“A bunch of friends who might not be film experts, but sure do have funny opinions, watch bad movies and rag on them” is a podcasting trope by now, if such a thing can exist. How do you wade through the sea of cinematic chit-chat to find one you know will be good? That’s not actually a question I can answer, since I was lucky enough to stumble into Trash & Treasures sideways, but I can help by assuring you that Trash & Treasures is one worth checking out.
Trash & Treasures is where self-described “three weirdos,” Vrai, Dorothy, and Chris, watch movies and sometimes TV series that have been lost down the back of the pop culture couch. Maybe they’re a product of Disney’s awkward and edgy dark era where the company was low on funds and fighting with Don Bluth, maybe they’re an obscure single-release piece of queer action cinema, maybe they’re… just plain bad. Each episode is devoted to a different piece of media, and the trio discuss the plot, context and history of how this movie came to be and how they came to find it, and which parts of it are terrible and which parts are actually, maybe, kind of good.
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I think we can all agree that the Tragic Sad Dead Gays genre isn’t welcome these days (not to say that it was ever totally welcome, but given the progress of time and sensibilities, this sentiment has become much more mainstream). Instead, a whole bunch of creators are embracing the idea that LGBTQ+ folks are just as capable of being protagonists in stories with happy endings, and stories across an exciting range of genres. This week, we zoom in on the romantic dramedy—tales of love, growth, and shenanigans set in a world recognisable as ours. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, it’ll change your life—or, maybe you’ll just enjoy some sweet queer content, able to relax with the knowledge that a respectful handling and happy ending is in sight.
As I’ve said before, I feel weird writing about stories that aren’t yet finished, and as all the webcomics below are ongoing, I can’t review them in good conscience because I haven’t seen the full story. Consider these not reviews, then, but recommendations of a few little gems I’ve found this year that I find particularly delightful so far, and that I invite you to jump into and come along for the ride as they progress. Continue reading
Harry Potter is a pillar of civilization by this point. What began as a series of children’s/young adult novels is now a virtual empire, with eight movies, several spinoff books, movies of the spinoff books, theme parks, and the website Pottermore to ensure that the franchise is constantly alive and being added to. Given the impact this series has had since its release in the ‘90s, you’d be hard pressed to find someone in the Western world who hasn’t been influenced by it—and it would be nigh-impossible to find someone who hasn’t read the books that have shaped a generation.
You’d think that, but you would be wrong—Mike Schubert, a twenty-four-year-old American man, has never read the Harry Potter novels that so defined the childhood of his peers. And so, in a grand experiment, he’s sitting down to read them all one after the other, and discuss them with his Potterhead friends in this week’s web crush: the Potterless podcast.
Jump to Lady Geek Girl and Friends for the full post!
Gather round, gang! Like I did a few posts ago with The Cauldron of Story, it’s time to take some literary theory I’ve come across in my research and apply it to modern media—in this case, Barbara Fass Leavy’s weighty and extensive discussion of folklore about supernatural marriages, and an overtly cute anime about a dragon who is also a maid.
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Mythology is super fun—though this is easy to forget when most of our access to it comes in textbook form. I’d love to soak up as many legends and stories from around the world as I can, but Wiki-walking can only get you so far, and often you can get lost in those walls of text and the academic language. Plus, how do you know where to start?
These epic tales of heroes, gods, demons and magical shenanigans were often meant to be told out loud, spread by word of mouth for the purpose of entertainment. A podcast, then, is the ideal modern media to get yourself into these ancient tales. Today’s web crush Spirits is exactly that, and it comes with a bonus dose of friendship, feminism, and alcohol!
Head to Lady Geek Girl and Friends for the full post!
Lucky Star is, on paper, potentially a recipe for disaster. It is very much a show just about the daily lives of high school students, not even following any coming of age arcs or concrete plotline, and mostly just features its characters talking about everyday stuff. It’s full of pop culture references and nods to otaku culture from its time of print, which was the year 2006. And… like, literally nothing happens. If you asked me to tell you the “plot” of Lucky Star I wouldn’t know where to start—it’s not even dramatic enough to root itself in a “four friends in their last year of school” framing device. Stuff just kind of happens. This show should be a boring pile of ridiculous, but it’s not—it’s hilarious, compelling, and has held a special place in my heart for years. Why? I’m not sure I can tell you, but I’m going to attempt to crack this mystery for the ages. Continue reading
When people ask me if I enjoyed Stranger Things, my response has to be “Well, it wouldn’t usually be my thing, but somehow I watched the entire thing almost in one sitting, found myself gasping or shouting at it more than once, and will be haunted by that menacing synth music for years to come… so I guess it’s doing something right.”
One of these somethings has to be the character writing, which creates fictional people compelling enough to keep you hooked even if the story itself is based heavily on tropes we’ve seen many times before and probably wouldn’t make the show stand out on its own. Most of the main cast are interesting and layered in their own ways, and are put together with what I think is a very neat amount of technical skill, chiefly surrounding that age old writing mantra Show, Don’t Tell.
For instance: at no point do we ever need to be told that Jim Hopper is a human disaster with a tragic past, because this information is handed to us on a silver platter of visual coding. He has the neatest establishing character moment in the series, I think, which paints a picture of his basic personality and contradictions and hints to his backstory, light-handedly enough to be intriguing and plain enough to demonstrate all the details the audience needs to know about this guy to progress headlong into the story. We see a child’s drawing pinned in pride of place on the wall, which is then panned away from to show a messy kitchen, even messier living room, the TV still on, and a scruffy, displaced looking man sunken into the couch. There’s no dialogue, just Hopper peeling himself off the sofa, completing his morning routine interspersed with sips of beer, deep “pull yourself together man” sighs, and about fifty cigarettes. And then this addiction-soaked splatter of a man who conked out without even having the energy to turn the TV off puts on a sheriff’s uniform. Continue reading