The Pop Culture Lens

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Episode 21: Wes Anderson

February 14th, 2016

In the twenty-first episode of The Pop Culture Lens podcast, Christopher Olson and CarrieLynn Reinhard  welcome friend of the podcast Shane Tilton, an assistant professor of multimedia journalism at Ohio Northern University, to discuss filmmaker Wes Anderson by focusing on his films Rushmore and Moonrise Kingdom.

In this episode, the conversation focuses on whether or not to apply the concept of auteur to Anderson, given the common themes and stylistic traits of his films. While Shane and Christopher had different ideas as to what constitutes an auteur, both agreed that Anderson can be considered one. The discussion of his auteurship focused on his literary geek chic, his focus on issues of masculinity, and his tendency to create simulations of reality that are just to the left or to the right of the real world.

If you want to follow Shane and his research, then you can do so via his Twitter account. As always, you are encouraged to become a part of this conversation by visiting any of the podcast's social media sites. You can also talk with Christopher Olson on Twitter (@chrstphrolson) and at his academic blog seemsobvioustome.wordpress.com. And you can talk to CarrieLynn Reinhard on Twitter (@mediaoracle) and at her website www.playingwithresearch.com.

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Episode 20: Deltron 3030

January 24th, 2016

In the twentieth episode of The Pop Culture Lens podcast, Christopher Olson and CarrieLynn Reinhard  welcome friend of the podcast Patrick Battle, a Chicago-based hip-hop artist, to discuss rapper Del the Funky Homosapien and his album Deltron 3030.

In this episode, the conversation considers how the album represents the tension between colonialism and post-colonialism, Afrofuturism, and empowerment. The album is positioned in relation to hip-hop, gangster rap, and American white mainstream culture. The social, cultural, historical, and political aspects of the album are considered during this discussion.

If you want to follow Patrick and his music, then you can do so via his SoundCloud account, his YouTube channel, and his BandCamp page. Additionally, the links that he mentioned in this episode are the following: Vanilla Video, Ian Hitre Video, and The Jungle.

As always, you are encouraged to become a part of this conversation by visiting any of the podcast's social media sites. You can also talk with Christopher Olson on Twitter (@chrstphrolson) and at his academic blog seemsobvioustome.wordpress.com. And you can talk to CarrieLynn Reinhard on Twitter (@mediaoracle) and at her website www.playingwithresearch.com.

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Episode 19: Convergent Wrestling

December 26th, 2015

On this nineteenth episode of The Pop Culture Lens, CarrieLynn Reinhard and Christopher Olson present the final special episode: a recording of a panel discussion from the 2015 Midwest Popular Culture Association Conference. This panel discusses the topic of professional wrestling from a specific theoretical lens, that of convergence culture. This panel reflects a research interest and book project of the co-hosts; more about this project can be found at this website.

Each panelist analyzed a different aspect of professional wrestling, and in particular the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) as the largest wrestling federation, in how that aspect relates to the concept of convergence.

  • Christopher Olson (Dominican University) gave the overview of how the true nature of professional wrestling consists of different types of convergences.
  • Jessica Rodocker (Bowling Green State University) presented an ethnography she has been conducting with smarks, wrestling fans that engage in active and participatory fan practices.
  • Chris Medjesky (Defiance College) discussed his analysis of classic WWF feuds for how they represent real world conflicts and thus provide the means by which fans make sense of the world.
  • Kathie Kallevig (Winona State University) uses her fandom of professional wrestling to contextualize her argument for why #DivasRevolution is not the revolution women's wrestling needs.

As an academic discussion, anyone in the audience of this podcast should feel free to engage in the dialogue about these issues, here and on our other social media accounts. You can also talk with Christopher Olson on Twitter (@chrstphrolson) and at his academic blog seemsobvioustome.wordpress.com. And you can talk to CarrieLynn Reinhard on Twitter (@mediaoracle) and at her website www.playingwithresearch.com.

