January 14th, 2009

Nuclear War in Mass Media, w/guest Ian Abrams

“Duck and Cover” has been replaced by “Shock and Awe” in the public lexicon where military matters are concerned, but the prospect of nuclear war has loomed for decades, even as the tensions of the Cold War have faded*. How have the worlds of literature, cinema, and television portrayed the experience of nuclear armageddon and its aftermath? My guest is Ian Abrams, former screenwriter and current associate professor at the Westphal College of Media Arts and Design at Drexel University, and we’ll be examining everything from survivalist literary classics like Pat Frank’s Alas Babylon to Peter Watkins’ faux-documentary The War Game and the Stanley Kubrick dark-comedy classic Dr. Strangelove. [Originally broadcast on WLUW’s Under Surveillance in January 2009.]

* Check out this recent NY Times article concerning the worries over the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.


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November 20th, 2008

The Hollywood President, w/guest Leonard Pierce

It’s no surprise that the recent Oliver Stone film, W, has bombed at the box office — much like its ’90s pseudo-predecessor, Primary Colors. Regardless of how good the movie is (and W is mighty intriguing), the fact remains that the public has had a front-row seat to witness the debacle of the White House over the last eight years… so why would they want to relive the experience for an additional two hours?

In addition, why is it that our fictional Hollywood leaders, such as David Palmer of 24 and Jeb Bartlet of The West Wing, are often so much more appealing than their real-life counterparts? How has the public perception of the Commander-in-Chief been impacted by film and television throughout the years, and what have been some of the more notable attempts at depicting presidents throughout the years? We’ll look at everything from historical portrayals (John Adams, Nixon) to dark comedies (Dr. Strangelove) and bizarre farces (Wild in the Streets, Gabriel Over the White House).

Returning as my guest is pop-culture critic and freelance writer Leonard Pierce — Leonard is a contributor to Nerve.com’s ScreenGrab and the Onion’s A/V club, and you can find out more information on Leonard’s projects and thoughts at his blog. [Originally broadcast on WLUW’s Under Surveillance in November 2008.]


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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.