StartUp Podcast: Part 1: Labels (Season 4, Episode 4)
November 4, 2016 11:43 AM - Subscribe

Season 4 of StartUp continues with the story of a well-known entrepreneur who built a widely recognized business, lost it all, and is now starting over—from scratch.Over the next several episodes, we'll hear as this founder makes his second attempt at success, and creates an entirely new company in the shadow of his controversial past.

TW: Dov Charney
posted by ellieBOA (29 comments total)
Impressively, it was worse than I thought it would be.
posted by jeather at 12:54 PM on November 4, 2016

I can't seem to post a GIF link here correctly so just imagine Steve Carell yelling "NO! GOD! PLEASE! NO!".
posted by selfnoise at 1:19 PM on November 4, 2016

I feel like Gimlet is slowly morphing into an actual Silicon Valley-style startup that we all know and hate.
posted by Tevin at 1:27 PM on November 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

Charney comes off worse than I thought, and they completely soft-pedalled the harassment allegations and the gross billboards -- they just sort of accepted everything he said. And I don't know if that was the price for working with him, but why would you agree to pay it? This sets up a really bad tone. Sure, maybe at some point, in one of the next half dozen or so episodes, they will bring these things up. But the first episode was entirely a "Dov Charney, what a funny rapscallion" kind of piece, will those silly sexual assault charges harm his comeback?

It was a puff piece, which is nice for Charney, who got a very positive free hour of advertising, and less nice for his victims, who don't matter because they aren't starting businesses that we know of.

(This choice has made me so angry, and they're not responding to any criticism.)
posted by jeather at 1:38 PM on November 4, 2016 [5 favorites]

Remember the debate they had about whether to accept $ from the US military? I would REALLY like to hear the debate they had about centering their podcast around a famous sexual predator...
posted by CMcG at 6:20 PM on November 4, 2016 [5 favorites]

I had to stop listening right after the beginning as I was getting so angry.
posted by ellieBOA at 10:56 PM on November 4, 2016

Oof. I had been rooting for Gimlet Media but between that weird episode of reply all that doxxed a nobody for no reason despite the people involved trying to shut them down repeatedly, their sketchy firing of Starlee Kine and now this, a four part puff piece to rehab the image of Dov Fucking Charney... I'm done with this crew. There is plenty of great content out there for my commute.

They release this garbage when we're days away from potentially electing Donald Trump to be the president of the United States of America? I can't take it.

Men, Stop. Goodbye Gimlet.
posted by palegirl at 12:25 AM on November 5, 2016

Yeah...this was...not great. I am giving them the benefit of the doubt that they're explore all angles of the Charney debacle. But he's such a gross individual (and it goes wayyyy beyond dating/having sex with staff) that I really don't like that he's getting such significant airtime.
posted by radioamy at 11:32 AM on November 5, 2016

Gah. Why would anyone - host, producer, or audience member - want to spend time with this idiot? Even if you knew nothing else about the guy, someone who starts out minutes into your first interview saying "show me some strength" while shaking hands deserves a punch in the mouth, not hours of free advertising. If you include all the external information they have about his professional conduct, the tone of the piece is really shocking. Christ what an asshole. And christ what a waste of a national media platform.

Life's too short to continue listening to this season. I'll try again when season five begins.
posted by eotvos at 1:27 PM on November 5, 2016

Radioamy, I'm interested in how they address this in later episodes. I stopped listening to this one when lisa was driving without Dov, how are the grar levels for the rest of the episode?
posted by ellieBOA at 2:05 PM on November 5, 2016

ellieBOA - not radioamy, but the GRAR levels stayed pretty high for me. Zero acknowledgment of him. Still can't get over the "I was intrigued." So insensitive, so gross.
posted by superlibby at 6:53 PM on November 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

I lasted until after the 'plant/notaplant' at FedEx and then I was just, ugh. This guy reminds me of all the smarmy people I hated in LA too much.
posted by bq at 8:05 PM on November 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I'm skipping this season too. I'm not going to unsubscribe, but I'm uninterested in listening to Dov Charney's redemption song. The rest of the new fall season sounds good, so I'm still pulling for Gimlet, however disappointing the decision to go with Charney is.
posted by gladly at 8:12 PM on November 5, 2016

I'm going to keep posting the episodes but hold off listening until some feedback comes. So disappointed with this!

