Sam PollardArmchair Expert with Dax Shepard
- 1,011 views
- 26 Mar 2021
Sam Pollard is an Emmy Award-winning and Oscar-nominated director and producer. Sam joins the Armchair Expert to discuss growing up in Harlem in the 50s, his path into becoming a film editor, and working with Spike Lee. Sam talks about his new film MLK/FBI: the red scare, non-monogamous activity, and racism.
Welcome, welcome, I'm an armchair expert, Dan Rather. I'm joined by Maximum You're Doing or your voice. Did you like it?
I liked it because it was just slightly off your right.
I noticed, in fact, if you were listening to it, you're like, am I listen to this at 90 percent or 110.
It's not like it was 200 percent or 50 cent, if you want to say that.
So today in our Black Voices series, we have Sam Pollard, who I fucking love. We started out too much. I'm sure you had to cut a bunch of it out. But he's an editor. He's an incredible editor.
And I love talking to editors because the editor.
Yeah, movie and documentary. Maybe this done some TV, but the editor is such an unsung hero in the movie making process.
They are so creative. I don't think people realize that.
But Sam is an Emmy Award winning an Oscar nominated director and producer, and he is a really great documentary that I saw called MLK FBI, which is this incredible story of the FBI's involvement with Dr. Martin Luther King and all the crazy things that happen with them trying to sabotage him. So it's a great conversation. I really enjoyed it. And I think he will, too. So please enjoy Sam Pollard.
And should be noted, I am missing from this episode. You are mad at me.
I was not traveling. I was traveling. And so I missed this episode. But because I miss it, we do have a little not so much fact check. But we'll check in PostScript. Yes. With me, because I had some to sense I wanted to throw in there. Yeah.
You didn't feel like I represented. You say maybe in the convo. So stick around for that.
We support these businesses.
We'd like to take some ad space to highlight some black owned businesses. What do you want to talk about today?
Say cheese. Say cheese is a specialty cheese shop. I had this the other day. You did? Yes. This is a cheese shop in Los Angeles. I got a turkey sandwich from there. That was so good.
Yeah, gourmet sandwiches and salads for over 36 years.
Say cheese as dedicate yourself to bringing the community of Silverlake a little bit of old world charm. They got the finest cheeses, chocolate champagnes and much, much more assembled in one convenient location. So to learn more, visit, say, cheese, Los Angeles, dotcom that say cheese, Los Angeles Dotcom and I can attest very, very tasty.
Now, see, that's kind of local to Los Angeles. Yeah. Mine is worldwide. There's a new app called The Expert. It is a designer app. So all these really, really, really awesome interior designers are on there. And you can book a consultation with them. You can book like an hour and have them talk about your living room or your kitchen or whatever, and they give you ideas and thoughts. And I mean, this is like so amazing.
Yeah. And it's really expensive. And these are a little bit cheaper. So the expert is not black owned, but there's a designer on there, Joy Moler, and she is so good. I've been scouring all her stuff. She's like, you know, been highlighted in Architectural Digest. She's awesome. Anyway, so if you're looking to do some design in your house, go to the expert and get a consultation with Joy Greatorex. He's not sure.
Hello, how are you? I'm good, how are you, sir? Pretty good. Are you in New York and New York? In the village on Bleecker Street?
Oh, baby. My favorite piece is Bleecker Street Pizza. What do you think about it? Give it a shot. Maybe I will. Now, you grew up in Harlem, East Harlem.
Spanish Harlem was called in the 60s and the 50s say, oh, I don't know, a long time. Yeah, well, first of all, you look fantastic. But secondly, holy smokes, have you seen that city cycle through so many periods, huh? Yeah.
You know, I've seen a lot being born and raised in New York City somehow. And you see these things change kind of just goes right by until someone says to you, boy, the city sure has changed a lot. You know, the one place that really seems very different from me is when I was a young man, none of us would go beyond house to street that into became Soho or Tribeca, because then there it was pretty rough back then.
But now it's not rough anymore. Yeah. Good luck finding an apartment over there. Yeah, expensive.
Spencer My single mother would take us three children to New York from Detroit when we were kids in the eighties and Times Square was a ton of nudie bars and a ton of shows. And I mean, even in my lifetime, I have many times been walking through Manhattan and just gone, wow, this place turned into like a beautiful European city. Somehow while I've been here, it's changed a lot.
The first plane ride ever took was to Detroit. Oh really? Nineteen sixty eight, I guess the year after those rebellions. Those riots.
Yeah. We had the National Guard down there. Yeah. I had a lot of family in Detroit and where they originally from.
Kentucky. Tennessee. Ah oh Mississippi. Oh Mississippi and Georgia.
OK, I've recently become fascinated with the migration routes and my family came from Mississippi but not from the Delta part. They came from the western part of Mississippi and then they went from that part of Mississippi to Milwaukee, St. Louis, New York and Detroit.
So what was your path into becoming an editor? Because I can't imagine you met a lot of your neighbors in Spanish Harlem in the fifties and sixties that were working film editor. So where did you get the idea and how did you get into it?
I didn't mean anybody was in the film business, of course, that I was going to Baruch College, the city university system, in nineteen seventy and seventy one. And I had the goal that I want to be a businessman. I want to really be a businessman.
But as I was going into my junior year, I was feeling pretty kind of disgruntled with these classes, these statistics classes and these classes. So one day I just went across the street to see one of my counselors, this African-American lady, and I said, I'm really feeling very discouraged and I'm looking for some sort of internship, some after school internship to do so. She asked me, she said, what are your interest? And I said to her, well, I love reading books.
I grew up reading all these classic books from Richard Wright to Hemingway to Zora Neale Hurston, Cotton and Porter. And I said, I grew up watching a lot of old movies on television, you know, weekly. I would get the weekly TV guide and go through with a pen and circle movies I want to see. And they used to be in in New York City, there was a Channel Nine was called W o r and they had bought the RKO Studios catalog.
