Pretty Much Pop #81: Radio vs. Podcasting w/ Jason Bentley

Jason was music director at KRCW, the LA NPR station, is also a DJ with a lot of experienced interviewing musicians, and now hosts a new podcast, The Backstory. He joins Mark and Erica to discuss the creative and business possibilities of podcasting in comparison to radio, what their futures may hold, and his own journey between the two media.

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Pretty Much Pop #80: Reliving Groundhog Day (and Palm Springs, Russian Doll, etc.)

Happy Groundhog Day! The ’93 film has had dozens of imitators spanning various genres in recent years, but the idea goes back more than a century. Mark, Erica, Brian, and guest Ken Gerber touch on popular and obscure examples examples from film and TV to explore the philosophical themes and storytelling techniques. 

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Pretty Much Pop #79: The Fargo Formula w/ Tamler Sommers (Very Bad Wizards Crossover)

On the darkly comic ’96 film and the 4-season crime show. Mark, Erica, Brian, and Tamler from VBW consider its style, “tundra western” setting, “Minnesota nice”, gender issues, stunt casting, absurdism, and more. Yes, there are spoilers, but it barely matters.

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Pretty Much Pop #77: The Big Screen Experience

What’s the post-COVID future of movie theaters? Mark, Erica, and Brian compare past moviegoing habits and reflect on the big-screen vs. small-screen decision. How would we optimize the theatrical experience? We consider films affected like Tenet, Soul, etc.

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Pretty Much Pop #76: Wonder Women (84 and Others) w/ Vi Burlew

Returning heroine Vi (now a grad student in comics history) joins Erica, Mark, and Brian to put the new film in context, bringing in the weird ideas of WW’s creator as shown in the 2017 biopic Professor Marston and the Wonder Women. Do the new film’s themes actually make sense? We talk political ideals, truth, love, feminist utopias, ’70s TV, and more.

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Pretty Much Pop #75: Our Great British Baking Show w/ Stephen Carlile

What explains the immense quarantine-time popularity of this quaint reality cooking show? What do we get out of watching talented amateurs bake things? Stephen, famous for playing Scar in The Lion King on Broadway, joins Erica, Brian, and Mark to consdier the format, context, and appeal of the show.

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Pretty Much Pop #74: Micro Comedy w/ Tiffany Topol

What has the Internet done to comedy? Tiffany, purveyor of social media bits and song parodies, joins Erica, Mark, and Brian to think about new ways of making and consuming comedy over TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and other social media. Maybe given current events we should describe the goal as something other than “going viral”?

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Pretty Much Pop #73: Beloved Bad Films w/ Manos’ Jackey Neyman Jones

What makes a film transcendently bad? A cult classic, as opposed to merely unwatchable? Child Jackey appeared in 1966’s Manos: The Hands of Fate, and she joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to discuss growing up in community theater, being reintroduced to her family movie by MST3K, and the over-confident auteur. 

We also touch on Birdemic, Catwoman, The Happening, and Battleship, as well as films about the making of bad films: The Disaster Artist, Best Worst Movie, Ed Wood, and Dolemite Is My Name

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Pretty Much Pop #72: Comic Book Supremacy w/ Fred Van Lente

Fred writes for Marvel and his own Evil Twin Comics, in both non-fiction (e.g. Comic Book History of Animation, Action Philosophers) and stories (e.g. Marvel Zombies, Cowboys vs. Aliens). He even wrote a play about Jack Kirby.

He joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to discuss playing in the Marvel sandbox, the role of humor, comic-to-movie transitions, and more. Learn more at fredvanlente.com.

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Pretty Much Pop #70: RISKy Confessional Comedy w/ Kevin Allison

Kevin (The State, RISK!) joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to talk about his telling/curation/coaching of confessional stories. Do they have to be funny? True? How does this form relate to essays a la David Sedaris? How personal is too personal (or indicative of PTSD or something)? What’s the role of craft in this most populist endeavor? Listen at risk-show.com.

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Pretty Much Pop #69: Story Songs w/ Rod Picott

Plenty of songs try to tell stories, but do the pop song format and narrative really mix? Songwriter and short story author Rod Picott joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to talk about classics by Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, formative nightmares like “Leader of the Pack” and “The Pina Colada Song, borderline cases like “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and more. How does this form relate to theater, videos, and commercials?

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Pretty Much Pop #68: Raised by Wolves: Biblical Sci-Fi

Brian, Erica, and Mark reflect on this weird sci-fi HBO Max series by Aaron Guzikowski and Ridley Scott. How much are we supposed to understand? Can we identify with any of the android and/or wild child and/or murdering characters? Is the imagery too heavy handed? How does it compare with Westworld, The Walking Dead, etc.? Warning: Spoilers ahoy! So watch it yourself or let us reveal its craziness to you.

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Pretty Much Pop #67: Borat Pod Show! Very Nice! With Aaron David Gleason

Mark, Erica, Brian, and musician/actor Aaron consider the comedy of Sacha Baron Cohen, especially Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, where his co-stars are unwitting dupes and embarrassment is served in large helpings.

We talk through the ethical and political issues, why Cohen’s targets act how they do, and what this is as humor. 

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Pretty Much Pop #64: The Last of Us: The Best Movies We Ever Played

Is the Last of Us franchise actually a good video gaming, or just long cinematics that are only good by comparison to past video game cut scenes? It’s great, but not exactly “fun.”

Mark, Erica, Brian, and Drew Jackson talk about balancing narrative and gameplay, the message (“revenge is bad”), the shifting points of view (including playable flashbacks!), critical and fan reaction, representation, and more.

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Pretty Much Pop #62: Mulan Re-Disneyfield w/ Michael Tow

Is the new Mulan the equivalent for Asian-Americans what Black Panther was for African-Americans? Did the film work? Was it better than the 1998 animated film?

Actor Michael Tow joins Erica, Mark, and Brian to discuss the development, aesthetics, and political controversies surrounding the film: How have feminist messages changed over Mulan’s various re-tellings? Does the film’s “you be you” ethic mis-represent Chinese culture, and does that matter?

For more, visit prettymuchpop.com. Hear bonus content for this episode at patreon.com/prettymuchpop.