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Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 107: School’s Out!

Episode 107 Website LogoHigh School is over and for the students who went to Degrassi High, that means parties, college, jobs, and sex with Tessa Campinelli. That’s right, it’s time to look back at the wildest summer in Degrassi history, the 1992 movie finale, School’s Out! Over the course of this episode, I take a look at the movie that ended the Canadian teen television show and also spend time recapping my Degrassi origin story as well as what it was like to be an American fan of the show during its PBS run in the late Eighties and early Nineties.

You can listen here:

Apple Podcasts:  Pop Culture Affidavit

Direct Download 

Pop Culture Affidavit podcast page

And for fun, here’s a couple of the clips from the episode:

The television promo …

And the infamous “You were fucking Tessa Campinelli?” scene …

Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 104: Festivus 2019

Episode 104 Website CoverIt’s the most wonderful time of the year again! Continuing a podcast tradition, I am joined by Rob Kelly of the Fire and Water Podcast Network to celebrate Festivus 2019! We begin, as always, with the airing of grievances where we discuss what has annoyed us in popular culture this year. Then we move on to the feats of strength, which means reading and reviewing a Nineties comic. This time around, it’s Armor #4 from Continuity Comics.

You can listen here:

Apple Podcasts:  Pop Culture Affidavit

Direct Download 

Pop Culture Affidavit podcast page

In Country: Marvel Comics’ “The ‘Nam” — Episode 98

IC 98 Website CoverTwo episodes and a wake-up are left!

This time around, I take one last trip to Vietnam at the movies by looking at the final film in Oliver Stone’s Vietnam trilogy, 1993’s Heaven and Earth.  I review the film and also take a look at its source material, two memoirs by Le Ly Hayslip, When Heaven and Earth Changed Places and Child of War Woman of Peace.

You can download the episode via Apple Podcasts or listen directly at the Two True Freaks website

In Country iTunes feed

In Country Episode 98 direct link

Some extras for you.

First, a link to Thrive Networks, Le Ly Hayslip’s charitable organization that began as the East Meets West Foundation:  Thrivenetworks.org

The trailer for the film …

Heaven & Earth

 

In Country: Marvel Comics’ “The ‘Nam” — Episode 94

IC 94 Website CoverSix episodes and a wake-up!

It’s time to do another tour with Frank Castle as I look at two separate Punisher storylines from the 1990s.  First up is the trade paperback The Punisher in The ‘Nam: Final Invasion, a post-cancellation publication of what was supposed to be issues #84, 85, and 86 of the series.  In it, Frank re-ups for another assignment and takes on a mission to rescue a group of POWs from a NVA camp called “The Death Hole.”

The second storyline is a five-parter from Punisher: War Zone #26-30 where Ice has to rescue Frank when he is captured by a powerful gangster who runs a cartel on an island nation in Latin America.

You can download the episode via iTunes or listen directly at the Two True Freaks website

In Country iTunes feed

In Country Episode 94 direct link

 

In Country: Marvel Comics’ “The ‘Nam” — Episode 92

IC 92 Website CoverEight episodes and a wake-up!

This time around, I take a look at issue #81 of the series, which is part three of the three-part Tet Offensive storyline “The Beginning of the End”, plus historical context from the summer of 1973. Then, I look at five documentaries about the Vietnam War.

You can download the episode via iTunes or listen directly at the Two True Freaks website

In Country iTunes feed

In Country Episode 92 direct link

Nam 81

Here are links and clips regarding the documentaries I talked about:

The Fog of War trailer

 

On Two Fronts: Latinos & VietnamWatch the full episode here.

 

Last Days in VietnamPBS’ website, information and clips can be found here.

 

Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam Purchase DVD from Amazon here.

 

Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s The Vienam War: PBS’ website, information, and clips as well as how you can watch it can be found here.

 

“That’s Not a Star Wars Movie”

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The Return of the Jedi bedsheets I had as a kid.  Image courtesy of “Mighty Jabba’s Collection.”

It’s late August or early September 1995.  I’ve just started classes at Loyola and I’m sitting in my freshman seminar course for the college’s Honors Program.  Our professor is doing a classic icebreaker where we talk about ourselves.  I listen to all of the smart and worthwhile ways my classmates spend their time and immediately feel like the dumbest person in the room–after all, renting movies and playing roller hockey are not the most academic pursuits–and then hear another guy in the room profess his love for Star Wars.  After class, I catch him the quad and tell him that I’m into Star Wars as well and just watched Return of the Jedi the other night.

