WNPR

pop culture

Focus Features

August 16 -- yesterday -- is kind of an oddly busy day in the history of popular culture. In 1954, the first issue of Sports Illustrated was published. In 1962, Pete Best was fired from The Beatles. In 1948, Babe Ruth died. In 1958, Madonna was born (and so she turned 60 yesterday). In 1977, Elvis Presley died. And yesterday, a new August 16th-shaped dot was added to the timeline of pop culture: the death of Aretha Franklin. The Queen of Soul was 76 years old.

And: The new Spike Lee joint, BlacKkKlansman, is set in 1970s Colorado Springs, Colo., and it tells a story that's about race relations in all of America right now, today. It's "a slapstick comedy, a blaxsploitation throwback, and an incendiary Molotov cocktail thrown into the foray of the modern multiplex," and it's being called Lee's "hardest-hitting work in decades."

What Does It Mean To Be A Man In 2018?

Aug 16, 2018
Wellcome Images / Wikimedia Commons

What do recent events such as #MeToo, the election of Donald Trump, and an onslaught of mass shootings perpetrated by white men all have in common? They’ve all provoked important cultural conversations about manhood in America.

Chion Wolf / WNPR/Connecticut Public Radio

Nekita Waller was recently named Connecticut's 17th State Troubadour. This hour, she joins us in our studios. We talk about her background as a performer, and learn about the influence she hopes to have over the state’s arts and culture scene.

Later, we hear about a New Britain Museum of American Art exhibition, which pays tribute to artist Paul Baylock’s native “Hardware City.” Baylock’s work will be on view through the month of October. We take a closer look. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences this week announced changes to the annual Oscar awards, including a new category recognizing "outstanding achievement in popular film." Eligibility requirements and other details haven't been announced, but that hasn't stopped the film world from having strong opinions.

And: Bo Burnham is a comedian, musician, and actor who was a teen YouTube star. He’s directed a few comedy specials -- including Chris Rock's Tamborine -- and as of this week, his feature film directorial debut, Eighth Grade, is in wide release. Its "queasy verisimilitude" has earned it a 98% score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Paramount Pictures

Colin's quite fond of this little piece of trivia: Tom Cruise was five years older during the production of Mission: Impossible -- Fallout than Wilford Brimley was during the filming of Cocoon. And it seems we're all okay with Tom Cruise as a 56-year-old action star. Fallout's opening weekend was the biggest for a Mission: Impossible movie and the second-biggest of Cruise's career.

Fallout is the best-received movie in the M:I franchise too. If you had to pick the five best blockbusters of this decade, you could put together a totally reasonable list made just of Tom Cruise movies. (Here, look: Edge of Tomorrow, Jack Reacher, and the last three Mission: Impossibles. See?) In fact, at this point, if you like high-concept summer popcorn movies, but you don't like comic books/Star Wars/Star Trek/Harry Potter/etc.... what else even is there besides Tom Cruise movies anymore? Not much.

Republic Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

Ariana Grande already had a top 10 hit from her forthcoming album, Sweetener. As of this week, she's got songs at numbers six and eleven on the Billboard Hot 100 with the debut of her single "God Is a Woman." The song and its video have become somewhat controversial in certain corners of the internet.

And: Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl was a literary phenomenon in 2012. In its wake, film/television rights for her previous novels were snapped up. And now, six years later, HBO is airing an eight-episode (and only eight episodes, by the way) miniseries adapted in part by Flynn and starring Amy Adams.

Joerg Neuner / flickr creative commons

Though country music is considered the most popular genre of music in America, its influence is profoundly regional. The style is known for appealing to the white working class, and is largely sequestered in southern and midwestern pockets of the country.

Meanwhile, coastal elites tend to regard the genre with disdain. "I like everything but country" is a popular refrain.

Carlos Mejia / Connecticut Public Radio

Put on your cowboy boots! On Thursday, Colin and company took a deep dive into America’s music genre, country. When the idea originated weeks ago during a team meeting inside the Dankosky Building, there was an audible eye-roll from most inside the room. 

Netflix

Hannah Gadsby is an Australian comedian and writer. Her new Netflix special is Nanette. There are certain ways it's a different sort of comedy special than you're used to. It's, for instance, more of an art history lecture than you'd probably expect. Its audience laughs much less than you're used to. And it'll probably make you cry more than other specials have. Those idiosyncrasies are just some of the reasons Nanette is "the most discussed comedy special in ages."

Excerpt from The Dialogues by Clifford V Johnson
Clifford V Johnson / MIT Press

It’s summer! That means if you’re lucky, you’ll have extra time to read a book while you're sitting on the beach, laying poolside, or after sneaking out of work early.

Recently on Connecticut Public Radio’s Where We Live, host Lucy Nalpathanchil interviewed Petra Mayer, an editor at NPR Books. Mayer went through the best books for you to explore this summer across multiple genres--from this year’s latest releases to upcoming new titles.

hbo.com

Logan Roy is the head of a major media conglomerate, much like Rupert Murdoch. Also like Murdoch, he's not sure if he wants any of his kids to take over when he decides to retire.

Books DAMSELFLY and THE DIALOGUES
Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Check out some of the titles recommended during this episode here.

Now that it’s summer, it’s time to head to the beach with a good book! For many of us, vacation is one of the few times we get to read for fun. Don’t know what book to pick up? Where We Live has got you covered.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

They made a documentary about Mr. Rogers. Does The Nose really have a choice but to go see it? No. It does not. But then, it's "a vital doc," "a tearjerker with a purpose," and "the film we need right now" with "the hero 2018 needs." So we probably should've gone to see it regardless of whether the guy was a public broadcasting icon or not, no?

Believe it or not, Lorena and John Wayne Bobbitt (and their kitchen knife) entered the public consciousness 25 years ago last week.

And this week, former UConn athlete Sue Bird and her girlfriend, Megan Rapinoe, became the first same-sex couple to appear on the cover of ESPN The Magazine's The Body Issue.

Disney

There are three movies that deserve the credit (blame?) for the superhero/comic book movie renaissance/boom(/apocalypse?) that we've been living through now for nearly a decade and a half: Batman Begins (2005), Spider-Man 2 (2004), and Brad Bird's The Incredibles (2004).

Pages