Oh, wow. And they would show one movie five days a week all day. Oh. How you could see from that catalog you could see King Kong Gunga Din of the past, the big steal, anything that was done by RKO would Mitchum and Randolph Scott Robert Ryan. So I became a real movie buff. I really just watched these old movies and so I just listened to my counselor. So she said this this program is this workshop that had been started by the community, the public television station in nineteen sixty eight after Dr.
King's assassination, to get more people of color behind the scenes in the editing room, shooting, producing, writing scripts, taking sound. She said it was a one year program. It was two nights a week from six to ten. IT professionals would come in and teach you the business and she asked me if I was interested in trying to sign up for the program. And honestly, I said no. Oh really? I said I like watching movies, but I don't really care about how they make them.
Right, right. Let's add for people born only in the era of avid, a very labor intensive and tedious process for editing back then.
I mean, I didn't even know what it was, the height of tedium. No one frame at a time. I had no idea.
But she was pretty persuasive. So she got me to go have an interview and I got accepted to the program. And so that one year this we would do we would have a professional come in. Tuesday night and teaches the business, then we go out and shoot little films, you have to do the post-production. And the thing I gravitated to because I was pretty shy back then, I didn't talk a lot. I didn't feel comfortable on sets. But when you put me in the editing room on the first little thing we had to put together, I was given the job as the editor.
So I put the piece together with the splicer in the film 16 millimeter.
And when we had to screen our first cuts, my splices were so bad that I said our ears throb like a lady who ran the programs, who spliced Splice that film.
I that was me, but I really felt comfortable with the editing because no one could see me make a mistake. If I made a mistake, I couldn't change it. Nobody could see if I fixed it. So by the end of the program I decided I was interested in. I always say that when I fell in love with editing, a light bulb turned on. And this was the first time I ever felt creative and right. Really felt creative.
Now I have to imagine the lift on a documentary is so much more intense because at least with a film, they've gone out and they've shot a script. You have the script in front of you. Ostensibly, you're going to at least assemble it to mirror that script. Then you're going watching a well, this doesn't work and then start shaping. But at least you have finite film in an architecture that you start with. Yeah, walk me through a dark.
I mean, you get a wheelbarrow full of meteorite and they go find something, usually a documentary producer, director.
This is their first evening. They'll go out, they'll have a great idea. They'll get the money to shoot material, do interviews or shoot verité footage. And they'll usually come to the room and say, I got this great idea about cats. I love cats. Here's this book about cats called Metropolitan Cats. I've done all these audio interviews with people and showed them pictures in the books about cats. Let's make a film from it. And quite honestly, you know that I prefer that.
I've always preferred that the experience of shaping films right. From like just having this footage and figuring out the story, that was one of the reasons that I became so enamored with editing, because early in my career I didn't have to go out in the field. I didn't have to ask questions, I didn't have to shoot anything. I could sit in the editing room and become the person who helped shape the story. It was like I was a director in the editing room.
Yeah, the process. So I really love that until I got to the point that my ego said, I want to get out there now and do it, you know, it's like, of course.
Well, yeah, because you do become a master of knowing, I think have I've learned how to direct is fucking yourself getting into the editing room, figuring out the hard way what you need to get next time.
So it's like you got to learn from all those mistakes of all those directors you probably ever worked with. Right. So you're damn good list of what to avoid when you go out there and make yours.
You try, you know, but you still make mistakes.
It's impossible not to write. It's it's embarrassing. You still make mistakes. But, you know, after being an editor for about 40 years, I said it was time for me now to see how I could make my own mistakes, make my own stories, you know.
Yeah. How do you come to start working with Spike Lee? Because you've obviously had this beautiful relationship with him, I guess similar to like, you know, Scorsese in his editor or, you know, there's all these famous pairings that, again, I find it so telling of the role of the editor, the kind of unsung heroes that you see these partnerships formed between directors and their editors. And they may work with a million writers or actors, but that seems to be a really special relationship.
This is what happened.
I had started producing on this series Eyes on the Prize up in Boston in nineteen eighty seven, nineteen eighty eight, I was producing and directing two shows. I had done my shooting. I was in the editing process. I had another woman named Betty Ceccarelli editing for me and my co producer, co-director Sheila Beñat. And I was living in the Back Bay section of Boston and my sons were with me at the time. My son Jason was ten at the time and my other son Jordan, who was two or three.
And we're in the apartment one day and the phone rings and Jason picks up the phone and he says, Dad, Spike Lee's on the phone. I had just seen with my wife do the right thing, oh, weeks before the movie. And I had said, man, this guy this guy is really some fascinating director. So when Jason said Dennis Spike Lee on the phone, I quickly said, Jason, stop pulling my leg. And it's like there's no meat from anybody.
Right? And he said, not that I'm serious is Spike. So I get on the phone and Spike says his production manager, who is a friend of mine, had suggested he call me because he's was getting ready to do better blues. And Barry Brown, who had edited school days, wasn't going to be available because he was directing his first feature. So he had told my buddy had told Spike I was a real jazz fan and this would be a good film for him to think about hiring me.
So he said, was I available and I told him that wasn't free. I said, I'm in the middle of finishing this documentary series and I really appreciate the call, but thank you.
But no, thank you. Oh, wow. So I hung up. He's so horny for you now.
Whatever is interesting, it quadrupled when you said that. Yeah.
So to say a few months later, I get another call from him and this other filmmaker, buddy of mine, the mentor, also a gentleman they've seen Clybourn had done a documentary about the making of Do the Right Thing. And he mentioned Spike, my name also. He said, I had a debate with Sam Pollard and he's a good editor and he really loves jazz. You should really hire him. So right before Labor Day, Spike calls me again.
