December 18th, 2013 11:39am

December 2013 Update…

Hey folks — it’s been a while! The podcasts have been few but my doc project, Enemies of the State, is coming along — there are revised clips on its page here covering everything from our depiction of communists to our strange fascination (and even borderline-idolatry) of serial killers! And extended features on both the MegaCorp (did anyone catch The East earlier this year?) and urban dystopian themes are soon to come.

Questions? Comments? Drop me a line! kjfullam (at)

P.S. It’s been a great year for cinema-going in general — my top 3 thus far: Short Term 12, Before Midnight, and Sister (L’Enfant d’en haut).

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July 11th, 2013 07:53pm

Documentary Update!

Hello, folks! For those not in the know, I’ve been working on a documentary about the relationship between Hollywood villainy and societal fears (working title, Enemies of the State). It now has its own page on this website (see above), where you can catch various promos and whatnot — there’s a longer piece on Hollywood and war culture posted there if you’re so inclined. Below is the nuts-and-bolts two-minute pitch promo! And as far as Split Reel, stay tuned for a new show coming soon with author Katherine Rife about Quentin Tarantino films…

“Washington and Hollywood spring from the same DNA.” — Jack Valenti, former president & CEO, Motion Picture Association of America

What makes a convenient Hollywood villain? Via interviews with filmmakers and cultural critics, Enemies of the State will examine the fictional depictions of societal fears throughout the years — everything from the threat of Cold War-era communism to artificial intelligence and urban dystopia. How has Hollywood reflected the shifting political and social climates of the country throughout the last century? What is the nature of the symbiotic relationship between popular culture and public opinion?

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May 28th, 2013 09:28am

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

icon for podpress  Cultural "Sophistication" and Mass Media [37:47m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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December 12th, 2012 06:49am

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 11:47pm

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.

icon for podpress  Romero, Craven, and Carpenter -- Second Golden Age of Horror Cinema [41:30m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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May 6th, 2012 06:52am

Dreams in Popular Culture, w/Molly McAshan

Much like the concept of time travel, the subject of dreams is a creative playground for filmmakers, both in terms of narrative as well as visuals — when you’re not bound by the laws of reality, you can go anywhere… and more importantly, be anyone. Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound and Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries broke new ground in presenting the world of dreams to mid-20th-century filmgoers, with the former enlisting the services of artist Salvador Dali for that very purpose. More recently, dreams have served as the stage for everything from the Nightmare on Elm Street horror franchise to Richard Linklater’s thought-provoking Waking Life, a series of vignettes discussing the nature of existence. Returning as my guest is mental-health professional and dedicated cinephile Molly McAshan (who shared my befuddlement at Christopher Nolan’s dream-within-a-dream [and then some] 2010 blockbuster Inception).

icon for podpress  Dreams in Pop Culture [41:17m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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December 21st, 2011 05:57pm

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 .

icon for podpress  Crime Cinema [95:49m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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March 1st, 2011 12:16am

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.

icon for podpress  Late-Night Comedy and American Politics [51:11m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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August 6th, 2010 05:35am

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!)

icon for podpress  Race and Visual Imagery [53:20m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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July 29th, 2010 09:42pm

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.

icon for podpress  Generation X in Cinema [47:19m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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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.