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Designing Women S5 E20 Extra Sugar - Sweet Tea & TV Takes on "To Kill a Mockingbird"

Updated: Mar 12

Why in the world would a 2024 podcast about a late-80s/early-90s TV show have an entire episode about a 1960s movie about the 1930s? Well, if you’ve been around ST&TV for any amount of time, you know we have our reason! This week, we have three of ‘em:

  1. It’s a tie-in to this week’s courtroom drama” in “Designing Women”. 

  2. Bernice is in it! In our S2 E5 “Extra Sugar” about Alice Ghostley, we mentioned this was one of her first major roles. 

  3. Finally, this is one of Charlene Stillfield’s fave movies. Over the seasons, we’ve heard her mention it as a girl’s night must-watch and as her late-pregnancy comfort movie.

So, if it’s a “Designing Women” favorite and a Southern classic, we felt we owed it to ourselves and to our listeners to watch it and see what we think. 


We’ll talk about the movie generally, the actors in it, and its cultural and historical influence (plus, you know how we do our movie reviews - we’ll throw in some fun facts along the way!) 

If you want to follow along, here are some of our resources for thai episode:


Come on y’all, let’s get into it! 




 

Transcript

Nikki: Hey, Salina.

Nikki: Hey, Nikki.

Salina: Hey, everybody.

Nikki: Texting me right now.

Nikki: Perfect.

Nikki: Excellent.

Nikki: Seems necessary.

Salina: I'm texting you the name of that restaurant that I said is really good up here by.

Nikki: Oh, good.

Nikki: Okay, good.

Nikki: Maybe I'll eat it next time.

Nikki: I'm watching to kill a mockingbird.

Salina: I can't throw you off track, so.

Nikki: That's right.

Nikki: Welcome to this week's extra sugar.

Nikki: This week we're going to talk about the 1962 movie to kill a mockingbird.

Nikki: Wikipedia describes it as an american coming of age legal drama crime film directed by Robert Mulligan.

Salina: I can't tell if by that description I'm in or out, right?

Nikki: Yeah, it's hard to know.

Nikki: It's hard to know.

Nikki: I think maybe one of the first questions people might be asking is, like, why are we talking about this?

Nikki: As always, we have our reasons.

Nikki: And they're good ones.

Salina: They are good.

Nikki: And they're three pronged.

Nikki: Pronged one.

Salina: And I've got this PowerPoint presentation.

Nikki: Follow.

Nikki: More probably most importantly, it's a tie in to this week's courtroom drama in designing women.

Salina: Yes.

Nikki: Number two, Bernice is in it.

Nikki: In our season two, episode five, extra sugar, about Alice ghostly, we mentioned that this was one of her first major roles.

Nikki: And finally, this is one of Charlene Stillfield's favorite movies.

Nikki: We heard her mention it in season three, episode 15, the full moon episode.

Nikki: When she suggested it for girls night.

Nikki: We heard her mention it in season four, episode 13, the first day of the last decade of the entire 20th century, when we learned that's what she was watching through the final days of her pregnancy.

Salina: Yeah, it's maybe a weird choice.

Nikki: It's very strange, particularly for a girl's night.

Nikki: Now that I've seen it, I still stand by that.

Nikki: That I think it's a strange girls night movie.

Salina: Yeah.

Salina: I mean, to be clear, this is not the first time I've seen it, but I hadn't seen it in, like, 25 years.

Nikki: That's helpful to know.

Nikki: It was my first watch ever.

Nikki: I've never seen this.

Salina: This was a required reading for us.

Salina: And as all good teachers do, we also watch the film.

Salina: What if I did watch the movie?

Nikki: I've definitely read the book a couple of times.

Nikki: I do not remember this movie.

Nikki: This was very new to me.

Salina: Yeah.

Nikki: That's what matters, right?

Nikki: If it felt.

Salina: I think so.

Nikki: If it felt new.

Nikki: So if it's a designing women favorite and a southern classic, we felt like we owed it to ourselves and to the listeners to watch it and see what we think.

Nikki: First up, we're going to talk about movie background, maybe fill in a little trivia as we go.

Nikki: We'll talk about the plot.

Nikki: I want to talk about the actors a little bit before we get into our standard sort of like what we liked, what we didn't like sort of stuff.

Nikki: So I'm scrolling really quickly because I should have written my full outline down so I could tell you.

Nikki: But hang in there.

Nikki: It'll be a surprise.

Nikki: So, movie background, we'll talk about the plot.

Nikki: First, I'm going to share a couple of high points about the movie itself.

Nikki: Then we'll talk about, like I said, some key characters, the actors who played them, and then sprinkle trivia throughout.

Nikki: I mentioned at the top of the episode that it's a coming of age film and somewhat of a courtroom drama.

Nikki: That's definitely the too long, didn't read version.

Nikki: If that's all you knew about going into the movie, about it before going into this movie, I think you'd be okay.

Nikki: That's pretty much the high points.

Nikki: But of course, I'm a spice and flavor kind of gal, so I'm going to give you a little more spice and flavor without spoiling things.

Salina: You like a flaming hot.

Nikki: Oh, I do like those flaming hot chicherones.

Nikki: You just gave me, chicharrones.

Nikki: So, first of all, the most significant background point about this movie, I think, is that it's based on Harper Lee's 1960 Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the same name.

Nikki: They adapted that book into a screenplay, and that was Horton Foot who did that.

Nikki: Horton Foot.

Salina: It sounds like a Dr.

Salina: Seuss character.

Nikki: Yes.

Salina: Yeah, I like that.

Salina: Or like Gordon Lightfoot.

Salina: Yeah, I'm done now.

Nikki: Horton's.

Nikki: No, that's Gordon's.

Nikki: Horton's is something Gordon hears.

Salina: A who a classic tale.

Nikki: I appreciate that I said that I didn't want to spoil anything because almost every american has probably read this book.

Nikki: Something like 75% of Americans has probably read to kill a mockingbird.

Salina: Yeah.

Nikki: The movie is narrated by an adult scout, also known as Jean Louise Finch.

Nikki: Scout lives in Maycomb, Alabama in the 1930s with her brother Jem, and their dad, who they call Atticus.

Nikki: Their family is supported by their housekeeper, Calpernia, who is black.

Nikki: The movie takes place over two years.

Nikki: During the first summer, Scout, Jem, and their neighbor's nephew, Dill run around town telling tall tales about their reclusive neighbor, Boo Radley.

Nikki: Occasionally, Jem finds small tokens like a pocket watch, a spelling bee medal, and a pocket knife in a knot hole in a tree on the Radley property.

Nikki: And then throughout the movie, he suspects it's boo who has something to do with it.

Nikki: Scout and Gem's father, Atticus, is a lawyer.

Nikki: You can tell that many of his clients are impoverished because they leave him things like fresh produce and firewood as repayment.

Nikki: Atticus accepts a job defending a local black man, Tom Robinson, in a trial, accusing him of raping a white woman.

Nikki: And then throughout the rest of the movie, we follow along with Tom's trial, which includes a tense run in at the local jail with a would be lynch mob and an emotionally high strung courtroom scene.

Nikki: Do those feel like the real culmination, in my opinion, is at the end when Scout and Jem are attacked and saved by an unlikely hero.

Nikki: And Scout helps us understand why the movie is called to, why the movie and the book and the story are called to kill a mockingbird.

Nikki: Does that feel like the high points to you?

Nikki: Is there anything that you would fill in if someone's never seen it and they should know?

Salina: What if I only just shake it?

Nikki: Shake it and stir your head for the rest of the episode?

Nikki: You guys can't see it.

Nikki: She's nodding like, you are such a genius.

Nikki: You covered it all.

Nikki: Nikki's fantastic.

Nikki: Listen to everything she says.

Nikki: That is right.

Salina: That's the nod.

Nikki: So I thought we could also cover a couple fun facts about the movie.

Nikki: Now we've laid the plot.

Nikki: Some fun facts.

Nikki: I'd start with the fact that the reception to the film was overwhelmingly positive from critics and the public.

Nikki: It was considered a box office success.

Nikki: It earned more than six times its budget.

Nikki: Today it has a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which I think is tremendous.

Salina: Wow.

Nikki: If it has over like a 60, I'll watch it.

Nikki: If it has under a 60, I'm probably going to love it.

Salina: You say under a 60?

Salina: I think that's probably right.

Nikki: I need to look at the fact.

Salina: That it scare you to have such high marks.

Salina: It did.

Nikki: That's.

Salina: Although some people will tell you not to pay attention.

Nikki: Yeah, I think that's for sure.

Nikki: It's all personal, right?

Salina: Sure.

Nikki: So this movie won three Academy Awards, including best actor for Peck, and was nominated for eight, including best picture.

Nikki: You having any thoughts?

Nikki: While I'm going through some of these, feel free to jump in.

Salina: Salina, I want you to keep going.

Nikki: And I'll let you know.

Nikki: In 1995, it was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry as culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.

Nikki: Walt Disney once requested that the film be privately screened in his house at the film's conclusion, he sadly stated, that was one h*** of a picture.

Nikki: That's the kind of film I wish I could make.

Nikki: And there's a whole story in that about where Disney was at that point in his career and where Disney was as a culture and as a business.

Nikki: But he really wanted to make a movie like this.

Nikki: And then the last fun fact that I have is that the producers on the film wanted to use Harper Lee's hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, for the set because that's what she used as her basis for the fictional town of Macomb.

Nikki: But the town had changed so much from the.

Nikki: They didn't feel like it was a good fit anymore, so they created a whole new set on a Hollywood backlot.

Nikki: They did use the old Monroe county courthouse as a model for the film set.

Nikki: In fact, many people from Alabama thought that it actually was shot in Monroeville because the model was so believable.

Salina: Oh, wow.

Nikki: And today they use the old courthouse in Monroe county as a theater and a museum for authors from the town.

Salina: Oh, that's cool.

Nikki: So, before I dig into any actors, did you have any other fun facts that I didn't touch on?

Salina: Well, now I'm freaked out that some of the facts that I did find that I thought were interesting, they're kind of about the actors.

Salina: Okay, why don't you keep going, and we'll loop back to mine if they still make sense.

Nikki: I think that sounds good.

Nikki: Okay.

Nikki: Wait.

Salina: Do you have anything about that exterior courthouse?

