Gregory Peck (L) as Atticus Finch

Hazel and Katniss and Harry and Starr Podcast: To Kill A Mockingbird

The logo for Hazel & Katniss & Harry & Starr podcast: an orange box with the words written in white fontHazel & Katniss & Harry & Starr is a weekly Canadian podcast about young adult literature, their film and television adaptations, and everything in between. Now in its sixth season, the podcast—hosted by film critic Joe Lipsett and English professor Brenna Clarke-Gray—aims to highlight the cultural worth of young adult and middle-grade texts, with a focus on Canadian, Indigenous and minority creatives and stories.

Join us weekly for deep dives, as well as a round of YA BINGO.

Book 6, Chapter 42: To Kill A Mockingbird

Joe is on the struggle bus as he and Brenna tackle a classic text: Harper Lee’s 1960 book To Kill A Mockingbird and director Robert Mulligan’s 1962 adaptation.

Issues include the shifting narration, the simplistic moral message, and the egregious use of the N word.

Plus: censorship vs contextualizing, why the book isn’t more studied, and Brenna’s vote for the worst performer in the Oscar-winning film!

Read on for more about this week’s episode from co-host Joe Lipsett:

Brenna and I have tackled classic texts before, including A Wrinkle in TimeEmma, and The Scarlet Letter. Sometimes they’re easy to contextualize. Other times it’s more of a struggle to separate the contemporary from the past.

In the case of To Kill A Mockingbird, I found it excruciating. The egregious use of a racial slur, in a book that effectively works as a liberal fantasy of how to “solve” racism, nearly undid my brain. I could implicitly understand what Harper Lee was trying to do, and why people responded to the text, but I found myself hating the reading experience throughout.

The film, on the other hand, is easier. It’s streamlined, straightforward, and Gregory Peck as Atticus is a paragon of virtue. It was a nice palate cleanser. -JL


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