Pop Culture’s Highs and Lows

Pop Culture’s Highs and Lows


>>>THE DEATH OF ARETHA FRANKLIN UNITING THE COUNTRY, “BLACK PANTHER” BREAKING RACIAL BARRIERS, AND PRESIDENT TRUMP CHOOSING TO SIT WITH KANYE WEST INSTEAD OF HIS OWN CABINET MEMBERS. THESE ARE JUST SOME OF THE KEY PIVOTAL MOMENTS OF 2018. WHILE EVERY YEAR IS DEFINED BY ITS TOP POLITICAL, SOCIAL AND HISTORICAL MOMENTS, WE NOW TAKE A LOOK AT SOME OF THE TOP POP CULTURE MOMENTS FROM THIS YEAR. JOINING US NOW TO GIVE US HIS PICKS IS THE FOUNDING DIRECTOR OF BLEIER CENTER FOR TELEVISION AND POPULAR CULTURE AT SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY, PROFESSOR ROBERT THOMPSON. PROFESSOR, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.>>THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.>>SO AS A PROFESSOR OF POP CULTURE, WHAT ARE YOUR TOP FIVE MOMENTS FROM 2018?>>OKAY. WELL, THESE ARE IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER. AND THERE WERE A LOT OF POP CULTURE MOMENTS.>>OH, IT WAS RICH THIS YEAR.>>IT CERTAINLY WAS. BUT I GUESS THERE’S — IT’S JUST AS WELL THAT WE START WITH THIS PIECE OF AMERICAN DA-DA, THIS BIT OF PERFORMANCE ART, WHICH WAS THE KANYE WEST PERFORMANCE IN FRONT OF THE PRESIDENT. BECAUSE I THINK IT SPEAKS TO SO MANY THINGS ABOUT 2018. FIRST, AS YOU POINTED OUT, THE IDEA THAT THE PRESIDENT IS MORE LIKELY TO PAY ATTENTION TO A CELEBRITY LIKE KANYE WEST THAN HE MIGHT BE TO PAY ATTENTION TO HIS OWN ADVISERS IN BRIEFINGS AND ALL OF THE REST OF IT. SECOND, I THINK IT’S A PERFECT PAIRING WITH THE FACT THAT KANYE COMES IN AND DELIVERS THAT WHAT, BY THE WAY, WAS AN EXTRAORDINARY BIT OF POETRY. I DON’T KNOW WHAT ELSE IT WAS, BUT IT CERTAINLY WAS INTERESTING. AND THEN JIM ACOSTA, WHO OF COURSE, IS A MAJOR PART OF THE WASHINGTON PRESS CORPS, IS KICKED OUT OF THE WHITE HOUSE. SO WE’VE GOT THIS REPRESENTATION HERE AND THE PAIRING OF THESE TWO OF THE WAR ON THE PRESS AND ALL THAT WE HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT. AT THE SAME TIME, WE’VE GOT THIS GREAT POP CULTURE MOMENT WHERE THIS AWARD WINNING, INCREDIBLY TALENTED PERFORMER IS NOW DOING OTHER THINGS THAN JUST SINGING IN HIS PERFORMANCES, HE’S NOW DOING PERFORMANCES IN FRONT OF THE UNITED STATES IN A GENRE I DON’T THINK WE HAVE A NAME FOR YET.>>THAT WAS DEFINITELY ONE THAT SET TONGUES WAGGING ON TWITTER. A PLACE THAT SEEMS TO GET A LOT OF PEOPLE INTO TROUBLE THIS YEAR.>>IT IS. AND MAYBE THAT WOULD BE GOING INTO OUR NEXT CATEGORY OF GREAT POP CULTURE MOMENTS IS THE FACT THAT THIS YEAR — I MEAN, THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE, AND IT’S GOING TO CONTINUE TO HAPPEN, BUT THIS YEAR WAS A GOOD REPRESENTATION OF THE FACT THAT HOW THINGS WORK IN THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY, WHAT GETS ON AND WHAT STAYS ON, WHO GETS FIRED, IS NOW BEING DETERMINED MORE AND MORE BY RESPONSE, PUBLIC RESPONSE, TO THINGS PEOPLE SAY. ONE OF THE BIGGEST POP CULTURE STORIES OF 2018 WAS THE INCREDIBLE SUCCESS OF THE RETURN OF “ROSEANNE.” AND EVERYBODY WAS ALL EXCITED THAT THIS WAS GOING TO BE A SHOW THAT WAS GOING TO BE ABLE TO GIVE A VOICE TO THE WORKING CLASS, LIKE THE ORIGINAL DID AND ALL OF THAT. ROSEANNE GETS ON, DOES SOME RACIST TWEETS, AND ALL OF A SUDDEN THE SHOW HASN’T BEEN S BACK. AND WHILE IT CAME BACK AS “THE CONNORS,” ITSELF A BIG STORY, ROSEANNE WAS ESSENTIALLY WRITTEN OUT OF THE PICTURE, AND IN FACT, KILLED OFF THANKS TO SOME OFFENSIVE TWEETS. KEVIN HART