Posts filed under 'Radio'

May 28th, 2013

Cultural “Sophistication,” w/guest Leonard Pierce

We live in an age where we have nearly-limitless access to not only mass media, but also the critical dissection of said culture via the internet. What sort of impact has this had on our “sophistication” re: film, television, and music? And what does it mean to be “sophisticated” in the first place — has that definition shifted over time in response to various trends in art? Joining me is cultural critic Leonard Pierce, who has written about film and music for numerous publications, and is the author of If You Like The Sopranos… on crime cinema. Leonard’s writing can be found at

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December 12th, 2012

Looking back at The Terminator, w/guest Scott Von Doviak

Released in 1984, the unheralded The Terminator not only propelled director James Cameron and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger to stardom, but would eventually become recognized as a landmark work that would influence cinema for decades to come. Sitting at the center of a hub of themes ranging from corrupt A.I.s to dystopian futures, The Terminator is the focus of a new book from Scott Von Doviak: If You Like The Terminator, Here Are Over 200 Movies, TV Shows, and Other Oddities That You Will Love. Scott is a cultural critic whose writing has been featured in the A/V Club, Nerve, and numerous other publications.

icon for podpress  The Legacy of The Terminator [39:43m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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July 16th, 2012

The Second Golden Age of Horror, w/guest Kendall Phillips

George A. Romero. Wes Craven. John Carpenter. These three icons revolutionized the horror genre of cinema during the late 1960s and ’70s via films like Night of the Living Dead, The Hills Have Eyes, and Halloween — movies that were particularly attuned to the American zeitgeist at the time. Why do many credit this trio of directors with ushering in a second “golden age” of horror? In what ways do we still feel their influence today? Returning as my guest is Kendall Phillips, a professor of communications at Syracuse University and the author of the new book, Dark Directions: Romero, Craven, Carpenter, and the Modern Horror Film.

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December 21st, 2011

Crime Cinema, w/guest Leonard Pierce

It’s been over four years since the infamous “Cut to Black” finale of The Sopranos polarized America — while many vociferously protested the lack of closure, some argued that the ambiguous (or perhaps not?) closing was simply the last in a long line of masterful strokes from the paintbrush of creator David Chase. What can’t be debated is the show’s status as a landmark television achievement, one that has undoubtedly had a monumental impact on narrative TV storytelling in the 21st century. Returning as my guest to talk about the show as well as the “Century of Crime” that preceded it is Leonard Pierce, cultural critic and also author of the brand-new (and pretty spectacular!) book, If You Like The Sopranos: Here Are Over 150 Movies, TV Shows, and Other Oddities That You Will Love. Leonard’s writing can be found at .

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March 1st, 2011

Late-Night Comedy and American Politics, w/guest Russell Peterson

How much of our political information is gathered through the filter of comedic shows? What does it mean when the writers for Saturday Night Live seemingly have a concrete impact on the way that our elected officials are being perceived?

No format in recent years seems to have had as important an impact on how we view the political and governmental scene as late-night comedy shows, from Jay Leno’s Tonight Show to Jon Stewart’s Daily Show and SNL. Presidential hopefuls, who once rarely strayed from Sunday morning talk shows, are now frequently seen on these sorts of shows — even occasionally poking fun at themselves. Not exactly the sort of thing we’d imagine our Founding Fathers would do, eh?

My guest is Russell Peterson, who is an adjunct assistant professor of American Studies at the University of Iowa, as well as author of the recent book Strange Bedfellows: How Late-Night Comedy Turns Democracy Into a Joke.

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August 6th, 2010

Race and Visual Imagery, w/guest Maurice Berger

It’s long been said that perception becomes reality, and for much of our nation’s history, mass media has not been kind to minorities — in particular, the African-American community. From Birth of a Nation (where the Ku Klux Klan were portrayed as crusading heroes) to the bumbling, shiftless TV characters of Mantan Moreland and Stepin Fetchit, early film and television did much to portray black America as an underclass deserving of pity and ridicule. But images were also used as weapons to advance the cause of civil rights, as evidenced by the power of photos of the horrifically-beaten Emmit Till to news coverage of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech in D.C.

