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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June 9th, 2009

Horror Cinema in Cultural Context, w/guest Kendall Phillips

How have horror films been reflective of the times in which they’ve been made? What sorts of differences do we find between American and foreign perspectives on horror? How has the depiction of religion in horror evolved over the years? My guest is Kendall Phillips, a professor of communication and rhetorical studies at Syracuse University, and the author of Projected Fears, which examines 10 landmark horror films (from Psycho and The Exorcist to Silence of the Lambs and Scream) and why they resonated with filmgoers during their respective eras. [Originally broadcast on WLUW’s Under Surveillance in June 2009.]

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May 13th, 2009

Spring 2009 Political Roundup, w/guest Alan Gitelson

Returning as my guest is Loyola professor of political science Alan Gitelson, as we cover all sorts of recent happenings within the world of politics. We’ll discuss everything from the passing of longtime GOP leader Jack Kemp to the defection of Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter to the Democratic Party — as well as examine the recent Pew Research Center studies regarding the public’s view of the early days of President Obama’s administration. [Originally broadcast on WLUW’s Under Surveillance in May 2009.]

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April 22nd, 2009

Hollywood's Depiction of the Quest for "Happiness," w/guest Molly McAshan

How do we define “happiness?” How has that search been depicted in film and television throughout the years, through introspective characters who seek greater meaning in their lives (American Beauty), to displays of marital trauma and the breakdown of long-term relationships (The Ice Storm, War of the Roses)? Has the defining of the American Dream as one based on material wealth had a deleterious effect on our well-being? And what does the increasing presence of therapists in society (Mad Men, Ordinary People, Sopranos) say about our sense of satisfaction with life? Returning as my guest is Molly McAshan, a Chicago-area mental-health professional and a film blogger. [Originally broadcast on WLUW’s Under Surveillance in April 2009.]

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April 6th, 2009

The Classroom in Film, w/guest Timothy Shary

The classroom has been a cinema battleground for students and teachers alike — from tales of social outcasts (Welcome to the Dollhouse, Napoleon Dynamite) to crusading educators (Stand and Deliver, Dangerous Minds), and examinations of school archetypes (The Breakfast Club, Clueless, Mean Girls). How have the depictions of the classroom in film evolved throughout the years? Has there been a shift in emphasis from stories involving athletics to ones featuring scholarly pursuits? How have the classroom archetypes of students shifted over time? And why do we see a great many films about high-school students, but comparatively few about their younger counterparts? Returning as my guest is Tim Shary, director of Film and Video Studies at the University of Oklahoma, and author of the book Generation Multiplex, an examination of youth culture in film. [Originally broadcast on WLUW’s Under Surveillance in April 2009.]

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March 26th, 2009

Battlestar Galactica, w/guest Robert Thompson

In commemoration of the recent conclusion of the critically-acclaimed Battlestar Galactica television series, here is an interview I recorded with Robert Thompson near the end of 2006 covering all sorts of issues discussed on the show. We’ll be examining the political and religious themes depicted in the series, but don’t worry if you haven’t seen Battlestar; we’ll also be looking at the show in the context of larger pop-culture questions. What makes a show (i.e. the original BG) dated? Do some genres of fiction age more quickly than others? And why is science-fiction a particularly convenient medium through which to discuss societal issues? Robert Thompson is the founder of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University. [Originally broadcast on WLUW’s Under Surveillance in 2006.]

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March 11th, 2009

The Depiction of Wealth in Popular Culture, w/guest Leonard Pierce

One of the many “taglines” of America is that it is the “Land of Opportunity” where anyone can succeed… and above all, get rich. How has this impacted the depiction of wealth (and the desire for wealth) here in the United States in contrast to other parts of globe? How has television served as a snapshot of American propserity in each particular era, from shows such as All in the Family to The Cosby Show and Friends? And how have economic issues been depicted in futuristic utopias (like Star Trek) as well as dystopias? Returning as my guest is freelance writer and pop-culture critic Leonard Pierce, who blogs about film for Nerve.com’s Screengrab and whose commentary can be found at his website, ludickid.com. [Originally broadcast on WLUW’s Under Surveillance in March 2009.]

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February 9th, 2009

The World of Neo-Noir Film, w/guest Mark Conard

Whereas classic film noir (French for “black film”) typically defines movies — mostly crime dramas — depicting moral ambiguity that were released in the 1940s and 50s, the neo-noir genre has been borne out of America’s disillusionment with societal institutions and the search for our “identity” as opposed to any particular culprit. From issues involving artificial intelligence and what it means to be human (raised in Ridley Scott’s classic sci-fi tale Blade Runner) to those of distorted memories (Memento) and nihilism (Fight Club), we’ll examine the world of neo-noir cinema. My guest is Mark Conard, associate professor of philosophy at Marymount Manhattan College and editor of the book Philosophy of Neo-Noir, a collection of essays that explore the philosophical foundations of neo-noir through film. [Originally broadcast on WLUW’s Under Surveillance in February 2009.]

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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.