The end music for this episode samples from Sasha Banks' entrance music, which you can download on iTunes here. And try converging it with this classic bit from the cartoon Adventure Time.

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Episode 18: The Controversial Joss Whedon

December 8th, 2015

On this eighteenth episode of The Pop Culture Lens, CarrieLynn Reinhard and Christopher Olson present the recording of a second roundtable discussion from the 2015 Midwest Popular Culture Association Conference. This roundtable discusses the topic of director and showrunner Joss Whedon -- and how much of a controversial figure and person he is for so many people, including his fans.

Each discussant brought a different focus to this topic. Kadee Whaley (University of Kentucky) organized and moderated this discussion.

  • Art Herbig (Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne) discusses his analysis of the discourse surrounding Joss Whedon as a feminist and how this creates who Whedon is for the world.
  • Laura Stolzfus-Brown (Pasadena City College) discusses the controversy of the scene between Black Widow and The Hulk in Avengers: Age of Ultron that caused Whedon to abandon social media in May, 2015.
  • Katie Wilson (University of Louisville) discusses her struggles as an acafan or fan-scholar and being able to criticize Whedon when she is such a big fan of his work.
  • CarrieLynn Reinhard (Dominican University) discusses how she sees the various types of anti-fans or apologist fans circling Whedon and the reasons for their angst, annoyance and disgust with the man and his work.

As a roundtable discussion, anyone in the audience of this podcast should feel free to engage in the dialogue about these issues, here and on our other social media accounts. You can also talk with Christopher Olson on Twitter (@chrstphrolson) and at his academic blog seemsobvioustome.wordpress.com. And you can talk to CarrieLynn Reinhard on Twitter (@mediaoracle) and at her website www.playingwithresearch.com.

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Episode 17: Fan Harassment

November 23rd, 2015

On this seventeenth episode of The Pop Culture Lens, CarrieLynn Reinhard and Christopher Olson present the recording of a roundtable discussion from the 2015 Midwest Popular Culture Association Conference. This roundtable discusses the topic of fan harassment, whether it occurs online or in the physical world, such as at fan conventions.

Each discussant brought a different focus to this topic.

  • Katie Wilson (University of Louisville) discusses her research into the harassment of female fans, how it relates to the depictions of female fans in the media, and the presence of harassment of female fans in GamerGate.
  • CarrieLynn Reinhard (Dominican University) discusses her concept of fractured fandom, how it involves breakdowns in communication, and how it can help explain the discourse in GamerGate.
  • Jef Burnham (DePaul University) discusses his experience teaching classes on video games and ethics, and how he has handled the conversations about GamerGate with his students.
  • Kayleigh Grubb (Northern Illinois University) discusses her production of a documentary about harassment in the cosplay community and how harassment manifests for cosplayers at fan conventions and online.

As a roundtable discussion, anyone in the audience of this podcast should feel free to engage in the dialogue about these issues, here and on our other social media accounts. You can also talk with Christopher Olson on Twitter (@chrstphrolson) and at his academic blog seemsobvioustome.wordpress.com. And you can talk to CarrieLynn Reinhard on Twitter (@mediaoracle) and at her website www.playingwithresearch.com.

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Episode 16: The Exorcist (1973)

October 27th, 2015

In the sixteenth episode of The Pop Culture Lens podcast, Christopher Olson and CarrieLynn Reinhard  discuss what is perhaps the most successful horror movie of all time, William Friedkin's The Exorcist (1973).

Christopher and CarrieLynn are currently working on a project and a book wherein they look at how the "traditional exorcism narrative" established by this film has become the main genre convention across all of the films in the horror subgenre of exorcism cinema. In discussing and deconstructing The Exorcist, they are able to define this trope, argue for what it means, and discuss its prevalence as a combination of social and cultural forces as well as the political economic forces of the movie industry. They understand exorcism films as depicting the oppression of non-dominant groups so that traditional powers and norms can remain in place, and this metaphor is prevalent across this subgenre, tracing back to this film and even before it.

