If you’re planning on spending any portion of the holiday season with the older generation of your family (or your significant other’s family, or a friend’s family, or whoever, you get it), you’ve probably already considered some of the current goings-on in pop culture you may have to explain and/or contextualize to a less plugged-in legion of relatives that are eager to be in the know. “What is this Sony business?” they might ask. “Is Seth Rogen really in league with the government?” someone might inquire. “What is a Nicki Minaj?” a person might pipe in. “Did you like that Angelina Jolie movie?” might come up, too. “And what is a podcast?”


Serial Podcast

It’s happened. A podcast has achieved the status of a cultural phenomenon. Where podcasting has largely either operated as a supplementary commentary on culture (from new films to dead authors to linguistics, and probably everything else) or an extension of talk radio (political or public radio-style podcasts), serving as the custodian of our connected watercooler conversations, This American Life’s Serial podcast has now found itself at the center of a cultural conversation and a thing to be witnessed on its own – the type of thing people make podcasts about. Serial as a phenomenon can be largely credited to its inventive use of the medium – to tell a story over weeks like a must-see television show. And like the way we currently watch television, Serial has inspired a regular output of recaps, conversations, fan theories, thinkpieces, and parodies. Add the stakes inherent in the fact that Serial is one journalist’s episode-to-episode investigation of a complicated 15-year-old murder case, and what you have is the capacities of a storytelling platform transforming real life into accessible, compelling, perhaps exploitative drama. But the way we’ve been making sense of Serial as a phenomenon says a great deal about how we relate to – and “elevate” – new media phenomena based on prior media phenomena.


Batman the Animated Series

Enduring cultural figures like Batman endure precisely because of the slight but notable changes they incur over time. Batman has had a long history in the moving image, and while the character has maintained both the central conceit of being a crime-fighting detective, the cinematic Batman of seventy years ago bears little resemblance to the Batman we’re familiar with today. The character and his myth have been interpreted with variation by a multitude of creative persons other than Bob Kane and Bill Finger. In the moving image, Batman has been embodied by a range of actors including Robert Lowery, Adam West, and George Clooney, and Batman has been realized by directors and showrunners prone to various tastes and aesthetic interpretations like William Dozier and Christopher Nolan. While Batman is perhaps best-known by a non-comic-astute mass culture through the many blockbuster feature films made about him, including this summer’s hotly anticipated The Dark Knight Rises, the character’s cinematic origins are rooted in the long-dead format of the movie serial. Batman first leapt off the page in a 15-part serial made in 1943 titled Batman and another six years later titled Batman and Robin. These serials did not influence Batman’s later cinematic iterations realized by Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher as much as they inspired Batman’s representation on television. Batman’s presence in film serials and on television have had a decisive and important impact in terms of how mass audiences perceive the Batman of feature films. At the same time, these serials […]

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published: 02.01.2015
published: 01.31.2015
published: 01.30.2015
published: 01.30.2015

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