: I have some notes.
SANDERS: And it's like, can I say that? Because everyone we love is in that movie.
SANDERS: It is decidedly Black.
SANDERS: But overall, got to say it felt bloated and disjointed.
SANDERS: Can I say that?
LUSE: I think this is the thing. I think that you can say that. I think that you should say that. But also, I think that, like, the issue is that because, like, Black art is always - its existence is always so precarious...
LUSE: ...In the marketplace - not in the world...
LUSE: ...But in the marketplace, so that if, like, somebody, let's say, is, you know, making a film or making a television show, there's this fear - imagined or real, there's this fear that critiquing it is going to keep the person from being able to make another film or keep them from getting another season of television or keep the actor from getting another job. That's, A, not necessarily true, and B, I wish that, like, the onus was taken off of Black people and Black audiences and put onto, like, the people who greenlight things.
LUSE: 'Cause obviously, there's audiences out there that want to watch this stuff and engage with it. And part of engaging is critiquing, even if it's - whether it's in a loving way or a way that's like, I can't stand this (laughter).
LUSE: I, like, also want Black creators to be able to have the room to be able to make things that are...
EDDINGS: Trust me. I think my voice is important. Nobody is going to stop Idris Elba or Regina King from getting another check...
SANDERS: Come on. Come on.
EDDINGS: ...Because I said...
EDDINGS: ...That the writing could be a little better.
LUSE: No, that's true. But, Eric, believe in yourself.
LUSE: Believe in yourself.
SANDERS: That's right.
LUSE: Your voice matters.
SANDERS: Although, on that note of TV and movies doing some stuff well and some stuff maybe not well, one show that I think all three of us would agree on - and I know that y'all had an episode in the "For Colored Nerds" feed recently all about this show - is "Love Life" Season 2.
SANDERS: It was just...
LUSE: So good.
SANDERS: ...Doing it for me. It worked.
SANDERS: The music...
LUSE: So good.
SANDERS: ...Was great. The wardrobe was great. The acting and the writing was great.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "LOVE LIFE")
CHRISTOPHER POWELL: (As Yogi) It feels very divorce-y (ph) in here.
WILLIAM JACKSON HARPER: (As Marcus Watkins) That's because I got a divorce.
POWELL: (As Yogi) No, no, no.
SANDERS: The chemistry between the main characters was pitch-perfect.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "LOVE LIFE")
HARPER: (As Marcus Watkins) What about you?
JESSICA WILLIAMS: (As Mia Hines) My situation is different.
HARPER: (As Marcus Watkins) How so?
WILLIAMS: (As Mia Hines) 'Cause it's my business.
SANDERS: I don't know how they did it, but it worked for me.
EDDINGS: Oh, same. I think...
EDDINGS: ...To your point, like, when I watched it, I was, like - I felt challenged. I felt entertained. It felt like people I knew. It's rare you hit that bingo. And that actually is the type of thing that makes us excited, I think, to critique other things more 'cause it's like, hey, y'all, you know, we can do things like this. We can do...
SANDERS: We can have nice things.
EDDINGS: We can have nice things.
LUSE: We can have nice things (laughter), yeah.
SANDERS: One thing I've been wondering in this moment of, like, peak streaming is whether we're in another era of what I call Black abundance - Black creative abundance. Like, I remember the '90s...
SANDERS: ...Like half of all the sitcoms were Black sitcoms, and they were just everywhere. And everyone had a sitcom, and it was just, like, you could see Black people on TV a lot. And then it felt like that stopped for a while as we moved into the prestige TV era. And it was, like, "The Sopranos" and all the knockoffs of that idea of a show. But now, with the rise of streaming, it feels like I'm seeing more Black and brown content. I mean, there's more content, period.
SANDERS: But does it feel like there's something special going on with Black creative content and there's maybe an age or an era of abundance again? I don't know. I want to believe that.
LUSE: I think that we are in an era of Black abundance. I like that. I might...
LUSE: ...Use that in my own life.
SANDERS: Let's speak that.
LUSE: So, like...
