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Last week, the Baywatch franchise returned — this time on the big screen — with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Zac Efron leading a cast of tan, muscled lifeguards. But the film isn’t just a goofy romp; it presents the beach as a place of danger that needs to be patrolled, raising questions about who beaches are for. Jenna spends as much time at the beach as she can, while Wesley has always resisted going. As they try to untangle why that is, they discuss the history of American beaches and American beach movies, and the beach as a place of infinite possibility and mystery, as bearing the traces of racial segregation and as being one of the most liberating environments in the world.

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