On “Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar” and the Female Buddy Comedy–Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #87

The buddy comedy is a staple of American film, but using this to explore female friendship is still fresh ground. Erica, Mark, Brian, and Erica’s long-time friend Micah Greene (actor and nurse) discuss tropes and dynamics within this kind of film, focusing primarily on Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar, the 2021 release written and starring Kristin Wiig and Annie Mumolo as a couple of middle aged near-twin oddballs expanding their horizons in a surrealistic, gag-filled tropical venue.

While male pairings of this sort (Cheech and Chong, Bob and Doug McKenzie, Beavis and Butthead et al) stick to silly jokes, Barb and Star base their antics around their evolving relationship toward each other. As with the 2019 film Booksmart and many TV shows including Dead to Me, PEN15, and Grace and Frankie, the trend is toward dramedy as the dynamics of friendship are taken seriously. We also touch on Bridesmaids, Sisters, The Heat, BAPS, I Love You Man, and more.

A few relevant articles:

Hear more of this podcast at prettymuchpop.com. This episode includes bonus discussion that you can access by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. 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.

Why the Flood of Musician Memoirs? An Exploration by Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #84

There’s been an explosion of rock and roll autobiographies in recent years, with pretty much every music legend (and many others) being invited by some publisher or other to write or dictate their story. What’s the particular appeal of this kind of recounting, what’s the connection between writing and reading these books on the one hand and producing and listening to the actual music on the other? Do we get a roughly equivalent benefit from a biography, documentary, or film depiction of the person’s life?

Your hosts Mark Linsenmayer, Erica Spyres, and Brian Hirt along with guest Laura Davis-Chanin, author of her own music memoir, each picked a book, covering Elvis Costello, Carrie Brownstein, Ozzy Osbourne, and Debbie Harry respectively. Reflecting on these reading experiences we compare the author’s purposes in writing the book, how confessional or drug-addled or twisted the story is, what is emphasized and what’s not, and what resonated in the story beyond the idiosyncratic recounting of that person’s life.

Check out Laura’s two books, hear her talk about her musical adventures on Nakedly Examined Music, and hear her discuss classic literature on Phi Fic.

Some of the NEM episodes where Mark talked with guests about their auto-biographies featured Chris Frantz of Talking Heads, Jim Peterik of Survivor, Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash, Danny Seraphine of Chicago and John Andrew Fredrick of The Black Watch.

We didn’t use much research for this episode, but you can read lists of particularly good music memoirs from Rolling Stone and The Guardian. The Oakland Press has an article about music biographies and autobiographies emerging at the end of 2020.

Hear more of this podcast at prettymuchpop.com. This episode includes bonus discussion that you can access by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. 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.

Increasing Disabled/Other-Abled Representation in Media — Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #83

At least 20% of us have some sort of disability, yet such conditions are reflected by only tiny portion of TV and film characterizations, and what characters are portrayed typically get played by non-disabled actors. Depictions often focus on what it’s like to live with the condition. This can of course be socially beneficial, but we don’t want to essentialize people as their conditions, so it’s even more useful to feature disabled actors and characters when the plot is not about their disability.

Pretty Much Pop hosts Mark Linsenmayer, Erica Spyres, and Brian Hirt are joined by playwright Kayla Dryesse to talk about hurdles to representation, disability culture, whether “disability” is even the right word, negative stereotypes (no less than five James Bond villains are in wheelchairs!), and issues in portraying disability related to theater, comedy, horror, and superheroes. Some shows mentioned include Speechless, Atypical, Everything’s Gonna Be Okay, Breaking Bad, Glee, The Stand, The Witches, and The Great British Bake-Off.

Learn more from these articles:

Also, watch Stella Young’s TED talk, called “I’m Not Your Inspiration, Thank You Very Much;” the episode of Drunk History about 504 accessibility; and Stevie Wonder’s SNL parody of a camera commercial.

Hear more of this podcast at prettymuchpop.com. This episode includes bonus discussion that you can access by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. 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.

Why Does The Karate Kid Persist as the New Cobra Kai? A Critical Consideration by Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast (#82)

Did anyone suspect that the beloved 1984 film The Karate Kid (and its decreasingly beloved sequels) would now be not just remade but revived as the YouTube-Red-turned-Netflix hit Cobra Kai? Is this new show actually good, or just living unhealthily on nostalgia and the fascination of watching teens and middle aged people fistfight and fall in love.

Your Pretty Much Pop hosts Mark-san, Erica-san, and Brian-san survey the show and all the films for nonsensical plotting, villain motivation, questionable acting, and more. It’s almost as if PMP is the best… around… and nothing’s ever gonna keep it down.

Care for some articles with more info about these shows?

If you haven’t seen the notorious Karate Kid III, watch this.

Hear more of this podcast at prettymuchpop.com. This episode includes bonus discussion that you can access by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. 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.

