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Decoder Ring

Slate Podcasts

398
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2.0K
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Decoder Ring

Decoder Ring

Slate Podcasts

398
Followers
2.0K
Plays
OVERVIEWEPISODESYOU MAY ALSO LIKE

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About Us

Decoder Ring is the show about cracking cultural mysteries. In each episode, host Willa Paskin takes a cultural question, object, or habit; examines its history; and tries to figure out what it means and why it matters.

Latest Episodes

Jane Fonda's Workout, Part 1: Jane and Leni

When Jane Fonda granted us an interview to talk about her famous workout tape, things didn't go as planned. On part one of a special two-part Decoder Ring, we explore the decades-long friendship of Jane Fonda and Leni Cazden, the relationship that birthed the workout that changed the world. It's a story of creation, regret, fame, forgiveness, trauma, survival, politics, and exercise. In two weeks, we return with part two: the story of the bestselling VHS tape of all time. Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn.Sign up nowto listen and support our work. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

54 min1 w ago
Comments
Jane Fonda's Workout, Part 1: Jane and Leni

Mystery of the Mullet

The mullet, the love-to-hate-it hairstyle is as associated with the 1980's as Ronald Reagan, junk bonds, and break dancing. But in at least one major way, we are suffering from a collective case of false memory syndrome. In this episode we track the rise and fall of the mullet, and also the lexical quandary at its heart: who named the mullet? Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn.Sign up nowto listen and support our work. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

50 minAUG 15
Comments
Mystery of the Mullet

The Karen

The Karen, a white woman who surveys, inconveniences, and terrorizes, service workers and people of color is a relatively new term in the culture, but her character type has been with us for centuries. In this episode of Decoder Ring we explore the history of this type, from the code-names used during enslavement, to the contemporary menace of the COVID age. Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn.Sign up nowto listen and support our work. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

40 minJUL 13
Comments
The Karen

The Metrosexual

In 2003, the word "metrosexual", meaning a well-groomed heterosexual man, exploded all over the English lexicon. It invaded the news, TV, and even American politics. On this episode of Decoder Ring we explore the origins of the metrosexual, and how trend forecasters, marketers, David Beckham, Sex and the City, and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy helped make the metrosexual possible. Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn.Sign up nowto listen and support our work. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

34 minJUN 11
Comments
The Metrosexual

Gotta Get Down on Friday

Rebecca Black's music video for Friday was Youtube's most watched video of 2011, thrusting the thirteen-year-old Rebecca into a very harsh spotlight. Dubbed "The Worst Music Video Ever Made" Friday was an almost universal object of derision. This is the story of how Friday came to be, and how nearly a decade after it went viral, it sounds so different than it did back then. Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn.Sign up nowto listen and support our work. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

44 minMAY 12
Comments
Gotta Get Down on Friday

Unicorn Poop

How did poop get cute? On this episode of Decoder Ring we trace the rise of cute poop from the original Japanese poop emoji to more modern poop toys which rely on the Youtube algorithm to get seen and sold. Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn.Sign up nowto listen and support our work. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

37 minAPR 9
Comments
Unicorn Poop

Rubber Duckie

Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn.Sign up nowto listen and support our work. How did the humble rubber duck become an icon of bath time? On this episode of Decoder Ring we talk to rubber duck experts, enthusiasts, and manufacturers to find out how the rubber duck evolved, why it's so appealing, and why there are thousands of them lost at sea. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

26 minMAR 19
Comments
Rubber Duckie

The Shop Around the Corner

Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn.Sign up nowto listen and support our work. The 1998 romantic comedy You've Got Mail starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan is about the brutal fight between an independent bookstore, The Shop Around the Corner, and Fox Books, an obvious Barnes & Noble stand-in. On this episode of Decoder Ring we explore the real life conflict that inspired the movie and displaced independent booksellers on the upper west side of Manhattan. This conflict illustrates how, for a brief time, Barnes & Noble was a symbol of predatory capitalism, only to be usurped by the uniting force at the heart of the film: the internet. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

38 minMAR 2
Comments
The Shop Around the Corner

Friend of Dorothy

Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn.Sign up nowto listen and support our work. When Peter Mac was young, he found solace from his troubles in the voice of Judy Garland. He's now been a Judy Garland impersonator for 17 years. On this episode of Decoder Ring we explore the special valence that Judy Garland has for queer people, the history of female impersonation on stage, and what the future might hold for Judy as an icon. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

33 minFEB 10
Comments
Friend of Dorothy

The Stowe-Byron Controversy

Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn.Sign up nowto listen and support our work. When Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote an exposé of Lord Byron's incestuous affair in 1869, it nearly destroyed The Atlantic Monthly, and threw the reputations of two literary icons into chaos. This is a story about 18th century scandal, cancel culture, and Bad Literary Men, that isn't so different from how these stories play out in our own time. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

