In light of the cult favorite’s 25th anniversary, Wired presents a detailed oral history of Mystery Science Theatre 3000: “As fun as MST3K was, though, life aboard the Satellite of Love wasn’t always easy: The show was never a ratings smash, and tension between Hodgson and producer Jim Mallon led to Hodgson leaving the show just a few years into its run. In later years, members of the show’s Midwestern-based, DIY-determined staff found themselves struggling with the sort of big-TV bureaucracy they’d long fought to avoid.” Oh, and there’s also a little something in there about a possible reboot...
Willie Osterweil’s essay about father-centric movies in ‘90s is a bit sloppy but the concept of “dadventure” movies as a way of dealing with baby boomer anxiety is interesting and amusing: “…it’s a subgenre in which the protagonist is a capital-F Father, one whose fatherhood defines both his relationship to the film’s other characters and supplies the film’s central drama. In a dadventure, the stability of the family is threatened — whether by violence or drama, it’s almost always because of some negligence around the dadly duties — and only dad can save the family by coming face to face with his fatherly responsibilities. In the end, he learns just how much fun being a dad can be.” Via
Elodie Roy writes about the nostalgic purpose of the humble cassette as they’ve become “highly symbolic art objects”: “The digitization of music may have, after all, fuelled a sense of dispossession. Music is mainly distributed online, in digital formats; one has and no longer holds, one streams and does not keep. The relaunch of the cassette is a way to (partially) attenuate this sense of loss. The tape is a miniature monument to a lost age of music; a small casket in which to hide memories and last hopes — a visual trace of music, if nothing else.” Related: I posted a reflection on cassettes and mixtapes on Christ and Pop Culture back in 2011.
James Hoskins worries that God’s Not Dead is perpetuating a “bully atheist philosophy professor” stereotype: “I’m sure there are some of those professors out there. But I doubt that they are a majority. Even if they were, though, I don’t think caricatures and stereotypes are helpful. When we uncritically accept a caricature of someone, we become less gracious people. Instead, we become more dismissive, presumptuous, and defensive.”
Earlier this year, I wrote about That Dragon, Cancer, a game inspired by developer Ryan Green’s young son Joel and his struggle with cancer. Sadly, Joel died last month, but progress on the game continues. And now a couple of filmmakers are making Thank You For Playing, a documentary about “the creation and growing success of Ryan’s game, as he continues to care for his son.” They’ve prepared a teaser for the film, but be warned: you might need a kleenex or two before it’s done. Via
And speaking of video games, here’s the heartwarming story of a dying woman who is given the chance to travel one more time, thanks to the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset intended for playing video games: “…since she had trouble getting around and being mobile, one of her dying wishes was to go outside in her own yard — but her granddaughter, Priscilla, went even further and got an Oculus Rift headset so that her grandmother could virtually travel to places like Italy.”
In the first of a 6-part series, The Roots’ Questlove laments that hip-hop has failed black America. It has achieved cultural prominence but its success feels increasingly empty: “Once hip-hop culture is ubiquitous, it is also invisible. Once it’s everywhere, it is nowhere. What once offered resistance to mainstream culture (it was part of the larger tapestry, spooky-action style, but it pulled at the fabric) is now an integral part of the sullen dominant.”
Rolling Stone interviews George R.R. Martin about his epic fantasy novels, Game of Thrones, the writing process, and much more. “Modern historians are interested in sociopolitical trends. I’m not interested in that. I’m interested in the stories. History is written in blood, a gold mine — the kings, the princes, the generals and the whores, and all the betrayals and wars and confidences. It’s better than 90 percent of what the fantasists do make up.”
Jasper Sharp compiles a list of 10 great samurai films. Some of the titles on his list are pretty obvious, but there are some unknown gems on there, including Harakiri and Twilight Samurai. On a related note, Sharp provides a detailed account of the history and legacy of Seven Samurai, arguably the greatest samurai movie of all time.
Wired has compiled a list of 7 must-watch new anime series. One of the series mentioned — Knights of Sidonia — is also at the top of my list. (It begins streaming on Netflix this summer.)