Alex Goldman, hi again from Paris and feed this back to Alex Blumberg!
posted by ellieBOA at 2:08 AM on November 6, 2016

I listened the whole way through but I am not going to listen to the rest of them, on principle. I'm tempted to unsubscribe for the rest of the season just to make a point. As it is, I can't get his slimy voice out of my head.

I used to really respect American Apparel. Both paying people living wages in the US and making really great shirts that are perfect for screenprinting were basically unheard of 15-20 years ago. It's too bad the company was run by such an awful human being.

In case you're not familiar with Dov Charney:
XO Jane: "American Apparel: No Really, Dov Charney Is Seriously Creepy"

HuffPo: "American Apparel Lawsuit Is ‘Mother Of All Sexual Harassment Cases,’ Judge Says"
Washington Post:
"So many sex, financial allegations involving American Apparel’s Dov Charney that company couldn’t afford the insurance"

Racked: "American Apparel Releases Graphic Evidence of Dov Charney's Alleged Misconduct"

We all saw how Season 2 of Startup gave a boost to Dating Ring...there's no way that Season 4 isn't going to do that to Charney. He doesn't deserve it.
posted by radioamy at 10:37 AM on November 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

They responded to their single listener asking about music on their show, continue to ignore everything else.
posted by jeather at 9:48 AM on November 7, 2016

I really liked the peek into the world of tiny LA clothing component manufacturers. Handshake agreements and grumpy Russians who have no problem insulting Charney to his face in part because he's too clueless to pick up on it. "Yeah... I remember you, you forgot about me."

They know exactly who/what he is but will take his money as long as he's throwing it around.

Charney himself? It's funny to me that so many people are refusing to listen, because this is not a flattering view of a person. He comes off as a self-obsessed douche, and a man-baby who can talk about how great he is all the day long but can't handle dealing with the emotions caused by a billboard.

It's also funny to me how many of those guys I've known -- passionate, absent-minded professor types who care more about the thing they are building than anything (or anyone) else. I don't know that any of them were serial sexual harassers but for some of them, it wouldn't surprise me a bit to find out that they were.

Anyways, the episode starts with a bunch of clips, at least one of them from a woman who doesn't sound like she is on Team Dov. I'm curious to hear more from her, and the women who were more complimentary in their quotes. It seems like there's a lot of pre-judging of these episodes, based on the fact that Dov is Awful, and Gimlet is Good. But to me it seems there's a whole bunch of different ways that this season might go, and while "Dov is just misunderstood you guys" is totally a possibility, I'm personally thinking that "Dov is a creep but at least understands that he hurt people and want wants to do better this time" is more likely. So is "Dov is a creep and isn't going to change but he makes a good product and we're conflicted about whether or not that's enough to support him" or "Dov is a creep, and it's amazing how many people still support him even though everyone knows." That last one seems like the version I'd like the best, TBH*.

am I the only one who can't tell whether that FedEx guy was a plant or not? I mean, I don't usually have a ton of patience for people who claim to not be able to understand sarcasm, but the tone and timing of that "joke" is just hard as hell to read, I would have appreciated more followup from Laura on that one.

*Actually, what would be most fun would be a mid-season reveal that, hey, Dov's been systematically lying to us all season, with the even-more-uncomfortable-than-the-billboard-talk "Hey Dov, why would you do this?" conversation, during which he might cry.
posted by sparklemotion at 10:08 AM on November 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

jeather - to be fair, they did say this on Twitter
posted by radioamy at 12:45 PM on November 7, 2016

sparklemotion - I felt the same way about the FedEx guy. It was weird. Dov is extremely hard to read.
posted by radioamy at 12:46 PM on November 7, 2016

jeather - to be fair, they did say this on Twitter

Just to argue with myself a little, the fact that Gimlet needs to be all "Trust us" doesn't bode well for them knowing their audience. They could have made it clearer from the beginning that they think that the harassment is an important piece of this story.

As it is, they tease a tiny bit of it, then spend an episode letting Dov be Dov. Which is understandably a turn-off, and I think it could have been avoided even in just the intro-banter, where instead of "Nothing was ever proven in court", the line could have mentioned the stuff that's actually public knowledge ""Nothing was ever proven in court, but videos and emails from his work computer bear out the fact that he acted in a really skeevy way at AA." Or, when Lisa* and Kaitlin challenge him on the billboard, saying something about how the billboards that Dov was so proud about from before were known for their raciness, more than the clothes.