We’ll be talking about landmark TV shows and films that have inspired discussions on race — from All in the Family to The Cosby Show to Spike Lee’s Bamboozled — as well as look at how race has been used in the political arena.

My guest is Maurice Berger, senior research scholar at the Center for Art, Design, and Visual Culture at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, and senior fellow at the Vera List Center for Art and Politics of The New School. He’s also the author and curator of the new book and exhibit titled For All the World To See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights. You can access the online portion of the exhibit here, while the actual project is currently stationed at the International Center of Photography in New York City. (UPDATE — the exhibit is now in Chicago at the DuSable Museum! Catch it while it’s in town!)

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July 29th, 2010

Generation X in Cinema, w/guest Christina Lee

How has Generation X been defined in film over the past few decades, from the landmark John Hughes films of the ’80s through the “slacker” movies of the ’90s and beyond? What distinct qualities do Gen X films possess which differentiate them from those of previous (and later) generations? We’ll be discussing everything from Pretty in Pink to Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. My guest is Christina Lee, lecturer at the Curtin University of Technology in Perth, Australia, and the author of the recent book Screening Generation X: The Politics and Popular Memory of Youth in Contemporary Cinema.

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September 9th, 2009

Romantic Comedy in Cinema, w/guest Stacey Abbott

How has the cinematic genre of romantic comedy been reflective of the evolution of the courtship process over the years? What do these sorts of movies say about the institution of marriage? And how have they depicted changing gender roles within relationships? We’ll examine a host of iconic romantic comedy films over the past few decades, from Annie Hall to When Harry Met Sally, to more recent films that feature male protagonists, such as Swingers and High Fidelity. My guest is Stacey Abbott, senior lecturer in film and television studies at Roehampton University in London, and the co-editor of the recent book Falling in Love Again: Romantic Comedy in Contemporary Cinema. [Originally broadcast on WLUW’s Under Surveillance in September 2009.]

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August 11th, 2009

Mad Men, w/guest Leonard Pierce

The AMC drama Mad Men will begin its third season within the coming week, and so it’s a pertinent time to turn our sights on this critically-acclaimed series. Mad Men focuses on the Sterling Cooper advertising agency, set against the backdrop of 1960s America, and creator Matt Weiner uses the show as a vehicle for social commentary on evolving social mores, gender roles, and the illusions of both personal identity and domestic relationships. Returning as my guest is freelance writer and pop-culture critic Leonard Pierce, who has written about film and television for numerous national publications, and also is a regular contributor to The Onion’s A/V club. (Information on Leonard’s projects can be found here.) WARNING: Numerous spoilers within! So if you haven’t yet seen the first two seasons of this show, be sure to watch before listening… [Originally broadcast on WLUW’s Under Surveillance in August 2009.]

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July 7th, 2009

The American Action Movie, w/guest Eric Lichtenfeld

Summer has long been synonymous with action blockbusters as far as Hollywood is concerned, for better (Predator) and for worse (the new Michael Bay Transformers film). What cinema genres gave birth to the American action film? How have action movies evolved based on the changing social and political climates of each era? And what sorts of characteristics are hallmarks of standout action films?

From The Road Warrior to Cobra, we’ll tackle it all — my guest is Eric Lichtenfeld, a film scholar who has contributed commentary tracks to landmark action films such as Predator and Die Hard, lectured at Loyola Marymount University, and is the author of the recent book Action Speaks Louder: Violence, Spectacle, and the American Action Movie. [Originally broadcast on WLUW’s Under Surveillance in July 2009.]

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Previous Posts

Kevin Fullam is a writer and researcher, with extensive experience in fields ranging from sports analytics to politics and cinema.

In addition, he has hosted two long-running radio series on film and culture, and taught mass media at Loyola University.

Episodes of his two shows, Split Reel and Under Surveillance, are archived on the Radio page.