Salina: Anything else, though?

Nikki: No.

Salina: Okay, so I do have one thing.

Nikki: I was hoping you would.

Nikki: When were you going to pull your own weight?

Salina: So the exterior streetscape of the courthouse on the universal back lot would later be reused with some minor.

Salina: I love this phrase, minor to major modification, as the clock tower in the back to the future trilogy.

Nikki: Shut up.

Nikki: That's funny.

Nikki: Maybe I knew that somewhere in the recesses of my brain.

Nikki: That's cool.

Salina: Yeah, I thought that was exciting.

Salina: Anything that has to do with back.

Nikki: To the future is the magic of movies.

Nikki: That's mine.

Salina: Okay.

Salina: For now.

Nikki: So we'll talk about the actors who brought the town of Maycomb and its people to life.

Nikki: I think when you research to kill a Mockingbird, Gregory Peck's name pops up over and over again.

Nikki: But there's another really popular actor in this movie that I think might surprise people even after watching it.

Salina: Did you know, before you watch again.

Nikki: Something in the recesses of my brain I think knew.

Nikki: And then I had done some cursory, like trying to find the movie streaming somewhere, which we'll talk about in a little while.

Nikki: I came across several things and saw the name and was like, what?

Nikki: Then I watched the movie and I was like, what?

Salina: And then you came in here and you were like, what?

Nikki: There's also a pretty full rest of the cast that I think we should talk about.

Nikki: And then there's some characters that I'm not really going to dig into unless you have things that you want to mention, but I'm going to name drop them just because it feels full circle.

Salina: Okay.

Nikki: So I'm going to talk in depth.

Nikki: I'm talking the most depth, about five characters.

Nikki: Atticus, Tom, scout, Jim and boo.

Nikki: Okay.

Nikki: Did you have any other characters you wanted to talk in depth about?

Salina: And we're talking about the characters or the actors or.

Nikki: Yes.

Salina: Okay.

Salina: I do have something on Bob Ewell, but we can.

Nikki: Perfect.

Salina: Okay, we'll get there.

Nikki: So we'll start with Gregory Peck.

Nikki: I think you might probably have some trivia or something.

Nikki: Probably around Gregory Peck.

Salina: There was so much trivia around Gregory Peck.

Salina: Yeah.

Salina: I mean, it makes sense because he really drove a lot of this movie.

Salina: Hopefully.

Salina: I'm not stealing from you just by just setting up this general idea that I don't think he was the first person that was approached for the role.

Salina: But then he eventually comes on board, and easily, from the things that I've read, but he felt that the narrative should be driven by him rather than the kids.

Salina: And if you read the book, it's very much so through the eyes of scout.

Salina: And so I do think, having read that, I can see a little bit of that push pull between the two.

Salina: I mean, not like I don't feel.

Nikki: Like I'm looking at something that's threadbear.

Salina: But I can see that a little bit.

Salina: And he had a lot of strong opinions, and he was a big Hollywood heavy hitter, and he got his way a lot.

Salina: But it also seems like he was really beloved, just overarching.

Salina: What did you.

Nikki: What's that?

Nikki: Covered it all?

Salina: I don't think so.

Salina: There's, like, 57,000 facts about Gregory.

Nikki: So many things.

Nikki: And I think I was skimming my notes real quick to see that little bit about how his main suggestion, one, he suggested they changed the name of the movie, and they didn't take him up on that one thing.

Nikki: Two, though, was that he suggested that it be more driven by Atticus.

Nikki: What I couldn't tell, and I didn't do very much research because I haven't put it in my notes, was whether that was ego driven or story driven.

Nikki: Like, if he felt like the story was better told for film by focusing on Atticus.

Salina: So I don't think I ever saw that.

Nikki: Who knows?

Salina: Yeah, I don't know.

Nikki: Unless he said, I'm an ahole and I wanted to be the star.

Salina: Right.

Salina: I just sort of assumed that it was more like, I'm Gregory Peck and you're welcome, and just kind of did it that way.

Salina: And he was a man in the bet you.

Salina: They were pretty used to getting their way, even if you're, like a nice person.

Salina: So I kind of thought that was in the sauce.

Salina: But who knows?

Salina: He could have also thought that it helped the story narrative to come from him.

Nikki: So I think it's threaded throughout that Gregory Peck plays Atticus, the noble and principled lawyer and father to scout and gem.

Nikki: And to your point, Salina, he's very central to the movie.

Nikki: To another point you made.

Nikki: He certainly was not the first person that was offered the role.

Nikki: In fact, the role of Atticus was initially offered to Jimmy Stewart, who, I know it's a wonderful life guy, but he thought the role was too controversial, so he turned it down.

Nikki: It was also offered to rock Hudson, but the director ultimately decided he wanted a bigger name.

Nikki: So he ended up with possibly the hugest name in the form of Eldred.

Nikki: Gregory Peck, who was born in 1916.

Nikki: He was a popular film star from the American Film Institute, named him the 12th greatest male star of classic Hollywood cinema.

Nikki: He was born and raised in California, but moved to New York City after college, where he sometimes slept in Central park because he couldn't afford a place to live.

Nikki: And he worked as a tour guide for NBC TV.

Nikki: I thought that was cool.

Nikki: Around this time, he made his Broadway debut.

Nikki: After a little bit of time on the stage, he made the transition to film.

Nikki: He was nominated for an Oscar for only his second ever film, the Keys of the Kingdom in 1944.

Nikki: Across a lot of things I read, gregory Peck sort of became one and the same with the role of Atticus, meaning people really just genuinely saw him as Atticus Finch.

Nikki: And in a lot of ways, the real life Peck was a lot like Atticus, according to people who knew him well.

Nikki: Like some of his costars in the film, he himself was incredibly grateful to have been a part of the movie.

Nikki: The Wikipedia entry about him includes this quote from a 1997 interview.

Nikki: Hardly a day passes that I don't think how lucky I was to be cast in that film.

Nikki: I recently sat at a dinner next to a woman who saw it when she was 14 years old, and she said it changed her life.

Nikki: I hear things like that all the time.

Nikki: I have two more fun facts about Gregory Peck.

Nikki: One, he was offered the role of grandpa Joe in Willy Wonka in the chocolate Factory, the 2005 Johnny Depp movie.

Salina: Oh, okay.

Salina: I'm thinking the 70s version, really?

Nikki: But he died before he could accept the role.

Nikki: And then at his funeral in 2003, his eulogy was read by Brock Peters, who played Tom Robinson in Tequila Mockingbird, who we're going to talk about next.

Salina: Yeah, I thought that was really sweet.

Salina: I'll tack on two things that I had about Gregory Peck.

Salina: His summation speech, it was a whopping six minutes and 30 seconds long, was nailed in a single take.

Nikki: I meant to mention that.

Nikki: I'm glad you're bringing that up.

Nikki: That's a good one.

Nikki: I'm here for.

Salina: And then the watch that used in the film was a prop.

Salina: But Harper Lee gave Gregory Peck her father's actual watch after the film was completed because he reminded her so much of him.

Salina: And Peck wore it to the oscars the next year when he won best actor.

Salina: I thought that was really nice.

Nikki: Really cool.

Nikki: That's really cool.

Nikki: You ready to talk about Brock Peters?

Salina: Yeah.

Nikki: So Peters gave us the particularly poignant and powerful performance of Tom Robinson, the falsely accused black man at the center of the story.

Nikki: His situation shined a sharp light on the harsh realities of racial injustice and systemic discrimination, which I'll just say personally, still resonated really sharply with me on first watch today.

Nikki: Like, again, the story is not new to me, but in some ways it felt new.

Nikki: It's been a long time since I read this book.

Salina: Sure.

Salina: You lived a little bit of life.

Nikki: Yeah.

Nikki: So Brock was born George Fisher in 1927 in Harlem, New York.

Nikki: He pursued a career in entertainment from an early age.

Nikki: Encouraged by his mom, he tried his hand at the violin starting at age ten.

Nikki: But by the time he was a teenager, he realized his singing voice is where his real talent was.

Nikki: So he fostered that a bit more.

Nikki: He had a really brief stint in college where he performed quite a bit with the local creative community before he landed a gig in a traveling choir that prompted him to leave school.

Nikki: So it was during this time that he fostered sort of a professional career in entertainment and adopted the stage name Brock Peters.

Nikki: So over the years, he played a lot of roles and explored a lot of creative pursuits.

Nikki: I don't think I wrote this down.

Nikki: But one thing was, like, he did music, he did acting, stage acting, film acting, this, that, and the other.

Nikki: All kinds of creative sort of stuff.

Nikki: But one thing he was really consistent about was how he chose his roles.

Nikki: I found an NPR article that was written at his death, and they shared this from an interview with him in 1976.

Nikki: He said, throughout my career, I've said no.

Nikki: I've been very selective about the kinds of things that I would play.

Nikki: Part of that selectivity is exercised for me by the fact that I'm not asked to do some things.

Nikki: For example, all through this period of exploitation or black exploitation films, we've talked about that a little bit here on the show.

Nikki: I was never approached, except in one instance, to be part of the cast of any such film, nor was I submitted by the people who represent me because they, too, would not have me.

Nikki: The career that has been built over the years go in that direction at all, and I've stayed clear of that sort of thing.

Nikki: And I've been described as a serious actor.

Nikki: And the roles I've played have run from Shakespeare to Ibsen to anything that really is theater.

Nikki: So reading about his long career, two kind of fun facts stuck out to me that I wanted to mention.

Nikki: He performed background vocals on Harry Belafonte's Dayo in 1954, which we talked about.

Salina: We sure did.

Nikki: Season three, episode two.

Nikki: He also provided the voice of Darth Vader for Star wars radio adaptations by NPR through the.

Nikki: He does have a very timbery, deep voice.

Nikki: That could totally be Darth Vader.

Nikki: He received the 26th Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award in 1990 for his acting career and humanitarian contributions, and he was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1992.

Nikki: Like I mentioned, he delivered the eulogy at Gregory Peck's funeral in 2003.

Nikki: And then Brock passed away at the age of 78.

Nikki: Just a couple of years later, in 2005, he had pancreatic cancer.

Nikki: Did you have any other interesting facts about him?

Salina: I didn't.

Nikki: Okay.

Salina: Yeah, just the funeral thing I had read.

