(UN)POPULAR CULTURE

The home of writer & author A. J. BLACK

Hey everyone!

I’ve been doing some thinking over 2020 about what I want to focus on in terms of writing and I’ve decided to make some changes. Principally, make a move to a brand new blog space for my writing endeavours called Substack.

Some of you who read this blog have been great at commentating and lending thoughts about my writing but I want to dig deeper into that in 2020 and Substack is very much a place where I can do that. Based on email subscription, much like this blog, it nevertheless feels more personal and hopefully will encourage some deeper conversation about all of things I write about.

So this is my entreaty for you to join me over there at this link.

You just enter your email for free and join my subscription list. I’ll still post links on social media but eventually I’ll be targeting content just for subscribers so if you want to keep following my writing, that’s the place to be.

As for this space, it will absolutely remain, as a repository for previous writing, for my podcasts and there will likely be a once monthly update, but I’m not going to write any more content on here for the foreseeable future. If Substack doesn’t work out, I may end up back here but, as I say, my hope is that you’ll join me over there and keep reading and, hopefully, joining me for some conversation.

Here’s the link again. Hope to see you there!

T x

Hosted by Matt Latham, Pick A Disc is part of the We Made This podcast network and sees a guest choose an album of music which they come on to the show and discuss.

Latham–a very old friend of mine, first from the online and eventually the real world–was gracious enough to invite me back on to discuss the soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which I got on vinyl for Christmas.

This was a fun discussion, in Latham’s nice living room, about 60’s music, the cultural impact, Tarantino, movie soundtracks and more!

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Hosted by myself alongside regular guests, Make It So: A Star Trek Picard Podcast is a series devoted to the upcoming CBS All Access series Star Trek: Picard, delving into each episode and exploring the show when on the air.

In this episode, I’m joined by The Time Is Now‘s Kurt North to discuss the latest prequel story to Star Trek: Picard, the Short Treks episode ‘Children of Mars’, breaking down the story and theorising what some of the revelations within may mean…

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Bombshell never lives up the explosive promise of its title.

While satire has caught up with the age of Donald Trump, what with Alec Baldwin’s razor sharp Saturday Night Live impersonations which have infuriated the humourless Bigly-in-chief, cinema has to date struggled with how to capture not just this most divisive of Presidents but also the culture he has fostered in American politics and mass media. Jay Roach’s Bombshell is one of the first significant efforts to explore what this means for a country Hollywood has struggled in since 2016, defined as it is by ostensibly liberal values – even if economically they are far more conservative than they would ever let on.

The doorway opened for screenwriter Charles Randolph, best known for penning Adam McKay’s The Big Short, to detail this fairly recent chapter of American political life following the death in mid-2017 of Roger Ailes, the long-standing CEO of Fox News, as controlled by the global conglomerate under Australian tycoon Rupert Murdoch. Ailes no longer being able to litigate allows Bombshell to tell the story, primarily, of Megyn Kelly, the Fox News host who with previously dismissed host Gretchen Carlson stood up to years of pervasive, institutionalised sexual harassment by Ailes within the Fox News system, triggering a lawsuit that saw Ailes reputation in tatters and cost him his position. Within just under a year, that failure apparently killed him.

Bombshell, therefore, could easily have exploded as such and entirely destroyed Roger Ailes and the broader, Trumpian culture of old, white male abuse in the public eye. So why does it end up so remarkably toothless?

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Hosted by myself and a collection of X-Files fans, The X-Cast: An X-Files Podcast is a weekly series delving into each episode of The X-Files and exploring supplemental topics, alongside interviews with cast and crew and other special events.

Returning to continue coverage of The X-Files Season 5, I’m joined by Darren Mooney of The M0vie Blog and The 250 to discuss the season’s eighth episode, ‘Kitsunegari’, sequel to the best episode ever of The X-Files, ‘Pusher’.

And yes, that *is* a fact…

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Welcome to my newest podcast on wemadethispod.com… the STREAMING WARS podcast!

I’ve wanted to put together a TV podcast for a while now given we’re entering an exciting age of streaming service rivalry and a bevy of TV every single month. There is always something to talk about, so every fortnight or three weeks with a new guest, I’ll be doing just that.

For this latest episode, I’m joined by Luke Winch to talk a cluster of new shows – Dracula, Doctor Who, The Witcher, Lost in Space, Doom Patrol and many more…

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From 2012 onwards, before developing this blog, I wrote a multitude of reviews on the website Letterboxd. In this irregular series called From the Vault, I’m going to haul these earlier reviews out of mothballs and re-purpose them here.

This one, timed as Sam Mendes’ 1917 arrives in cinemas, is from March 23rd, 2014…

For five decades of James Bond in cinema, arguably standing tall as the biggest and most successful film franchise of all time, there needed to be some kind of celebration. Not just fanfare, documentaries, look backs, ceremonies, interviews, but rather a celebration of what Bond is, what he means, why he remains relevant half a century on to a world immeasurably different from the one Ian Fleming created him in.

Skyfall turned out, perhaps beyond our expectations, to be all of those things – the clearest demonstrable examination of 007’s psyche we have ever seen, in which Sam Mendes continued the work began by Martin Campbell in Casino Royale (or I would argue GoldenEye infact) and not only gave us what we expect from a Bond movie–the glitz, glamour, action, suspense, wit–but equally delivered on meaningful drama, characterisation and subtext beyond the measure we usually get in this series. It’s been said by many – Skyfall isn’t just a Bond film, it’s a *film* and taking away the slightly derogatory context of that remark to a wonderful franchise, it remains true.

Skyfall is both a truly great Bond film and a great movie in its own right.

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