41 minFEB 3
Comments
The Stowe-Byron Controversy

Latest Episodes

Jane Fonda's Workout, Part 1: Jane and Leni

When Jane Fonda granted us an interview to talk about her famous workout tape, things didn't go as planned. On part one of a special two-part Decoder Ring, we explore the decades-long friendship of Jane Fonda and Leni Cazden, the relationship that birthed the workout that changed the world. It's a story of creation, regret, fame, forgiveness, trauma, survival, politics, and exercise. In two weeks, we return with part two: the story of the bestselling VHS tape of all time. Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn.Sign up nowto listen and support our work. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

54 min1 w ago
Comments
Jane Fonda's Workout, Part 1: Jane and Leni

Mystery of the Mullet

The mullet, the love-to-hate-it hairstyle is as associated with the 1980's as Ronald Reagan, junk bonds, and break dancing. But in at least one major way, we are suffering from a collective case of false memory syndrome. In this episode we track the rise and fall of the mullet, and also the lexical quandary at its heart: who named the mullet? Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn.Sign up nowto listen and support our work. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

50 minAUG 15
Comments
Mystery of the Mullet

The Karen

The Karen, a white woman who surveys, inconveniences, and terrorizes, service workers and people of color is a relatively new term in the culture, but her character type has been with us for centuries. In this episode of Decoder Ring we explore the history of this type, from the code-names used during enslavement, to the contemporary menace of the COVID age. Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn.Sign up nowto listen and support our work. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

40 minJUL 13
Comments
The Karen

The Metrosexual

In 2003, the word "metrosexual", meaning a well-groomed heterosexual man, exploded all over the English lexicon. It invaded the news, TV, and even American politics. On this episode of Decoder Ring we explore the origins of the metrosexual, and how trend forecasters, marketers, David Beckham, Sex and the City, and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy helped make the metrosexual possible. Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn.Sign up nowto listen and support our work. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

34 minJUN 11
Comments
The Metrosexual

Gotta Get Down on Friday

Rebecca Black's music video for Friday was Youtube's most watched video of 2011, thrusting the thirteen-year-old Rebecca into a very harsh spotlight. Dubbed "The Worst Music Video Ever Made" Friday was an almost universal object of derision. This is the story of how Friday came to be, and how nearly a decade after it went viral, it sounds so different than it did back then. Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn.Sign up nowto listen and support our work. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

44 minMAY 12
Comments
Gotta Get Down on Friday

Unicorn Poop

How did poop get cute? On this episode of Decoder Ring we trace the rise of cute poop from the original Japanese poop emoji to more modern poop toys which rely on the Youtube algorithm to get seen and sold. Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn.Sign up nowto listen and support our work. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

37 minAPR 9
Comments
Unicorn Poop

Rubber Duckie

Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn.Sign up nowto listen and support our work. How did the humble rubber duck become an icon of bath time? On this episode of Decoder Ring we talk to rubber duck experts, enthusiasts, and manufacturers to find out how the rubber duck evolved, why it's so appealing, and why there are thousands of them lost at sea. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

26 minMAR 19
Comments
Rubber Duckie

The Shop Around the Corner

Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn.Sign up nowto listen and support our work. The 1998 romantic comedy You've Got Mail starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan is about the brutal fight between an independent bookstore, The Shop Around the Corner, and Fox Books, an obvious Barnes & Noble stand-in. On this episode of Decoder Ring we explore the real life conflict that inspired the movie and displaced independent booksellers on the upper west side of Manhattan. This conflict illustrates how, for a brief time, Barnes & Noble was a symbol of predatory capitalism, only to be usurped by the uniting force at the heart of the film: the internet. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

38 minMAR 2
Comments
The Shop Around the Corner

Friend of Dorothy

Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn.Sign up nowto listen and support our work. When Peter Mac was young, he found solace from his troubles in the voice of Judy Garland. He's now been a Judy Garland impersonator for 17 years. On this episode of Decoder Ring we explore the special valence that Judy Garland has for queer people, the history of female impersonation on stage, and what the future might hold for Judy as an icon. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

33 minFEB 10
Comments
Friend of Dorothy

The Stowe-Byron Controversy

Slate Plus members get ad-free podcasts and bonus episodes of shows like Dear Prudence and Slow Burn.Sign up nowto listen and support our work. When Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote an exposé of Lord Byron's incestuous affair in 1869, it nearly destroyed The Atlantic Monthly, and threw the reputations of two literary icons into chaos. This is a story about 18th century scandal, cancel culture, and Bad Literary Men, that isn't so different from how these stories play out in our own time. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

41 minFEB 3
Comments
The Stowe-Byron Controversy
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