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.

Class Critiques in Squid Game, Succession, etc. — Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #112

Popular shows have commented on wealth inequality by showing how dire the situation is for the poor and/or how disconnected and clueless the rich are. How effective is this type of social commentary?

Your host Mark Linsenmayer is joined by philosopher and NY Times writer Lawrence Ware, novelist and writing professor Sarahlyn Bruck, and educator with a rhetoric doctorate Michelle Parrinello-Cason to discuss the appeal of both reality show (“fishbowl”) horror and satire. Is it OK if we don’t like any of the characters in Succession? Does Squid Game actually deserve its 94% on Rotten Tomatoes? Are we even capable as American viewers of appreciating what it’s trying to do?

We also touch on White Lotus, The Hunt, Schitt’s Creek, torture porn, social commentary in songs, and more. Lurking in the background here are foundational works for this trend: Parasite, Get Out, Battle Royale, and The Hunger Games.

A few articles we may have drawn on for the discussion:

Hear more from our guests on past episodes: Law on various PEL discussions on race and religion, Sarahlyn on PMP on soap operas, Michelle on PMP on board games. Follow them @law_writes, @sarahlynbruck and @DaylaLearning.

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 Dune Franchise Tries Again — Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #110

The world now has another Dune film, and this time Warner Bros. is serious about a franchise, with at least one sequel planned and a prequel TV series in the works. With thousands of years worth of world building, the books by Frank Herbert and the world now being fleshed out by his son Brian Herbert with Kevin J. Anderson offer more source material than Star Wars for potential filmmakers to play with, but is this world anywhere near as fun?

Your hosts Mark Linsenmayer and Brian Hirt are joined by Brian Casey (brother of The Partially Examined Life’s Dylan Casey) and Three if By Space senior editor Erin Conrad to talk about whether this series is really adaptable to the screen at all, and we consider past attempts by David Lynch and Alejandro Jodorowsky (rather slighting the tedious TV version). Is the new version more successful? More feminist? Less colonialist?

Is the lore just too packed into the books to convey adequately? When Frank Herbert jumps forward 3000 years, is that a path that moviegoers will want to follow, even if familiar characters can still be present as talkative ancestral memories in new characters’ heads or come back as clones?

For points of comparison, we touch on not only Star Wars, but Outlander, Picard, The Orville, Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, Walking Dead, The Dark Tower, and more.

Some articles that fed into our discussion include:

Follow Erin @ErinConrad2.

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.

Breaking Down the Beatles’ Get Back Documentary: Stream Episode #111 of the Pretty Much Pop Podcast

Your host Mark Linsenmayer is joined by musician David Brookings, Gig Gab podcast host Dave Hamilton, and OpenCulture writer Colin Marshall to discuss Peter Jackson’s documentary Get Back and the enduring popularity of The Beatles.

This was recorded on 12/8, the anniversary of John Lennon’s death. We consider the arc of their career, the various post-mortem releases that keep our interest, why Beatles solo work remains a cult interest, and much more.

Follow @davidbrookings. Hear him sing every Beatles song. Hear him talking about his own tunes with Mark on Nakedly Examined Music.

Follow @DaveHamilton. Hear him on PMP talking about Live Music.

Follow @colinmarshall. Hear him on PMP talking about Scorsese films.

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.

Dueling as a Film Trope: Pretty Much Pop #109 Considers The Last Duel and Its Genre

In light of the release of The Last Duel (which you needn’t have watched), we talk about the trope of the honor-resolving duel in movies and TV. Mark and guest co-host Dylan Casey of The Partially Examined Life are joined by Clif Mark, host of the Good in Theory podcast who wrote his political thesis and a 2018 Aeon article on the history and logic of dueling.

Since we’re all philosophy podcasters on this one (our entertainment podcaster guest dropped out at the last minute), we bring in philosophers like Hegel and Nietzsche in as needed, the circle of ethical concern (who gets moral status and so is worthy to duel?), and of course the relevant class and gender critiques.

We also touch on The Duelists (incidentally, Ridley Scott’s directing debut, where The Last Duel is his latest), The Duelist and The Duel (two 2016 films), A Knight’s Tale, The Princess Bride, Dune, Hamilton, Bridgerton, The Karate Kid, and more.

For more information on the specter of dueling in politics, read about Justin Trudeau and Trump/Biden.

Some articles that fed our discussion (in addition to Clif’s “What Is Offensive”) include:

Follow Clif @Clifton_Mark.

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.

Board Game Ideology — Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #108

As board games are becoming increasingly popular with adults, we ask: What’s the relationship between a board game’s mechanics and its narrative? Does the “message” of a board game matter?

Your host Mark Linsenmayer is joined by game designer Tommy Maranges, educator Michelle Parrinello-Cason, and ex-philosopher Al Baker to talk about re-skinning games, designing player experiences, play styles, game complexity, and more.

Some of the games we mention include Puerto Rico, Monopoly, Settlers of Catan, Sorry, Munchkin, Sushi Go, Welcome To…, Codenames, Pandemic, Occam Horror, Terra Mystica, chess, Ticket to Ride, Splendor, Photosynthesis, Spirit Island, Escape from the Dark Castle, and Wingspan.

Some articles that fed our discussion included:

The two games Tommy created that we bring up are Secret Hitler and Inhuman Conditions.

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.

What Makes a “Cult” Band? Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #107

What makes for a “cult band”? Not just a small audience, because Grateful Dead fans are an archetypical cult. Not just a devoted, emotionally invested audience; no volume of Swifties make Taylor Swift qualify as a cult act. Does the music have to be somehow inaccessible, or the fans snobby?

Your host Mark Linsenmayer and three other musicians try to figure it out:

A few of the names that come up for consideration are Tom Waits, The Cure, XTC, Big Star, Brian Wilson, Lou Reed, Guided by Voices, David Bowie, R.E.M., The Residents, Os Mutantes, Tony Owens, Phil Judd, Mike “Sport” Murphy, and many more.

We talk about how the Internet has affected fandom and the music business, the power of musicians lauding each other, and how music fandom relates to other fandom.

Listen to Tim on Nakedly Examined Music and The Partially Examined Life. Read his blog 5-star-songs. Read his article “Hopelessly Devote: Cult Bands.” Follow him @tbquirk.

Listen to Aaron talking about his songs on Nakedly Examined Music, on Pretty Much Pop last year (talking about Borat), and as part of a Partially Examined Life audioplay (also featuring PMP favorite Erica Spyres and cult actress Lucy Lawless). Listen to the song he mentions that resulted from a Tik-Tok collaboration with cult artist Emma Freeman. Follow him on Facebook.

Read Chris’ post-mortem on cult artist Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger.

A couple of articles that fed into this included:

Just to explain one of Mark’s comments, there really was a playset for “the hatch” for the TV show Lost.

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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