And apparently the curse of The Exorcist found them and caused problems with their audio that required post-production inserts! Happy Halloween!

As always, you are encouraged to become a part of this conversation by visiting any of the podcast's social media sites. You can also talk with Christopher Olson on Twitter (@chrstphrolson) and at his academic blog seemsobvioustome.wordpress.com. And you can talk to CarrieLynn Reinhard on Twitter (@mediaoracle) and at her website www.playingwithresearch.com.

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Bewitched Episode — Original Cut

October 13th, 2015

Co-host CarrieLynn D. Reinhard here, telling you about this special episode for the podcast.

When we recorded the original episode on Bewitched with special guest Megan Stemm-Wade, we had to cut material from the discussion to come in under the time limit of our Podbean account. Since then, we have upgraded our account to allow for longer episodes.

So today we bring you the full, unedited, original version of Episode 4 that covers even more information and analysis of the beloved series of a witch trying to be a normal housewife. We will be returning to our regular production schedule soon, with special episodes featuring scholars talking about a range of pop culture topics.

You can follow Megan on Twitter (@siamesemeg) and at her website siamesemeg.com. As always, you can follow Christopher Olson on Twitter (@chrstphrolson) and at his academic blog seemsobvioustome.wordpress.com. And you can follow CarrieLynn Reinhard on Twitter (@mediaoracle) and at her website www.playingwithresearch.com.

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Episode 15: From the WWF to the WWE

September 22nd, 2015

In the fifteenth episode of The Pop Culture Lens podcast, Christopher Olson and CarrieLynn Reinhard welcome friend of the podcast Joe Belfeuil to discuss the largest professional wrestling company in the world, World Wrestling Entertainment, at the time when it ruled the 1980s as the World Wrestling Federation.

Both Christopher and Joe grew up with the WWF, but CarrieLynn is a newcomer to sports entertainment and knows more about the WWE. Together, they discuss what the WWF was like, including the ways in which it was rather problematic in its depiction of people outside of the United States, women, people of color, and non-heterosexuals. They also discuss how professional wrestling, especially as epitomized by the WWF/WWE, represents convergent culture and the creation of a simulation of reality or hyperreality. They also touch on the problems the WWE still faces, how the company perhaps creates these problems, and what could be done to fix the problems -- basically, they smark out as any good professional wrestling fan should!

As always, you are encouraged to become a part of this conversation by visiting any of the podcast's social media sites. You can also talk with Christopher Olson on Twitter (@chrstphrolson) and at his academic blog seemsobvioustome.wordpress.com. And you can talk to CarrieLynn Reinhard on Twitter (@mediaoracle) and at her website www.playingwithresearch.com.

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Episode 14: My Little Pony

August 24th, 2015

In the fourteenth episode of The Pop Culture Lens podcast, Christopher Olson and CarrieLynn Reinhard are joined by Aaron Kashtan of Miami University in Ohio (https://ogresfeathers.wordpress.com) to discuss the gendered and transmedia nature of the long-surviving and recently rejuvenated franchise, My Little Pony.

The discussion focuses on the distinctions between the earlier manifestations of this franchise and the most recent one, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, which has generated buzz since its launch in 2010. Much of the discourse surrounding this latest series comes because of the male fans of the series, the bronies, who were non-existent when the franchise launched in the 1980s. Thus, the conversation in the episode grapples with the existence of this male fan base for why it exists and what it means about gendered media products and gender itself.

The song at the end of the episode is an exclusive short made for the second feature film to focus on the human versions of the ponies: Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks. The first film, Equestria Girls, served as a foundation for CarrieLynn's exploration of the fractured fandom concept. In the episode, Christopher mentioned a concept he and CarrieLynn are developing, networked gender; you can read about it in relationship to BMO and Adventure Time here. You can read an article published from CarrieLynn's dissertation that looks at men engaging with My Little Pony here.

