Vox Populorum is a blog and podcast devoted to pop culture criticism. We believe that the best way to understand culture is to discuss it. But we also believe that it's a lot more fun to have these conversations throwing back a couple beers at the bar rather than in a classroom. Please join our weekly round table of media critics, academics, creators, artists, professors, students and fans for an engaging discussion about movies, novels, comic books, television, video games, music or whatever else we happen to think of!
Nec audiendi qui solent dicere, Vox populi, vox Dei, quum tumultuositas vulgi semper insaniae proxima sit.
Bram Stoker's Dracula & the Draculi that Followed
It’s Halloween season and time to do some spooky theme shows! Of course, we’ve tackled monsters several times on the show before, but we’ve never devoted the whole show to just one monster. Until now! Dracula, is one of the most adapted novels of all time and with movies, TV shows, comics, video games and… other novels; the character is just ever-enduring. But why? On this week’s episode, Hannah, Mav, Monica and Wayne and joined by returning guest monster-scholar Michael Chemers and new guest vampire expert Cait Coker to talk all about the long cultural history of Dracula (err Dracula) and the related characters. Join us as we talk about the complex mythology of Dracula from his genesis as a secret contemporary to Frankenstein through recent television adaptations and we critique many versions along the way as well as talk the appeal of supporting characters like Mina Harker and spin-off media like the 1972 seminal blaxploitation classic, Blacula. Listen and let us know what you think in the comments below.
Citations and Links:
* This episode’s Call for Comments* Photos from the Triangle Youth Ballet‘s production of Dracula* Learn more about Dracula from Cait at the University of Illinois’s Bats & Bobs: Halloween with RBML webinar on October 29* Order The Monster in Theatre History by Michael Chemers* Order The Global Vampire: Essays on the Undead in Popular Culture Around the World edited by Cait Coker
* Thank you to Maximilian’s thoughtForm Music for our theme* Check out Michael Chemers’ Center for Monster Studies* Follow Michael on Twitter: @NotoriousPhd* Follow Hannah on Twitter: @hannahleerogers* Follow Mav on Twitter: @chrismaverick* Follow Monica on Instagram: @monicamarvelous* Follow Wayne on Instagram: @tetroc2017* Follow us on Twitter: @voxpopcast* Follow us on Instagram: @voxpopcast* Follow us on Facebook: http://facebook.com/voxpopcast* Subscribe to our YouTube channel* Make sure you subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever podcasts are found and please leave us a review!
How to Read All of the Marvels
If you’re a comic book fan, one of the things people often ask you is “I want to get into comics. Where do I start? What should I read?” This is especially true if you’re someone who reads comics for a living. It’s even more true this last decade or so of box office dominance by MCU movies. Unfortunately the answer always annoys people. We always answer with a question “well, what do you like?” It’s not really what they’re asking, but it really is the best answer to the question. After all. Marvel Comics has been publishing their shared universe of superheroes non-stop for sixty years. No one has read all of the Marvels. No one ever SHOULD read all of the Marvels. It would be insanity. The human mind is not built to endure such an experience.
Except… someone did.
So on this week’s episode, Monica, Mav and Wayne welcome Douglas Wolk, author of All of the Marvels: A Journey to the Ends of the Biggest Story Ever Told. Douglas took on the impossible task of reading literally EVERY single comic Marvel has published… and somehow survived. It’s both a Herculean task, and quite possibly the geekiest thing anyone has ever done. But also, it’s an important academic endeavor into the very nature of multi-authored, serialized, on-going, unbounded narrative. In other words, he was perfect for our show. We spoke to Douglas about his motivation, process, and what he learned through the experience about the changing landscape of the comic industry as well as the ways it reflects the society in which the comics were produced. So listen as Douglas shares his experience and let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Citations and Links:
* This episode’s Call for Comments* Buy Douglas’s book, All of the Marvels!* Subscribe to Douglas’s podcast The Voice of Latveria
* Thank you to Maximilian’s thoughtForm Music for our theme* Follow Mav on Twitter: @chrismaverick* Follow Monica on Instagram: @monicamarvelous* Follow Wayne on Instagram: @tetroc2017* Follow us on Twitter: @voxpopcast* Follow us on Instagram: @voxpopcast* Follow us on Facebook: http://facebook.com/voxpopcast* Subscribe to our YouTube channel* Make sure you subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever podcasts are found and please leave us a review!
