In this week’s episode of Past Present, Natalia, Niki, and Neil debate the place of MS-13 in the history of street gangs, R. Kelly’s sex cult, and the controversy over the first woman actor to play Doctor Who.
In a speech in Suffolk County, NY, Donald Trump promised to eradicate MS-13, a street gang active throughout the U.S. and Central America. Natalia shared the Daily Mail’s interview with a former MS-13 member that emphasized the gang’s origins as a non-threatening social organization. Natalia commented on a New York Times profile of MS-13 in El Salvador showed it to be a violent but poor organization.
In a piece for BuzzFeed, the music critic Jim DeRogatis exposed the hip-hop artist R. Kelly is holding women against their will in a “sex cult.” Neil discussed how academics had replaced the word “cult” with the term “new religious movement,” but wondered how best to describe R. Kelly’s situation. Natalia recommended Tricia Rose’s books for understanding misogyny in hip hop.
Jodie Whitaker has been named the 13th Dr. Who, and the first woman to occupy the role. We discussed the famed BBC series and what Whitaker’s selection means for the history of women in science fiction.
What’s Making History
- Natalia discussed Taffy Broddeser-Akner’s New York Times Magazine article, “Losing It in the Anti-Dieting Age.”
- Neil commented on news that Michiko Kakutani will be stepping down as chief book critic for the New York Times. Neil also commented on Kakutani’s review of Volker Ullrich’s biography of Hitler.
- Niki talked about Benjamin Coates’ Washington Post essay, “How a WWI-Era Law Set the Stage for the Trump-Russia Controversy.”