Practical Criticism/(Pop) Cultural Marxism Crossover: Stop Making Sense

In this very special crossover episode, the compound cast—Isi, Rebecca, and Ajay—are back together after hiatuses of various lengths to discuss the Talking Heads and A24’s recent re-release of Jonathan Demme’s much-celebrated 1984 concert film Stop Making Sense. Kicking off with some reunion talk (to wit: research rabbit holes, early modern gardens, avant-garde architecture, automata, and, naturally, more Zelda), the trio then sets out to explore what it is that makes this film such a brilliant exemplar of the genre—joyful, affirmative, but nevertheless critical in sensibility. Along the way, they discuss: first encounters with the film, soundtrack versus album versions (controversial!), David Byrne’s pas de deux with a lamp, fashion and theatrical influences (kabuki, noh, Brecht), laying bare the device, the more integrated musical scenes of the 1980s, satire, collective composition, Tina Weymouth as secret sauce, and so much more. What kind of story does this film tell about music? How did the restored version come to be? And what does it restore?

You can download the episode by right-clicking here and selecting “save as.” Or, look us up on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

The Podcast for Social Research is produced by Elliot Yokum. If you like what you’ve heard, consider subscribing to Brooklyn Institute’s Patreon page, where you can enjoy access to all past and future episodes of the podcast.

Practical Criticism/(Pop) Cultural Marxism Crossover: Stop Making Sense


Gardens: Pratolino, Innisfree, Derek Jarman’s garden, Ian Hamilton Finlay’s Little Sparta, Russell Wright’s Manitoga 

Isi’s Staging Future Worlds: The Architectural Visions of László Rajk (Valerie Goodman Gallery)

Ajay’s The Exhausted of the Earth: Politics in a Burning World (Repeater)

Final Fantasy XVII (Square Enix, 2023)


Isao Takahata’s Pom Poko (1994)

Alex Press’s Hollywood strike coverage

Leos Carax’s Mauvaise Sang (1986)

Claire Denis’ Beau Travail (1999)

Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker (1979)

Varvara Stepanova’s constructivist workwear

Adrien Maben, Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii (1972)

Martin Scorsese, The Last Waltz (1978)

Stop Making Sense liner notes

Dayna Goldfine and Dan Geller, Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song (2021)

Jonathan Demme, Rachel Getting Married (2008)

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