I Fixed That for You, Now GTFO!
If the internet is good at anything, it’s dumping on asked for criticism at other people. Everyone does it. In fact, in a very real way, that’s pretty much what this whole show is. We’re cultural critics. This is cultural criticism. But is there a point when that criticism can go too far? Are there rules about how you are allowed to critique? Are there rules about who is allowed to critique? A few months ago, a tumblr user critiqued the art of professional comics artist J. Scott Campbell, claiming that they “fixed” Campbell’s original art. The tumblr user went viral and Campbell became aware of it and critiqued the fix. And from there, the world went crazy as the internet does what it does best… it took sides and flung insults and yelled at each other. While this particular instance went big — at least in the tiny little world of comics twitter — for a couple of days, the basic concept isn’t new. “I Fixed That For You” is just a thing now.
But was any of this actually wrong? As cultural critics, we often say that criticism — be it of art, books, films, music, or comics — is entering into a conversation. Doesn’t the original artist have a right to enter that conversation as well? Is there a point where it goes too far? Does it matter what the content or ideology of the art (or the artist OR THE CRITIC) is? Can you fix someone’s art? Is saying “I fixed that for you” asking crossing a line? How should they respond? Should the artist leave well enough alone? Should the critic? Or is this all just a bunch of hooey?
On this week’s show, Wayne and Mav are joined by returning guests and fellow indie comic creators Dawn Griffin and Marcel Walker to talk about the concept of critique and engagement between artists and fans, working through the Campbell incident, as well as Star Wars deep fakes (trust us, it makes sense), and their personal experiences with fan criticism. Marcel even fixes our show! Listen and let us know what you think in the comments!
Citations and Links:
* This episode’s Call for Comments* How to Analyze & Review Comics: A Handbook on Comics Criticism edited by Forrest C. Helvie * “Deepfake YouTuber who went viral with Star Wars videos is hired by Lucasfilm” by Sam Moore* “A Spider-Man comic-book illustrator lashed out at a Tumblr user who edited his cover to be less sexual. It unearthed a brewing culture war” by Daniel Spielberger* “When J Scott Campbell Revisited That Mary Jane Cover For Marvel Comics #1000” by Rich Johnson
* Thank you to Maximilian’s thoughtForm Music for our theme* Visit Marcel Walker’s website* Order Chutz-Pow!
Entertainment and Other Unions — IATSE Solidarity
Over the past year, our viewing consumption habits have changed a lot. We spent months indoors streaming everything — including new release films — largely through new media platforms like Netflix and Disney Plus. These new production models have drastically changed box office results, profit models, and production budgets that reverberate across the industry — affecting every member of film crews so profoundly that the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) is voting this week to potentially authorize the first industry-wide strike in the history of cinema. For this week’s episode Monica, Hannah and Katya are joined by labor historian Sean O’Brien and LA-based costume designer Elissa Alcala to discuss the terms and implications of the potential IATSE strike, the often invisible labor behind film and television production, and the ways this potential union strike points at a nationwide problem across labor markets across all industries. Join us, listen, and let us know what you think in the comments.
Also, your homework this week: email a creator you respect and say thank you!
Citations and Links:
* This episode’s Call for Comments* Sign the IATSE Support Petition* “IATSE Preparing Its Members For Possible Strike Or Lockout” by David Robb* “Cinematographers Guild, IATSE Local 600, Urges Members To Authorize Strike” by David Robb* Higher Ed Labor United* “Nabisco Workers End Weekslong Strike After Reaching New Contract“* Look up the laborers behind your favorite series: https://www.imdb.com
* Thank you to Maximilian’s thoughtForm Music for our theme* Follow Sean on Twitter: @SeanO_majesty13* Follow Elissa on Twitter: @27crossroads* Follow Hannah on Twitter: @hannahleerogers* Follow Mav on Twitter: @chrismaverick* Follow Katya on Instagram: @justthatnerdkid* Follow Monica on Instagram: @monicamarvelous* Follow Wayne on Instagram: @tetroc2017* Follow us on Twitter: @a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="https://twitter.