Nikki: Next up, I want to talk about Mary Badam, who played the precocious and curious scout.

Nikki: So she was born in 1952 in Birmingham, Alabama.

Nikki: She's the younger sister of John Badam, who directed short circuit and Saturday Night Fever.

Salina: Oh, okay.

Nikki: She had no acting experience prior to taking on the role of scout.

Nikki: I found an article that says she and another young friend went to the open casting call together.

Nikki: She said, quote, and we just got up on stage and started making stuff up.

Nikki: And that's what they wanted.

Nikki: They wanted real children with real imaginations.

Nikki: They didn't want actors, so that's how I got the part.

Nikki: Despite that, she was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actress for this role.

Nikki: At that time, she was ten, the youngest female actor ever nominated in the category.

Nikki: Patty Duke, incidentally, who played Helen Keller in the Miracle worker, would win that year, becoming the youngest Academy Award winner to that time at age 17.

Nikki: After tequila Mockingbird, Mary was in the final episode of the Twilight Zone, though because of a sound issue, nearly all of her lines were dubbed over by an adult.

Nikki: They didn't record properly on the first try, so they dubbed it over.

Salina: Well, who among us?

Nikki: She was in two more movies before she retired from acting.

Nikki: According to Wikipedia, as of 2014, she was an art restorer and college testing coordinator.

Nikki: She married the dean of a community college and has two children.

Nikki: She did come out of acting retirement in 2005 for a film directed by Christopher Watson called our very own.

Nikki: Have you ever heard of this?

Nikki: He said he would accept no one else for the part.

Nikki: Oh, and then she made her tour debut as a stage actor, playing Mrs.

Nikki: Dubose in the stage adaptation of Tequila Mockingbird in 2022.

Salina: Well, that's full circle.

Nikki: It is, isn't it?

Nikki: Mrs.

Nikki: Dubose is the grouchy old lady that lives next door.

Nikki: So over the years, Mary has talked a lot about tequila Mockingbird and her role in it.

Nikki: She attended a screening with President Obama at the White House to commemorate the 50th anniversary in 2012.

Nikki: She's toured the world talking about her role in the movie and also advocating for the book's messages of tolerance and compassion.

Nikki: In an article I mentioned earlier, when talking about the enduring relevance of the story, she said, I think it's because it's presented from a child's point of view.

Nikki: It takes the tension out of it and allows discussions to be able to happen.

Nikki: Two of the things I say is that education is the key to freedom, and ignorance is the root of all evil.

Nikki: I saved my favorite little bit for the very end about Mary.

Nikki: Apparently, she and Gregory Peck stayed in touch for the rest of his life after filming.

Nikki: She called him atticus until he died in 2003, and he always called her scout.

Nikki: I thought that was really lovely.

Nikki: Yeah.

Nikki: She had nothing but kind things to say about him.

Nikki: It's just like overwhelmingly glowing.

Salina: Yeah.

Salina: And I think that's why it's hard to say what his motivations know, because I've only read if Brock Peters did his eulogy and Harper Lee was like, you're my dad.

Salina: And he maintains this relationship with the kids.

Salina: From all these things, you have to think, well, there must have been some good stuff going on there.

Nikki: I have only allowed myself to entertain, like, in a realistic way, the narrative that he suggested that because he thought it was better for the film because they're children.

Nikki: There are so many nuances in this story that they are not fully comprehending.

Nikki: And if you only see it through their eyes, some of these things would feel confusing or disjointed.

Nikki: But if you see it from the perspective of an adult, that gives you a frame of reference that makes more sense, at least on screen.

Nikki: That's what I tell myself.

Nikki: I don't think it was ego.

Nikki: I think it was story.

Nikki: Makes me sleep at night.

Nikki: Next up, let's talk about jem.

Nikki: He was played by Philip Alford.

Nikki: I thought the character of Jem was so, like.

Nikki: I just thought he was cute as a button.

Nikki: I thought he was childlike and a little precocious, but somehow, at the same time, like, very serious and earnest.

Nikki: He seemed to take life so seriously, but also somehow was a just that his character stuck out to me in a way that, I mean, Atticus was wonderful.

Nikki: Tom was great.

Nikki: Jem, I just loved him.

Nikki: I just like cute.

Nikki: But I was really shocked to learn that Philip Alfred didn't really do much after this role.

Nikki: So he was in a movie called Shenandoah two or three years after to kill a mockingbird.

Nikki: And then he did a couple of other really tiny roles.

Nikki: But he ended up retiring from acting and became a businessman in the construction business.

Nikki: He sort of, like, took over a family business.

Nikki: A couple of things I read said that at the end of his acting career, so that would have been his early 20s, he was really dismayed by drug use in Hollywood, and it really turned him off of a long term acting career.

Nikki: So he just probably a smarter choice, for sure.

Nikki: So he's born in Alabama.

Nikki: The actor was born in Alabama in 1958 and was involved in local theater as a child.

Nikki: And someone somewhere saw him act in a film and called his mom and was like, you need to have him audition for this role of Jim.

Nikki: Apparently, he initially refused, but then, I think, true to the character of Jim, he negotiated a half day off school.

Nikki: He's like, I will only do it if I can have a half day off school to accommodate the audition.

Nikki: So he went, and of course, he got the role.

Nikki: Apparently, throughout filming, his real life little sister was the stand in for Mary Badam, who, again, played scout.

Nikki: I'm not sure if it happened because he and Mary couldn't get along or if it was just like they needed a stand in or whatever, but everything I read said he and Mary fought the entire time they were on set.

Salina: That was my little tidbit about, like, I guess they said something about how she was mouthing all of her lines and it was throwing some of the other actors off.

Nikki: And you can see some of it in the movie.

Salina: Yeah.

Nikki: Apparently you can see her mouthing the lines.

Salina: Right.

Nikki: It all felt like little kid.

Nikki: One of the things I read said he got so frustrated to the point he planned some mischief on her.

Nikki: Just sounds like kid stuff.

Nikki: It does.

Nikki: So the last person I wanted to talk about is someone that, like I said, I think in previewing things for the movie, I knew this person was in the movie.

Nikki: But I think, honestly, until I read the credits, I would never have placed this person.

Nikki: It was not obvious to me that Hollywood legend Robert Duvall played boo Radley, the very shy town outcast.

Nikki: So for anyone who doesn't know, Robert Duvall has been acting for nearly 70 years.

Nikki: He's won an Academy Award, four Golden Globes, a BAFTA award, two primetime Emmy awards, and a screen Actors Guild award.

Nikki: And in many ways, it all started with tequila Mockingbird, which marked the beginning of his feature film career.

Nikki: So Duvall was born in San Diego, but his mom was from Virginia, and she was a relative of civil War general Robert E.

Nikki: Lee and a prominent member of the Lee family.

Nikki: So was Harper Lee, who wrote to kill a Mockingbird.

Nikki: Yeah, that was crazy.

Nikki: I found that out after.

Nikki: So I read that he was like, related to Robert E.

Nikki: Lee.

Nikki: And I was like, oh, that's interesting.

Nikki: And then I was reading a few more things, and I got into a Wikipedia entry about Harper Lee, which I'm not going to talk about here, but golly, is she fascinating.

Nikki: And it said, and she was a member of the prominent Lee family of Virginia.

Salina: And I was like, what?

Salina: Yeah, that's interesting that I did not run across, but I did run across.

Nikki: And there was no connection between that necessarily for him getting this role.

Nikki: I'm not sure I have it written down, but I think someone saw him acting somewhere and said, we need to bring this guy in.

Nikki: Like the wife of somebody said, you need to ask this guy to play boo Bradley.

Nikki: So it wasn't that he knew Harper Lee or they were cousins or anything.

Salina: You got to get this really specific person for this 4 seconds.

Nikki: One guy who went with no lines.

Nikki: So he was a navy brat.

Nikki: His father retired as a rear admiral, but Duvall went against the grain and served in the army, which sounds silly, but it's a pretty big deal in a military family.

Nikki: He wasn't necessarily a model soldier, though, from what it sounds like.

Nikki: I'm not even sure he was in for much longer than a year or two.

Nikki: I did read during that very brief time, he served at Fort Gordon here in Georgia, which is cool.

Nikki: It's down near Augusta, I think.

Nikki: After he left the army, he joined an acting playhouse in New York City alongside Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, and James Kahn.

Nikki: And at different times, he called Hackman and Hoffman roomies.

Salina: Okay, and those are all people that I would be apt to.

Salina: With the exception of Dustin Hoffman.

Nikki: Yes.

Salina: They're, like, all a little similar.

Salina: I mean that with all due respect, they're all great actors.

Salina: I'm just saying I definitely want them in together.

Salina: And it's so weird that they have that relationship then.

Nikki: Isn't that crazy?

Nikki: So we watched the Godfather the other night.

Nikki: That's why I brought that reference up yesterday.

Nikki: I have seen it before, but I've never sat down and watched it.

Nikki: First of all, it's in my top ten now.

Nikki: So I told Kyle, of course, he's my taste in men.

Nikki: Kyle is, but also Robert Duvall.

Nikki: So is a young Al Pacino or.

Salina: An old Al Pacino.

Salina: Not too old.

Nikki: Not too old.

Salina: Sorry, Al, but I'm too old for you because I believe your recent wife.

Nikki: Is younger than us.

Nikki: But I had just read this about Robert Duvall, who's also in the Godfather, and that he was with James Kahn in their early days in New York City.

Nikki: And all of these pieces were coming together, and I was like, oh, my God, these guys all work together and know each other, and they're friends.

Salina: Hollywood's a small town.

Salina: It's so.

Nikki: So.

Nikki: Anyway, I, in addition to the Godfather, he's been in so many movies, and I will say my hot take is that two of my favorite Duvall roles notwithstanding, the Godfather now.

Nikki: But were four christmases in his role in gone in 60 seconds.

Nikki: For what it's worth, I asked Kyle again before we watch the Godfather.

Nikki: I said, who's your favorite Robert Duvall character?

Nikki: And he said, the godfather, the guy he plays in the Godfather.

Nikki: So there you have it.

Salina: There you have it.

Nikki: Two final fun facts I'll share about Robert Duvall, and we'll see anything else you might have, Salina.

Nikki: Apparently he originally did have a line in the movie, and they cut it.

Nikki: Oh, here you go.

