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Supercontext: an autopsy of media

A podcast autopsy of media: how we consume it and how it informs our everyday culture.

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Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow

We try to unpack what little is known about this author, while providing a "succinct" description of the book. Along the way we discuss the publishing industry, book awards, obscenity, themes and the mythical reputation this tome has garnered over the years. Interested in the media we discussed this episode? Please support the show by purchasing it through our affiliate store: Gravity's Rainbow Inherent Vice The Crying of Lot 49 V. American Flagg Divided States of Hysteria Casanova Satellite Sam Moby-Dick The Illuminatus! Trilogy The Kills Field Notes Additional Resources: George Plimpton on Thomas Pynchon's V. V. Squared Pynchon from A to V Duncan, J. (2013). Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon. Salem Press Encyclopedia Of Literature. Muste, J. M., & Weisenburger, S. C. (2014). Thomas Pynchon. Salem Press Biographical Encyclopedia. Herman, L., & Weisenburger, S. (2013). Gravity's Rainbow, Domination, and Freedom. Athens: University of Georgia Press. Pulitzer Jurors Dismayed on Pynchon Pulitzer.org Pulitzer People are no Prize Thomas Pynchon's letter to Bruce Allen L. McLaughlin, R., (2002). Unreadable Stares: Imperial Narratives and the Colonial Gaze in Gravity's Rainbow. Pynchon Notes. (50-51), pp.83–96. DOI: http://doi.org/10.16995/pn.72 Thomas Pynchon shows us how white writers can avoid appropriation Pynchon’s Gravity's Rainbow: The V-2 Rocket Cartel as Multinational Corporate Conspiracy Rocket Power

1hr 59mins

5 Jan 2018

Rank #1

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The White Album, by Joan Didion

This 1979 collection of essays attempts to reveal the 1960s and California as stories without narratives. We discuss how Didion's work was branded because of her gender, class, and lack of politics, despite her insistence that writing was only an attempt to make sense out of chaos. Interested in the media we discussed this episode? Please support the show by purchasing it through our affiliate store: The White Album Additional Resources: The Top 10 Essays Since 1950 Joan Didion’s Style Joan Didion: Staking Out California There's a reason Joan Didion's work endures: she changed the way we wrote We Tell Ourselves Stories: Didion’s “White Album” Takes to the Stage From literary heavyweight to lifestyle brand: exploring the cult of Joan Didion The White Album, by Joan Didion

1hr 43mins

15 Mar 2019

Rank #2

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Lake Mungo

This 2009 psychological thriller pretends to be a found footage horror film, when it's actually a dramatic exploration of grief. We discuss writer/director Joel Anderson's process, as well as the funding, distribution and historical themes in the movie. Interested in the media we discussed this episode? Support the show by purchasing it through our affiliate store: Lake Mungo Additional Resources: Why Lake Mungo is the best ghost film you’ve never seen Lake Mungo Filmmaker Joel Anderson Interview - Media/Culture Reviews Lake Mungo – A picture never lies… Mourning an Aboriginal death Pleistocene human remains from Australia: A living site and human cremation from Lake Mungo, western New South Wales Australian Ghost Stories Detail a Very Isolated, Lonely Brand of Terror Alice Kept Secrets: Cinematic Grief and ‘Lake Mungo’ (2008) SXSW '09 Interview: "Lake Mungo" Director Joel Anderson Review of Joel Anderson's faux documentary thriller LAKE MUNGO Scribe tapped for 'Lake' remake

1hr 30mins

28 Dec 2018

Rank #3

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Chapo Trap House

This political comedy podcast makes over a million dollars a year from its Patreon subscribers alone. We try to unpack how it gets made while learning more about the personal values associated with the "dirtbag left." Chapo Trap House podcast on Soundcloud Additional Resources: Meet Chapo Trap House: The Funniest and Most F**ked Up New Podcast About Media and Politics THE RADICAL CHEEK OF 'CHAPO TRAP HOUSE' Chapo Trap House are the Vulgar, Brilliant Demigods of the New Progressive Left Explaining the ‘Chapo Trap House’ Podcast to the Uninitiated Liberals are making bank on a site called Patreon. The right calls it "hipster welfare." What Will Become of the Dirtbag Left? Is This the Stupidest Book Ever Written About Socialism? Chapo Trap House subreddit quarantined for allegedly encouraging violence SOCIALISM IS BACK, AND THE KIDS ARE LOVING IT. Reason. Aug/Sep2019, Vol. 51 Issue 4, p55-52. 4p. 2 'The Voice of the Dirtbag Left': socialist US comics Chapo Trap House Chapo Trap House: Socialism for the Extremely Online

1hr 47mins

25 Oct 2019

Rank #4

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Ridley Scott, Alien and Prometheus

