Roxane Gay: The Facts And The Furious: Orlando Drift
Writer and academic Roxane Gay resisted the world of competitive Scrabble as long as she could. A brilliant wordsmith, Gay thought she was "too cool" for the intensity of the tournament circuit. "Slowly but surely," though, her competitive side took over.
"I have my own portable board and it has a special case with straps so you can wear it," she told host Ophira Eisenberg at Hard Rock Live in Orlando, Florida. "Kind of like a Ninja Turtle."
How serious is her Scrabble? She recently played the word "entozoan" for 243 points.
Gay is the author of Bad Feminist and the recent Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body. She also teaches at Purdue University in Indiana. Many of the essays in Bad Feministare about her favorite pop culture obsessions, including The Hunger Gamesand Sweet Valley High.
Hunger, on the other hand, was a more challenging project. "I thought, well, the thing I want to write about least is fatness," she said. "Oftentimes the things that I'm most reluctant to do end up being the most intellectually satisfying."
As a cultural critic and unabashed pop culture enthusiast, Gay said there's no need to choose between writing about very serious and very light-hearted things. "I think that in order for me to be able to write about racism and sexual violence and inequality—which is important work, and I'm privileged to be able to do it—you also need to take a f---ing break," she said. "The struggle needs time off."
Gay embraces guilty pleasure television without any guilt whatsoever. "There are a couple perfect pieces of pop culture," Gay said. "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. I mean, if we were ever in doubt about god's existence..."
We challenged Gay to 8-Cylinder Trivia— a game that combines her love of anagramming with her love of The Fast and the Furious franchise. Hey, that anagrams to Fittest Fun Hours Ahead!
On how her love of pop culture squares with her academic work
I'm just a Libra. So I'm always seeking balance.
On how pop culture can't always offer an escape
Unfortunately I have a brain. And so when I'm watching or consuming pop culture, often times I'm like, 'See, this is why systemic racism is a problem. And there are no Black people on television. And ugh.' Yeah. So it's hard.
On writing a realistic ending for Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body
I say from the second page that this is not a triumphant book [...] so I think the reader knew not to expect that I have figured everything out.
On the coveted Scrabblebingo
I love the bingo. To my own detriment because if I have 'I' 'N' 'G' in my rack, it's over.
On meeting Channing Tatum
My life ended on that day and this is what the afterlife looks like. It's awesome.
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.