Nikki: I did write it down.

Nikki: He got the role in the movie partly on the recommendation of screenwriter Horton Foote.

Nikki: I'm pretty sure it was Horton's wife who had seen him, like, in a play or something and said, give this guy a call.

Nikki: He's pretty good.

Nikki: Foote would later write tender mercies, which is the film that won Duvall his Academy award.

Salina: Okay, so I didn't write any of this down, but I did see that Robert Duvall did, like, a bunch of stuff to prepare for this role.

Salina: And so since I haven't good use.

Nikki: Of time, he stayed inside for six months.

Nikki: Right.

Salina: And all this stuff.

Salina: And then I was like, gosh, man, this must be a really intense part that I just don't remember from when I was 13.

Nikki: So we're going to put you behind this door, right?

Salina: And then it was like the last 15 seconds of the movie, and I was like, we're going to have you.

Nikki: Sit on a porch swing and stare off into the distance.

Salina: I mean, in all fairness, I guess if you're trying to break into the business, like you're going to throw yourself in and do all the things, but, yeah, maybe he didn't need to truly stay inside all those months.

Nikki: I think some makeup could have done it for him.

Nikki: But who am I?

Salina: It's also a black and white movie.

Nikki: It's true.

Nikki: That's true.

Nikki: So, to round out our list, I'll mention the rest of the cast.

Nikki: John, Megna played Dill, and I really feel like I'd miss the boat if I didn't mention here that the character of Dill was based on Harper Lee's real life childhood friend, Truman Capote.

Nikki: Capote was a novelist who wrote, among many other things, breakfast, Tiffany.

Nikki: Yes.

Salina: I'm, like, in cold blood.

Nikki: There you go.

Salina: I don't know where you're going to go with it.

Salina: I was definitely going to stop you if you didn't get to that, because I did not know that, and that blew my mind when, you know, preparing.

Nikki: Did you end up down a rabbit hole on Truman Capote?

Nikki: Do you know him?

Salina: Not personally.

Nikki: Right.

Salina: Okay.

Salina: So I am currently watching feud Capote and the seven Swans.

Salina: That's not actually the name of it, but it's part of the Ryan Murphy series on FX.

Salina: The last one they did was about.

Salina: I usually, I cannot watch things about Capote because of the voice.

Nikki: Oh, okay.

Salina: It's too much for me.

Salina: But this has inspired me because I did go down a little bit of a rabbit hole to try and go back and do more.

Salina: And for whatever reason, it's not bothering me as badly in this tv show.

Salina: I will say the tv show is very good.

Salina: It's very well made.

Salina: I don't know.

Salina: I would consider it an uplifting show.

Salina: Yeah, this whole story is kind of sad.

Salina: Real sad, I think.

Salina: But I really forgot what I was going to say.

Salina: There was something else I was going to add in here that made a lot of sense.

Nikki: It could be extra sugar worthy if they'll ever mention Truban Capote in anything.

Salina: Or if they don't, because now we got the connection to this, then we'll just connect it back to Bernice.

Salina: Six degrees or 700 degrees of designing women.

Salina: But I would be glad to.

Salina: I think he's definitely a fascinating person.

Salina: I think he has some touch points and culture that people don't even realize.

Nikki: Totally worth exploring, I have to admit.

Nikki: It's a name.

Nikki: I know, but I honestly thought he was not a writer.

Nikki: I thought he was something else in the world, but not a writer.

Nikki: I think the name Truman throws me and the name Capote throws me.

Nikki: They just feel like they have different connotations.

Nikki: You put them together and I got, like a president Godfather character in my head.

Salina: Well, I really want to go back and watch the Philip Seymour Hoffman version of Capote.

Nikki: Okay.

Salina: And Sandra Bullock plays Harper Lee in that movie.

Nikki: Yes.

Nikki: Which I read that.

Salina: Super interested to go back and see that.

Nikki: I did read that.

Nikki: It makes so much more sense.

Salina: Yeah.

Nikki: Yeah.

Nikki: So Frank Overton plays Sheriff Heck Tate.

Nikki: Rosemary Murphy is Miss Maudi.

Nikki: Ruth White is Mrs.

Nikki: Dubose.

Nikki: Estelle Evans is Calpernia.

Nikki: Paul Fix is judge Taylor.

Nikki: Colin Wilcox is Mayiella Ewell.

Nikki: And then you said you have something about James Anderson, who played Robert E.

Nikki: Lee.

Nikki: Bob Ewell.

Nikki: Or something about Robert E.

Nikki: Lee.

Nikki: Bob Ewell.

Nikki: One of those.

Salina: Yeah.

Salina: This was kind of paired with that idea of, like, off screen drama.

Salina: Although it feels silly to say that with the kids.

Salina: Right.

Salina: For the very reason that we're like, they're kids.

Salina: Sometimes kids don't get along.

Nikki: Don't say.

Salina: Or adults.

Salina: The thought is that he was method and maybe this is why this happened.

Salina: But he's kind of mean.

Salina: You don't like off screen.

Salina: He wouldn't talk to the other actors, really, except for the director.

Salina: And there was this one time, I think it was when in filming the court scenes, he, like, screamed at Gregory Peck.

Salina: And then in the final scene, he pulled Jim's hair so hard that they pulled him out of the shot.

Nikki: I read that the kids were scared of him.

Salina: I'm scared of him now.

Nikki: Scared of him in the story.

Salina: Not the best guy.

Salina: We're not sending our best.

Nikki: No.

Nikki: And then, of course, Alice ghostly was Miss Stephanie Crawford.

Nikki: I can't be sure if I would have recognized her.

Salina: All these other characters had between them.

Salina: One line.

Nikki: Yeah, right.

Nikki: I don't know if I would have.

Salina: Recognized her, but, yeah, I think once, you know, it would have gotten by me.

Salina: She was so young.

Nikki: Yeah.

Nikki: All right.

Nikki: So I also wanted, before we get into general reactions and stray observations, I wanted to mention where you can watch it because this is a really old movie.

Nikki: Initially, I found it on YouTube, Apple TV and Amazon prime for rent for 399.

Nikki: I'm going to level with you.

Nikki: That felt really expensive for a movie that basically should be in public domain.

Nikki: It's so old.

Nikki: So then I found the PBS classic.

Nikki: Then I found the PBS service Lakeshore classic movies.

Nikki: I think it seems to offer it pretty widely for free.

Nikki: We found it through our local PBS affiliate, Georgia Public Broadcasting.

Nikki: Yeah.

Salina: And thanks for that.

Salina: You saved me 399.

Nikki: You're welcome.

Nikki: And not that it's not worth 399.

Salina: But if you get it for free, why wouldn't you?

Nikki: Why wouldn't you?

Nikki: Right.

Nikki: I did have legal means.

Nikki: I had a fleeting thought.

Nikki: What if we were watching an edited version of it and there were cut lines?

Salina: Then we'd be back to square one.

Nikki: And then the last thing, I sort of alluded to this a few minutes ago, there is currently a stage adaptation touring the United States, written by Aaron Sorkin.

Nikki: It'll be here in Atlanta at the Fox in May.

Nikki: Elena, I do not think you will be here when the show visited Birmingham, Alabama.

Nikki: What time of May, Mary?

Nikki: I think it's middle of May.

Nikki: Mary Badam even came out of retirement to play crotchety next door neighbor, Mrs.

Nikki: Dubose.

Salina: Well, there you go.

Nikki: It's like super highly well reviewed.

Nikki: The stage adaptation.

Nikki: It's Aaron Sorkin.

Salina: So, I mean, probably knows a thing or two.

Nikki: I think he might.

Salina: Okay.

Nikki: General reactions and stray observations.

Salina: Okay.

Nikki: Do you want to go first?

Nikki: Do you want me to go first?

Nikki: You look scared.

Salina: I'm not scared.

Salina: I'm not scared.

Salina: So it's interesting because what this movie does is not very different from what you see movies do today.

Salina: And that's like revisiting another time in order to magnify issues still faced in the present.

Salina: And so you could very much feel that in this movie because it's 62 when the movie comes out.

Salina: I look at time through looking at the age of my parents and grandparents.

Nikki: Okay, this is a good frame of reference.

Salina: Yeah.

Salina: Because it kind of helps you understand time a little bit.

Nikki: And people.

Salina: And people.

Salina: Exactly.

Salina: I'm so glad you said that.

Salina: But.

Salina: So our parents aren't even born, right?

Nikki: At least my mom.

Salina: Yeah.

Salina: It depends on what month it was.

Salina: If it was before December.

Salina: My dad wasn't born yet.

Salina: We're going to get really into it, but the plot is revisiting the time when most of my grandparents weren't born.

Salina: Or for that matter, it's not very different from what we do, which is look back 30 years and this little show called designing women to examine what's different and what's the same.

Salina: And so I think that was just my first general reaction when I was kind of framing myself up for where we were in time.

Nikki: This one, yeah, I will say I was just shocked at how much I liked this movie.

Nikki: I genuinely enjoyed the experience of watching it, which is surprising to me because I super hate old movies.

Nikki: Like you tell me it's black and white.

Nikki: I hate it to a point.

Nikki: I can't even explain it.

Nikki: Something about the blocking on set, the way they're turned toward the camera just feels really superficial and artificial.

Nikki: The way they talk is very all timey and it's grating.

Nikki: I don't like it.

Nikki: This wasn't that.

Nikki: I also was a little afraid it wouldn't have aged well and I would have cringed through the whole thing.

Nikki: Just something, again, being in the back to the 30s, just was afraid there was going to be a filter on it that just felt really uncomfortable.

Nikki: So it was definitely a 1963 retelling of something that happened during a southern, largely segregated town.

Nikki: But you take it with that cultural context and it still just feels really well done and it feels like a really good story that holds together well.

Salina: I think this might be a good time to pop in with my next general reaction, because I think this relates to that.

Salina: So the first thing is that for me, it was hard to not think about how this story might be different today.

Salina: So I bank on a ten part limited series where we get more backstory on each character.

Salina: I think maybe each episode is from a different character's point of view, including one from Boo Radley, even though he may not be a talker, but we'd be with him for the whole episode, try and spend a minute walking in his shoes or the other character's shoes.

Salina: I also think it would be less all white hat characters.

Salina: So I don't know.

