Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 136: Teen TV Movies from 1988

In 1988, NBC produced three television movies starring a gaggle of teenage stars from some of the most popular sitcoms of the day. And for this episode, I sit down and talk about them. So strap in for “Crash Course,” get on the floor for “Dance ’til Dawn” and set sail on a “Class Cruise!”

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After the break, here are some extras

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Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 135: Time-Traveling Teens from 1988 on TV

We’re back to the world of Paper Girls with the release of Amazon Prime’s new series. Once again, Stella joins me to talk about the show and we give our takes on the characters, the story, and its faithfulness to its source material.

Warning: Spoilers abound!

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A Day in the Life of the Soviet Union

While I am in no way an anthropologist nor an anthropology student (even if I did take a couple of intro classes in grad school), I am fascinated by the concept of culture. I don’t know where it comes from and this is not the moment I am going to explore it, but I enjoy looking through the windows of others’ societies to see how they live their lives in ways that are both unique to them and common to so many of us. As I have been reading about America and exploring our history and culture on my podcast, I have come to appreciate our differences and similarities even more. Due to to our vastness, the nuance that you can find in our people is amazing.

Vladivostok, 7:30 a.m.: Sunrise over Golden Horn Bay. Photo by Lev Sherstennikov.

Why, then, I often wonder, do we assign a monoculture to a group that’s not like us?

I know the answers to this question involve one’s ignorance, prejudices, or hate. It’s even to think of, say, Black Americans as acting or living a certain way when you’re a racist; it’s simple to assign characteristics or behaviors to Latinx people when you’re xenophobic; and when you don’t know much about another country, it’s easy to make assumptions based on what you see in the media. Thankfully, there is travel as a way to erase that ignorance, and if you don’t have the privilege or luxury to travel to France or Morocco or India or Japan or anywhere else, there are plenty of travelogues to read or shows to watch.

Sometimes, though, the monoculture is the result of politics, a way of seeing a supposed “enemy” in only one way so the government or a particular political party can gain or maintain power. That can be easily wrapped together with racism and xenophobia, as we have seen throughout our history when it comes to countries with predominantly non-white populations. In fact, we wrap entire continents into said views–I have lost count of the number people who act like Africa is a country or anyone who comes from a country south of the United States is a “Mexican.” But then there’s the Soviet Union.

I spent the better part of two years taking a look at how Americans viewed the Soviet Union during my Fallen Walls Open Curtains miniseries, and came across so much media that basically described the average Soviet citizen as a bloodthirsty commie zombie ready to destroy America on command. At least, that is, until Rocky Balboa defeated Ivan Drago … I mean, until the mid-1980s when Gorbachev came to power and enacted Perestroika and Glasnost. Then, the media turned toward building a bridge with the USSR. The Russians (never mind that there were multiple Soviet republics, they were all Russians) liked blue jeans and Coca-Cola and rock and roll just like us!

Of course, looking at the people of the Soviet Union through that lens is just as ignorant because you’re grafting your own cultural identity onto them and therefore dressing them up in your own monoculture. To truly remedy the ignorance we all had about the people of the Soviet Union, we would have had to actually go there and meet people from all over the place. But that wasn’t possible for the average American in the 1980s (and is still well out of reach these days). Thankfully, we got A Day in the Life of the Soviet Union, a project conducted by 100 photojournalists on May 15, 1987.

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Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 134: A Day in the Life

It’s second of a series of three episodes about America: its history, its people, and its culture. This time around, I am looking at A Day in the Life of America. My coverage includes a 1968 Department of Defense film called “A Day in America”, the 1986 photo book A Day in the Life of America, the 2003 photo book America 24/7, and the 2019 documentary A Day in the Life of America. What do they capture and tell us about ourselves? Listen and find out.

Content Warning: This episode includes me sharing my political views. Listener discretion is advised.

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After the jump, there are a few extras …

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Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 133: Some Kind of Wonderful

After four years and six films, John Hughes left the teen movie subgenre behind in 1987, but not before producing one last film, Some Kind of Wonderful. Join me as I take a look at the film, its novelization, the soundtrack, and evaluate its place in the teen movie canon and 1980s film history.

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After the jump, there are a few extras …

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Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 132: Where We’re Going Because of Where We’ve Been

It’s first of a series of three episodes about America: its history, its people, and its culture. And to start us off, I’m looking at how American history is related through the comics medium by looking at the comic book “A Picture Story of the United States,” The Cartoon History of the United States by Larry Gonick, and A Most Imperfect Union: A Contrarian History of the United States. How do they tell the story of America and how good of a job do they do? Listen and find out.

