A Tasteless Interview
Los Angeles is a sprawling Southern California city and the centre of the nation’s film and television industry.
Near its iconic Hollywood sign, studios such as Paramount Pictures, Universal and Warner Brothers offer behind-the-scenes tours.
On Hollywood Boulevard, TCL Chinese Theatre displays celebrities’ hand- and footprints, the Walk of Fame honours thousands of luminaries and vendors sell maps to stars’ homes.
Inside a closet sits Emily Higgins recording her podcast Tasteless.
I first mentioned Emily and her podcast in this post (https://autisticnick.com/2018/11/13/autistic-ncks-favourite-podcasts/)
But I wanted to get to know Emily better and so recently I interviewed her to find out more about the person behind the Tasteless podcast.
About the Tasteless podcast
“Tasteless is a movie podcast that pays tribute to the films no one else wants to talk about, from the trashy to the absurd. In each episode, Emily Higgins takes a highly regarded film and finds a less beloved movie she recommends instead.
How was the tasteless podcast conceived?
I really, really wanted to justify my obsessive movie buying, and I think my friends and family were sick of me calling them and explaining the plots of various bad or weird movies to them, so I decided to create my own outlet.
So many of my movie opinions go against other peoples’ but I believe them fully – I’m never faking it, I truly believe Showgirls was a better movie than La La Land and I will argue that wholeheartedly. I genuinely hated A Star is Born and Baby Driver, both made me very angry.
I first started Tasteless with the idea I’d be talking about stereotypically “trashy” movies, but luckily it has evolved into championing all sorts of different movies.
I’m able to talk about really fantastic films that are innovative and fun, but that not enough people saw, and movies that were overlooked because of the cast or subject matter or overall aesthetic. For example: Crossroads, the movie starring Britney Spears, was written by Shonda Rhimes – if it came out today instead of in 2002, I think the reaction to it would have been different.
The introduction music that is used at the beginning of the Tasteless podcast is very distinctive why is that?
Because I first thought the podcast was going to be trashier movies like Showgirls, I wanted music that fit with that theme – the music I decided on (Monplaisir’s Sky 7: Debauched Dance with the Self)
had a very Showgirls/stripper vibe to it which I enjoyed, and I’ve never changed it. It fits with what people think of when they see the word “tasteless.”
How does the process of how you choose the movies that you compare work?
It’s different every week, sometimes I’ll watch something, and it sparks an idea, and sometimes I just look at a list I’ve made of movies I love and movies I hate and see if there’s any crossover.
It’s always the really surprising ones that I’m most proud of.
I wanted to talk about Troop Beverly Hills and googled wilderness movies and The Revenant popped up and upon re-watching it there were just so many parallels!
I watched Striptease one night and was dying to do an episode about it, and although the movie has the word “strip” in the title the movie itself is very much about family and being a parent, so I picked a movie about parenting that I was always frustrated by, Mrs. Doubtfire.
Others I’ve had in my head for ages, like The Sixth Sense vs Matilda is one I probably wrote down a year ago but just got around to recently. It’s also exciting when I see a movie I hate, like A Star is Born, and the whole time I’m watching it I’m thinking about a similar movie I’d rather be watching (in that particular case, Country Strong).
How long does it take for you to write what you are going to say for each episode?
I come up with an outline of my bullet points and facts and any numbers stuff in around 3 hours. I get very distracted because I start searching out info and it leads me down a lot of rabbit holes, so I often do it across a few days, so I can make sure I don’t forget anything.
How much research do you do before each taping takes place?
First, I watch both movies – so that’s anywhere from 3 hours on an easy week to 5+ on a week with longer films. 5+ really sucks when one of the movies is one I hate.
Then, I’ll look at the basics, like trivia, any cast reunion interviews from an older film, and I’ll usually have one or two things or people about the film I like that I already know something about, so I’ll expand on those. I’ll talk about a certain actress or funny scene, whatever led me to enjoying the movie in the first place. I write out my outline and try to let it sit for a day to make sure nothing strikes me later, and then I hop in the closet to record!
Are there any movies that you point blank refuse to compare? If so would you name them?
There are some movies I love that were very well received critically and also popular, and I won’t be discussing those. I can’t put them as the film I’m saying is worse because that would be a lie and not fun, and I can’t put them as the one I think is better because it goes against the theme of the podcast since literally everyone would agree with me. So movies like Get Out, Ex Machina, and Silence of the Lambs that I could talk about all day long I’ll unfortunately never be able to address on Tasteless. There are also some that are harder to do, there have been a couple comparisons I’ve started on and then realized it just wouldn’t work. I never want to force it, I want the comparison to make sense at the end of the day.
Are you careful with which themes you tackle in this podcast are no themes off limits to you?
I try to be careful to an extent – I want to be cognizant of how other people feel, even if I don’t find something offensive it’s possible other people might.
Two episodes come to mind that I was a little worried about and tried to be very cautious when recording –
Die Hard vs Ace Ventura: Pet Detective because Ace Ventura is viewed as very anti-trans, and then Silver Linings Playbook vs The Skeleton Twins because mental health is a tricky thing to discuss.
I did my best to be respectful in both and to lay my points out clearly, but my concerns weren’t going to keep me from recording the episodes either.
Was it always going to be a solo podcast?
Yes, although sometimes I wish it wasn’t! But I love being able to watch the movies, research, record, and edit all on my own schedule. I can also change things at the last minute, and I can completely commit to my opinions on the movies that so many people disagree with. It’s more of a spoken essay than a conversation, and all my favourite podcasts are conversations, so I wrestle with that every few months, but I just don’t see an easy way to incorporate another person. Maybe one day I’ll branch out to guests to get some of the amazing people from the movie podcast community on, that’s always on my mind. But as of now I continue to rant unchallenged.
You record your podcast inside your closet why is that?
When I recorded my first ever episode, it was on the kitchen floor – I don’t know why, it’s the only part of my apartment that has an echo, it sounded awful. Then I recorded a couple while sitting on the floor under a blanket. Then I realised I needed to sit upright like a human being, so I popped a chair in the closet and my very sad studio was born! Every time I get in, my cat Gracie runs in and tries to create a hoarder avalanche, but I’ve survived each and every attempt on my life!
How did you decide on the podcast being only a half an hour in length?
With one person, it’s hard to keep the podcast from becoming a boring monologue or rant. There’s only so much you can say without someone else to play off, I try to keep it tight so I’m not just talking to myself about nonsense. I actually never have any length plans when I start writing an outline for the episode, but every episode is structured in the same way, so it has stayed pretty consistent.
Do you have a dream podcast host, and would that be Sandi B?
I love Sandra Bullock with all my heart, so for sure yes, she’d be a great co-host or guest, or she should just have her own podcast!
Also, because she accepted her Razzie award in person for All About Steve, I know she can kind of make fun of herself and we could get honest about some of her crazier films. There are also people I’ve championed on a few different episodes like Gwyneth Paltrow. If she wants to do a Goop crossover, I’m down. I would love to consciously couple with her.
I was wondering if your cat will ever feature on any Tasteless merchandise?
Ooooh I hope so. I’m always on the hunt for the perfect picture of her, she is the light of my life. Getting merch together has been maybe the hardest part for me because I’m so worried about quality control. I made a big mistake in getting a custom embroidered Tasteless hat – it’s hard to embroider a full-on detailed logo, so I had the name TASTELESS written in white on a red cap and everyone thinks it’s a Trump thing… whoops.
My huge thanks to Emily for taking time out to answer my questions it’s very much appreciated.
TASTELESS PODCAST DETAILS
On Twitter https://twitter.com/tastelesspod