For our one-year anniversary, we look at Sir Ridley Scott's thematic threads with Alien, Prometheus and the upcoming Alien: Covenant. Is it all about commercial appeal? Or is Scott reflecting on old age, legacy and death? Additional Resources: Lodge, G. (2015). From Dystopia to Valhalla, Scott's Future Visions Endure. Variety, 329(17), 73-78. Newman, K. (2012). PROMETHEUS UNBOUND. Sight & Sound, 22(7), 28-31. Adams, T. (2016). RIDLEY ME THIS: SCOTT’S KEY ANSWERS. Variety, 333(14), 184. Return of the 'Alien' Mind Why Alien: Covenant Will Make You Reconsider Prometheus He’s Not Done With Exploring the Universe ‘Prometheus’ Returns Ridley Scott to Outer Space

1hr 35mins

28 Apr 2017

Rank #5

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Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

This 1996 novel is infamous for its length and complex narrative structure, while being critically lauded for its themes and style. We discuss how Wallace approached the project, while grappling with revelations about how he treated women both on-and-off the page. Interested in the media we discussed this episode? Please support the show by purchasing it through our affiliate store: Infinite Jest Additional Resources: The Afterlife of David Foster Wallace Infinite Proofs: The Effects of Mathematics on David Foster Wallace! David Foster Wallace at 50: Why he still matters and always will MICHAEL PIETSCH: EDITING INFINITE JEST A BRIEF (CROWD-SOURCED) INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL PIETSCH 'Infinite Jest' celebrates 20th anniversary God, Mary Karr and Ronald Reagan: D.T. Max on David Foster Wallace Mary Karr Speaks Out About David Foster Wallace Amid Literature's #MeToo Movement 10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Infinite Jest Why Insufferable People Love Infinite Jest Men Recommend David Foster Wallace to Me 15 Facts About Infinite Jest Reading from the “Blind-spots” A Short Meditation on the Whiteness of David Foster Wallace’s Writing Thinking About David Foster Wallace, Misogyny and Scholarship The Magic of Michael Schur's Sitcoms: Why 'The Good Place,' 'Parks and Rec' & More Are So Rewatchable An Interview with Michael Schur 'Parks and Recreation': 'Infinite Jest' references in 'Partridge'

1hr 51mins

19 Apr 2019

Rank #6

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Sicario is a 2015 action/thriller about the difference between the drug war and the "War on Drugs." We look at its complex themes and try to understand arguments about its portrayal of a strong female character, as well as life on the other side of the border.  iTunes direct link Google Play direct link Additional Resources: Federal agents conduct immigration enforcement raids in at least six states Are My Methods Unsound? Why ‘Sicario’ Is the ‘Apocalypse Now’ of the Drug War Portrayal of Juárez in ‘Sicario’ Vexes Residents Trying to Move Past Dark Times Sicario’s Dirty War on Mexican Cartels is Not Yet Reality Sicario film-makers faced demands to change female lead role to a man The Problem With ‘Strong’ Women Women and Hollywood Not Very Ladylike: Gender Stereotypes and How Sicario Subverts the Trope of the ‘Badass Lady-Cop’ SPOILER ALERT: “SICARIO” FAILS THE BECHDEL TEST…BY A LOT 

1hr 33mins

24 Feb 2017

Rank #7

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The Following

Why do we watch trashy television? And why was FOX's The Following something we watched as much as we did even though we thought it was terrible? Additional Material: “The Fright Stuff: In the wake of ‘The Walking Dead’ juggernaut and the 'Sleepy Hollow’ surprise, much more horror is in store” Actors May Appear Smaller Than They Are. (2012). Back Stage (19305966), 53(42), 16. “Serial Thriller” Direct iTunes Link

1hr 19mins

27 May 2016

Rank #8

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Generation Kill

David Simon and Ed Burns produced what is heralded as one of the most authentic depictions of the Iraq War, based on Evan Wright's embedded reporting. We look at how it navigates between journalism and drama to keep us from forgetting the story of soldiers on the ground. Interested in the media we discussed this episode? Please support the show by purchasing it through our affiliate store: Generation Kill Sheriff of Babylon Pride of Baghdad The Short-Timers (crazy rare and way too expensive) Additional Resources: 'Generation Kill' Captures War's Lulls and Horrors After Iraq, the Marines of 'Generation Kill' Regret Nothing Situation Normal The Men Behind Generation Kill