Salina: Atticus Finch looks the same today.

Salina: I actually think maybe that we would rough him up a little bit and make him deal with his own prejudices in some way.

Salina: So that was my first thought paired with that is something that you've already talked about.

Salina: There is a wisdom to telling the story from the innocence of a child from that perspective, and that did hit me as I was watching this.

Salina: While that is true, I do think today, if not a ten part prestige drama, I think we would definitely get more of Tom Robinson's story.

Salina: And let me be very clear, I really enjoyed this movie.

Salina: Even more this time, I think, than the last time.

Salina: It's 13.

Salina: I don't know.

Salina: I could never really pay attention to.

Nikki: You were just glad the lights were off and you could put your head, take a nap.

Nikki: Yeah.

Nikki: You'd already read the story at that point.

Salina: I had.

Salina: So I can also see how it would be grading for some viewers.

Salina: It is very much so in the white savior bucket.

Salina: And Atticus Finch is that person to flip again.

Salina: I also think it was 1962, and Atticus Finch, played by Gregory Peck, had to be the one to call a spade a spade or call out racism.

Salina: Because guess what?

Salina: That message wasn't for the black community.

Salina: I think they already knew.

Nikki: Right.

Salina: So this is more of like a real 1.0 dear white people situation, right?

Nikki: Yeah.

Nikki: It's hard for me not to talk about how progressive this felt.

Nikki: And it's kind of pairing those two things that you've said, which is putting it in the frame of reference of my mom knowing that this came out before she was even born.

Nikki: And she was born in the deep south in a small town.

Nikki: And she remembers when the schools were integrated.

Nikki: And so this progressive movie happened before she was even born.

Nikki: And it was still another almost close to a decade before her schools were even integrated.

Nikki: Yeah, that's wild to me, for sure.

Salina: It's crazy.

Nikki: And I agree with you.

Nikki: I think that it was the white people who needed to hear the message.

Nikki: And I think the messenger matters.

Nikki: And so I think this was the way that they were most likely to hear it.

Salina: That's right.

Salina: This is my last general, which is this movie is definitely about racism and prejudice and classism.

Salina: But let's not forget that it is also telling us a little something about where we were with women.

Salina: And that really sat with me a lot as I watched this.

Salina: Not once, but twice.

Salina: When Atticus is examining witnesses, first sheriff Tate and later Bob Yule, he asked them if they called a doctor for Maella, who was beaten quite badly.

Salina: And in both instances, they said, what for?

Salina: They already had what they needed.

Salina: They already knew what happened, so we didn't think it was important to call a doctor for the woman who'd had the shiitake beat out of her and was assaulted just for the sake of making sure she was okay.

Salina: Got it.

Salina: Also worth noting that one of the men was her father and her actual abuser.

Nikki: I was going to say he didn't want to call the doctor because he abused her.

Nikki: Yeah, he just didn't care about her.

Salina: I don't think it would have mattered either way.

Salina: Let's say she had just been beaten by someone else.

Salina: It wouldn't have mattered because that's where we were.

Salina: And I think it was so.

Salina: And that was so sharply written in a way that helps you automatically understand, like, this is not about helping someone, which would have been Maella.

Salina: This was about hate.

Salina: And it was just that crisp and that real.

Nikki: I do want to say that you and I accidentally talked about this off air, but when the movie opened, the theme music sounded just like Steel Magnolia's opening music.

Salina: Yes.

Nikki: And for me, it was immediately comforting in that way.

Nikki: It's like putting on a warm blanket or something.

Nikki: And I will say the theme of comfort is something I felt through the first half of the movie.

Nikki: There was a lot of the kids playing outside with their friends, telling all these tall tales and legends about the town.

Nikki: Just like, generally getting into mischief.

Nikki: That feels very homey, like what I want my kids go outside, go make some mischief, go have fun.

Nikki: It felt like growing up around my grandparents house in South Carolina.

Nikki: And then I realized Charlene felt similarly that way, which is why I think she would recommend it for things like girls nights.

Nikki: And when she's pregnant, it feels like home.

Nikki: In fact, in the episode while she's pregnant, she says, it reminds me of my.

Nikki: Know, I was a lot like scout, except that living in the country, I had my own horse.

Nikki: We all did.

Nikki: And then she goes on to say, I think it's sad kids don't grow up that way anymore.

Nikki: And sort of interrelated to that was one more thing about Gregory Peck.

Nikki: He says he was drawn to the role of Atticus Finch because it reminded him of growing up in La Jolla, California.

Nikki: And he actually wrote this for the opening of the 1962 softcover of the book.

Nikki: The southern town of Maycomb, Alabama, reminds me of the California town I grew up in.

Nikki: The characters of the novel are like people I knew as a boy.

Nikki: I think perhaps the great appeal of the novel is that it reminds readers everywhere of a person or a town they've known.

Nikki: It is, to me, a universal story, moving, passionate, and told with great humor and tenderness.

Nikki: And I just feel like there's something in that, that I felt that way in 2024.

Nikki: He felt that way.

Nikki: I'm sure it doesn't feel that comfortable for a lot of people.

Nikki: But it was just interesting that that is sort of a common thread for some of us.

Salina: I agree.

Nikki: You want to talk about stray observations?

Salina: Sure.

Salina: So one of the very first things that I was wondering, especially we get to know, scout, is whether or not iggy from fried green tomatoes fired by they have.

Salina: I tried to look it up to find it, and there were some people who sort of posited that in different little corners of the Internet, but I couldn't find anything that substantiated it.

Salina: But they have a similar energy.

Salina: The musy hair, the disdain with being forced to wear a dress, and general tomboyness.

Salina: They're both getting in fights.

Salina: I think the time periods are even similar.

Salina: I'm almost sure that fried green tomatoes flashbacks are 1930s.

Nikki: Yeah, it was depression era.

Salina: So that just was something that I think also made me feel automatically familiar with.

Salina: It is because I picked up on that energy.

Nikki: Yeah.

Nikki: I have two stray observations I wanted to mention.

Nikki: I really do think I'm due to reread the book because I really didn't remember dill very well.

Salina: Okay.

Nikki: I don't remember if he was super well developed in the book, and they just did him dirty in the movie by just showing him a couple of times as, like, this random neighbor who comes in, like he really felt like, to me, a random tack on in the movie.

Nikki: It felt to me like he was added strictly for the purposes of being able to talk about who Boo was so that we could be told about this.

Nikki: Everybody else in the town knew about him, so we needed an outsider so that we could tell this story about Boo and kick off all this series of events.

Nikki: So, full disclosure.

Nikki: After I wrote this observation, I was researching the characters, and I found entire essays dedicated to exploring the character of Dill.

Nikki: Long story short, I'd say yes.

Nikki: Most agree that in the book, he plays a really important role.

Nikki: He's kind of a.

Nikki: Somewhere I read, said he's a sad clown.

Nikki: He's full of tall tales and antics, but deep down, he struggles with his own feelings of being ostracized around his family issues.

Nikki: So he really identifies with Tom in the sense of feeling like an outsider.

Nikki: And then I think in reading about Truman Capote and this bit about the character he plays in the book, you can see that inspiration, I think, even more so.

Nikki: I think Dill is a much more important character.

Nikki: But as I was watching, I couldn't help but think, what is the deal with this kid?

Nikki: He's just so random.

Nikki: Honestly, it's a hot take, a little annoying.

Nikki: I just didn't understand him.

Salina: So this is more of like.

Salina: I don't know if this belongs in strays.

Salina: But on that same note, even though I really like the movie, I think there was some real detail lost from the book, which I think you have to lose.

Salina: But, for instance, one thing that hit me while I was watching it is like, I know this knot hole thing in the tree is a much bigger deal in the book.

Salina: And we spend a long time in and around that.

Salina: And it kind of helps us understand that relationship.

Salina: And why Boo Radley got it attached to the kids and things that I just don't think that we really have the time to explore.

Salina: It's probably why it should be a ten part series.

Nikki: It's why Harper Lee declined to write the screenplay.

Nikki: Because she thought it would be too hard to pull out nuance and make it a short two hour and five minute movie, or whatever it is.

Salina: This is why I like tv series.

Salina: Now we get that time to explore and give the room for things to breathe, I think is important.

Salina: Even though, again, I really like this Jim.

Salina: Rolling scout in that tire is like the worst thing I can imagine as a 38 year old.

Salina: That's another stray for me.

Nikki: Apparently, that was something that he did.

Nikki: And he was a rougher with her than he should have been.

Nikki: Because he was so annoyed by her.

Salina: It looked rough.

Nikki: It did look really rough.

Salina: It looked like I would have been very dizzy for a long time after that.

Salina: So they're poor, the finches?

Salina: Yes, but they have help.

Salina: And pot roast.

Salina: I guess it's all just a matter of degrees.

Salina: That was something I thought about when I was not so poor enough that they have to barter, but poor enough that something else.

Salina: But there was something.

Salina: There's pot roast.

Nikki: Something Atticus said at the beginning when she asked him, daddy, are we poor?

Nikki: Something in the way he worded that was like, we're not as bad off as most are, but we're in the middle of the Great Depression, right?

Nikki: So we're all struggling a little.

Nikki: I do.

Nikki: I definitely get the sense they were better off than others.

Nikki: But it was us.

Nikki: And during the Great Depression time, everybody was struggling a little bit.

Salina: Right?

Salina: I thought it was an interesting choice.

Salina: They didn't show Tom Robinson until halfway through the movie at the courthouse.

Salina: It could be part and parcel to the book.

Salina: Maybe this is hard because I haven't read it in so long, so I can't really remember.

Salina: Sorry, guys, didn't have time.

Salina: I guess I could have done that with my extra.

Salina: Know.

Nikki: You did have some free time there.

Salina: I heard, is the insinuation that they just shot Tom at the end because they say that he ran.

Salina: But did he?

Salina: That's actually what I was thinking.

Salina: Oh, they say he ran and they had to shoot him.

Salina: But come on.

Nikki: You know what I was thinking?

Nikki: So, I don't know.

Nikki: I just assumed they lynched him.

Nikki: What it got me thinking about was, do you remember I did an extra sugar.

Nikki: Oh, gosh darn it.

Nikki: I wish I'd looked this up.

Nikki: But there was a lynching, like in Marietta.

Nikki: It was the pencil factory.