I just like I'm still I'm still not free. I'm sorry, but he said, you know, I'm going to be up in the Boston area. I'm Labor Day. Why don't we get together? And then he says, this is how life is, man. He said, I'm going to be at the Vineyard in Oak Bluffs. Now, coincidentally, I was going notebook's. Oh, is it coincidentally?
No, it was coincidence. OK, ok, OK.
And so he said, oh, let's meet this coffee shop in downtown Oak Bluffs. So we spent. At the most 40 minutes in this coffee shop, but I don't think he did much talking. OK, OK, OK. By the end of that 40 minutes, I had talked myself into taking the job.
Oh, that's wonderful. This is what you can't meet people. I tell my agent like someone's always me. I don't know. I don't no I don't want to do anything. We'll just meet the person. No, no. I know what happens when you meet somebody.
That's right. Oh, wow. And you've done how many movies together? Eight or something.
We did better blues, Jungle Fever, Clockers Girl six bamboozle four little girls when the levees broke. If God is willing and the creek don't rise 8:00. And then I worked on I did some editing on Inside Man and in twenty fifth hour.
So 10 films as a lot of time in a room. That's a lot of time. That's years in a room.
Yeah, but he's a very unusual guy. He's been with directors who are very firm in how they see things and they don't have to sit with you all the time to tell you exactly what they want. Yeah. Yeah, that's how he is. That's nice because he's not much of a talker. I know he's a talker on the sidelines at next games and very much.
Yeah. But in the end, you know, he's he knows exactly what he likes and he doesn't like it. He knows I tell you he doesn't like it and you know what to do to change it. You know, I always say after I cut jungle fever, I cut juice. Ernest Dickerson with Tupac Shakur and me and there is talk more. And that fell on and I'm talking to myself.
Wow, wow. Yeah. Know.
And then the old days, we used to take those big 35 millimeter reels to screenings. All the big fear was, you know, your tracks would break or you really would break because. Right. The thirty five picture and then we do a mix down of a track of the track and there'd be two separate things. We scream over the blues in Chicago and halfway through the screening the track broke. Oh jeez.
I run up to the projection room and figure out how to stick it back up by the picture. That was thirty five millimeters, rolling down the picture, rolling down the sound, telling the projectionist on the make this place here and this place is the sound line up here hopefully will be in sync.
Oh oh my gosh. This dress. Oh yeah. When it was filmed was much more stressful.
All right, let's talk MLK, FBI, which I watched and I loved. Thank you. Which you directed and wrote and edited. It's a wild story. It's a wild story. And a lot of ways I think and I think you did a really good job at being fair, as you could do most parties involved. And what I mean by that is here's what I think people know in general, right, that Martin Luther King had been under surveillance from the FBI.
I think that's kind of common knowledge.
Yeah, but I don't know if what's common knowledge is how that ever got justified. What was the FBI's big motivation, Dr. Martin Luther King's awareness of it or lack of awareness of it? All that stuff is really fascinating.
It brings up some really profound questions, I think, with some current issues that we have that are interesting.
But just first and foremost, maybe tell us about what the FBI's obsession was at that moment in time. Well, one of the major obsessions they find was the concern about communism taking over America. That was a big thing with Hoover and the FBI back in the late 40s and 50s with the Cold War of the Soviet Union. That was major. I mean, every rock there overturned was about fighting communists, the Rosenbergs, everything. Anybody who they felt had any kind of previous affiliation with communism.
As we know with the blacklist in Hollywood, it was like you were in deep trouble if you were John Garfield or if you name names like Elia Kazan. It was pretty intense, pretty intense.
Even the Manhattan Project, you had scientists being as Robert Oppenheimer. Yeah, Oppenheimer was under great scrutiny. I guess, first and foremost, I would want people to understand what the red panic was. It was really huge and it was ubiquitous and people thought about it nonstop. And we were involved in all these different wars, either by proxy or actively.
It was looking like Russia might take over the whole world.
That was the feeling. That was the feeling. So anyone that they felt had the slightest connection with communist infiltrators or people had been fellow travelers they were going to monitor. And the other thing that really, quite honestly, they were obsessed, Hoover, was the fact that they let's say with the Montgomery bus boycott. Fifty five, fifty six, Dr. King became a known quantity and start to really galvanize communities in the South primarily to fight for equal justice for James Hoover.
From my perspective, it was like, oh, my God, these black people no longer want to be second class citizens. What's the problem? They have their own communities, so they can't drink at the same water fountain. So they can't go into a restaurant and sit down. And it's the big issue. So all of a sudden the notion of American democracy is going to change scared the bejesus out of Hoover. So. Right. King's fame started to grow.
His ascendancy started to really grow. He became known as Hoover says he was concerned about the rise of a black messiah. Yeah, someone who was going to lead black people to the promised land.
This is what I think is so interesting about the story told is if this really heightened, heightened fear, I would even say existential crisis.
And now you live in racism and we've seen bias in you. Even the fact that Jagga Hoover's from the south in the 20s or whatever.
You know, I was shocked to learn in your film that that motherfucker was the head of the FBI for like forty five years or something astronomical, like. That's right.
Over forty years.
That is bonkers from when Washington was nothing to it's the center of power. So that in itself is like, wow, that's a unique scenario.
That's why he was able to amass such power. He has such a level of power. I mean, as everyone knows now, Jake, who had files and everybody, you could be Lyndon Baines Johnson, you could be Adlai Stevenson, you could be Martin Luther King, you could be larger Muhammad. He had files on everybody. He knew where all the bodies were buried.
Yes. One hundred percent. Yeah. Being around for forty five years. Being privity, people's secrets put him in the craziest intersection of power and had the instrument at his disposal. I would hope he would never allow someone to become that. It's almost Russian in nature, to be honest.
Well, it is. It's like it's like Putin. It is. It's so Putin ask. Yeah.
There were no measures in place like they are now. They say you can't be a director of the FBI for over 40 years. That would never happen now for four and a half decades. Yeah, never happen.