SANDERS: Let's speak that into existence.
LUSE: ...Will 2022...
SANDERS: Black abundance.
LUSE: ...Be the era of Black abundance? I don't know. But I do think that there is - I do think that there is something happening right now as far as - you know, like you mentioned, there's more content on television specifically than there has probably ever been. And also, television studios have a more captive audience, at least in the States, than they have had in quite some time as far as people. That's my main form of entertainment...
SANDERS: I love how you say captive.
LUSE: ...And socializing.
SANDERS: 'Cause you can't leave the house.
LUSE: Can't leave the house. And I think even one night this week - maybe it was Tuesday night or something like that - I was talking with my parents on the phone. And my dad actually remarked - he's like, you know, every show on TV right now is a Black show. And I was like, yeah, there's a lot of Black stuff. And he's like, no, right this second.
LUSE: He's like "Black-ish," "This Is Us." He's like, every channel I turn, it's Black people on the TV. And he was like, they're putting it all at once. He said they're putting it all on at once.
SANDERS: No, he thinks it was (ph) a conspiracy against Black people, actually (laughter).
LUSE: And I was like, I like where you're going. But, no, I do think that there is a moment right now of Black abundance. But I think, A, there could always be more. I sometimes wonder, like, if we were to break down the numbers, would, like, the actual ratio of, like, Black with primarily Black shows to all of the content that's currently streaming right now or on television right now, would that actually bear out, or does this just feel like abundance because we've been starved of more, of greater amount of mainstream Black entertainment for so long? But...
LUSE: ...I do think there's something happening now. I also think that some of the creators that are coming to the fore are really interesting with "Grey's Anatomy" probably primed to end, you know, soon, and also with...
SANDERS: Oh, that show ain't going to end. That show ain't going to end. It'll never end. Sorry.
LUSE: OK, you're right. It's like "General Hospital." But also with...
LUSE: "Grey's Anatomy" is now - become a legacy program, right? And, like, you've already got "Scandal" and "How To Get Away With Murder" behind us. Like, Shonda and Kenya Barris and all these other huge, like - and even Tyler Perry to a certain degree, they're no longer climbing that ladder of success that maybe they were climbing earlier in the 2000s.
SANDERS: Yes. Yeah.
LUSE: There's more younger Black creators who are coming who are, like, coming from YouTube popularity, you know, like Issa Rae and also like Quinta Brunson, who's the creator and star of "Abbott Elementary."
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "ABBOTT ELEMENTARY")
QUINTA BRUNSON: (As Janine Teagues) OK, so if the store has 10 potatoes - right? - and you take away two of them, how many potatoes does the store have left?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) Janine, what did I say about taking my potatoes from the lunchroom?
BRUNSON: (As Janine Teagues) But visual learning is so much better.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) Guess what. Now you have zero potatoes.
LUSE: It's kind of interesting to see people come up and kind of carve out their own niche and sort of make their own way in an industry that has typically done things in a lot more traditional fashion. I mean, Shonda Rhimes and Kenya Barris, just for two examples, if you go back and you look at them old episodes of "America's Next Top Model," you going to see Kenya Barris' name as a producer, OK?
SANDERS: I did not know that.
LUSE: I mean, it was the trenches.
EDDINGS: Yeah. Absolutely.
LUSE: That's 'cause she and Tyra are childhood friends.
EDDINGS: That's how she popped up in the show, yeah.
LUSE: So, yeah, so there's a lot of exciting things going on right now as far as, like, Black television and Black entertainment, and it's across genres. Like, we're seeing it in superhero. We're seeing it in romantic comedy and in drama and everything else.
EDDINGS: If I could - just also to add, I actually think that this might be more permanent than we think. Now, I think it's still some precariousness in terms of what gets made and how it gets there.
EDDINGS: We still got a lot of rows to hoe (laughter).
SANDERS: I love it. We are going to take a break, and then come my favorite game, Who Said That. But as we close, I do want to give one more note in this era of abundance and Black abundance and all kinds of creative abundance. I don't care how abundant our age becomes or is. No movie needs to be over 90 minutes.
