"Total Divas" on E!. Switch off - PopMatters, 'Channel Surfing', 20 August 2013.
"Total Divas" is WWE's ode to its own misogyny. Why it's more damaging that your regular reality TV junk.
Retro Remote #34: Forget "Man of Steel". Five perfectly dopey ways to love Superman - PopMatters, 30 July 2013.
After last column's angst about an angsty Superman, it's time to talk about more important things, like rainbow fingers and laconic Australian radio Superman.
Retro Remote #33: Superman and the War Against Anachronism - PopMatters, 29 May 2013.
Ever want to see a grown man write a love letter to Superman? Here you go.
Retro Remote #32: Retro Future: Reviving Have Gun -- Will Travel and The Rifleman - PopMatters, 26 February 2013.
Keeping positive about possible upcoming remakes of two key 50s/60s TV Westerns.
Retro Remote #31: Crime Classics, "The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln", 9 December 1953 - PopMatters, 13 February 2013.
off Spielberg's Lincoln to talk about the portrayal of political
compromise, a great old time radio series, and a Lincoln assassination
movie where he comes out OK at the end.
Sport, A Tradition, A Religion, A Joke: The Need for a Poetics
of In-ring Storytelling and a Reclamation of Professional Wrestling as a
Global Art" (pdf) - Asiatic,Vol. 6, No. 2, December 2012, pp. 136-155.
Getting all professorial about piledrivers and powerslams.
Retro Remote #30: Love-Drenched Gunfighters in The Guns of Will Sonnett, "Ride the Long Trail", 8 September 1967 - PopMatters, 10 December 2012.
For a couple of gunfighters, these guys sure do talk about love a lot.
Review: Battle Royale: Director's Cut (2000) - Heroic Cinema, 25 October 2012.
Yes, I also compared it to Hunger Games.
Iron Sky and the Pursuit of Lowbrow Propaganda - Metro #173, August 2012.
Three Stooges talk (plus some Chaplin) to suggest that Iron Sky is just
smart enough to know that there are more pertinent enemies today than
1940s-style Space Nazis.
Retro Remote #29: The Three Stooges' Chaotic Neutrality in 'I Can Hardly Wait' (1943) - PopMatters, 9 August 2012.
An early appeal for the next Stooges movie to be "The Three Stooges Meet Emile Zola".
Retro Remote #28: No Contract for Old Men: Five "Old Folks" in Pop Culture That are 5Xs Tougher Than You - PopMatters, 1 June 2012.
old-folks follow-up to last column's "Go Play in Traffic" kid-list,
that makes me seem like an old curmudgeon. Only half of which is true.
Review: Joss Whedon's The Avengers Reaches Apex of Averageness, True Believers - PopMatters, 27 April 2012.
In which I alienate just about everyone I know by once again failing to discover genius in the works of Joss Whedon.
Retro Remote #27: Go Play in Traffic: 5 Movies About Kids That Are Better Than Hugo and True Grit - PopMatters, 29 March 2012.
shots at the universally loved 'Hugo' and the Coen Brothers remake of
'True Grit' and some rare examples of kids in movies that aren't
Retro Remote #26: Kafka Noir: Serge Marcotte's The Sickroom and Franz Kafka's 'A Country Doctor' - PopMatters, 3 Feb 2012.
Four adaptations of 'A Country Doctor', and making a claim for Kafka's new image as hard-boiled film noir tough guy.
"The Slap: Hard-Hitting or Heavy-Handed?" - Australia on the Small Screen, Metro #171, December 2011. How a one-episode farce turned into eight hours of histrionic misanthropy and called itself art.
Retro Remote #25: Tough Guys Recite: The Top Five Poetry Spittin' TV Characters - PopMatters, 26 October 2011.
Well, four tough guys and one bank ad. Plus some subtle cross promotion for the poetry conference "The Poetry and Poetics of Popular Culture".
Review: Matthijs van Heinjningen Jr.'s "The Thing" (2011) - PopMatters, 14 October 2011.
quiet tones and space-vaginas back from the '80s: it's finally time to
dust off the old Lacanian psychoanalytic theory again, kids!
Retro Remote #24: Jean-Teddy Filippe's "Forbidden Files": Found Footage Lost (and Found Again) - PopMatters, 7 October 2011.
ten-years-too-late attempt to reclaim a borrowed VHS tape lent to my
high school drama teacher, disguised as a discussion of the "found
footage" genre and Jean-Teddy Filippe's creepy and under-appreciated
"Forbidden Files" or "Documents Interdits".