But I think the tipping point for Hoover, William Sullivan, who was one of his right hand men, was the fact after that March on Washington speech, Dr. King had such impacts with the I Have a Dream speech. I think that was when Hoover said, oh, my God, we're in trouble. We got to do something and think about this. Right before that, he has started wiretapping came and he got the sign off of Bobby Kennedy. And we need to remember that this is not the Bobby Kennedy that people love and revere from 67 68.
This is the Bobby Kennedy that worked with Roy Cohn in the late 50s. He was the attorney general for his brother. And they weren't exactly like pro communists in the Kennedy administration. Right.
They, too, are definitely succumbing to maybe it's not a 10 like some of the other folks, but they're definitely operating out of seven, which is it was a pretty crazy Cold War and we narrowly won it. So it's not to belittle the stakes of what that battle was. I thought it was interesting to find out. Yeah. Robert Kennedy and JFK, who both ostensibly really liked Dr. King, initially pulled him aside and they said you got to stop associating with certain people that are seen as involved in the Communist Party because that's where all the leverage that Jigga Hoover needs to be all over you.
That's exactly right. When Hoover started initially wiretapping Dr. King was because of Dr. King's close personal relationship with Stanley Levinson, who had been a member of the Communist Party, but had said he had left the Communist Party and he was a white Jewish lawyer and adviser.
Right. He was an adviser. So that was why they initially signed off on the wiretap. And then when right before the march on Washington, Dr. King was invited to the White House by Bobby Kennedy and JFK. And they said to him, you should disassociate yourself from Stanley Levinson, Bayard Rustin and anybody in your organization who might have had past communist affiliations. Now, quite honestly, King never really severed his relationship with Stanley Levinson, even though he said he was going to do that.
Bobby, he never really did.
Right. And the wiretaps proved that. And they kind of egg on their face to jigger Hoover because he knew that. Exactly.
But the thing that became the smoking gun for Hoover was, as they were wiretapping King and his associates like Clarence Jones and the young and the levinsohn, they learned of his of Dr. King's extramarital affairs. Yeah. And when they learned about that, that's when Hoover said this will hopefully destroy and discredit Dr. King's supposed black messiah status.
That was to go destroy his reputation. Stay tuned for more armchair expert, if you dare.
We are supported by CarMax.
Learn about the new love your car guarantee from CarMax at CarMax Dotcom. There is nothing quite like the joy of finding the right car. You know it when you feel it, but that takes time. You need more than just a twenty minute test drive around the block. Well, with the new Love Your Car guarantee from CarMax, you can take your time to get to know your new car so you can be sure it's the right car for you. Starting with a twenty four hour test drive at CarMax.
You can take it home and try it out, but in the car seats, get the dog and go drive to work, to school, into the grocery store before you buy. And hey, make sure it fits in your garage and your lifestyle. And if it feels like true love, you can buy with confidence because CarMax has you covered with a 30 day money back guarantee, you can take a full month and up to fifteen hundred miles to love it or return it for a full refund.
So don't buy your next car. Love your next car at CarMax. Learn more about the new love your car guarantee from CarMax at CarMax Dotcom.
We are supported by blue to blue. China is making waves and bringing more confidence to the bedroom by offering chewable tablets that can help men stay stronger and longer lasting in the erection department. Blue Chu is a unique online service that delivers the same active ingredients as Viagra and Cialis, but in chewable form at a fraction of the cost. Blue is an online prescription service, so no visits to the doctor's office, no awkward conversations and no waiting in line at the pharmacy.
And it ships right to your door in a discreet package. The process is simple. Sign up at Blue True.com, consult with one of their licensed medical providers, and once you're approved, you'll receive your prescription within days. The best part is. All done online, Bluejuice licensed medical providers work with you to find the right ingredients and strength for your prescription. Bluejuice tablets are made in the USA and they prepare and ship Durex, so it's cheaper than a pharmacy.
So if you could benefit from extra confidence when it's time to perform, visit Blue True.com for more details on important safety information. And look, we've received a special deal for armchairs. Try blue choo free. When you use promo code decks at checkout, just pay five dollars shipping. That's blue choo promo codes to receive your first month free. And we thank Blue Choo for sponsoring the podcast.
OK, and now here's another fascinating intersection, so you've got that Red Scare now you've got non monogamous activities, a fear of a black messiah, and then J. Edgar Hoover's own personal relationship with sexuality, his own personal fear of black men being sexual, the fear that black men would rape more, that they couldn't control their desires. So then again, the breed of racism, plus these tapes he has now that the fire is just like it's just gaining oxygen at this point.
And then to just really piss off J.
Edgar Hoover in the midst of all this, he wins the Nobel Peace Prize right at like 30 for something that had to really go change.
Oh, he must have just thought this fucking hypocrite. This is baloney.
He you know, that's why I called him the most notorious liar. That's why he came up with that, because as far as he was concerned, Dr. King was a hypocrite. He's preaching all of these non-violent things. He's a minister here. He is having this double life, which you think about. Jackson's is fascinating, knowing that Hoover had his own double life.
OK, so here's what's really fascinating, because I'll tell you that the real message I got from your film and what I get out of my own head about all morning was and in fact, I had to go look up Jaggu Hoover because I was like, I heard he crossdressing, you know, so that's what they called crossdressing back then.
And upon researching that, in order to talk to you, that is not substantiated in any way.
It's a rumor. It may or may not be true, but there is no evidence of it. But it is one of the most well-known rumors in the Democratic Party, perpetuated a lot of rumors about him that he was either gay because he was living as a bachelor his whole career or that this one woman had seen him cross-dressing.
The point is, this is the thing about your movie that I am secondarily most rattled by. Obviously, the racism and the history of it is terrible. But I think if all of this happened in twenty twenty one, Dr. King would have actually been silenced. I think the society we live in currently, had J. Edgar Hoover been able to get tapes out into pass them to the right people and to say some of these women, maybe there was a power imbalance or whatever the thing would have been.
