What Is Batman? Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #124 Debates the Character, the Legacy, and the New Film

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In light of the recent release of Matt Reeves’ film The Batman, we consider the strange alternation of darkness and camp that is Batman. Is he even a super hero? What’s with his rogues’ gallery? What’s with DC’s anti-world-building?

Your Pretty Much Pop host Mark Linsenmayer is joined by philosophy prof/NY Times entertainment writer Lawrence Ware, improv comedian/educator Anthony LeBlanc, and Marketing Over Coffee host John J. Wall, all of whom are deeply immersed in the comics, and we touch on other recent shows in the Batman universe.

Some relevant articles include:

Follow us @law_writes, @anthonyleblanc, @johnjwall, and @MarkLinsenmayer.

Hear more Pretty Much Pop. Support the show at patreon.com/prettymuchpop or by choosing a paid subscription through Apple Podcasts. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network.

Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast is the first podcast curated by Open Culture. Browse all Pretty Much Pop posts.

On Art Speigelman’s Maus: Should Comics Expose Kids to the World’s Horrors? Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #122

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In light of its being recently banned in some settings, we discuss Art Spiegelman’s Maus (1980-91), which conveys his father’s account of living through the Holocaust. We also consider other war-related graphic novels like Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis (2000) and George Takei’s They Called Us Enemy (2019).

Your host Mark Linsenmayer is joined by comics scholar Vi Burlew, comics blerd/acting coach Anthony LeBlanc, and comedian/graphic novelist Daniel Lobell.

Are comics particularly effective in changing hearts and minds when they display people’s hardships? Should kids be exposed to the horrors of the world in this way? What about the complexities of social justice and gender identity? We also touch on Gilbert Gottfried and the relationship between humor and tragedy, learning history vs. reading one person’s experience, the ages at which became political, and how comics may have aided that.

Read Vi’s Washington Post editorial about censorship that inspired this episode.

Other relevant sources include:

If you enjoyed this discussion, try our episodes featuring Vi talking about the trope of the heroine’s journey in film, Anthony talking about blerds, i.e. black nerds, and Daniel talking about the comic Peanuts.

Follow us @ViolaBurlew, @anthonyleblanc, @DanielLobel, and @MarkLinsenmayer.

Hear more Pretty Much Pop. Support the show at patreon.com/prettymuchpop or by choosing a paid subscription through Apple Podcasts. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network.

Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast is the first podcast curated by Open Culture. Browse all Pretty Much Pop posts.

The Efficacy of Protest Songs — Four Songwriters Discuss on Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #121

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Are protest songs effective, either as protest or songs? Your host Mark Linsenmayer is joined by Lilli LewisRod Picott, and Tyler Hislop to discuss how protest works in various musical genres, who it’s aimed at, and when it goes wrong. Has the day of the protest song passed, or is it alive and well?

Rod mentions how Bruce Springsteen clarified the political character of “Born in the U.S.A.” by rearranging it (and so did Neil Young with “Rockin’ in the Free World.”) We also mention “1913 Massacre,” “Fuck the Police,” “Signs,” “Ohio,” “We Are the World,” “Why We Build the Wall,” crappy protest songs against COVID restrictionsHip Hop for Respect, and more.

Lilli mentions Crys Matthews. Mark mentions this article about Twisted Sister and their song used for Ukraine. Visit worldunited.live re. Ukraine.

Each of us has written some kind of political song: RodLilliTyler, and Mark. Learn more about Lilli and Rod’s current releases at folkrockdiva.com and rodpicott.com.

Some articles with more lists and such include:

Follow us @folkrockdiva@RodPicott@sacrifice_mc, and @MarkLinsenmayer.

This episode includes bonus discussion featuring all of our guests that you can access by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop or by choosing a paid subscription through Apple Podcasts. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network.

Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast is the first podcast curated by Open Culture. Browse all Pretty Much Pop posts.

Can We Still Consume the Work of Disgraced Artists — Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #119

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Comedian Genevieve Joy, philosopher/NY Times entertainment writer Lawrence Ware, and novelist Sarahlyn Bruck join your host Mark Linsenmayer to discuss how we as spectators deal with entertainers like R. Kelly, Michael Jackson, Woody Allen, et al. We all watched W. Kamau Bell’s Showtime documentary We Need to Talk About Cosby, so most of our discussion is around that.

None of us seem able to separate the art from the artist, but this varies by art form, how much of the person’s personality and values went into the art, and the specifics of the alleged crimes or bad behavior. Cosby presents such a dramatic, unambiguous case because he was so universally beloved, and vitally important to the black community, yet his crimes were so numerous, heinous, well documented, and thoroughly undermine the image that he sought to convey. Does our disillusionment with him perhaps reflect not just on rape culture but the importance we put on celebrity itself that made Cosby for a long time “too big to fail”?

It’s fine if you haven’t seen the documentary. You can experience Bell talking about it on WTF and in Slate. For in-depth info on the charges against Bill Cosby, try the Chasing Cosby podcast.

Follow us @CAtFightJOy, @law_writes, @sarahlynbruck, and @MarkLinsenmayer.

This episode includes bonus discussion featuring all of our guests that you can access by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop or by choosing a paid subscription through Apple Podcasts. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network.

Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast is the first podcast curated by Open Culture. Browse all Pretty Much Pop posts.

Adapting Agatha Christie for the Screen — Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #118

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In light of the newly released, Kenneth Branagh-directed film Death on the Nile, Pretty Much Pop discusses the continuing appearance of the works of the world’s most successful mystery writer in film and TV. 

Your host Mark Linsenmayer is joined by repeat guests Sarahlyn Bruck, Al Baker, and Nicole Pometti to discuss the recent films, the Sarah Phelps TV adaptations (like The ABC Murders), the Poirot BBC TV series, and some older adaptations.

We take on the different characterizations of Poirot and how recent, grittier interpretations compare with those of James Bond and Sherlock Holmes. Also, how should a screenwriter adapt such fact-heavy novels? What works and doesn’t in terms of modernizing them to current audience expectations? How did Christie keep things interesting for herself writing so many mysteries? How deep do her meditations on psychology and ethics run in these books, and can that be adequately conveyed on screen? What’s the future of the mystery genre?

Here are a few relevant sources:

Listen to Nicole’s Remakes, Reboots and Revivals podcast. Look into Sarahlyn’s book and other writings. Check out Al’s work fighting disinformation at Logically.

Follow our guests at @remakespodcast (Nicole), @sarahlynbruck, and @ixisnox (Al).

This episode includes bonus discussion featuring all of our guests that you can access by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop or by choosing a paid subscription through Apple Podcasts. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network.

Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast is the first podcast curated by Open Culture. Browse all Pretty Much Pop posts.

The Enduring Appeal of Schulz’s Peanuts — Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #116

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Animator/musician David Heatley, comedian Daniel Lobell, and academic/3anuts author Daniel Leonard join your Pretty Much Pop host Mark Linsenmayer to discuss Charlie Brown and his author Charles Schulz from Peanuts’ 1950 inception through the classic TV specials through to the various post-mortem products still emerging.

What’s the enduring appeal, and is it strictly for kids? We talk about the challenges of the strip format, the characters as archetypes, Schulz as depressed existentialist, religion in Peanuts, and whether the strip is actually supposed to be funny.

Some articles we used for the discussion include:

Also, RIP Peter Robbins (the day before we recorded this). Here’s the 1982 Rerun comic Daniel Leonard reads us near the beginning. The biography that we keep referring to is David Michaelis’ Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography. Yes, Dondi was a real (bad) comic strip.

Check out David’s new album and other projects at davidheatley.com. Follow him @heatleycomics on Twitter and @davidheatley on Instgram.

Get Daniel Lobell’s Fair Enough comic at fairenoughcomic.com and read about the rest of his activities at dannylobell.com. Follow him @DanielLobell on Twitter and @daniellobell on Instagram.

Read Daniel Leonard’s 3anuts, and buy Peanuts and Philosophy, which contains one of his essays. Follow on Twitter @3anuts.

Here’s a 3eanuts example. Leaving off the last panel leaves us in despair!

This episode includes bonus discussion you can access by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop or by choosing a paid subscription through Apple Podcasts. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network.

Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast is the first podcast curated by Open Culture. Browse all Pretty Much Pop posts.

The “West Side Story” Story — Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #114

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Did it make sense for Steven Spielberg to remake one of our nation’s most beloved musicals (with music by Bernstein and Sondheim!), attempting to fix the parts that did not age well politically? Is the new version a modern classic or a doomed Frankenstein?

Your host Mark Linsenmayer is joined by Broadway scholar, theater critic, and actor Ron Fassler; Remakes, Reboots, and Revivals co-host Nicole Pometti; and Broadway actor and long-time PEL friend BIll Youmans.

Ron regales us with facts about the original 1957 musical and the 1961 acclaimed film version. We consider the choices for the new film in filming, choreography, casting, and how the script was completely rewritten by playwright Tony Kushner with lots of consultation with the Puerto Rican community to ensure that the representational mistakes of the older versions were corrected. Also, why is this not doing so well at the box office, and what does this mean?

We also touch on other recent movie musicals including In the Heights and Cats, and think about in general how genres and tropes popular in the past are faring today.

Some of the articles we considered in preparing for this episode included:

This episode includes bonus discussion you can access by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop or by choosing a paid subscription through Apple Podcasts. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network.

Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast is the first podcast curated by Open Culture. Browse all Pretty Much Pop posts.

 

The Matrix Regurgitated — Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #113

In light of the release of The Matrix Resurrections, we talk through the franchise as a whole. What made the first one remarkable, and does that a bar that any sequel can reach? We talk through the choices that fed into the new film, why people don’t seem to care about their matrix families, the endless fight scenes, and more. Who will choose the blue pill?

This very special holiday episode of Pretty Much Pop reunites the full season one panel: Mark Linsenmayer, Brian Hirt and Erica Spyres, and features the podcasting debut of Mark’s son Abe Linsenmayer.

Some articles we considered included:

This episode includes bonus discussion you can access by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop or by choosing a paid subscription through Apple Podcasts. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network.

Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast is the first podcast curated by Open Culture. Browse all Pretty Much Pop posts.

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