Heels vs Corporate Hedonism in the WWE - PopMatters, Channel Surfing, 30 September 2011.
Linda McMahon running for Senate (again) and a new round of workplace
safety and worker classification investigations (hopefully) on the way,
WWE tries to convince us that only heels unionize.
'Blame: Revenge Served Warm' - Metro #169, July 2011.
On Michael Henry's 'Blame', resonant complexities, soap-opera style sensationalism, and the goals of Australian film schools.
Retro Remote #23: Robot Dreams: Transformers 3 and Sex Kittens Go to College - PopMatters, 28 July 2011.
Bay's misogynist robot heroes: not quite as classy as the
cigar-smoking, chimp-friending, stripper-dreaming frat-boy robot from
Albert Zugsmith's 1960 'Sex Kittens Go to College'.
Retro Remote #22: Killing Osama bin Laden, and David Mamet's 'The Unit' - 'Old Home Week', 31 October 2006 - PopMatters, 20 May 2011.
response to any criticism of major military action, David Mamet's 'The
Unit' makes sure we target two threats to global security: 1) terrorists
who would disrupt the democratic world, 2) the democratic world. (Plus:
Jon Hamm as Bizarro peacenik Don Draper).
'An Idea Too Many in The Human Resources Manager' - Metro #168, April 2011.
On Eran Riklis' 'The Human Resources Manager'.
This One Time, on ADFA Camp... - The Punch, 13 April 2011.
retrograde niche cultures in the Australian Defence Force Academy are
far less 'niche' than the media would like us to believe.
Retro Remote #21: Betty Boop and Bimbo Get into a Sexual Tangle in 'Barnacle Bill', 31 August 1930 - PopMatters, 31 March 2011.
interest, the joys of punishment, dog-eared maidens, and the pleasures
of the perpetrator in pre-code Fleischer Studios animation.
Homophobia Alive and Well on TV at the WWE - PopMatters, Channel Surfing, 30 March 2011.
into Wrestlemania XXVII, the WWE's biggest event of the year, Vince
McMahon's bigotry reminds us why the WWE doesn't deserve high-profile
sponsors, toy licensing deals, or viewers.
Retro Remote #20: La Femme Nikita, 'End Game' 30 August 1998 - PopMatters, 22 February 2011.
'La Femme Nikita' is still one of the toughest shows around, and what
its oddly blunt season 2 finale has to say about unrest in the Middle
East and US support of brutal dictators.
Retro Remote #19: Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Ocean Software, 1985
- PopMatters, 11 January 2011. The Commodore 64's 'Frankie Goes to
Hollywood' offered the prize of aponia, the Epicurean philosophical
state of freedom from pain, complete with kickin' soundtrack. Beat that,
'You Must Survive': Mother Fish and the Narrative of Suffering - Metro #167, December 2010.
On Khoa Do's 'Mother Fish' (aka 'Missing Water') and the isolation of refugees in modern Australia.
Feel-Good TV Show Hides Corporate Reality - The Punch, 29 November 2010.
Boss Australia', undercover propaganda, Kurt Vonnegut, Baucis and
Philemon, and the need for media education in Australia.
Retro Remote #18: Paul Robeson in Australia: 50 years later - PopMatters, 10 November 2010.
years since Paul Robeson came to Australia, became the first
international performer to sing at (or on) the Sydney Opera House, and
swore he'd make the Australian government 'sit up and listen'.
Retro Remote #17: Medic, 'A Flash of Darkness', 14 February 1955 - PopMatters, 22 October 2010.
Valentine's Day PSA from doctor drama 'Medic', reminding us to eat
well, floss regularly, and await the inevitable doom of mutually assured
'Sesame Street' Has More to Worry About than Katy Perry's Low-Cut Top - PopMatters 'Channel Surfing', 6 October 2010.
Sesame Street delivers the perfect mix of kids' TV and conformist consumerist homophobic ideologues' marketing ploys.
Retro Remote #16: Motion Comics, Newspaper Strikes, and Mayor LaGuardia reading the funnies - '17 Days' 1945
- PopMatters, 17 September 2010. Who needs downloadable digital
motion-comics when 1945 New York Mayor LaGuardia can read the funny
pages to ya over the wireless fer nuttin'?