I really hope they don't end up spending the week frantically re-editing the season, I'm not sure anything good can come of that.

*btw I don't know why i called Lisa "Laura" in my previous comment.
posted by sparklemotion at 1:06 PM on November 7, 2016

Here's the thing: StartUp is a podcast that features businesses starting up, and gives those businesses large boosts via free publicity. If this had been a "we do in depth series about this one person" kind of podcast (not unlike Serial s2), I would have been a bit less wary. Why are you giving an abusive asshole this podium instead of literally any other person? Dov is a creep and he wants to do better -- but so what? Why does that mean that they should be giving him the chance that lots of other companies would want?

It can't be just money; they turned down some army-type podcast that would pay money. So that means they think that his story fits into their brand. (I can't say it doesn't; they're really into Jewish white men, especially the white men part. Just look at who all the Heavyweight podcasts centre.)

I did trust Gimlet -- I listened to the first episode. It's going to be, what, a half dozen episodes? How many of them do I need to listen to before it's fair to say "hard no, you are not doing this story well"?
posted by jeather at 1:15 PM on November 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

Speaking of the billboards, one thing that I found really frustrating was how difficult Dov was as an interviewee. Here he is with this amazing marketing opportunity, and he treats Lisa like a nosy cub reporter. He was weirdly evasive about the billboards, among other things.
posted by radioamy at 1:16 PM on November 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

As it is, they tease a tiny bit of it, then spend an episode letting Dov be Dov. Which is understandably a turn-off, and I think it could have been avoided even in just the intro-banter, where instead of "Nothing was ever proven in court", the line could have mentioned the stuff that's actually public knowledge ""Nothing was ever proven in court, but videos and emails from his work computer bear out the fact that he acted in a really skeevy way at AA."

That was my problem with the first episode. That string of clips about Charney's AA dismissal seemed to come down on the genius capitalist is a womanizer, not that there's anything wrong with that side for me to trust this season, and like jeather said, the rest of the ep was business as usual. Maybe if I were more interested in the subject matter, I'd hang in there.
posted by gladly at 5:19 PM on November 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

He comes off as a self-obsessed douche, and a man-baby who can talk about how great he is all the day long but can't handle dealing with the emotions caused by a billboard.

Yeah but why do I want to listen to that? annoying as fuck.
posted by bq at 8:05 PM on November 7, 2016 [1 favorite] anyone but me still listening to this? This last episode was creepy and compelling in equal parts. I followed things from a distance as they unfolded years back but was largely ignorant to the number of claims against him. His utter cluelessness and refusal to take any kind of personal responsibility for his actions is shocking. I knew men who operated in similar ways when I was younger, though not quite at the same, what? Rate? Level? Yuck. The interview with the former employee talking about how he'd manipulate people so they would stay with him brought back some not-very-nice memories.

The connections to Ghomeshi are front and centre for me as well. Anyway, I cut Gimlet some slack on this one. I wish younger-me could listen to this as a cautionary tale.
posted by Cuke at 5:27 PM on December 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm still subscribed but am deleting all the DC episodes. I couldn't even bring myself to post the episodes as it feels like some kind of endorsement.
posted by ellieBOA at 8:52 PM on December 12, 2016 anyone but me still listening to this?

Yes, and finding it quite interesting and disturbing. Without treading too much on spoilers, there's definitely a narrative arc to the season, and the troublingly sympathetic tone of this episode doesn't persist for long.

(Maybe a full-season post would be better, if they exist for podcast seasons?)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:08 AM on December 13, 2016

I'm still listening (though I'm an episode behind). So far, it seems to be tracking my "best case scenario" above, which I have enjoyed, but I haven't really wanted to get into an episode-by-episode thing of because of the haterade here.

Do we know how many episodes are in this arc? I'd be interested in joining in on a discussion of the Dov coverage as a whole in the post for the last episode.
posted by sparklemotion at 11:47 AM on December 13, 2016

I refuse to listen. I gave them more than one hour. I'm glad to know it got better, and I'd probably read a review of the entire thing, but I am not financially supporting anything that supports Charney for two full hours, whatever changes it might make later.
posted by jeather at 7:09 PM on December 14, 2016

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