Nikki: The pencil factory.

Nikki: That is exactly what I was thinking about with Tom Robinson's story, how they intercepted him on the way to the jail in the other town, took him, and then lynched him.

Nikki: I just assumed that's what happened.

Salina: Okay.

Salina: So I wasn't the only one.

Salina: Yeah.

Salina: There was nothing that insinuated to me that that was a behavior that he was going to.

Salina: I think he knew.

Salina: I think he always knew if he even had an ounce of hope.

Salina: Yeah, I didn't see it.

Nikki: Yeah, I agree with that.

Nikki: Again, should reread the book, because we.

Salina: Could be missing something and.

Nikki: Yeah, I just assumed that was a polite way of looking over the lynching.

Salina: This is also that thing about losing something between the movie and the book.

Salina: If we can't pick up on it, but it's in the book, then something's got translation.

Salina: Yeah.

Salina: I have one more stray, which is.

Salina: I know the end with boo in Jim's room was meant to be played as sweet, but him lurking behind the door?

Salina: Creepy.

Salina: Yeah.

Salina: And then Atticus was like, okay, well, scout, I'll leave you alone with this creepy grown man.

Nikki: You're right.

Nikki: Who everyone alleges is crazy and has been watching you from dark corners.

Nikki: It's 2024.

Nikki: You have a little more skepticism.

Nikki: I had one more stray I wanted to mention, and it's only stray because I didn't quite know where else to put it.

Nikki: But when you read newer articles about to kill a mockingbird, it just keeps coming up.

Nikki: Harper Lee only ever published one other book in her lifetime called Go Set a Watchman.

Nikki: It was published in 2015.

Nikki: There's been a fair amount of speculation that there was some sort of elderly coercion in that publication.

Nikki: So the point is, by the time that they discovered, and I'm putting that in quotes, the manuscript, they said they found it in some old, like, what do you call those things?

Nikki: Like a lockbox or something?

Nikki: A po box or whatever.

Nikki: By the time it was discovered and published, she was suffering dementia and had experienced a stroke.

Nikki: So it was initially promoted as a sequel to kill a MockingBird.

Nikki: To kill a MockingBird.

Nikki: But in fact, most people actually accept it today as the original draft of MOckingBird.

Salina: She wrote it first, right?

Salina: And then they were like, then an editor, because this is why you need book editors, was like, why don't you write about this part and tease this out?

Salina: So she winds up doing that.

Salina: And then there was a lot of rounds of edits to get to what we see.

Nikki: That's right.

Nikki: And that all came out later, though.

Nikki: So when go set a WatchMen came out, the publisher very much made it sound like this was a sequel.

Nikki: And so people had to piece together some bits and pieces to learn that.

Nikki: I know it's actually the original draft.

Salina: You read it, didn't you?

Nikki: So I have read it, though that would have been about ten years ago.

Nikki: My recollection is that I didn't like it.

Nikki: I felt like it was glued together in some instances.

Nikki: And part of the reason people accept it as a first draft of MockingBird is that it straight up rehashes content.

Nikki: But one thing that it definitely does, there's complete sentences that are a repeat from MockingBird.

Nikki: So one thing that it definitely does do is potentially change your mind about Atticus.

Nikki: So in the book, in the go set of WatchMen, Harper Lee is an adult and returns to Macomb, she discovers an Atticus she doesn't recognize.

Nikki: Most simply, he seems to have become a segregationist and a not so casual racist.

Nikki: And that was a lot for some people to bear.

Nikki: Like, they couldn't imagine the Atticus we saw in Tequila.

Nikki: MockingBird becoming a segregationist and a racist.

Nikki: It's not necessarily hard for me to imagine.

Nikki: In the South, I think multiple things can be true at the same time, and I think the more things change, the more other things stay the same.

Nikki: So I actually could almost see it as a natural progression for Atticus.

Nikki: Like, when he's young, he starts really progressive, and then as he ages, he gets a little bit more conservative.

Nikki: And as the civil rights movement pushes forward and he feels more threatened as a white man and a white man of a certain means, I could see that change and that shift.

Nikki: I don't think it was crazy.

Nikki: I just didn't like the story.

Salina: I'm glad that you brought that up, because I have been given this some thought, and I was wondering whether or not you wanted to go down this road.

Salina: But I know that probably is.

Salina: First of all, I agree with everything that you're saying.

Salina: I think that one thing that I was sort of thinking about how to make sense of that kind of what might feel like a hill turn for some people is just this general idea that our ability as a human to think inclusively and think about other people, to be thoughtful, to be empathetic, is no different than a muscle.

Salina: And you have to work that muscle.

Salina: You can't let those things sit at throttle because I think it's very possible to lose those things to some degree.

Salina: And I also agree that that probably was a very difficult time to make sense of a world that was so quickly changing around you.

Salina: If we're leading up to the she's like an adult when she comes back.

Salina: The other thing that I was thinking a little bit about was I think that's so smart what you're talking about.

Salina: Like, you can be so many things all at once.

Salina: And I think we like to believe that it's all this way or it's all that way.

Salina: And there are people who kind of are.

Salina: But I would say most human beings fall somewhere in the middle.

Salina: Maybe the loudest voices are on the outer edges.

Salina: But one thing I was thinking of in particular with this situation was the Westboro Baptist church.

Salina: And I was thinking about what I learned from listening to the witch trials of J.

Salina: K.

Salina: Rowling.

Salina: And the woman who hosted that podcast left the Westboro Baptist Church.

Salina: And she's very much so against the things that they had done when she was growing up, but it's the only thing she ever knew.

Salina: And the thing that I found the most astounding, this group that follows people around and does really and says really hateful things to get publicity, is a family full of lawyers who were also very pivotal in some of the civil rights cases and on the side of civil rights.

Salina: So it's almost hard to put your mind around how someone could champion this one thing and then tell soldiers they should die or tell someone who's gay that they should die and they don't deserve to be alive.

Salina: And I just think people are more complicated than that.

Salina: It's too bad that it wasn't a better edited book and a better, however you want to put that, that it was a better read.

Salina: Because I think there is probably some lessons to be gleaned from that.

Nikki: And I think some people saw that.

Nikki: I think some people caught the context.

Nikki: I think also scout was coming back home to make home from New York City.

Nikki: Remembering this is not a fully autobiographical book either.

Nikki: So the other kind of downside to all this is that Harper Lee's father even people would come up to him and call him Atticus.

Nikki: He was a lawyer.

Nikki: They identified him with the character of Atticus.

Nikki: So when this book was published, I think even it sullied his reputation a little bit, even though it wasn't fully autobiographical.

Nikki: So we don't even know that was reflective of him necessarily.

Nikki: It definitely sullied, in a lot of instances, the characterization of Atticus, which some people feel is great because of the white savior concept, they're like, great.

Nikki: He shouldn't have ever been held up to the standard he was.

Nikki: Anyway.

Nikki: Other people, like me, feel a little sad because, again, I feel like it was a character that served good in the time and in the context in which he was.

Nikki: So I just wanted to mention it because I feel like if you're researching to kill a mockingbird, if you take this segment a step further and you go research it yourself, you're going to see this.

Nikki: And it's just know.

Nikki: It's complicated.

Nikki: It was done under potentially confusing circumstances.

Nikki: I don't know that any of us knows what Harper Lee genuinely thought about that manuscript or what she was trying to do with it.

Nikki: So just read carefully.

Salina: Yeah, I think that's a good point.

Nikki: Are you ready to move to things you like?

Nikki: Did you have any more strays?

Salina: Yeah, I'm good.

Salina: We can move on to that.

Nikki: Okay.

Nikki: What did you like, Salina?

Salina: Well, I think you've already talked a little bit about this, but I'll just tack on, too, that movies can also be tough for me.

Salina: They're especially tough now.

Nikki: Your attention span is so much shorter.

Salina: I can only watch 10 hours of 1 hour television at a time.

Nikki: Got to be separated.

Salina: But if it's a two hour movie, I just can't make sense of it.

Salina: I'm not always interested from the jump, but the world building in this is just so strong.

Salina: It just automatically pulled me in.

Salina: And that is a very rare circumstance for me today in my life.

Salina: I also felt like a little bit of a my girl thing going on with, like, dill and scout.

Salina: So, again, I think maybe there's just, like, you gotta wonder.

Salina: I guess part of me.

Salina: You gotta wonder.

Nikki: I gotta wonder?

Salina: You gotta wonder.

Salina: But I kind of felt like maybe you're seeing this imprint in other things, whether it's fried green tomatoes or the music of still magnolias or the relationship that we see in my girl, like, all these little things.

Salina: And it just kind of helps me glom on a little easier.

Salina: I've already talked about this narrative decision, but I like that we're getting things through the kid's eyes, which is interesting, right?

Salina: Because we know Greg almost said Scott Peck.

Salina: I'm like, I don't even.

Salina: Is that a preacher?

Salina: Anyways, Gregory Peck, we know that he wanted the narrative to be more for him.

Salina: And it is in some ways, especially, maybe we're in the courtroom or we definitely get a shifted perspective.

Salina: We see the kids versus seeing it through the kids eyes.

Nikki: Right.

Salina: But I think there's a lot of the movie that we can still feel that we're getting things from the children and we're watching not only them learn about the world at large, but we're also learning, we're seeing them learn about their own world.

Salina: And, for instance, that maybe their dad is more than they thought.

Salina: And there is something so interesting being a kid, you have parents and you see the way that people in the world around you see them.

Salina: And that is such a sharp distinction from maybe how you feel about your parent.

Salina: And so I think that was something that I liked in this, because they were able to see how much the community respected Atticus and they were able to see, like, there was like, whatever.

Salina: There's like the rabid dog scene and just these things.

Salina: He was like one of.

Salina: He's the greatest shot in Macomb county.

Nikki: That had never even occurred to them.

Salina: Right?

Salina: They're like our loser dad, the guy.

Nikki: Who hasn't touched a gun in a decade.

Nikki: What?

Nikki: Yeah.

Salina: So I like that a lot.

Salina: How about you?

Nikki: I've talked a lot throughout about different things that I liked, so I will limit my biggest likes to the courtroom scene.

Nikki: I was on pins and needles through the whole thing, which is wacky because I know how it's going to end, but I just felt like, I was just curious what Maella was going to say.

