The Pop Culture Lens

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Episode 26: Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005-2008)

July 19th, 2016

In the twenty-sixth episode of The Pop Culture Lens podcast, Christopher Olson and CarrieLynn Reinhard welcome friend of the podcast and return guest, Aaron Kashtan, to discuss the immensely popular hit from the early 21st century, Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005-2008).

In this episode -- which at times features poor audio due to issues with Skype, for which the co-hosts apologize -- Aaron and CarrieLynn address the question of whether or not the series can be called an anime. This conversation focuses on the issues of being a transcultural and transnational media text, and if the series represents a form of cultural appropriation or just cultural appreciation. Overall, the series' status as being a part of a transmedia storyworld becomes the final point, as it spawned comic books, a sequel, and a doomed film adaptation.

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 25: Akira (1988)

July 3rd, 2016

In the twenty-fifth episode of The Pop Culture Lens podcast, Christopher Olson and CarrieLynn Reinhard welcome friend of the podcast, Charley Reed, to discuss one of the most influential anime feature films of all time, Akira (1988).

In this episode -- which at times features poor audio due to issues with Skype, for which the co-hosts apologize -- the three discuss their fondness for the film as being central to their anime fandom. The conversation focuses on the themes of Akira, from generational and national tensions to the purpose of dystopia in Japanese, American, and perhaps global societies. The cyclical nature of destruction and creation is explored through this film, and perhaps indicates why it has had such a global and long-lasting impact on pop culture.

They also discuss the attempts to make an American adaptation of the film, with all the problems associated with such an undertaking. But you can see some ideas for doing so here. Christopher talks more about Akira in relation to Japanese cinema on his blog 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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Episode 24: Dungeons and Dragons

June 13th, 2016

In the twenty-fourth episode of The Pop Culture Lens podcast, Christopher Olson and CarrieLynn Reinhard welcome friend of the podcast, psychologist in training, and long-time gamer Steve Discont to discuss the classic table-top role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons.

In this episode, each recalls their experiences with role-playing games, from Dungeons and Dragons to MMORPGs and LARPing. The conversation focuses on the compelling reasons so many people have played such games, and how such games have influenced the concept of the American fan. Additionally, the discussion considers how role-playing can actually be educational and beneficial to people, thereby hoping to remove the stereotypes of such games that go back to the Satanic panic of the early 1980s.

The news story mentioned in the episode can be found here. The music at the end comes from the song "D&D" by Stephen Lynch and Mark Teich.

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 23: They Live (1988)

May 24th, 2016

In the twenty-third episode of The Pop Culture Lens podcast, Christopher Olson and CarrieLynn Reinhard  welcome back friend of the podcast Joe Belfeuil to discuss John Carpenter's 1988 cult classic They Live and how the film seems as relevant if not more now. The short story the film is based on can be found on this website.

In this episode, the conversation focuses on the allegorical nature of the film, for how it comments on Reaganomics, rampant consumerism, the dissolution of the middle class, and hostility towards environmentalism. Additionally, through their discussion, they consider the role and power of conspiracy theories in people's lives, as well as wrestle with just how powerful individuals are to change the world.

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 22: The Dark Side of Fandom

April 10th, 2016

In the twenty-second episode of The Pop Culture Lens podcast, Christopher Olson and CarrieLynn Reinhard present another special episode. This special episode contains the recording of a panel from the 2016 Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) called: The Dark Side of Fandom: Shaming, Infighting and Harassment in Fan Spaces.

During this panel, CarrieLynn and Christopher were joined by fellow academics and fans to discuss what leads to the problems being seen in fandom these days, and how to possibly deal with these problems. This discussion is similar to the one covered in Episode 17 Fan Harassment. On this panel are Paul Booth of DePaul University, Katie Wilson of the University of Louisville, Jef Burnham of DePaul University, and Steve Discont of the Illinois Institute of Technology. The episode also samples the song Why Can't We Be Friends by War for an apropos ending.

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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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The Hiatus Episode

March 7th, 2016

CarrieLynn Reinhard here, presenting this special episode for the podcast wherein Christopher Olson and I describe just how busy we are that we need to take a short break from the podcast.

We have a number of research projects coming up that require us to do presentations and meet publication deadlines. In this short episode, we discuss just what those projects are, as we would appreciate hearing your thoughts about them. We also encourage any fellow fans, students, and researchers to come to the conferences we will be at to hear about them in person. We would love to see you at C2E2, PCA, or CSCA.

These projects include the following:

And more are discussed on this episode. So while we love doing this podcast, and are not planning on stopping any time soon, we just need a bit of a break to handle these projects, and then we can return back to normal programming.

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 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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