VERY RECENTLY, FOR TWO DAYS, WAS GOING TO BE THE HOST OF THE OSCARS. SOME OLD TWEETS THAT HE HAD DONE, AND SOME OLD COMEDY STUFF THAT HE HAD PERFORMED, FINALLY GOT HIM TO STEP DOWN FROM DOING THAT. SO THIS WHOLE IDEA THAT PUBLIC RESPONSE NOW, BECAUSE THERE’S SO MANY PLACES FOR THE PUBLIC TO RESPOND, IS REALLY IN MANY WAYS BECOME A MAJOR FORCE IN HOW BIG ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY AND POP CULTURE. THE MOST SUCCESSFUL TELEVISION SHOW OF 2018 WAS CANCELED, IT HAD TO BE COMPLETELY RETOOLED THANKS TO A TWEET.>>IT’S INTERESTING THAT YOU MENTION CANCELED. NOW WE’RE SEE BACKLASH WITH PEOPLE SAYING CANCEL CULTURE HAS GONE TOO FAR.>>ONE HAS TO LOOK AT THESE ON A CASE BY CASE BASIS. A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE COME TO KEVIN HART’S DEFENSE. I THINK WE’RE WORKING THAT ALL OUT AT THIS POINT. THERE WAS A LONG TIME IN WHICH WE TOLERATED JUST ABOUT ANYTHING. PEOPLE SAID HORRIBLE THINGS, PEOPLE DID HORRIBLE THETHIS OVE YEARS. AND I THINK IT’S ENCOURAGING THAT NOW THERE ARE THINGS YOU CAN’T GET AWAY WITH.>>ANOTHER ONE OF THE BIG ISSUES FROM 2018 I BELIEVE IS ON YOUR LIST.>>RIGHT. I THINK THAT’S KIND OF A CONTINUING. THE WHOLE ME TOO AND SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND ALL OF THAT, THAT DOESN’T JUST GET THIS YEAR, IT GOT LAST YEAR, IT WILL GET NEXT YEAR. BUT IT ISN’T STOPPING. I MEAN, WE HAD SOME BIG STORIES WITH REGARDS TO SEXUAL HARASSMENT. NOT THE LEAST OF WHICH WAS THE LESS MOONVES STORY THAT BROKE IN SEPTEMBER AND GETTING UGLIER AND UGLIER THE MORE WE FIND OUT. LET’S REMEMBER, THIS GUY WAS THE HEAD OF CBS, ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL CULTURAL ARBITERS ON PLANET EARTH. THE STORIES THAT WE HEARD ABOUT DURING THE KAVANAUGH HEARINGS. JEFF FAGER OVER AT “60 MINUTES.” SO 2018 GAVE US PLENTY OF THE STORIES WE’VE BECOME WEARY OF HEARING.>>WHAT ARE THE OTHER TWO STORIES ON YOUR LIST?>>WELL, I THINK CHILDISH GAMBINO’S “THIS IS AMERICA” WAS ONE OF THE MOST EXTRAORDINARY FOUR MINUTES OF POPULAR CULTURE OF 2018. THAT VIDEO DID SOME AMAZING THINGS. I’VE SEEN IT PROBABLY 50 TIMES. I FIND NEW THINGS IN IT EACH TIME. AND ONE COULD ALSO SAY 2018 IS THE YEAR OF DONALD GLOVER. HE ALSO DID THE SECOND SEASON OF “ATLANTA.” AND I THINK THE BEST NEW SHOW TO COME OUT IN FIVE YEARS. AND IN 2019, HE’S GOING TO BE SIMBA. HE’S BECOME ONE OF THE GENIUSES OF AMERICAN CULTURE.>>AND WE EXPECT TO SEE BIG NUMBERS FROM THAT MOVIE. THERE WAS ONE LAST THING THAT YOU COULD MENTION THAT WAS A BIG POP CULTURE MOMENT FROM 2018.>>A PAIR OF FILMS, “BLACK PANTHER” AND “CRAZY RICH ASIANS” WHICH BOTH DID REALLY, REALLY WELL AT THE BOX OFFICE. AND IN FACT, HAD ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY PEOPLE OF COLOR THIS THEIR CAST. AND BOTH OF THOSE MOVIES WERE MAJOR MOMENTS. AND WE HAVE TO SAY, YOU MENTIONED AT THE BEGINNING, I THINK THE DEATH OF ARETHA FRANKLIN, FOR ABOUT A WEEK, REMINDED PEOPLE OF WHAT AN IMPORTANT PART OF AMERICAN CULTURE SHE WAS. AND, IN FACT, TAUGHT A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO MAY NOT HAVE KNOWN ABOUT HER CAREER.>>OF COURSE. AND IN REGARDS TO THOSE MOVIES, THEY NOT ONLY DID BIG NUMBERS HERE, BUT BIG NUMBERS OVERSEAS. THAT WAS A BIG PART OF THE STORY. PROFESSOR, THANK YOU FOR JOINING US ON THE PROGRAM AND REHASHING SOME OF THESE MOMENTS FROM POP CULTURE.>>ALWAYS MY PLEASURE. THANK YOU.>>THANK YOU.

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