Archives For Television

 

Margaret Atwood’s classic dystopian novel has just been released as a TV series on HULU…

 

The Handmaid’s Tale: A Novel
Margaret Atwood

Buy Now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]
 
 

Watch the trailer for this series:

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Where (and With Whom) We Stand

A Review of 

How to Survive the Apocalypse: Zombies, Cylons, Faith, and Politics at the End of the World
Robert Joustra and
Alissa Wilkinson

Paperback: Eerdmans, 2016.
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Rob O’Lynn

 

In many ways, this excellent book can be divided into three components:

1) A philosophical introduction where the umbrella—or arc—themes are funneled down into their base components.  This will be discussed below, however it is important to note here that this is extremely helpful for the reader who is not well versed in cultural theory (especially those of Charles Taylor, upon which most of the discussion is based).  The authors take great care in throughout this book to continually connect Taylor’s theories to the cultural artifacts that they use to illuminate our present social condition.

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One of the most anticipated book releases this week…

 

Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution:
From The Sopranos and The Wire to Mad Men and Breaking Bad
Brett Martin

Hardback: The Penguin Press, 2013.
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A Tract for our Times

A Review of

Nothing But The Blood: The Gospel According To Dexter

Zach Hoag

Paperback: Gray Matter Press, 2012
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by David Nash

 

If you do not know Dexter Morgan, then perhaps you should meet him. Dexter inhabits Showtime on Sunday night television, where he has lived for the past six years. Dexter is a forensic blood splatter analyst who works for the fictitious Miami-Metro Police Department; in his spare time, he is a serial killer who preys on other murderers who have escaped the justice system.

 

Zach Hoag introduces Dexter as the representative of “Every Person” in the early 21st century in the United States. If the 1950’s and the 1960’s were the “Age of Anxiety” as defined and described by Paul Tillich and Rollo May, then the early decades of this century could be the “The Age of Brokenness” with Dexter as the Representative Person for our age. The human cycle of desire and bloodshed is primitive in its genesis, and it afflicts us still.

 

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An Excerpt from COMMON PRAYER:
A LITURGY FOR ORDINARY RADICALS
By Shane Claiborne, Enuma Okoro
and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

To Be Relased in November…

http://www.commonprayer.net/CP.pdf

COMMON PRAYER:
A LITURGY FOR ORDINARY RADICALS
Shane Claiborne, Enuma Okoro
and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove.
Hardcover: Zondervan, 2010.
PRE-ORDER: [ Amazon ]


Excellent Review of the Television Show
THE WIRE (and related books) in
THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/oct/14/life-wire/


The most intriguing phrase Simon has used regarding The Wire is to say that it is about “the death of work.” By this he means not just the loss of jobs, though there certainly is that, but the loss of integrity within our systems of work, the “juking of stats,” the speaking of truth to power having been replaced with speaking what is most self-serving and pleasing to the higher-ups. In a poker game with the mayor, one folds on a flush to allow the mayor to win. (As opposed to the freelance stickup man Omar, who, beholden to no one, shows up at at a kingpin’s poker night with two pistols and the Dennis Lehane line “I believe these four 5s beat your full house.”) Police departments manipulate their stats for the politicians; schools do the same; newspapers fake stories with their eye on prizes and stockholders. Moreover, in the world of The Wire almost everyone who tries to buck the system and do right is punished, often severely and grotesquely and heartbreakingly. Accommodation is survival at the most basic level, although it is also lethal to the soul.

Ideas are no good without stories. Stories are no good without characters. In drama, characters are no good without actors. If the integrity of The Wire derives from the integrity of its creators, its power lies, in an old-fashioned way, in the brilliant acting of a varied and charismatic cast. Not to diminish the quality of the writing or the careful cinematography, but little of Simon’s agenda would convince without the series’s acting: this is how the humanity of various people is given its indelible life. The Wire‘s producers claim it contains the most diverse cast ever on television, and it is hard to doubt it.

Read the full review:
http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/oct/14/life-wire/

The Wire: Truth Be Told
by Rafael Alvarez,
with an introduction by David Simon
Paperback: Grove, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]


Orion Magazine Review of
The Common Man: Poems
by Maurice Manning

http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/review/5630/

IN KENTUCKY, the muse might be an older boy who says, “Take ye a slash / o’ this—hit’ll make yore sticker peck out?—“; or the muse might be the moonshine the boy hands over. Either way, Maurice Manning’s The Common Man  begins with a hint of the illicit and a shot of whiskey. Such an initiation forecasts the diction, desire, and occasional delinquency that course through Manning’s fourth collection, which amasses to an oral history of the landscape and community that the poet has consistently and creatively plumbed. Manning’s earlier collections each coalesce around a specific figure: an imagined adolescent (Lawrence Booth’s Book of Visions); Daniel Boone (A Companion for Owls); a breathless shepherd (Bucolics).


Read the full review:
http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/review/5630/

The Common Man
by Maurice Manning
Hardback: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

 

A Review of

Homer Simpson Marches on Washington:
Dissent Through American Popular Culture
.
Timothy Dale and Joseph Foy, eds.
Hardback: University Press of KY, 2010.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

HOMER SIMPSON MARCHES ON WASHINGTONHomer Simpson Marches on Washington: Dissent Through American Popular Culture is a fine follow-up to the earlier volume 2008’s Homer Simpson Goes to Washington.  In the book’s introduction, editor Joseph Foy, gets to the heart of the book’s purpose:

In the premiere episode of The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert announces that the viewers of his show are “heroes” who know that “something must be done.”  He then pounds his fist on his C-shaped desk to inform them that they are doing something right now – they are “watching TV.”  His proclamation might be met with smirks, guffaws, and skepticism, but the authors of the chapters of this book lend credence to this tongue-in-cheek commentary.  Although true activism requires mobilized engagement to inspire change, the empowerment of political dissent via mass media and popular culture reflected in these pages provide an argument that true public, democratic action is occurring through popular culture.  We merely have to tune in to join the conversation (14).

The essays in this collection explore a diverse range of media from television (The Simpsons, of course, The Daily Show, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and more), to music (“Protest Songs in Popular Music,” Hip-Hop) to the movies (M. Night Shymalan’s The Happening, and more).  Although this is an excellent and engaging book, a few of the essays were difficult to read because I was unfamiliar with the TV show or film that they were examining.  Perhaps the most captivating piece, however, was Matthew Henry’s “Gabbin’ About God: Religion, Secularity and Satire on The Simpsons,” which not only explores these themes as they are played out on the show, but also critically examines other books that have explored The Simpsons’ treatment of Christianity.  Two more of the best essays in this volume were Jamie Warner’s treatment of the “Politics of Truth” on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show and Carl Bergetz’s piece “It’s Not Funny ‘Cause It’s True: The Mainstream Media’s Response to Media Satire in the Bush Years.”  On the other hand, Jerry Rodnitzky’s essay on “The Evolution of Protest Songs in Popular Music” was rather disappointing because it limited its focus to only the most mainstream of popular songs, ignoring more marginal arenas of pop music like rap (e.g., Public Enemy) or punk/post-punk ( The Dead Kennedys, Rage Against the Machine, etc.).

Homer Simpson Marches on Washington is essential reading for anyone who believes that mass media can be effective in exposing the oppressive powers that be and inspiring people to resist them.