Remote #15: 'Leave It To Beaver' is probably closer to real life than
plenty of people would like to admit - 'Beaver's Short Pants', 13
December 1957 - PopMatters, 10 August 2010.
God forbid a
modern hipster should let loose a chuckle at one of Wally and Beaver’s
brotherly mishaps and thus irrefutably acknowledge dull suburban roots
Retro Remote #14: Crime Classics, 'The Seven-Layered Arsenic Cake of Madame LaFarge' 14 October 1953 - PopMatters, 1 July 2010.
a smarmy radio reminder of the futility of existence and pointlessness
of human suffering seemingly didn't help Plymouth sell a bunch of shiny
new cars. (Marketing students, take note.)
Retro Remote #13: Pete Seeger's 'Rainbow Quest': The Anti-TV TV - PopMatters, 26 May 2010.
an awkward 'Auld Lang Syne' sing-along around a fake kitchen table on
low budget UHF television is still one of the best music moments ever.
Retro Remote #12: Robert Culp, from 'I Spy' to 'Hickey & Boggs' - PopMatters, 29 April 2010.
Culp dies, 'Hickey & Boggs' is not on dvd, but the 2002 film
version of 'I Spy' continues to exist. There is no justice.
Mickie James' WWE Firing the Last Stop on a Road of Employee Bullying and Misogyny - PopMatters 'Channel Surfing', 27 April 2010.
WWE co-owner Linda McMahon is running for the US Senate, which means
that this is not mere wrestling gossip but, in fact, 100% verified
authentic honest-to-goodness political commentary.
Retro Remote #11: Beyond Barthes, Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker, Wrestlemania XXV - PopMatters, 25 March 2010.
Bringing healthy doses of sensitivity and spooning to professional wrestling.
Retro Remote #9 and #10: The Simpsons, 'Radio Bart', January 9, 1992 - Part 1 and Part 2 - PopMatters, Feb 4 and 15, 2010.
O'Toole, Floyd Collins, Kathy Fiscus, KTLA, Billy Wilder, 'Ace in the
Hole', Jessica McClure, Peter Singer, Beaconsfield, Balloon Boy. No, not
a new verse of 'We Didn't Start the Fire', it's a Simpsons reference so
big it needed two articles.
Yes, TV is Art. Can we talk about Wrestling now? - PopMatters 'Channel Surfing', January 4, 2010.
TNA vs WWE vs Retro Remote.
Retro Remote #8: Amos 'n' Andy, 'Mister 1943', December 31, 1943
- PopMatters, January 4, 2010. Spending New Years Eve with Edward G.
Robinson and a couple of white guys pretending to be a couple of black
The Minstrel Show Goes On - Newmatilda, November 25, 2009.
Paul Robeson, Mark Twain, the UN and Harry Connick Jr vs entrenched Australian racism. Guess who wins.
Retro Remote #7: The Prisoner, 'Fall Out', February 1, 1968 - PopMatters, November 12, 2009.
Multiple analyses of an inaudible speech from Patrick McGoohan's 'The Prisoner' finale, and a needless dig at Ian McKellen.
Retro Remote #6: Pete Kelly's Blues, 'Dr Jonathan Budd', September 19, 1951 - PopMatters, October 20, 2009.
my attempt to 'strip music of any real personal or cultural power'
disguised as a review of Jack Webb's great jazz radio show. Retro
Remote: 1, 'Music as Transcendental Entity': 0.
Retro Remote #5: Frontier Doctor, 'Queen of the Cimarron, September 26, 1958 - PopMatters, September 23, 2009.
Actress Jean Willes' best part, tough bad-gal Miss Fancy, gets what's coming to her: a solid dose of gumdrops and church.
Retro Remote #4: All in the Family, 'Gloria Sings the Blues', March 2, 1974 - PopMatters, August 27, 2009.
to compress a nine-hour Ingmar Bergman marriage-angst film into a
half-hour sitcom (BONUS: super-profound phrases to copy-and-paste into
your college essays, kids).
Retro Remote #3: Ric Flair v Kerry Von Erich, WCCW Heavyweight Title Match - December 25, 1982 - PopMatters, July 21, 2009.
article is probably the greatest thing to happen to professional
wrestling since Georg Hackenschmidt submitted to Frank Gotch's ankle
lock in 1908.