I think that in today's current council culture, he might not have weathered that. And that is a very terrifying thought to me, because whatever he did sexually, in my opinion, had nothing to do with his non-violent approach and the movement he led and civil rights. They're not even related. They don't even ever need to be talked about. But I do fear. Oh, I'm sorry, I'm on my pedestal, I think today someone is brilliant and revered and loved is Dr.
King could have been taken out. Well, we live in a society where that can happen, that we see it every day now, we see it every day, people who had a certain sort of prominence and accolades can be taken down. We saw it happen without Frankin. Uh huh. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. You see. Good goodbye. You see happen all the time. The fascinating thing, though, think about it this way.
The banks, all this shit that came out of Donald J. Trump and his four years in office never took him down. No, never took him down. Now, question is, why not?
Well, so here's what I was challenging myself to do this morning. So at first I just recognized, like, wow, man, I think we would have denied ourselves a Dr. King currently. I think we would have accidentally lost one in a very short sighted way.
But then I had to challenge myself and think, I don't know, though, if they have Mitch McConnell right. If they got video of Mitch McConnell at Restroom's, at travel centers with dudes hooking up and that shit exists and he's anti-gay, I want that out.
So I had to admit that when they're my enemies, I might have a different opinion of this stuff coming now and then I was forced to think, oh, yeah, the Jake Hoover thing. I love spreading that.
That is me doing the same thing. Right. I'm still trying to weaponize someone's private life against what they did professionally.
And I think we're all really susceptible to it. It's just whether we love the person or not. That's right.
But you got to be mindful that you don't want to say, I want to weaponize that against Mitch McConnell. I don't recognize this. Dr. King. Right. It's complicated. Yeah.
So it's curious about all this. Is that the tapes, as again, I learned in your film, MLK, FBI, all these tapes that have been recorded and ultimately were put somewhere per a judge's orders, they all exist and they will come out in twenty, twenty seven. And therein lies like a new interesting chapter.
Here's the thing to think about. What will be the status of those tapes if they are released? First of all, will the FBI only have doctored and edited the tapes the way they want you to hear them? If that's the case, then we should question the release of those tapes. Uh, if they were, let's say, honest enough to say we want to release all the unedited tapes. Uh huh. Where there was not only supposedly the scandalous behavior, Dr.
King, but the conversations may have had with his associates like Abernathy and Young or Clarence Jones about the strategies they were undertaking, certain cities they were in, like in Albany or Birmingham, should that be released. So I think someone some law professor, some history professor to challenge the government to understand what kind of tapes are being released. If it's just the end of the tapes, I would say don't release them. Interesting. That's my take. Yeah.
Brings up a really, really good philosophical question.
Right. Because in general, I am of the opinion that all emphasis should be seen by the citizens. Right.
So if it exists, I want to know that's in general how I feel about classified stuff that gets declassified.
Like we got to have a real understanding of what this government does. And this right. Herein lies the proof.
And I acknowledge that there will be some cadre of people who are still pissed that this nice guy man without ever swinging a punch got the Civil Rights Act passed like the people still have a chip on their shoulder about that. And they will try to weaponize and dig up and defame and bastardise and tried to call into question any great thing he ever did.
So that has to be weighed against it.
I suppose you hit it right on the head. They will always be people who think that Dr. King was an aberration. How dare this man challenged the democracy that we grew up in and will have no respect for him at all. So to me, it goes back to the question that if I was a history professor, a law professor, if I was the King family, I would not release those tapes. And wanting to know what's on those tapes, if they're going to be released, is obviously transcripts of everything they did.
So that would be my take.
There's another way I thought about this. OK, so minimally they'll be embarrassing. That's pretty much acknowledged. Now they'll be embarrassing. You know, he's he was involved with different sexual activities with people that aren't his wife. That's embarrassing. And so I think at some point we have to have a reckoning, which is, yeah, man, the best human beings that have ever walked on this planet or complicated, they had behavior they regretted or were embarrassed about.
I don't know his position.
Maybe he was not embarrassed about any of those things, but minimally, because a lot of havoc with he and his wife. But I guess what I want to say is, are we going to continue to try to live this fantasy where we hide everything we do? And then just because that's the system, then we're just taking down all these people because we're demanding perfection? Or do we use him yet again as a symbol to break another thing, which is like, fucking stop it, we're all flawed.
A non flawed human does not sit among you. Look at this example.
This is one of the greatest humans we've ever had on planet Earth. And he had some flaws. So that should be the expectation. Is there room for that to be the product of this?
Well, they should be. They should be that attitude. But we live in a country now where everything seems to be black and white. Yeah, there's no shades of gray. It's sort of frightening that we live in a country like that now, that people just can't seem to have shades of gray. But I think that should be the attitude. He was a great man, but like any human being, he had his flaws.
Yeah, he did more than any other man ever in the march to civil rights, and he fucked a lot.
OK, so there you go. There's your whole picture of this guy on.
Except that. Yeah.
What are your thoughts on the fact that the FBI was actively surveilling him when he was murdered in Memphis at the hotel? So, I mean, they're literally they're watching the hotel. What do we make of that?
Is my analysis of it as one of the subjects in the film checkboxes. Any time Dr. King went to another city, the FBI had agents out there 24/7 surveilling him, watching and observing him, bugging his hotel rooms. The question I think we all have to ask ourselves with that kind of intense surveillance, how is the FBI not aware of a supposed lone gunman? How is the FBI not aware of a James Earl Ray? So that brings the next question where they are complicit, right, in Dr.
King's assassination, or did they turn a blind eye to it knowing that it would happen? Yeah. The thing to remember, too, about the FBI, when you look at their history within the civil rights movement, they always came late to the table when Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman were killed in Mississippi. The FBI had to be challenged to step up to investigate the murders. There were some lynchings in 1946 and most for Georgia for these four black people.