1hr 20mins

20 Oct 2017

Rank #9

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Altered States

This movie had a tumultuous production, with constant fighting between writer Paddy Chayefsky and director Ken Russell. We discuss how their conflict influenced the end product... and the studios paying their bills. We also wonder if this movie unintentionally captures what we now refer to as toxic masculinity. Interested in the media we discussed this episode? Please support the show by purchasing it through our affiliate store: Altered States (film) Altered States (book) Additional Resources: Felperin, L. (2011). Russell pics marked by raw passion. Variety, 425(4), 7. Corliss, R. (1980). Invasion Of The Mind Snatcher. Time, 116(26), 58. Lanza, J. (2007). Phallic Frenzy : Ken Russell and His Films (Vol. 1st ed). Chicago, Ill: Independent Publishers Group. AT THE MOVIES; Ken Russell on 'Altered States' controversy. From Altered States to Altered Titles: A Close Analysis of the Title Sequence to Ken Russell's Altered States (1981) What We Mean When We Say, “Toxic Masculinity”

1hr 54mins

19 Oct 2018

Rank #10

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The Shining -- All the Way

Together with guest Jack Bennett we compare and contrast all 3 versions of The Shining: Stephen King's novel, Stanley Kubrick's film and ABC's television mini-series. What does this horror tale of alcoholism and domestic violence say about redemption and narcissism? iTunes Direct Link Google Play Direct Link Additional Resources: Meyers, K. (1997). Frightening strikes twice. Entertainment Weekly, (374), 44. Thomson, D. (2013). Days and Nights at the Overlook. New Republic, 244(4), 56-58. Parker, J. (2010). A Killer Vacation. Atlantic, 306(1), 34-36. What Stanley Kubrick got wrong about “The Shining” Book vs. Film vs. Mini Series: The Shining What The Shining miniseries reveals about the King/Kubrick divide 'The Shining' by the numbers Is Stephen King justified in hating Kubrick’s vision for The Shining?

1hr 49mins

17 Mar 2017

Rank #11

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True Detective: Season 2

We go to the vault in this episode, pulling out our take on True Detective’s second season. Is “it all” Nic Pizzolatto? And if so, do both the blame and accolades lay at his feet? iTunes direct link Google Play direct link

1hr 35mins

23 Sep 2016

Rank #12

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Uzumaki by Junji Ito

This 1998 horror manga depicts a Japanese town that plunges into chaos in the face of the symbolic spiral. We look at how Ito conceived Uzumaki, while struggling with big philosophical ideas like nihilism, rationalism and routine, meticulous dread in the face of our cosmic insignificance. Interested in the media we discussed this episode? Please support the show by purchasing it through our affiliate store: Uzumaki Additional Resources: The Junji Ito Interview: A conversation with the creator of Uzumaki Black illumination: the unhuman world of Junji Ito The Horrific Mechanations of Junji Ito’s Uzumaki Jason Thompson's House of 1000 Manga - Uzumaki Uzumaki: Junji Ito’s Phenomenal Art and Lackluster Storytelling Into the Spiral: A Conversation with Japanese Horror Maestro Junji Ito The Grotesque Tales of Junji Ito — Part 3: Uzumaki “Uzumaki” Is a Horror Classic That Will Leave You Spinning THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL: THOUGHTS ON LOVECRAFTIAN SPIRALITY AND ITO’S UZUMAKI INTERVIEW: THE LEGENDARY JUNJI ITO TALKS ABOUT HIS NEW ANIME COLLECTION AND MORE

1hr 53mins

14 Jun 2019

Rank #13

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Inherent Vice

Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of Thomas Pynchon's Inherent Vice was embraced by some and puzzled others. But does a movie that's designed to be repeatedly re-watched automatically become a cult film? iTunes direct link Google Play direct link Additional Resources Inherent Vice, Thomas Pynchon - 9781594202247 What makes a cult film? NYFF 2014: 'Inherent Vice' and the contemporary cult hit Paul Thomas Anderson Wants to Adapt Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice Pynchon’s Cameo, and Other Surrealities Paul Thomas Anderson’s Scientology Movie and Inherent Vice Adaptation Close to Finding Financing Paul Thomas Anderson On Inherent Vice A Director Continues His Quest Joaquin Phoenix’s ‘Inherent Vice’ Starting to Boost L.A. Production

1hr 5mins

30 Dec 2016

Rank #14

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Saga, Volume 1

Is media better when its creators have total control? We look at the first volume of SAGA and explore issues of ownership, censorship and salesmanship with this near perfect comic book. iTunes direct link Google Play direct link Additional Resources ‘Saga’: Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples Bring a Stellar Sci-Fi Comic Into the World [Interview] INTERVIEW: Brian K. Vaughan on the first SAGA collection Comics Writer Brian K. Vaughan Talks Saga, Diversity, and Fixing Injustice in the Industry

