The Pop Culture Lens Podcast Goes Live!

Christopher Olson (of the blog Seems Obvious to Me) and I present a new podcast, The Pop Culture Lens, where we discuss the media of the past through the lens of today to understand how relevant it is to our modern lives. You can follow the podcast on Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook, or get the latest episode directly from Podbean. Please send us any feedback and even ideas for future episodes — and if you would like to be on an episode to talk about some media from the past, then let us know!

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In the first episode, we discuss the 1969 movie, Easy Rider, and the continuing political and cultural relevance of the movie as well as the undeniable impact the movie had on the Hollywood film industry.


What do you think? Do you agree that Easy Rider is still relevant, or is it dated?

Avatars, Audiences and Interactive Television

This presentation was given at the 100th National Communication Association Conference in Chicago on November 21, 2014. This presentation reflects the work I have done with Pooky Amsterdam to understand the nature and potential of virtual world television as reported in the Journal of Virtual World Research. This presentation was awarded one of the Top Paper Awards for the Communication of the Future Division.

The current state of affairs brings what is “television” into question. Amongst the various layers of activity and discourse that surround it, “television” can, and perhaps should, be deconstructed into at least two primary components: the content it relays, “television-as-content,” versus the technical interface it is, “television-as-technology”. There may soon come a time when the idea of watching television does not involve the use of a television set. Instead, television content will be increasingly divorced from the medium for which it was developed: over-the-air broadcasting of audiovisual content. At that time, television-as-content will become another aspect of the Internet.

These challenges to what is “television” are also challenges to the traditional models of production, distribution, exhibition and consumption that have for so long defined it. These challenges are also implicated in the move toward higher interactivity. The traditional models are predicated on transmission and passivity, whereas the interactive models require dialogue and activity. Concepts and technologies like video on demand, time-shifting, and social television are all part of these challenges. This paper explores yet another, virtual world television or VWTV. With VWTV, we are seeing another possible location for the evolution of television.

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5 Things People Believe About Demons, Exorcisms and The Spirit World

As All Hallow’s Eve approaches, and the dark veil between the land of the living and the land of the dead lists, we in the Western world turn to concerns of all things supernatural.

But it is not just Halloween that propels people to be worried about how the spiritual plan can impede in this world of ours. According to the article below from The Huffington Post, people are continuing their concerns about the supernatural, and how it can influence their daily lives through the form of possession. Not only are these concerns continuing from tradition, but, according to some quoted in the article, they may be increasing.

5 Things People Believe About Demons, Exorcisms and The Spirit World.

Why would these issues be increasing? Could it be that the uncertainties and anxieties of our current age compel us to look for explanations from extremely external sources — from the spiritual plane, beyond our control? Could it be that four decades of exorcism cinema has led people to be more concerned that what they are experiencing is something Hollywood has shown us is real? Or is it just that a recent resurgence of exorcism cinema is because of the uncertainties and anxieties of our time?

What are your thoughts? Are demons real? Can demonic possession occur? Are exorcisms necessary to make people’s lives better?

Or are such beliefs just ways for people to cope with the fears in their lives? And could exorcism cinema films be just another way to cope?

Legion: Or, the Exorcism Movie that Makes Me Sad for Roddy Piper

I recently came to be interested in professional wrestling. For awhile there — as in most of my life — I thought wrestling to be beneath me, an entertainment that degrades those who do it and those who watch it. I was wrong: there are many layers to this sports entertainment, and it is quite fascinate to experience and observe.

My coming around to professional wrestling means I am learning more about the history of the business and the players in the drama. While I am still not a fan of Hulk Hogan, I have come to like more of the old timers and the greats, such as Stone Cold Steve Austin or Goldberg or Bret Hart or the ladies of G.L.O.W. And I really like Rowdy Roddy Piper; any man with a Celtic slant, such as Piper’s kilt, is going to go over well with me (I am a fan of current Celtic Warrior, Sheamus).

rowdy-roddy-piper-over-hulk-hogan-autographed-photograph-3370771Piper tried to break into Hollywood as an actor as his fellow wrestlers had done, such as Hulk Hogan, or would do, such as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Dave Bautista. Piper did not have as much success, although he did star in a John Carpenter movie. The 1988 film They Live was not a blockbuster upon its release, but it has become a cult classic. The film’s theme about consumerism’s impact on our freewill and our society seems to become more relevant as the years pass. In the film, Piper played a “Man with No Name” character, who stumbles into a conspiracy and becomes the only man who can save humanity. Piper was perfectly cast as the strong and silent type of a sly sense of humor.