The FBI had to be challenged to come to the table. The FBI never was proactive in the fight for civil rights. I mean, that was not Hoover's agenda. Yeah. He was so concerned about first communism, then the possible rise of a black messiah, not only with Dr. King, but with Malcolm X, Elijah Muhammad, Fred Hampton, the Black Panther Party. He was so fixated on the fact that these groups, these people, these individuals, he felt were going to change his perception that he had grown up with in terms of what it meant to be an American.
I mean, quite honestly, that's the perception I grew up with. Sure. Yeah. Yeah. In the 60s, I was a big fan of the FBI. Yeah. And I didn't know any different. I loved watching these movies with James Cagney, man with Jimmy Stewart, the FBI story. The FBI were the good guys.
Well, yeah. Again, we're all swimming in the water and it's not like years later we look back and all that was a little OK. So, wow, they used to say that on late night talk shows all the time. OK, that's that's troubling. That's my latest thing. I keep noticing like, wow, they really were rough on women just 15 years ago on these talks.
That's right. That's right. Different world.
You know, back to what a thorn in Edgar's side, Dr. King was like. The beauty of his success, I think, is. He did everything that Hoover was afraid of, but he did it in a way that cannot be done, that to me is the best suckerpunch of at all. So this is a country that's protecting the patriarchy. It's protecting the white supremacy. It's protecting all these things. And if we hold these institutions and we have the guns and we have the money, we have the power we can control in the fact that it happened with none of the things that make us feel safe isn't a really nice fuck you.
There's a real poetry to that. Like I think had let's say the Black Panthers succeeded in civil rights through armed conflict. I think that would feel better for J. Edgar Hoover than what happened.
I mean, if this past week in TCN had gone on television, remember the movie? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Ben Kingsley and watching that movie and I keep watching that movie every time it comes on. The strategy that Gandhi implemented, the same strategy that Dr. King implemented, it was using a nonviolent force against those who were expecting you to retaliate with force. Yeah. And it got to a point where you said, I can't beat those who aren't going to really fight back in the way we want them to fight back.
Yes, that was Dr. King's strategy. That's why he was so impactful.
Yeah, these things are always so fascinating and it's why it's so relevant to continue to watch history. And you do it in such an entertaining way. It's not like a task to learn about this. Your film is so fun and well paced.
But it's good because you start seeing, like, all this stuff, just all of these tactics, they're still here. So the BLM stuff a lot of the criticism of the BLM stuff is that there's some socialist undercurrent to it and we fear socialism greatly. So you see the whole thing getting churned up again.
Same thing, same thing, the same thing. I mean, what's really fascinating and sometimes frightening was like in the film when the woman on the television shows asked Dr. King, don't you feel your peaceful protests are causing riots in the cities? Or you got to do is flash forward to last summer when Trump's on the stump with some other politician from the right on television saying, aren't these black lives matter protests causing the rise in the city? Yeah, the same thing comes out of the country in twenty twenty.
If you elect some socialist Democrat, they can't destroy our suburbs. To me, the biggest joke for this past year, I hear anybody say Joe Biden is a socialist. I chuckled. Every time I see you guys, kid, he's a middle of the road guy.
One hundred percent. Yeah. He wants a thriving capitalist society. There's no two ways about it. It's really crazy to see how. Parallel it is, and how much it does strike up the fear that just gets it going, and then now this fear of socialism got to face BLM. Wait, that's not the face of BLM. That's not their cause now. Oh, well, I loved your film and really enjoyed talking to you, Sam.
I hope everyone checks it out. Where can people watch MLK? FBI can watch you.
It's playing in theaters now. That opening around the country. Oh, wonderful. It's also streaming everywhere. Amazon, YouTube and the place places streaming. You can stream it on. OK, great.
So everyone should stream MLK, FBI. It's a fascinating history of that relationship. And I want you prepared in case these tapes do come out. And you've got a primer to how to digest them. Right.
So great meeting you, Sam. Good luck with the movie. All right. Take care.
But stay tuned for more armchair expert, if you dare.
We are supported by Toshie. The future of toilet team has arrived. OK, it's technically been here around for centuries, but hideously expensive, costing thousands. Now the brand new Hello Toshie 3.0 Modern Bidet Attachment is here to level the playing field. Its stylish, eco friendly, easy to install and affordable electricity. 3.0 doesn't just cleanse your butt with a precise stream of fresh water. It cleans itself before and after it's used with the smart spray automatic self-cleaning nozzle it attaches to your existing toilet requires no electricity or additional plumbing and cuts toilet paper use by 80 percent.
So the hello tissue badday pays for itself in a few months because with Hello Taishi, you don't wipe at all. Just poop spray dry and go. And sanitation is simple. The Schmutz Shield offers easy cleaning and the knobs are naturally antimicrobial. Already got a touch on your pot upgrade to the new 3.0 model. If you're new to the revolution, join millions of happy hello Toshie customers right now and have a clean but with every flush 2G sprays directly to your ass and removes poop completely.
So you aren't sitting on bacteria. That leads to the nasty things like haemorrhoid yeast infection, UTIs, XL's and skidmarks. Go to Hello Toshie dotcom armchair and get 10 percent off your order and free shipping.
Hello. Hi. We've not ever done a fact check on these, but this will be the first. It's not a fact check. That's why I want to make it pretty. All right. You're not getting any facts. Yeah, I'm not taking any facts. We don't check facts for these. But I was missing and I was jealous that I was missing and I was editing and I thought maybe we should chat a little bit after you were editing.
And Ed, I know so matter. Really. Ding, ding, ding. Yeah.
OK, so I'm going to guess on what the topic is. OK, ok. But cancel culture. Yeah. OK.