Radio vs. Podcasting: A Discussion with Jason Bentley (KCRW, The Backstory) on Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #81

Jason was music director at KRCW, the LA NPR station, is also a DJ with a lot of experienced interviewing musicians, and now hosts a new podcast, The Backstory. He joins Mark and Erica to discuss the creative and business possibilities of podcasting in comparison to radio, what their futures may hold, and his own journey between the two media.

Follow Jason @thejasonbentley. Listen to his Backstory interview with Kristen Bell and his current radio show, Metropolis.

Here’s some comparison data and other basic information on radio and podcasts:

Hear more of this podcast at prettymuchpop.com. This episode includes bonus discussion that you can access by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. 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.

Do We Need Yet More Films About Time Loops? A Pretty Much Pop Discussion (#80) of Groundhog Day and its Descendents

Tine looping, where a character is doomed to repeat the same day (or hour, or longer period) is a sci-fi trope dating back more than a century, but really entered American consciousness with the 1993 Bill Murray film Groundhog Day. Since then, and especially in the last five years, there have been numerous iterations of this idea in various genres from racial police-shooting drama to teen sex comedy. But do we need more of this? What are the philosophical ideas involved, and how do these change with tweaks to the scenario?

Mark, Erica, Brian, and returning guest Ken Gerber discuss not only the very recent and popular forays into this genre with Hulu’s Palm Springs and Netflix’s Russian Doll, but also touch on Edge of Tomorrow, Repeaters, 12:01 PM, Before I Fall, The Fare, and episodes of The Twilight Zone, Star Trek: Discovery, The X-Files, and Rick & Morty.

There are of course other film and TV uses of this trope. For a relatively full list, you can see this wiki page listing time loop films and this other wiki page discussing literary antecedents. Also see the “Groundhog Day” Loop page on tvtropes.org, and here’s a relevant reddit thread.

Here are more articles:

Watch the 12:01 PM 1990 short film. This bonus episode of the 11.22.63 podcast had a great discussion of time loop media including the Ken Grimwood novel Replay and the short story “12:01 P.M.” and its sequels. You can read the 1941 Malcolm Jameson story “Doubled and Redoubled” online. As a forerunner to the time loop idea, check out the very short 1892 children’s story “Christmas Every Day” by William Dean Howells, where time does move forward with its consequences, but it’s always Christmas!

We talked a little about Happy Death Day with its costume designer in our ep. 38 and got into time travel more generally with Ken in ep. 22 and into “weird situations” in our Twilight Zone ep. 52. You may also enjoy Wes Alwan’s (sub)Text podcast discussing the psychological implications of Groundhog Day.

Check out the time loop movie bingo card that Brian put together (with groundhog picture by Ken):

Hear more of this podcast at prettymuchpop.com. This episode includes bonus discussion that you can access by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. 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 Formula for The Coen Brothers/Noah Hawley’s Fargo – Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #79

Your hosts Mark Linsemayer, Erica Spyres, and Brian Hirt are joined by Tamler from the Very Bad Wizards podcast to consider the plaudits and complaints heaped on this morality-tale-turned-organized-crime-drama that began with the 1006 film and  has continued through a 4-season TV show. We delve into its elaborate style, “tundra western” setting, dry humor (including “Minnesota nice”), speechifying, gender issues, stunt casting, and the role of chance in its plotting. Did the show go downhill in its later seasons, and is there altogether too much rehash involved? Yes, there are spoilers, but no, it barely matters.

Check out these resources for more opinions and background information:

Follow @tamler. Hear him on The Partially Examined Life. Check out his book, Why Honor Matters.

Hear more of this podcast at prettymuchpop.com. This episode includes bonus discussion that you can access by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. 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.

Should You Race Back to Theaters When It’s Safe? Pretty Much Pop: Culture Podcast (#77) on the Big Screen Experience

The pandemic has kept us out of the movie theaters, forcing new streaming practices so that films can be released at all, but as these restrictions end in 2021, do we want things to go back just to the way they were?

Your hosts Mark Linsenmayer, Erica Spyres, and Brian Hirt reviewed many articles where filmmakers fretted about the future of cinema. Even before the pandemic, concerns about falling movie house attendance and the increased use of streaming have had the industry worried about films being viewed in the manner their creators intended, or even made at all.

For at least the first half our of this discussion, we largely ignored all that in favor of musing on our own past theater-going habits and experiences. What has worked and hasn’t in the shift toward more spectacle and amenities? What do we like and loathe about being in an audience with others? Is the theater experience essential just for big special effects films, or does it make any film more effective? How would we improve moviegoing and home viewing? We consider the list of films that were supposed to come out this year and were either delayed or moved to streaming, like Tenet, Soul, In the Heights, etc.

Here are those articles, in case you’re curious:

Hear more of this podcast at prettymuchpop.com. This episode includes bonus discussion you can access by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. 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.

« Go BackMore in this category... »
Quantcast
Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.