Unfortunately, his career never took off. Perhaps he was too late, as Hollywood’s leading men changed as masculinity changed in the 1990s. He’s had roles here and there, including voice work, but mostly his acting credits are associated with his wrestling career, such as his appearances on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia as indie circuit wrestler Da’ Maniac.

All of which is a shame, because he has a charm on the screen.

And all of this is to bring me to this entry in our exorcism cinema project: Legion: The Final Exorcism aka Costa Chica: Confession of an Exorcist (2006). This film definitely fits into the B-movie pantheon on this project, which includes the foreign knock-offs and exploitation films of the 1970s and the more recent B-movies that were spawned from the success of The Exorcism of Emily Rose, such as Blackwater Valley Exorcism. As with Jeffrey Combs in that movie, I was interested in this one because of Piper’s involvement.

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Pete Warden: Why Nerd Culture Must Die

CarrieLynn D. Reinhard:

Pete Warden provides some insider thoughts on what has gone wrong with nerd culture. His points about the ingrained tendency to not listen to critics, to fall back on victimization, to become insular all provide thoughts for the types of fractures we are currently seeing in fandom, in general, especially along gendered and racial lines.

Originally posted on Pete Warden's blog:


Photo by Attila Acs

My first girlfriend was someone I met through a MUD, and I had to fly 7,000 miles to see her in person. I read a paper version of the Jargon File at 15 and it became my bible. Just reading its descriptions of the internet I knew it was world-changing, even before the web, and as soon as I could I snuck into the local university computer labs with a borrowed account to experience the wonder of Usenet, FTP, and Gopher. I chose my college because Turing had once taught there, and the designer of the ARM chip would be one of my lecturers. My first job out of college was helping port the original Diablo to the first Playstation, and I spent five years writing games. I’ve dived deep into GPU programming. I’ve worked for almost two decades at both big tech companies and startups. I’ve…

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Feminist Tensions in The Last Exorcism and The Last Exorcism Part 2

At the Midwest Popular Culture Association‘s 2014 conference, Chris and I presented the first analysis from our exorcism cinema project. The presentation is titled: Feminist tensions in exorcism cinema: Case study analysis and comparison of The Last Exorcism and The Last Exorcism Part II. What follows are the notes for the presentation, which constitute an early draft of a paper for this analysis.

This project is concerned with a subset of horror cinema that deals with a specific type of monster, that of the possessed person. According to Noel Carroll from The Philosophy of Horror (1990), monsters provide the foundation for horror movies by being contradictions. In horror stories, monsters are seen “as abnormal, as disturbances of the natural order” (p. 16). Thus monsters are impure, unclear and threatening because they are frequently presented as “categorically interstitial, categorically contradictory, incomplete, or formless” (p. 32). Monsters embody opposing binaries by simultaneously embodying features, themes, and metaphors that represent either good or bad – vampires and zombies are dead yet animated creatures, aliens are physical unknowns, werewolves are humans made animal, giant insects are the miniscule made large, and possessed people are humans yet demonic.








These stories model fear and disgust as the natural reaction to this unnaturalness, and thus position audiences to react with “horror” to abnormal manifestations just like the characters do. Horror movies are horrifying because they contain monsters that “are not only physically threatening; they are cognitively threatening. They are threats to common knowledge.” (p. 34) Therefore, viewers become scared emotionally because they fear the illogic of what they see embodied in the monster.

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Fan Studies Network Conference 2014

CarrieLynn D. Reinhard:

A good recap of the most recent Fan Studies Network Symposium. I really appreciate hearing about other scholars who are talking about and calling for more attention and discussion of the problems and negative aspects of fandom. Their desires align with my own interest in fractured fandom, and I will be looking more closely at what the scholars have discussed on this topic.

Originally posted on Nicolle Lamerichs:

This weekend I attended the Fan Studies Network Symposium (26-27 September 2014). It was an engaging conference, and I’d love to talk about it some more here about its main themes and sketch some future directions in which fan studies may develop.


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