Yeah. That needed another opinion in there. OK, I just want to make sure that this episode has the other side presented because your conversation with him, you guys really align. I am not a fan of cancer culture. I don't think it's helpful to remove people for every indiscretion. I think you have to look at it case by case. But I do think it is important that things get called out. I think it's really important. I think that is what has progressed so far and it will continue to progress us.
Could we make it a little more specific and less broad? Because in this case that he and I were talking about my my singular point was, had Martin Luther King existed today as a civil rights leader, he would have been canceled.
And the thought of missing a Martin Luther King. Mm hmm. So on that specific case, it was more broad than that.
It was saying we got to be careful about canceling that.
We don't we don't miss out on an MLK because, yes, we're worried about people's fucking. Yeah. I mean, I don't know all the details of MLK. I guess maybe we will find them out. I know about the orgies and stuff. Yeah. That to me is his personal life.
Well, unless there are staffers involved in those orgies, which most certainly there would have been, then it becomes this whole other thing.
It's also tricky because none of those people have come out to say that they didn't they didn't like it or they weren't consenting. Really quick, though, wasn't there?
Is the congresswoman who no one came out.
It's just she acknowledged there was a tape of her and one of her staff members having sex.
Germar, this kvi something. Oh, hell, yeah. And she stepped down because she said this is wrong because she worked for me. Right. That woman didn't have a problem with it. Yeah, they were both consensual. I don't think Katie should have stepped down. Oh, I don't either.
But but she did like Ray.
But that's why I'm saying it's case by case. I mean, if someone in that experience is saying I was taken advantage of or this happened to me or this person is abusing their power or whatever, or this person sexually harassed me, we can't say, oh, well, they're providing a lot of goods, so we can't listen to you. Katie is totally not like that. But her career was ended.
I guess that's what I'm saying. Like there were no victims and her career was over.
Yeah, I don't I don't think that should have happened, but I do think it should happen in certain cases.
Do you think there are is there room, though, I wonder? This is very provocative, but is there room for, let's say Dr. Martin Luther King was inappropriate with women. He hit on women that worked for him and those women didn't like it and they said so. And it was learned that he was that way.
Hmm. Is there room in this world to go? He's an absolute piece of shit when it comes to women. And he has this message about civil rights that is actually one hundred percent accurate.
Yeah, I mean, both things can be true.
I mean, can we can I guess my question is, I think currently that's not an option right now is to go, oh, this person's a piece of shit in this category, but they're amazing in this category.
So, you know, don't be around the person, blah, blah, blah, but allow them to do the thing that no super beneficial for the rest of the world.
But the reason they are successful in that one category is because they are trusted. It's because the message that they are giving feels powerful. If you know that person is a hypocrite, well, it's hard to buy in.
But all of Dr. Martin Luther King's rhetoric about civil rights had nothing to do with his sexuality or anything he did.
So all of his love and peace and no, I'm not saying what he did was wrong because I don't again, I don't think anyone has come out to say that they were mistreated. So I don't want anyone to take this as me saying he needs to be canceled. That's literally the opposite of what I think. But let's say it's another person right now.
Well, could we use the example where we we do have a thought experiment where he did do that and people were saying at the time it's a problem. Yeah, yeah. I don't even know.
He shouldn't have been allowed to lead that civil rights. I don't think I would have been able to buy into it. If there's a person who there's all these people saying this is a bad guy, this is a bad dude, he's doing this, he's doing this, and yet he's standing on a pedestal. Preaching, I think, know, in my opinion, if he was preaching that you should not hit on people and exploit your power over women and then was doing it, then he's a hypocrite, but he's beating on all humans are equal.
Here is the history you guys are ignoring. Here are the rights that are being denied to black people. This is what you have to acknowledge.
He's not a hypocrite in that situation because he's he's speaking on not marginalizing a group, but he's marginalizing another group at the exact same time, women. So he can't do both. At the same time, he can't say everyone should be treated well, but he might have. We don't know. And I doubt it's the case, but we might find out in whatever year it said this is coming out, we might find out it was gnarly.
Yeah, that's going to be a bummer. Yeah, but but my point is, like, I guess it's a utilitarian view of it.
It's like the amount of good he did for the whole country and all the black people is so significant.
It is that I don't know that you can take that from them because there are some victims over here. There's, let's say, 10 victims. They would have been victims anyways. He would have victimized ten people anyways.
Well, if you're fairly well, if you're a dirt bag and you're that kind of guy, you have to have power is what you're saying, you have to have power in order to exploit it.
I guess what I'm saying is, like, one thing won a race the other.
So it's like if he has ten victims taking the civil rights movement away from him and everyone in America is not going to fix that thing. All it's going to do is like add up his whole life now and now, it's just all negative, it's just all damage, right. When you add up his life now and it's like there's a humongous mountain of positivity. Yeah, I don't know, man. It is fucking complicated if you really think about it in terms of a Martin Luther King.
It is it's incredibly complicated. I mean, but again, part of his power is you believe in his goodness. So Obama is the next, I would say, in line for that, where you really when he speaks and he's talking, you believe him and you trust him. And if a bunch of horrible stuff were to come out about Obama, you'd feel betrayed. You'd feel like, wait, wait, wait, this person presented this and it helped everything.
You know, he helped change the world for the better. But you still feel like, yeah, I wouldn't feel betrayed.
I would go, oh, yeah. He was a flawed, really complicated, multifaceted person.
Can I say something you're not going to like? Yeah, you you can't feel betrayed because you are in any of these categories. You are a woman who would feel like, oh my God, women are being silenced. I make a great point and you're not black. So I, I think it's maybe harder to connect to. Yes. Feelings.
That's a great point. I'm trying to think of some category I could count myself in. Where. You don't to do with something like molesting or addiction or something, but I don't think yeah, maybe that's why I mean.