Retro Remote #2: Have Gun - Will Travel, 'Return to Fort Benjamin', January 30, 1960 - PopMatters, June 18, 2009.
cowboy Paladin tries to shut down US military torture shack in the
1880s (complete with Guantanamo Bay style pep and Dick Cheney style
nutcase). Coincidentally published on what would have been star Richard
Boone's 92nd birthday.
Star Trek's Lost Legacy of Literary Pretension - PopMatters, May 22, 2009.
One step away from writing internet fan-fiction about Kirk and Spock holding hands.
Retro Remote #1: Gidget, 'Dear Diary -- et al.', episode 1, September 15, 1965 - PopMatters, May 8, 2009.
which I find an academic excuse for watching 'Gidget'. It's the same
old Lacanian psychoanalytic media theory, but 15% more adorable.
Who Needs an Oscar Anyway?: Mickey Rourke's 'Homeboy' - PopMatters, 'All Things Reconsidered', May 6, 2009.
desperate attempt to get 'Homeboy' released on DVD so that I can
finally retire my last remaining VHS tape. (BONUS: attempt #1 at
convincing the world that Wrestlemania is a far more important cultural
event than the Academy Awards.)
The Risks of Writing Off Pop Culture - Weekend Australian Review, October 11, 2008.
whole article on pop culture and not a single mention of Superman,
William Shatner's spoken-word album, or that episode of Xena where she
fights vampires. What a sell-out.
Pirates Become Canon Keepers - The Australian Higher Education, September 10, 2008.
To be followed by an article in which I explain the cultural benefits of stealing a car and stealing a handbag.
This Postgraduate Life - The Weekend Australian Higher Education Special Report: Postgrad, September 6, 2008.
"Special Report", eh? Found only in the dying medium of print. (BONUS: terrifying supervillain-style photo)
Pop Goes the Canon - The Australian Higher Education, August 20, 2008.
literary analysis and cultural theory to demonstrate: a) the pop
culture I like is art; and b) the pop culture you like just proves how
stupid you are. (BONUS: Full length version, horribly cut in print for blowing too many minds (aka being too long))
'Dark Knight' Batman Bad for Comic Book Literacy - Weekend Australian Review, August 16, 2008.
When I'm Batman, things will be different. (BONUS: extra long, extra cranky version)
When Will the Internet Catch Up to Futuristic Plagiarism? - The Australian Higher Education, July 21, 2008.
plagiarising from the Internet plagiarism? Not according to Dr Dale
Spender's futuristic space age world of down-load and web-site, hu-man.
Despairing Lack of Yoof Delinquency - The Australian Higher Education Blog, May 30, 2008.
Giving the kids a one way ticket out of Squaresville, pops.
The Really Important Music Trivia Question - Weekend Australian Review, February 16, 2008.
ABC's Spicks and Specks, SBS' Rockwiz, Channel Nine's Keynotes with
Richard Wilkins, The Final Countdown by Europe. Just because I love 'em
doesn't mean I don't have nasty things to say about 'em. (BONUS:
senseless use of the word 'hipsters')
The Real Reason Monster Movies are Scary - Weekend Australian Review, February 02, 2008.
King Kong, Godzilla, Panic in Year Zero!, The Day the Earth Caught
Fire, Armageddon, The Core, disaster movies, monster movies, the reason
Peter Jackson's King Kong remake sucks, and a cheap shot at J. J.
Alan Alda: Republican Role Allowed Hawkeye to Reinvent Himself (below main interview) - Weekend Australian Review, December 08, 2007.
More backhanded compliments than my high-school reunion.
The Sopranos finale: The Unkindest Cut - Weekend Australian Review, October 27, 2007.
attempt to revive a 40 year old controversy over Patrick McGoohan's
finale of The Prisoner, sidetracked by David Chase's The Sopranos finale
and references to Blake's 7, Roseanne, The Wonder Years, Six Feet
Under, Deadwood, Doctor Who (the old one), Doctor Who (the bad one),
Cheers, M*A*S*H*, and St. Elsewhere. (BONUS: an always welcome reference
to Xena: Warrior Princess)
The Chaser's War on Nothing Much - Weekend Australian Review, October 13, 2007.
Remember, joking that your show is not funny is only funny if your show is, in fact, funny.