SANDERS: I mean it. I'll take it to my grave. With that, let's go to break. But am I right, though? Come on. Come on.
LUSE: No. Some - I think...
EDDINGS: There's a couple.
SANDERS: We're back. You're listening to IT'S BEEN A MINUTE from NPR. I'm Sam Sanders, joined by two of my favorite culture vultures. Introduce yourselves.
EDDINGS: My name is Eric Eddings. I'm a co-host of "For Colored Nerds."
LUSE: Hi. My name is Brittany Luse, and I am also co-host of "For Colored Nerds."
SANDERS: I love it. So we're about to play my favorite game. And usually all the contestants are worried they might not know any of the answers. But I kind of feel like knowing you both and your show and your Twitter feeds, y'all know most of the things pop culture. So I think you'll both do well.
SANDERS: You ready to play it? 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?
EDDINGS: All right. All right. I'll try to stay up.
LUSE: All right. I'm nervous, but I'm ready.
SANDERS: People still get nervous. It's so funny. This is the lowest-stakes game ever.
SANDERS: Anyhoo, here is the quote. It was on Instagram this week from somebody famous. "My formula is easier to follow - drink more large cosmos, stay up late watching addictive streaming series, stay in bed in the morning playing sudoku instead of reading a good book, spend more time safely with people you love." Who said that?
LUSE: (Laughter) Ina Garten.
(SOUNDBITE OF VICTORY TUNE)
SANDERS: Ina Garten. Yes, yes.
EDDINGS: I was going to be like, Dionne Warwick? Cher? I don't know. I was like...
LUSE: No. But taste - good taste. No, she said it in a response to an Instagram post done by Reese Witherspoon.
LUSE: Like, she's sort of trying to take everyone's temperature and see what new healthy habits they were trying to adopt in 2022.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
REESE WITHERSPOON: So if you're doing something that's 1% better for you every single day, you're going to get 1% better every day. If you're doing something...
LUSE: And I'm with Ina. I'm like - Ina was like, look - and Reese was like, I'm going to drink more water. I'm trying to read for 60 to 90 minutes a day. Da, da, da, da (ph). And Ina was like, I'm trying to drink more. I actually stay up, like, playing sudoku and watching TV. And I lay in my bed in the morning and don't do anything. And that's all I can do. And I'm like - I didn't do any resolutions this year. I am not trying to improve anything.
SANDERS: Yeah. Yeah.
LUSE: I'm alive. That's good.
SANDERS: Yeah. I love, though, this - like, there's this new era of celebrity culture where celebrities just will creep into other celebrities' comments on social media as if they're a fan. It's so strange and unsettling to me, but I love it. Like, imagine Ina Garten, a very prominent celebrity chef who need not say anything unless she wants to, scrolling through Instagram, sees Reese Witherspoon talking about New Year's resolutions. And then Ina says, you know what? I'm going to get in this fight. That is just - I love it. I love it.
EDDINGS: That's the part of social media that I think you can really kind of appreciate. That...
SANDERS: It's chaos.
EDDINGS: The thing about it is it goes left. Because probably after Ina's comment, there was, like, 65 replies that probably got increasingly dark as you went down.
SANDERS: Yeah. Yeah. All right. Here is the second quote. "I was Patrizia, but I knew I had to say goodbye to her. Large swarms of flies kept following me around, and I truly began to believe that she had sent them. I was ready to let her go." Who said that?
LUSE: Say that again.
EDDINGS: Oh, my God. Like...
LUSE: You were...
SANDERS: I was - it's a famous musician/actress who received a Golden Globe nomination for a movie that everyone knows is bad.
EDDINGS: Oh. Actually, now I - OK. Yes, I know this.
SANDERS: Say it. Say it.
EDDINGS: It's Lady Gaga.
(SOUNDBITE OF VICTORY TUNE)
EDDINGS: It's Lady Gaga.
SANDERS: It's Lady Gaga. Yes.
LUSE: Oh, my gosh. That tracks.
