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Decoder Ring

Slate Podcasts

354
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1.3K
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Decoder Ring

Decoder Ring

Slate Podcasts

354
Followers
1.3K
Plays
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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

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

Murphy's Law

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. Nick Spark fell down a rabbit hole tracking down the origins of Murphy’s Law, the ubiquitous phrase that says “If it can go wrong, it will go wrong”. On this episode of Decoder Ring, we follow Nick on his journey while taking a few detours of our own to find out how Murphy’s Law was [maybe] born out of the rocket sled experiments of the dawning jet age. We talk to Nick, hear some of the recordings he collected during his own research, plus talk to researchers who are skeptical of Nick’s hypothesis, all to try and find out how an obscure engineering aphorism spread to world-conquering philosophical observation. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

38 MIN2019 DEC 9
Comments
Murphy's Law

Gender Reveal Party

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. Jenna Karvunidis invented the gender reveal party, but now she has regrets. On this episode of Decoder Ring, we explore the pink and blue world of the gender reveal party, and how Jenna's small barbecue celebration turned into a global phenomenon that's gotten way out of control. We talk to psychologists, historians, critics, and business owners, to figure out why the gender reveal is having such a big, bizarre moment right now, and how we can best understand the strange power they hold over social media. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

40 MIN2019 NOV 7
Comments
Gender Reveal Party

Bart Simpson Mania

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. In the early 1990's Bart Simpson became a breakout star while also becoming a target in the culture war, culminating in president George HW Bush speaking out against The Simpsons as an example of a degenerate American family. Today on Decoder Ring we try and figure out why the H-E double hockey sticks people were so worked up about Bart Simpson by examining the great underachiever t-shirt controversy, bootleg Bart merchandise, the rise of the religious right, and more. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

48 MIN2019 OCT 8
Comments
Bart Simpson Mania

Latest Episodes

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

Murphy's Law

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. Nick Spark fell down a rabbit hole tracking down the origins of Murphy’s Law, the ubiquitous phrase that says “If it can go wrong, it will go wrong”. On this episode of Decoder Ring, we follow Nick on his journey while taking a few detours of our own to find out how Murphy’s Law was [maybe] born out of the rocket sled experiments of the dawning jet age. We talk to Nick, hear some of the recordings he collected during his own research, plus talk to researchers who are skeptical of Nick’s hypothesis, all to try and find out how an obscure engineering aphorism spread to world-conquering philosophical observation. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

38 MIN2019 DEC 9
Comments
Murphy's Law

Gender Reveal Party

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. Jenna Karvunidis invented the gender reveal party, but now she has regrets. On this episode of Decoder Ring, we explore the pink and blue world of the gender reveal party, and how Jenna's small barbecue celebration turned into a global phenomenon that's gotten way out of control. We talk to psychologists, historians, critics, and business owners, to figure out why the gender reveal is having such a big, bizarre moment right now, and how we can best understand the strange power they hold over social media. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

40 MIN2019 NOV 7
Comments
Gender Reveal Party

Bart Simpson Mania

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. In the early 1990's Bart Simpson became a breakout star while also becoming a target in the culture war, culminating in president George HW Bush speaking out against The Simpsons as an example of a degenerate American family. Today on Decoder Ring we try and figure out why the H-E double hockey sticks people were so worked up about Bart Simpson by examining the great underachiever t-shirt controversy, bootleg Bart merchandise, the rise of the religious right, and more. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

48 MIN2019 OCT 8
Comments
Bart Simpson Mania
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