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 “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.

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