Nikki: I wanted to know how the court was going to react.

Nikki: Like, I was just curious about the whole thing.

Nikki: And then I openly wept at the end of the courtroom scene, both in Atticus's closing argument and also the reaction when the trial ended.

Nikki: Just like the kids sitting up there in the section of the courtroom that was for the black community and just being part of that while they get this horrible news.

Nikki: And it was just so sad.

Nikki: But that was such a beautifully done scene.

Nikki: It was my favorite part of the movie.

Salina: This is going to sound really stupid after what you just said, but my last, like, is scout dress, like in the ham.

Nikki: It's glorious.

Salina: No shoes on.

Nikki: It's glorious.

Nikki: Like what a strange, meant to be funny.

Salina: I'm not even sure.

Salina: There's just been the trial, maybe it was a year before or something, but there's been 4 seconds that have gone by in the movie, and then she's dressed up like a ham and then they get attacked in the woods.

Salina: So I don't know that they meant for that to be hilarious, but I needed that levity.

Nikki: Well, again, though, isn't that like the child experience?

Nikki: Like you live so in the moment that just a shoeless ham for an adult?

Nikki: It's funny.

Nikki: It's like, oh, my God, the wackiness of these two situations.

Nikki: For those kids, it's just another day, right?

Nikki: She had to do her stupid little pageant at school.

Nikki: I was more shocked at the in depthness of the costume in the 1930s.

Salina: It's also like, we're not homemaking things.

Nikki: It was just a lot.

Salina: Yeah.

Salina: It's like ten at night, right?

Nikki: That was the other thing.

Nikki: I was like, my kids should have been long asleep by now.

Nikki: Why is it so late?

Salina: Six in the movie.

Nikki: It's so late.

Nikki: I think by that time she might have been seven.

Nikki: I think she aged up a year.

Salina: That's when you totally go out dressed like a ham at 10:00 at night by yourself.

Salina: Yes.

Salina: With your slightly older, you and your.

Nikki: Brother are the last two people at school.

Nikki: That whole thing was wacky.

Nikki: Yeah, but it was a great costume.

Salina: Alabama man.

Nikki: Alabama man.

Nikki: Almost like Florida, but not quite.

Salina: But nothing's like Florida.

Salina: Did you want to talk about dislikes?

Nikki: The only thing I'll mention here again, I feel like I was so long winded on other things.

Nikki: It's a cheap dislike.

Nikki: It was just my way.

Nikki: I tend to do it this way.

Nikki: We talked about this.

Nikki: Mr.

Nikki: That's not right.

Nikki: Not Mr.

Nikki: Cunningham, Mr.

Nikki: Uella, Mr.

Nikki: Yule.

Nikki: What a jerk.

Nikki: Just like what an absolute jerk.

Salina: One might even say an ahole even.

Nikki: One might like, other than being a hateful drunk.

Nikki: Like, what was his deal?

Nikki: Just an absolutely awful and every, and that actor who played him was just like, so believable.

Nikki: So maybe he really was method because I really thought he was a hateful drunk.

Salina: Right.

Salina: And not just a hateful drunk.

Nikki: What did you dislike about it, Salina?

Salina: It finally dissipated.

Salina: But at the very beginning of the movie, I was scared.

Salina: We were in for a rough ride with the southern accents.

Salina: Just at the very beginning, I have this feeling that they were asking the kids to play it.

Salina: I'm, you're doing such a much better job with the actor's names.

Salina: But scout and Jim, they're both from Alabama.

Salina: In real life, the kid that played Dill is from Brooklyn, but I believe that.

Salina: I was just like, oh, no, I can't do this.

Salina: And then it settled down.

Nikki: Yeah.

Salina: Mrs.

Salina: Debose.

Salina: What a b*******.

Nikki: What a.

Salina: Call somebody a little ugly.

Salina: Come here.

Salina: I was like, d***.

Nikki: So mean.

Salina: And she also looks like she's just been sitting on that porch since she was last on.

Salina: Gone with the wind set or something.

Nikki: Civil war.

Salina: She looks like Aunt Pity Pat just.

Nikki: Left her on the back lot.

Salina: Yeah, we're just pick up where we left off in 1937.

Salina: Who needs an angry old lady?

Nikki: She's at the house.

Salina: Aunt Pity Pat was at least nice.

Salina: She was kind of a twit, but she was nice.

Salina: I know it was for a very specific choice and a very specific reason, but it was rough in 2024 to hear the n word so casually dropped.

Nikki: I told Kyle, I'm going to talk about this in cultural impact a little bit, so I'll skip this when I get there.

Nikki: I really had a moment where I almost let Carolina watch this with me because I felt like she would identify with the character of scout.

Nikki: I also felt like it'd be kind of a good story for her to see and we could have some conversations around it, but I wanted to prewatch it and sort of have a context myself.

Nikki: And honestly, they used the n word, and I was like, nope, that's a hard pass because I don't even want her hearing that word until I feel like she has the proper context for it.

Nikki: Because I think a lot of times what happens when you hear kids say really awful things, they heard it.

Nikki: They have no context for it.

Nikki: Obviously, there's no context for when this is an appropriate word to use, but she will hear it in the world at some point, and I want her to have some context for it.

Nikki: So I didn't have her watch it with me, and that was tough.

Nikki: Yeah, that's real.

Salina: I.

Salina: I think Turner classic movies has done something where, and I know some people are all like, how dare you put trigger warnings at the beginning of these?

Salina: I don't think of them as trigger warnings.

Salina: I think of them as educational moments.

Salina: And it's to kind of talk through some of these things that may not be appropriate.

Salina: Well, first of all, it wasn't appropriate 1962 either.

Salina: But whatever it might be, these things that need a little context, they need.

Nikki: The context to them because culture is different and society is different.

Salina: As you're ready to have that conversation with her, maybe they are already saying some things, and then you don't have to figure it all out on your own.

Nikki: Yeah.

Salina: And that's for anything, because it's not exactly like discussing the rape plotline would be an easy conversation either.

Nikki: That was the other part where I was, like, nine.

Nikki: I thought turning nine this year, she'll be eight this year.

Salina: I mean, a little young to have that.

Nikki: Well, I thought if they talked about it colorfully enough and flowery enough, then maybe it would just be an attack.

Nikki: And then they finally said it, and I was like, okay.

Nikki: But there was so much more to that conversation about beastly creatures and things like that where I was like, let's just not.

Nikki: We'll talk about it one day.

Nikki: Yeah, I promise I'll do my part as an ally.

Nikki: I will teach her, but it'll be one day when it's not quite that.

Salina: The last thing for me.

Salina: And I think this speaks to what you said about not really liking this era of movies.

Salina: Like, it just being tough for you because of the blocking and whatnot.

Salina: There were parts that were a little slow or drag for me.

Salina: Probably more of the style of the times, but a tough hang for this modern movie watcher.

Salina: So I wrote down the two most egregious times to also kind of exemplify in the first half hour of the movie, it's like scout and Jim and Dill, and they're all trying to spy on Boo Radley's house.

Salina: Them getting there and peering in, like, took 25 minutes.

Salina: And I was like, we don't actually need to be with them.

Salina: You all know that, right?

Nikki: I'm the worst, because I was like.

Salina: This is such an adventure.

Nikki: What are we going to see?

Salina: Where are we going to go?

Nikki: I loved it.

Salina: I'm glad that you loved it.

Salina: That's great.

Salina: It didn't work for me, but the whole movie worked for me.

Salina: The other one was Jim explaining to scout how someone is communicating to them through the knot hole in the tree.

Salina: This, I think, too, is just like, I don't does.

Salina: And it's not special anymore.

Salina: That special relationship and all of that.

Salina: That.

Salina: That was.

Salina: It was just gone.

Nikki: Yeah.

Salina: And so those were some things that did not work for me.

Salina: Do you want to rate this thing?

Nikki: I do.

Nikki: My rating scale was spelling bee metals.

Nikki: Okay.

Nikki: I had to give it a five out of five same.

Nikki: It was just top notch.

Nikki: I mean, you have to have context around it.

Nikki: It's not that it was a great story to have to rewatch.

Nikki: Like, knowing that actually happened in real life for a lot of people is uncomfortable.

Nikki: But I appreciated that.

Nikki: Even in 2024, I had a sense of uncomfortableness.

Nikki: With it, which tells me there were still lessons to be learned from it, which I thought was really powerful.

Nikki: I wouldn't have minded watching it multiple times.

Nikki: I will watch it again.

Nikki: I liked it.

Salina: Yeah.

Salina: I mean, it was just really great.

Salina: I gave it five out of five shoeless hams.

Salina: Thinking about this through a 1962 lens, I think it did exactly the job that it set out to do.

Salina: And in the year of our lord 2024, it was just a good movie watching experience that made me think a lot about where we were then, whether that be the where we are now.

Salina: And I just think that's an important exercise for everyone.

Salina: There you go.

Nikki: So last little bit.

Nikki: I swear we're coming in on.

Nikki: It's been a very long segment, so I swear we're coming into the end.

Nikki: But I did want to talk a little bit more.

Nikki: We've touched on cultural impact.

Nikki: We've touched on the, I don't know, like the culture around it, but I don't know that we've really put a finer point on what this did in culture.

Nikki: So at this point in the show, normally we'd be covering like, 90s things or dated references, southern references.

Nikki: But this whole movie is one big dated southern reference, so that category isn't going to work.

Nikki: So instead, let's talk about cultural impact.

Nikki: And then I found two topics that I wanted to talk about in particular would welcome anything you want to add to that conversation or anything different, Salina.

Nikki: But I wanted to talk about the influence of the movie on social conversations, specifically conversations around racial injustice and inequality and also its educational impact.

Nikki: So in terms of social conversations, I think it's pretty unequivocally agreed that tequila Mockingbird is not only an american classic, but one of the most influential texts that nearly every child schooled in America is exposed to.

Nikki: Several sources that I found noted the book still sells about a million copies a year.

Nikki: In an ABC News tribute that you shared in our resources, Salina, Julia Eichelberger, a professor of southern literature at College of Charleston, said that it was the depiction of the south and, in fact, southern women that really contributed to a lot of the success of the novel.

Nikki: She said a lot of people, particularly in Harper Lee's lifetime, didn't really understand the south and looked down upon it and thought of it as very backward.