1hr 29mins

22 Jul 2016

Rank #15

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The Hateful Eight

Quentin Tarantino's either an idiot savant or a savvy businessman with his latest film The Hateful Eight. So we cover script leaks, film stock, Black Lives Matter protests, police boycotts and much more about the making of this film to figure out why it's so damn compelling.   Quentin Tarantino’s either an idiot savant or a savvy businessman with his latest film The Hateful Eight. So we cover script leaks, film stock, Black Lives Matter protests, police boycotts and much more about the making of this film to figure out why it’s so damn compelling.     iTunes direct link Google Play direct link Additional resources: How Quentin Tarantino Resurrected Ultra Panavision 70 for ‘The Hateful Eight’ Who leaked the Hateful Eight script and almost killed Quentin Tarantino’s movie? ‘The Hateful Eight’ Ending Comparison: How Does the Movie Differ from the Original Script? Ennio Morricone Goes Inside ‘Hateful Eight’ Soundtrack Ennio Morricone Tells the Secrets of His Hateful Eight Soundtrack Quentin Tarantino set to shoot “Hateful Eight” in Colorado Why Quentin Tarantino Is Shooting Hateful Eight In Colorado And What He’ll Spend His Budget On Quentin Tarantino responds to police boycott calls: The complete conversation No, Police Boycotts Against Quentin Tarantino Didn’t Cause 'The Hateful Eight’ To Flop

1hr 31mins

15 Jul 2016

Rank #16

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Rick & Morty, Season 1

This animated adult comedy from Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon is on a mission to violate boundaries, while indulging in themes of nihilism and toxicity. We discuss how it's written and animated, along with its representation of women and its non-unionized production team.  Interested in the media we discussed this episode? Please support the show by purchasing it through our affiliate store: Rick and Morty Community Ren and Stimpy The Auteur Stella Children’s Hospital T. C. Boyle Stories Additional Resources: Social Commentary in “Rick and Morty” Dan Harmon, Justin Roiland talk bringing absurd to 'Rick and Morty' Talking to Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland About Their New Adult Swim Show, ‘Rick and Morty’ ‘Rick And Morty’ Is Better When It Embraces Its Strong Women ‘Rick and Morty’ Creators: How Hiring Female Writers Made Season 3 the Best Yet Rick and Morty co-creator addresses toxicity among fanbase Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland on Rick and Morty, How Community Is Like Star Trek, and Puberty

1hr 42mins

23 Mar 2018

Rank #17

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Vladimir Nabokov's Pale Fire

Some call Pale Fire the best novel of the 20th century. So we interrogate what that means by diving into literary criticism about postmodernism, hypertextuality, authorial intent, unreliable narrators and more. iTunes direct link Google Play direct link Additional Resources: Pale Fire and the Cold War: Redefining Vladimir Nabokov’s Masterpiece Shade and Shape in Pale Fire by Brian Boyd Freeing "Pale Fire" From Pale Fire Synthesizing Artistic Delight: The Lesson of Pale Fire by Brian Walter “PALE FIRE,” THE POEM: DOES IT STAND ALONE AS A MASTERPIECE? In an Elaborate Spoof, Nabokov Takes Us to the Never-Never Land of Zembla Pale Fire The Novel of the Century: Nabokov’s Pale Fire Walton, Jean, College Literature. Jun94, Vol. 21 Issue 2, p89. 16p.

1hr 29mins

17 Feb 2017

Rank #18

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This 1996 film is a purported biopic about a famous painter by another famous painter, Julian Schnabel. We ask whether the narrative this movie presents is an inaccurate portrayal of its subject because it exploits him or because the director is commenting on his own place within the world of fine art. Interested in the media we discussed this episode? Please support the show by purchasing it through our affiliate store: Basquiat Additional Resources: Jim Jarmusch Explains Why He Refuses To Watch Julian Schanbel’s ‘Basquiat’ Basquiat: Julian Schnabel's Radiant Child Julian Schnabel Asks Why White Filmmakers Shouldn't Tell a Story About a Person of Color “Basquiat” and the Art of the Biopic Basquiat SCHNABEL AND HIS DOUBLES by Charlie Finch "Basquiat' trivializes talented painter's life http://alienatedinvancouver.blogspot.com/2009/07/on-filmwork-of-john-lurie-interview.html “Time to Develop”

1hr 35mins

3 Jan 2020

Rank #19

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Stephen King's The Gunslinger

A novel that took Stephen King 12.5 years to write is now a major franchise. But what was it like when fans (and retailers) were rabid for more? Did King have a "responsibility" to them? And why didn't he plot his fantasy world... instead of writing it by the seat of his pants?  Additional Resources: Bev Vincent, The Road To The Dark Tower Rereading Stephen King week 13: The Gunslinger So, what’s the deal with The Dark Tower?

1hr 21mins

14 Jul 2017

Rank #20