EDDINGS: And I can't - I actually still haven't seen "House Of Gucci."
SANDERS: Did y'all see this movie? Did y'all see "House Of Gucci"?
LUSE: No, I haven't seen it yet.
EDDINGS: I have download it to watch on - I'm getting on a flight today.
SANDERS: It's a comedy. It's a comedy, not a drama. You're just going to laugh the whole movie. It's so absurd.
SANDERS: It's so absurd.
EDDINGS: The thing that I'll say that is confusing about Lady Gaga in this role in particular - the only thing - I'm excited to see her in it. I think she's probably going to be amazing. But she said - I think I've read that she went method as Patrizia. Is that how you pronounce her name?
SANDERS: Yeah, Patrizia.
EDDINGS: As her character for a matter of years. And I just don't...
SANDERS: Sounds like Gaga.
EDDINGS: And I'm just like, how does that math work?
SANDERS: She's so extra. She's so extra. So for those who haven't seen the movie, Lady Gaga plays Patrizia.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "HOUSE OF GUCCI")
LADY GAGA: (As Patrizia Reggiani) I don't consider myself to be a particularly ethical person, but I am fair.
SANDERS: Patrizia was accused of hiring a hitman to kill one of the Guccis, and she was found guilty of that.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "HOUSE OF GUCCI")
JARED LETO: (As Paolo Gucci) Can you keep a secret?
LADY GAGA: (As Patrizia Reggiani) Father, son and House of Gucci.
LUSE: Something I do - I will say that I do love about Lady Gaga is that she commits.
SANDERS: She commits to the bit.
LUSE: She commits. She commits to the bit. She carries the - I think that, like, if you were to, like, peep into her window when she's in the bed at night, she would be dreaming in Patrizia's Italian accent.
LUSE: I think she is just - she does not turn it off. And it's - like, people were talking about Jeremy Strong from "Succession," like, and his method acting and how it feels kind of, like, dark and strange. But I'm really into Lady Gaga's method of method acting, which is just, like, really kooky and fun for me to watch.
SANDERS: Who got that point?
EDDINGS: I did.
EDDINGS: It's tied up.
SANDERS: I did. I did (laughter).
LUSE: Uh-oh. Uh-oh. Uh-oh.
SANDERS: He said, I did (laughter).
EDDINGS: I'm here. I'm back in the game.
LUSE: You see.
EDDINGS: Let's see...
SANDERS: You're back in the game.
EDDINGS: ...See what happens next.
SANDERS: This one, you're not going to know the name of the person, but tell me what this is that this quote comes from. "Vaccinate. Don't wait. You've got to vaccinate in the Lone Star state."
EDDINGS: Oh, yes.
EDDINGS: I know this.
LUSE: Oh, my gosh.
SANDERS: "...Is so great. Vaccinate me all day long. Vaccinate your daddy and mom. Vaccinate me at the party. A vaccine dream."
EDDINGS: Yeah. I love this song.
SANDERS: What are these lyrics from?
LUSE: I don't remember, but I know it.
EDDINGS: ...Is from - I think it was Dallas. Basically, like, a community board meeting...
(SOUNDBITE OF VICTORY TUNE)
EDDINGS: ...Or some sort of, like, political meeting where you could come in and get a few minutes of time. And this gentleman - I don't know his name.
LUSE: Yes. Yes (laughter).
EDDINGS: He shows up in, I think, nurse's scrubs...
LUSE: Yeah. Yeah.
EDDINGS: ...And with a surgical mask that he's holding and kind of waving around like those, like, flags at a ticker tape parade.
LUSE: Yes. Yes.
EDDINGS: And he sings one of the most, just, well-written, lovely, you know, songs. The only thing that's missing is, like, a DJ Mustard beat.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
ALEX STEIN: (Rapping) Dr. Fauci, give me that ouchie (ph). I want it in my body. Vaccinate me to go to the party.