He pauses for a moment and said with a sniff, “That’s not a Star Wars movie.”

I don’t exactly remember how I reacted at the time–I might have laughed it off or half-agreed with him–but that moment stands out to me because it was the first time I encountered a snobby nerd.

It seems odd that it took me until my freshman year of college to have such a moment, especially since reading comics and watching science fiction movies was not the domain of the popular crowd in junior high and high school, and I had dealt with a number of rock snobs by then, but this was the first time I had run into one of my own looking down upon the way I approached a shared interest.  It was also one of the first times that I realized that there were people who had a problem with Return of the Jedi.

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The Return of the Jedi trash can that sat by my bed for a few years.  Image from DJbrian.net

I have always had a fondness for Return of the Jedi.  That movie, which came out 35 years ago today, was the only film in the original trilogy that I saw upon its initial release (twice if you count the 1985 re-release).  Sure, I watched my copy of Star Wars on VHS endlessly and I had a number of toys from the first two films, but Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back were movies that came out when I was unaware of movies. Jedi was the one that I was old enough to go see in a theater and the one I talked about with my friends on the playground at school and whose scenes we re-enacted during recess (especially the speeder bikes and the lightsaber fights).

Moreover, it was the film whose logo was emblazoned on just about everything I owned. This isn’t hard to picture, of course, considering that the merchandising for the movie was a juggernaut that I think was so unavoidable that parents were issued at least one piece of Jedi merchandise for Christmas in 1983.  And while this isn’t a comprehensive or accurate list, I am sure that I owned, used, or consumed, in addition to toys: bedsheets, a garbage can, a calendar, posters, a lunchbox, an iron-on sweatshirt, records, books, Dixie cups, wrapping paper, cookies, and party favors (for my birthday in 1984).  I wore out the “read along” book/cassette and played my picture disk record with sounds from the movie endlessly on my parents’ stereo.  I was six years old and in heaven.  It was, to say the least, my Star Wars movie.

Return of the Jedi Fan Club Poster

A special Return of the Jedi poster that was available only to Lucasfilm Fan Club members.

A critical look at the film will tell you that out of the original trilogy, it is the weakest–I personally consider Empire to be the best, which isn’t controversial–and it suffers from the pressure of what it had to do after its predecessors, which is wrap up loose ends and complete the saga in a way that was bigger than anything that had come before.  It doesn’t do its job as well as it could have–for instance, there are two particular adventures in the movie that feel like two separate movies shoved into one and I wonder if it were made today, Jedi would have either been a three-hour movie or two movies altogether.  Plus, Han doesn’t have much to do aside from being comic relief, and the Tattooine stuff does drag up until the battle on the sail barge (and that’s before the godawful “Jedi Rocks” segment from 1997’s Special Edition).

But “That’s not a Star Wars movie?”  It certainly felt like Star Wars when I was six; it feels like Star Wars now.

If this were an isolated incident, I would probably be able to let it go.  But even before I graduated college, I remember being fansplained to about the way the Ewoks were the worst thing ever to happen to Star Wars (I never had much of a problem with the Ewoks), and since then I have seen more than a few “Here’s How Return of the Jedi Ruined Star Wars Forever” takes on the Internet.  I even had a moment in my LCS around the time of The Force Awakens when a guy scoffed at my then-eight-year-old son’s saying he loved the Ewoks and I had to say, “Well, he’s eight, you know.”

And while I understand that there were earlier versions of the plot that kept the tone of Empire and that the movie is criticized for the sheer amount of tie-in products that were available, I still can’t look down my nose at Return of the Jedi as less-than.  It’s disappointing that its legacy seems to range from snark to sneering that it’s “not a Star Wars movie” because when I sit down to watch it, I’m always taken back to being six and listening to my records, reading the storybook, and looking at the poster that I got from the Lucasfilm Fan Club.

For the next four years of college, I don’t think I had another conversation with that guy from my honors class.  Apparently, since I couldn’t Star Wars right, that gave him license to be a total prick to me whenever we were in the same class.  I’m sure he’s out there somewhere, perhaps lamenting the presence of a little kid holding a porg or something.  I’d rather not think about his pretentious ass and instead will laugh at an Ewok stealing a speeder bike.