That's a really great but it is, but I guess it's complicated, but I also in general, that aside, which is a great point, and I'm not brushing over it, but I don't think Obama is that good. I hate to tell you this. I don't think he's a saint. Well, no, I think he's a really smart man who did a tremendous amount of good.
But I don't think he doesn't have secrets. Of course, huge mistakes. You fucking snorting coke. I love that. You know, I don't think like that's what I mean is I can't I can't imagine feeling betrayed by him other than finding out. Yeah. He raped women or his children or something.
But I'm not asked. No one's asking for perfection.
Well, I would argue that. I'm sorry. No, no, no, no. Go ahead. You said this man is good. Martin Luther King.
Yeah. You can be good and not perfect.
Well, I would say the people following him as a reverend, as a man of the church.
Yeah. What he was doing was incredibly hypocritical. Having orgies when you're touting this monogamists religion is total hypocrisy. So it's like there's these levels, like if you're a religious person going to church and you find out he's fucking five people a night, you're going to feel betrayed.
But I'm in a position that you didn't have a right to expect him to have a certain fucking sex life. Yeah. What you should have felt like you had a right to is the message he was giving. You either believed in it or not it motivated you or made you passionate or got you involved in these made change or not. That's where it ends for me. You can't have expectations about his fucking or.
Yeah, but those those people who are feeling betrayed, there aren't victims. They're just betrayed by the philosophy.
Well, I think they would say no matter what, whether the women said so or not, he was exploiting this huge fame. He had this popularity, had this charisma that those poor women he manipulated or, you know, wooed and preyed upon when he was married, he was supposed to be with his wife.
You know, I don't agree with any of this, but I can see where these little lines that feel objective aren't really that objective.
Yeah, I don't think anything's subjective. It's it's complicated. And it's Grabe. I'm only bringing up the question.
And the question might be that, yeah, you can't have both.
If it turns out Martin Luther King had victims, then maybe it turns out we should have lost him.
I don't know if it's it's not as simple as I don't know.
But what is also true is maybe that is the standard that should be we should be having. And we have to acknowledge we're going to have a much smaller pool of people to solve our problems.
Yeah. Again, I think you're making it a little bit more perfect or not perfect. And I I'm not I'm saying if you're hurting someone.
Yeah. That's a problem. Like that is a problem. I agree.
I just I wish there was consensus on what hurting someone is. There isn't consensus on what is hurting someone or what consent is or what withdrawing consent is or, you know, like unfortunately there's not even consensus over what harming someone is. And that's what scares me.
Yeah. I mean, the reason I think some of this is needed is because I think the Brittny Duck.
Yeah, yeah. And I mean, yeah, I think a lot of men in power are used to exploiting it and and they have a hard time even knowing that it's a problem. Yeah. And it's not even their fault. It's it's again, it's the water and they're used to it. And the reason why we have to stop it, because the women were in the water.
There's a period where the women are attracted to that like they were attracted to power.
Yeah. And I just think the way to say to the next person in power, hey, you actually can't abuse your power because look at what happened to that guy. Like the next generation is hopefully not going to be the same because they're going to see there are consequences.
Yeah. I guess my fear is like if the expectation is that people in power shan't ever fuck people because they have power and they must recognize that that power can be exploited. I don't think there's ever going to be a world where people don't fuck each other.
No, it's not. Again, that's. So that's that is binary. They should not fuck their employees. Yeah.
I don't know that that's ever going to be a reality. I think people work right now. Well, you're saying that now people who work together fuck each other.
But if you're the boss or you're the owner. Right. So what I'm saying. So think about that. So I'm with you, but think about it. So that means the one person at the company who can't fuck is the boss.
No, they can. They just can't fuck anyone at their company. That's fine. There's a billion people.
See, I kind of don't think that's fair. So every listen, everyone at the company can fuck them each other, fuck themselves. Everyone in the company can fuck each other who are on the same line.
We like that, right? We're on the same level.
Don't even we think between level four and level three, probably fine.
So all these people can fuck each other because it's consensual, but the boss can't fuck someone below him even if that person is pursuing him or her and likes them and they like each other.
That expectation I think is not tenable. If you can't ask, you can't you can't say everyone's allowed to fuck here except for you.
Yes, you can't. That is a rich owner of a company that has access to every other person on the planet. Sorry, they can't have the five women who work under him. Yes, it's totally fine. I mean, it is. And and the difference between level four and level three relationship and the boss of a company is that person makes big decisions about the employee's livelihood. There is no way to untie that.
Well, but then we got to get more specific. Do I think it should be illegal for a boss, which it already is, to change the career path of someone they've slept with that's already illegal? That's what wrongful termination suits are about, right? Regularly. One, you can't do that. So that problem is already addressed. You can't fuck someone. And because you broke up, fucked their career well, but it's so nuanced.
A boss can say, well, I just didn't give them a raise because they weren't performing well.
I would say it's pretty easy. You chart their twelve years at the company and you see how regularly they are promoted. You see how regularly they got raises. They fucked the boss and all that stopped.
They prove it all the time in court, but they also don't know. It's hard to prove stuff like that because there are so many factors at play as an employee. Yeah. That it's very easy to say it's this, that or the other.
But most people that's the only human beings they see if they're at work for eight hours a week as a lawyer or something, they don't they don't see anyone they know they work with.
Think about all the people you know in your life, how many of them are. But I'm not a CEO. No, but anyone my mom and my dad didn't meet at work. My Amy and Ryan didn't meet at work. Like, no, people don't meet it. Yeah, it's not unfathomable.
The only pool you have and lots of people's whole life is work. Yeah, well, that's maybe something to change. If you're like literally the only pool is this pool of employees I have because I work non stop and you say I'm working less or I'm not going to have relationships. The answer is not to then have a relationship with someone at work.
Does this mean below you, you have some submerged subordinate subordinate anyway.
Fun, dance, dance, dance. I love you. I love you.