So, You Say You Wanna Host a Pseudoacademic Pop Culture Analysis Podcast
Oddly enough, for a show that is devoted to talking about pop culture, one of the things we don’t talk about so much is podcasts. In a way, podcasting might very well be the epitome of pop culture in the current cultural moment… and also… we are one! So, on today’s very special meta episode, all five hosts of VoxPopcast: Hannah, Katya, Mav, Monica and Wayne, get together to talk about podcasting… or specifically to talk about THIS PODCAST and why we think it (or … podcasts like it) is important. We cover everything from how we book, produce, research and develop the show to the idea of public scholarship and why we think it’s important to even do this. We talk about the importance of academia and scholarship and publishing. What does it mean to research something? Why does the world need another pop culture podcast? Why does the world need another academic podcast? What does it mean to be an academic? What do we mean by pseudo academic? Basically, we sort of explain who we are and what we do… and it only took us 180 episodes to get around to doing it. We also talk a bit about Twilight and Dracula and we probably mention Marvel movies a bit. Because if you’ve listened to the show before, you know that sort of thing will always happen. Join us, listen and let us know what you think in the comments.
Citations and Links:
* “The Hermeneutics of Screwing Around; or What You Do with a Million Books” by Stephen Ramsay* The Fashion and Race Database* The Black Movie Podcast* Black Nerd Problems by William Evans & Omar Holman * Reservation Dogs on FX* “Not So Fast! The Case for Revisiting the Costume Designs of 1990’s The Flash TV Show” by Monica Geraffo on The Middle Spaces* “‘Black Nerd Problems’ is thoughtful and entertaining” by Christopher Maverick for Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
* Thank you to Maximilian’s thoughtForm Music for our theme* Follow Hannah on Twitter: @hannahleerogers* Follow Mav on Twitter: @chrismaverick* Follow Katya on Instagram: @justthatnerdkid* Follow Monica on Instagram: @monicamarvelous* Follow...
Several weeks ago, we did a show on how stand-up comedy works in the middle of a pandemic. We talked about the transition that comedians went through to move a traditionally “in-person” art form to an entirely virtual environment. But what about other art forms? Lots of performances that at least seem to “require” a physical presence of some kind. What happens if you rethink that from the ground up? On today’s show, Monica and Mav are joined by improv comedy actress and director Cheryl Platz. Cheryl is directing Cupid on Mute, an improv series designed around a fictional reality dating show running on Twitch. Join us as we discuss the challenges she faced from both technical and creative standpoints. What does it take to make a fake reality show believable? What does it take to move an improv comedy series online? Is there a difference between improv and just being into role playing games? How do the skills of both translate into a career deigning video games? Yeah… that comes up too… somehow. Cheryl tells us about her experiences and we talk about what we can learn from both improv shows AND reality shows. Listen and let us know your thoughts on… uh… ImproveReality?
Citations and Links:
* This episode’s Call for Comments* Unexpected Productions: Seattle’s longest running improv theater* Watch Cupid on Mute and other shows from Unexpected Productions on TwitchTV
* Thank you to Maximilian’s thoughtForm Music for our theme* Follow Cheryl’s website: http://cherylplatz.com* Follow Cheryl on Twitter: @FunnyGodmother* Follow Mav on Twitter: @chrismaverick* Follow Monica on Instagram: @monicamarvelous* Follow us on Twitter: @voxpopcast* Follow us on Instagram: @voxpopcast* Follow us on Facebook: http://facebook.com/voxpopcast* Please Subscribe to our new YouTube channel!* Make sure you subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever podcasts are found and please leave us a review!
Super smart look at pop culture!
Love this show!
Home of the 5-Star Review!
This is a great podcast for anyone that wants to engage with the world around us in a more thoughtful way. Every week the hosts and occasionally guests pick a topic, typically related to popular culture, and do an academic deep dive into it, teasing the topic apart and occasionally deriving greater understanding because of it. Always entertaining, enlightening, and thought provoking. And now with 31 five star ratings out of a total of 32 ratings, I think it is fair to say that VoxPopcast is truly the home of the 5-Star Review.
Entertaining and illuminating
Review title says it all. A good listen for people who enjoy “pop culture” (games, comics, tv, movies) and want to think about the social and historical contexts in which those texts are situated. Recent highlight for me was discussion of Bioshock: Infinite in the context of Artaud’s theater of cruelty.