Nikki: Her novel gives us a particular point of view of an independent southern woman's voice, and we don't have anything quite like that from other southern women writers.

Nikki: Daniel DiDario, a reporter who wrote Time magazine's review of Lee's book go set.

Nikki: A watchman told ABC News that the story does two things really well.

Nikki: It simultaneously is a picture perfect examination for a moment in time in american race relations, and it tells a timeless father daughter story with characters people can relate to.

Nikki: It's both incredibly informative about a specific set of circumstances and incredibly expansive and relatable to any reader.

Nikki: I think the fact that you clearly walk away with the feeling that Atticus is a hero for defending Tom, you walk away with this feeling that the ending is a tragedy and that the kids are little heroes in training speaks to what tequila Mockingbird offered american society when it was published in the what it continues to offer today.

Nikki: As we're still having these conversations around racial and social injustice, I found a time article that's an excerpt from the enduring legacy of Harper Lee and tequila Mockingbird, which looks at the persisting influence of the story.

Nikki: In that excerpt, they talk about the rape of a white, about how the rape of a white woman by a black man would have been the central drama of life in the Deep south during Lee's childhood, when the book was set, and how mob rule would have been the way that was dealt with.

Nikki: Although the lynch mob is stopped at the courthouse in the story, the excerpt says, between 1882 and 1951, 3437 blacks in the United States died by lynching, 299 of them in Alabama.

Nikki: So in a lot of ways, we've talked about this a little bit.

Nikki: This story is a cross section of real life in Alabama.

Nikki: In the.

Nikki: For it to have come out in the height of the civil rights movement, it was just really a critical examination of unfairness and injustice.

Nikki: And honestly, I would be honored for my children to learn this story in school today.

Nikki: We talked about the parenting conflict I had with them watching it.

Nikki: But I just really think that there's lessons to be learned from looking at this moment in time.

Nikki: Any of this processing with you?

Nikki: Anything you want to add?

Salina: Well, 100%.

Salina: I mean, I think you and I kind of zeroed in on some of the same quotes from the same articles, which I think speaks to the fact that maybe we were zeroing in on the most important things that are relevant to our conversation today.

Salina: I mean, thinking about this being like, a way to talk about race relations in the country, I'm thinking specifically what you mentioned about the.

Salina: Daniel.

Nikki: It's hard, right?

Salina: Yeah.

Nikki: Daniel DiDario.

Nikki: I don't have it anymore.

Salina: Yeah, it sounded good, but it's like using something that we are comfortable with to talk about the relationship between family, to talk about something that is uncomfortable, that's pretty genius for the time, because maybe not everyone in 1960 and 1962 could recognize even the most overt forms of racism, but they could understand the bond between family or the people that you care about most in the world.

Salina: And perhaps hooking these ideas together helped a generation of american understand there just has to be a better way.

Salina: And I think the other thing that sort of stood out for me as I was preparing for this segment is it's almost impossible to talk about cultural impact and not talk about the historical context of the time.

Salina: So a couple of things that stood out to me, when you look at the book year and the movie year, so movie comes out, it's 1962.

Salina: That means the march on Washington would occur the next year.

Salina: In 1963, Civil Rights act.

Salina: In 1964, Jim Crow laws would still be in effect for the next three years.

Salina: The country was five years from loving versus Virginia, which struck down the anti miscellaneous laws.

Salina: That's something we talked about a couple of seasons back.

Salina: We've talked about this to some extent, just remembering how long ago this was.

Salina: Three of my grandparents were 16 and 17 when this book came out.

Salina: They may have been issued it in high school.

Salina: I've had that conversation with them.

Salina: But it's possible, based on what we know about it being circulated so widely in the education system, they're all turning 81 this next year.

Salina: And if you've ever talked to someone that age, then you probably know they see things differently than you because they lived a different life with different circumstances and experiences.

Salina: And it's not always right or wrong.

Salina: It's a different lens.

Nikki: Different.

Salina: It's a different lens altogether.

Nikki: Exactly.

Salina: So I think those are the things that really jump out the most for me.

Nikki: Okay.

Salina: I know we had talked a little bit about pop culture influence.

Salina: Those aren't quite as interesting.

Salina: I don't think it feels a little silly to talk about that on the backs of something so serious to tell you about how Tina Fey dressed up like a ham in 30 Rock.

Salina: Although.

Salina: But you laughed pretty hard at also awesome.

Salina: But we will link to an article that talks about that.

Salina: I will tell you that one thing that hit me as I was thinking about those references is one I didn't find, but I did find the fact that John Grissom was very heavily influenced by this book and the movie was his movie.

Salina: Eventually the movie, his book, a time to kill.

Salina: And if you think about the bones of a time to kill, it kind of is like an inverse of this story.

Salina: It's a little black girl who gets raped and abused by two white men.

Salina: Those two white men are let off in the courtroom, and her father gives them his form of justice.

Salina: And then his father is protected by the white lawyer in town, a kind of new fangled Atticus Finch of sorts.

Salina: And so there is some synergy between these two stories.

Salina: And I know if you went and watched the time to kill right now, you might not think it feels very modern.

Salina: But I can tell you in the 1990s, it did feel pretty modern.

Nikki: I'll share two more things that are.

Nikki: One thing is sort of along those lines, sort of about the lasting influence of the story and then whether it has relevance today.

Nikki: One thing that strikes me is we're having these reactions to this movie through the lenses of a white experience and through the experiences we've had.

Nikki: I did find an interview, I think maybe did you find the same interview with Alice Randall?

Nikki: It was a WBUR interview with Alice Randall, a professor of african american and diaspora studies at Vanderbilt University.

Nikki: This was an interview she gave shortly after the release of Go set a watchman.

Nikki: So the follow up novel, or the precursor novel, depending on where you sit.

Nikki: She talked about the lasting influence of the story.

Nikki: She said several powerful things that I think Carrie feels like in some ways more weight than my thoughts, given her background and expertise in this field.

Nikki: So I wanted to share a few of them.

Nikki: She said, it explains to readers who don't understand it why black people are afraid of the criminal justice system, because we have not gotten historically justice in that system.

Nikki: She also said, I think it's an elemental book, and I think it's precisely because it dares speak the truth that the problem in the south is not the problem with black people.

Nikki: It's the problem with white people.

Nikki: And it's coming from a white author's perspective, which we talked about a little bit.

Nikki: She also talked about the different lenses through which her student readers have experienced the book.

Nikki: So she says, for example, many of my students who have a european american background find this to be the text where they became interested in black culture, where they became interested in social justice.

Nikki: Many of my students who are black, who identify as black Americans, they were fearful for Tom.

Nikki: So it's a very complex experience here, depending on who you identify with.

Nikki: If you identify with Scout and Atticus, reading the book is an act of liberation.

Nikki: If you identify with Tom Robinson, you're engaging with the idea that black men are dangerous, over sexed animals.

Nikki: You're identifying with the idea that black men are afflicted.

Nikki: He actually has one of his arms withered, that they're impotent.

Nikki: Less than and even when impotent and less than they are perceived as being powerful and dangerous.

Nikki: So that's a very complicated series of engagements for young black readers.

Nikki: So, again, that's why I speak to the lens with which you're watching.

Nikki: It is really important.

Nikki: So, finally, Randall was asked if to kill a Mockingbird still has relevance today.

Nikki: She said, 100%.

Nikki: And her rationale speaks so clearly to what I think I experienced watching this for the first time, or what I'm pretty sure is the first time in 2024.

Nikki: She said, I think there's no better time to turn back to the original book.

Nikki: I think that the question that Harper Lee raises needs to be raised again, and that is, how is white America raising their children?

Nikki: Scout is the example of the kind of moral insight a child should be raised to have.

Nikki: And just like an Elizabeth Bennett character in Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennett is much better than her world.

Nikki: Scout is much better than her world.

Nikki: Harper Lee centers herself on the question, why are we making an enemy of this particular other, of our neighbor?

Nikki: And once we make this neighbor, this enemy that we think is violent and dangerous, how far will we go?

Nikki: And she's saying, we will go as far as to kill him.

Nikki: And she's saying that it is absolutely.

Nikki: It's simply wrong and that we are required to see that.

Nikki: So how cool is it that a piece of literature that still sells a million copies today, but is this old, has this much influence and impact?

Nikki: That's pretty cool, right?

Salina: It's pretty amazing.

Salina: Especially if you go and look at the.

Salina: Someone may have gone down a rabbit hole to look at the most popular books in the last 24 years because I was just trying to find a way to, like, has there been anything on this scale?

Salina: Yeah.

Salina: And there's just nothing.

Salina: Some of it just doesn't reach that educational piece that you get from this, that deeper reading and so many things that you can draw from this book, like 50 Shades of Gray ain't going to do it.

Salina: Sorry.

Salina: Harry Potter.

Salina: Yeah, Harry Potter is definitely in there.

Salina: And I do think there's things that you can learn about acceptance and things.

Nikki: But it's kind of.

Salina: Well, that message has gotten a little muddy.

Nikki: Focus on something for too long.

Nikki: It always gets a little gross look to the text.

Salina: Here's the thing.

Salina: You start looking at anybody too closely, and that shine is just going to.

Nikki: Perfect.

Salina: Yeah.

Salina: The Da Vinci codes, all of those things that, you know, that just about every person has read, it just doesn't rise to the level of this.

Salina: There is no comparison, but you too can go down a rabbit hole just.

Nikki: In case you want to.

Nikki: I can't wait.

Nikki: I can't wait.

Nikki: But first, I'd love everyone to go down a rabbit hole of following along, engaging with us on social media and through our website, Instagram and Facebook at Sweet and tv TikTok at sweettvpod.

Nikki: Our YouTube is at sweettv 7371 and our email address is sweettvpod@gmail.com.

Nikki: You can find us online@www.sweettv.com.

Nikki: There's a tab on that page about supporting us if you want to find ways to support the show.

Nikki: Alternatively, you can tell your family and friends about us and rate and review wherever you listen to the podcast.

Nikki: This was a much longer segment than I intended, Salina, but it was, in fact just an extra sugar.

Nikki: We have a full regular episode coming next week.

Nikki: We're going to getting close to rounding out season five of designing women.

Nikki: Next week will be episode 21, who ha.

Nikki: So thank you for tuning in to this week's extra sugar.


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