Each week, we discuss social justice through the lens of pop culture, taking you on a journey to places and times you never knew were connected. Give your ears a treat, and your eyes a new perspective.
Warning: All discussions can contain spoilers for featured content.
Ariel sits down with Bahraini filmmaker Amna al Hawaj, a woman on a mission to create change through popular cinema. She has worked on productions as varied as Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen to the Cannes Grand Prix-nominated Dègradé. She shares her industry insights as well as the view from her window on the world. She clearly articulates the best argument we've ever heard for the arts and the power of stories, and their importance now, more than ever.
Ariel and Zoya discuss two legendary women who died a week apart - Dame Diana Rigg and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, both of whom could be called feminist icons, but neither of whom fully embraced the title when advocating for pay equity or gender equality. Dame Diana tackled gender stereotypes in her roles from Emma Peel in The Avengers to Lady Olenna on Game of Thrones, while the Notorious RBG tackled those same stereotypes in court. Ariel and Zoya discuss these great women and how they have shaped understanding of gender equality in Western culture.
Ariel sits down with Australian film scholar Alison Taylor, author of Troubled Everyday: Aesthetics and the Everyday in European Art Cinema, to discuss the abstract and immersive experience that is Zulawski's Possession (1981). The discussion ranges from Communist ideology to feminist reflections on the film and Isabelle Adjani's powerhouse of a performance.
For the 25th episode, a tribute to the BBC's enduring radio show, Just a Minute, and its host, Nicholas Parsons. Ariel is joined by Kieran Cowan to discuss the enduring appeal of the show, and guests Dan, Megan, and Miriam stop by to play a tribute round of the game with Kieran as host. It's an episode of silliness and froth about a game that means so much to so many around the world.
Ariel and Monica talk all things AnteBellum, the film dubbed by many critics to be "the worst film of 2020." They discuss what the critics got wrong, what the film has to say about the status quo, and why people should be watching this film, and engaging with it.
Warning: Spoilers aplenty are ahead!
Ariel, Kim, Maggie, and Amy gather to discuss the various adaptations of Pride and Prejudice, faithful, fanciful, and modernized. They discuss why the work is so enduring and so endlessly translatable to different contexts, and go in depth into favorite characters and what each adaptation reveals about their psychology.
Danielle, Irina and Ariel share their origin stories for the final part in our CRIP CAMP series. This series would be incomplete without a sense of the deeply personal experiences that have informed the perspectives shared on disability rights and activism.
Warning: Explicit language throughout, references to medical trauma and assault, and frank discussion of sexuality.
Ariel is joined by Kern Wheeling, of Cinema Etc., to discuss Antonio Campos' adaptation of Donald Ray Pollock's The Devil All the Time, a film now available on Netflix, starring Tom Holland and Robert Pattinson.
Additionally, they discuss favorite films of 2020 so far, the landscape of moviegoing, and all the feelings.
WARNING: The discussion includes heavy spoilers for both the book and the film.
In part 2 of the critical conversation series structured around the film Crip Camp, Ariel is joined again by disability activists Danielle Dass and Dr. Irina Greenman to discuss issues affecting the disability community. The conversation begins with a frank discussion of special education.
Warning: Contains explicit language.
Ariel, Kristina, and Rob dish over a shared passion for the HBO horror-drama Lovecraft Country, and its accompanying podcast. We discuss the impact of the show's writing on our understanding of black culture, and how it challenges assumptions in meaningful ways. We talk though the monsters, the performances, and our crazy theories for what happens next.
Ariel is joined by disability activists Danielle and Irina to discuss the Netflix documentary Crip Camp, and the way it portrays the stories of people with disabilities, questions of disability rights, and disability activism. This episode is part of an ongoing series of critical conversations with disability advocates responding to themes presented in the film.
Writer/Director Jai Jamison is currently one of the writers on the new CW series, Superman and Lois, but is also responsible for the profound and affecting short film Slave Cry, set in Richmond, VA against the backdrop of the Confederate Monuments. The conversation ranges from a deep love of Richmond, to Black representation in the arts, to the messaging of the monuments, and their place in our world now.
Ariel, Alex, and Brian discuss N.K. Jemisin's The City We Became, a book that features characters embodying each of the boroughs of the city of New York. We discuss the characterization of New York City, and what the book has to say about diversity and inclusion, while also getting into the nuts and bolts of the good/bad binary of racism.