Content Warning: This episode includes me sharing my political views. Listener discretion is advised.

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After the jump, there are a few extras …

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Thanks, George.

This post is a few weeks coming, mainly because I wasn’t exactly sure how to add my voice to the many who have paid tribute to George Perez. From posts to podcasts, I’ve heard and read so many great words about him that what I have to say here is another voice in a very large chorus.

Crisis on Infinite Earths #12. Cover by George Perez

Still, how could I not say something about the person who was one of the biggest reasons I got into comics? One of my earliest entries on this blog was about Crisis on Infinite Earths #12, a book that a friend gave me at the start of my collecting career and that I became wholly enamored of. The story was exciting and Perez’ artwork elevated it above anything I’d ever read before. Plus, it looked like a DC Comics superhero comic book should, at least to my twelve-year-old eyes, which had been raised on Super Friends reruns, the Superman and Batman live-action films, and the licensing artwork of Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (praised be his name). From there, I discovered Perez in back issues of The New Teen Titans and got the full … well, picture of the enormity of his talents. To this day, if you ask me for my favorite issues, stories, series, or covers, a number of my responses will feature some contribution from George Perez.

He could do big, sweeping, epic scenes–the two-page splash of Trigon in New Teen Titans (1984) #1, the scene on the Monitor’s satellite in Crisis on Infinite Earths #5, the cover to JLA/Avengers #3–and every one of them was immortal. But more importantly, he could do quiet and intimate moments in a way that so many of the “Go Big, then Go Bigger” artists I was seeing in the early 1990s couldn’t. Just look at Dick Grayson quitting his Robin identity in The New Teen Titans #39, Donna Troy’s wedding, the “Day in the Life” story of The New Teen Titans #8, or “Who is Donna Troy?” He puts as much into those moments as any of his big set pieces, and they have become just as iconic.

And he did it all with such joy.

When I was fortunate enough to meet Mr. Perez at the 2013 Baltimore Comic-Con, it was like meeting Bruce Springsteen. And though he was a … well, a Titan … he graciously took the time to sketch Wonder Woman (a sketch that hangs on the wall of my wife’s office) and talked to me while I Chris Farleyed my way through questions for my podcast. This was at the very end of what had to be a long day for him, but he was as nice and exuberant as if it were still 9:00 in the morning. It’s a few minutes I’ll never forget–I got to watch the master at work and as an artist and a person he lived up to everything I’d hoped he could.

The unique thing about Mr. Perez’ passing is that we all knew it was coming, as he’d announced his cancer diagnosis as well as his intention to not seek treatment. Moreover, he and his family posted updates and shared moments with his fans on social media, providing a collective opportunity to say goodbye and offer up at least some sort of appreciation for what to some is a lifetime of greatness. And thankfully, he’s left a legacy that we comics fans will certainly pass on.

Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 131: Hail! Hail! Corporate Rock and Roll

It was generic. It was kind of lame. And it was everywhere. From the late 1970s until the late 1980s, “Corporate Rock” ruled the airwaves. But what, exactly, was “Corporate Rock”? Join me as I plumb the depths of middling rock radio with a playlist of mid-tempo rockers, power ballads, and the ultimate Corporate Rock song.

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And for fun, here’s a playlist of the songs in this episode:

Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 130: The Diane Lane Rock and Roll Cinematic Universe

Corinne Burns is the teen girl who fronts a band who is scraping to make something of themselves. Ellen Aim is a pop star about to soar into the stratosphere until she’s kidnapped by a biker gang. What do they have in common? They were both characters in 1980s films who were played by Diane Lane. Join me as I look at 1982’s Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains and 1984’s Streets of Fire, and then talk about how someone needs to complete this film “trilogy.”

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Below the jump, some extras:

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Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 129: Continuity, Sagas, and Histories

When you start reading comic books decades into a character or even an entire publisher’s existence, how do you go back and find out all of the stories that got them to that point, especially when it’s 1991, you’re fourteen, and you don’t have money, a car, or the Internet at your disposal? Well, join me as I talk about how I learned about Marvel and DC’s histories through their “official” history accounts: The History of the DC Universe, Marvel Saga, The History of the Marvel Universe, and The Other History of the DC Universe. Plus: listener feedback!

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