As always, you are encouraged to become a part of this conversation by visiting any of the podcast's social media sites. You can also talk with Christopher Olson on Twitter (@chrstphrolson) and at his academic blog seemsobvioustome.wordpress.com. And you can talk to CarrieLynn Reinhard on Twitter (@mediaoracle) and at her website www.playingwithresearch.com.

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Returning to Bewitched

August 10th, 2015

Hello everyone!

One of your cohosts here, CarrieLynn Reinhard, writing to you all personally to say thank you for following us on the podcast. Chris and I are so humbled to have so many people listening to the ideas presented in the podcast.

August is a busy time for both of us, as the new school year gears up and we try to get as much of our exorcism cinema book written before then as possible. So we are on hiatus for a bit until the dust settles and we get into the groove of the new semester. We hope to bring you an episode about My Little Pony very soon.

Until then, we have a follow-up to an episode we did earlier this year on the classic sitcom Bewitched. After that episode aired, we received feedback from a man who has written a book on the series. He was kind enough to send along the book, and we agreed that the next time we talk about the series -- perhaps focusing on the later years -- we would have him on the show.

Adam-Michael James wrote The Bewitched Continuum: The Ultimate Linear Guide to the Classic TV Series, which can be purchased at Amazon.com and Createspace.com. Adam-Michael is a huge fan of the series, so I asked him a couple questions to have his thoughts on the staying power of the series.

A little about yourself/background?

I'm a writer and a performer; I've always been fascinated with movies and television and how they work. I was an extra for a lot of years and I've also written script coverage for studios, so it's become natural for me to analyze what I watch. I've been writing opinion columns for Soapcentral.com for the past 6 years from that standpoint.

What drove you to write this book?

I've loved Bewitched since I discovered it as an 8-year-old in 1977. I used to record it on cassette tape and listen to it over and over. Then there was VHS, and by the time it came out on DVD, I was quite a student of continuity, so I found myself watching the series in order and noticing how some overall elements lined up while others didn't. Then, since 2014 was the 50th anniversary of the series premiere, I thought there was no better time to write out my observations as a way of celebrating the show.

What do you hope people will get out of the book?

Ultimately, I look at it as something that will help people appreciate Bewitched in a whole new way. People can read it in order – it is the ultimate linear guide, after all – or they can skip around to their favorite episodes. The book is really meant to be right there at your side as you watch the show. Also, it's my hope that it will help attract new viewers, help them understand the series better. The book is quite the primer in that respect!

Why do you think the series is something we should still be thinking about so long after it aired?

Most people don't know that Bewitched was the first supernatural show on the air, so everything from Once Upon A Time to The Walking Dead has roots with Samantha and Darrin. Of course, the more time passes, the more our older shows are forgotten, especially by the younger generation. The reason Bewitched holds up so well is because the magic pulls you in, but the characters and intelligent writing keeps you hooked. Sure, the clothes and interior decor and some of the social mores are dated, but the show is just fun. And fun is what I wanted my book to be, too. If it helps to keep Bewitched in the public's consciousness, then I've done my job!

I think Adam-Michael's point about the presence of supernatural television today owing a lot to Bewitched is an important observation to make. Shows like Bewitched and Star Trek (which we talk about in this episode) helped to bring fantasy and science fiction ideas to a mainstream audience. Indeed, if not for these early shows, much of our modern pop culture may not exist, given how central fantasy and science fiction is to it. If the producers of today did not have the inspiration back then when they were growing up, then we audiences of today may be missing out on some of the most original and contemplative storytelling out there.

For more, you can follow Adam-Michael and his work on Bewitched by joining his Facebook community: https://www.facebook.com/bwcontinuum.

And stay tuned for some more conversations on the pop culture of the past in our podcast.