Ariel, Alex, and Dan discuss the horror-action superhero flick Blade in all its glory, from Wesley Snipes' amazing stunts, some of the backstory behind production, to the movie's influence on vampire lore in TV and film.
Ariel sits down with Zack Quaintance, the brains behind the popular comics review site, Comics Bookcase, as well as an up and coming writer in the comic book world. They discuss his upcoming original graphic novel Next Door, neighborly behavior in the midst of the pandemic, and plans for future projects as both a writer and contributor to comic book analysis and discussion on his website.
Ariel, Alex, and Rashida sit down to talk about the book Kindred, a 20th century slave narrative about a woman who is transported back in time to the slave plantation of her ancestors. They discuss the book and the author, the MacArthur Fellow and science fiction legend, Octavia Butler, and the importance of the hard work of confronting history.
Ariel talks with science nerds Ellen and Maria about Amazon's science fiction series, Tales from the Loop, a ten-episode series, set in a retrofuturistic landscape. Our trio talks about the unique design of the show, the perfection of the circle/sphere, conspiracy theories, and how it all really ties back to Minecraft.
Ariel, Kim, and Heather talk about the new film Miss Juneteenth (on virtual streaming now), a directorial debut from Channing Godfrey Peoples celebrating the relationship between mothers and daughters, the attempt to live out deferred dreams through the next generation, and the power of having something that is your own. Our discussion ranges from the marginalization of and within the Black community, to the secret culture of debutante balls, to the cyclical nature of toxic relationships.
Ariel, Megan, and Dan break down their shared love for Sondheim's A Little Night Music (1973). They examine the classic show lyrically, musically, dramatically, and thematically, while comparing it to the source material, Ingmar Bergman's film, Smiles of a Summer Night (1955).
Ariel sits down with cinematographer Kuni Ohi to talk about his work in the film industry, both in times of strong creative collaboration and now, in the time of COVID. As one of few filmmakers currently working, he shares his experiences from the field, in-depth discussion of the creative process, and his hopes for the future, discussing the movement to include more people of color at higher levels in the film industry. Discussed (and recommended) projects include: American Bodies; Slave Cry; Something, Anything.
A continued look at the music of MC PHZ-SICKS, and a conversation about his love of wrestling, Black trauma, and the media's role in the protests and violence against Black bodies. Features the songs Brim Low, DX/NWO, and Riot in My Memory.
Our first segment in a new series, Movers and Shakers, where we interview creators who make a difference in the world about their work. We talk with MC PHZ-SICKS about his music and the progression of his work in the hip-hop genre. This conversation ranges from the influences that have shaped him, to his quest to tackle misogyny in his work, to the processing of black trauma.
Warning: Contains explicit language.
All musical content is owned by PHZ-SICKS.
Ariel, Bryan, and Kris close out Horror Week by chatting about Jordan Peele's masterwork of horror, Us, both in its original crafting and through the lens of this moment.
Warning: Explicit language and spoilers for the film are included in this episode.
Ariel, Kim, and Dan dish about Tales from the Hood, discussing the relevance of the film to the current conversation about police brutality, issues with the ways Black people are portrayed in the media, and the use of coded racist language in politics.
WARNING: Contains explicit language and spoilers for the film.
Welcome to Horror Week! Ariel, Sean, and Alex discuss Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror and bring you an overview of the horror tropes, while discussing the power of representation, and the movies and roles that have mattered most to us.
Please note: This conversation does contain spoilers for many horror films, but we feel these are essential to the conversation.
Ariel, Ellen, and Sherry sit down to discuss Raoul Peck's I Am Not Your Negro and the words and works of James Baldwin, and how they relate to this moment in American history. Through this documentary and essential quotes, three different generations of educators discuss the importance of Baldwin's work and the imperative to steep oneself in history. Our conversation takes many turns, from the invention of race to the bootstrap myth to the future of our nation, looking within and looking ahead.
Ariel discusses Hypatia of Alexandria with our science nerds, Ellen and Maria, through the lens of Agora, a 2009 biopic starring Rachel Weisz as Hypatia. We talk perspective, scientific experimentation, ancient history, as well as conflicts between religion and science, and the importance of the simple act of questioning.