SANDERS: Eric, yes, you got that point. So you won the game, but I want to explain the rest of this weird vaccine song. That quote comes from Alex Stein. He was speaking at a Dallas City Council meeting open-mic this week. And I'm not sure if he meant it or it was a parody or a joke, because I think he's been a reality star before, but he performed a rap about getting vaccinated. And the rap came complete with some dance moves that had him dousing himself in hand sanitizer. My favorite lyric from this vaccine song was, Dr. Fauci, give me that ouchie. I mean, come on now.
SANDERS: Come - Library of Congress, baby.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
STEIN: (Rapping) Vaccinate your mind. Vaccinate your body. Vaccinate your life. You can vaccinate your party. I love y'all. Peace.
EDDINGS: Give me - hey, give me that ouchie three times, you know?
LUSE: Oh, yeah. That's true, actually.
SANDERS: About to be four times.
EDDINGS: Exactly, right?
SANDERS: And, you know - and so, like, I tweeted this video this week and I - and, like, jaws were dropping because you have to watch it, like, five times in a row. It's that absurd. But then for a second, I was trying to, like, fact-check this person and see if this was real or fake or, what is he? And then finally I was like, I don't care. I just want to feel joy about this song, and I don't want him to get, like, milkshake ducked.
EDDINGS: Yeah. Don't tell me. Don't send me the update.
LUSE: Yeah. Just vibes.
SANDERS: Yeah. Don't update me. Let me have this joy.
SANDERS: Anyhoo, we got to wrap this game up with two contestants who were both fully vaccinated. Drum roll, please. The winner of this week's edition of Who Said That? - sorry, Brittany. It's Eric.
LUSE: That's all right. There's a first time for everything.
EDDINGS: Feels good.
EDDINGS: Feels good to be back where I'm supposed to be - the winner's circle.
LUSE: Ok. See, and this is the thing. And this is what I live with. This is what I live with.
SANDERS: Thanks again to my guests, Brittany Luse and Eric Eddings. They're the two hosts of the podcast "For Colored Nerds." Check it out wherever you get your podcast.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
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.
JORDAN: Hi, Sam. This is Jordan (ph) from Louisville, Ky. The best thing that happened to me this week actually happened today, and it was the opportunity to take my dog, Poppy (ph), on a walk in this crisp winter air to my favorite local coffee shop. It was just lovely, and I really enjoyed it.
ANNIE: Hi, Sam. It's Annie (ph) from Queens. The best thing that happened to me this week was that I found out that I have four genetically healthy embryos from eggs that I froze five years ago that are ready to be implanted for a future pregnancy, and I'm really excited.
AMY: Hey, Sam. This is Amy (ph) from Atlanta, Ga. And the best part of my week has been picking up the game American Truck Simulator with my friends who I can't see right now due to the surge in omicron. So it's been really fun learning about places I look forward to seeing in person someday. I'm learning a lot about trucking while my friends erupt in laughter, watching me try and unwrap myself from a light pole or all of us traveling together on a big road trip.
MANDY: Hey, Sam. It's Mandy (ph) from Brooklyn, N.Y., and the best thing to happen to me this week was that after 10 weeks on strike, the student worker union I'm a part of secured a tentative agreement with our institution and ended the strike. It's been a long 10 weeks, and I'm really looking forward to catching up on sleep, my dissertation research and time with my partner, dog and friends. Thank you so much for all you do.
JORDAN: Thanks so much for your podcast. It's a joy to listen to.
AMY: Thanks again, Sam. Appreciate all that you do.
SANDERS: Thanks to all the listeners you heard there - Jordan, Anne (ph), Amy and Mandy. Listeners, don't forget - you can share the best part of your week at any point throughout any week. We love hearing from y'all. Just record yourself and send the voice memo to us via email, firstname.lastname@example.org - email@example.com.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
SANDERS: All right. This week's episode of IT'S BEEN A MINUTE was produced by Jinae West, Anjuli Sastry Krbechek, Andrea Gutierrez and Liam McBain. Our intern is Aja Drain, and it's her first week here. Welcome, Aja. She's already off to a great start. She has named herself, here at work, the Fresh Princess of Bel Air. I endorse. 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.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.