Popular Fictions

But not just fictions—or maybe, fictions in the most expansive sense, including music, television, film, art, etc. Write here if: something is happening in the popular landscape that tells a story to you.

The Happy Slave: or, Khaleesi’s American Dilemma

By
6
April 4, 2014
The Happy Slave: or, Khaleesi’s American Dilemma

Avidly is very avid about Game of Thrones.  This is our second piece anticipating Sunday’s premiere; find the first here. –Eds. What does it matter, to a master, how a slave feels? If you own another person—own them as though they were a thing—it seems that their feelings, this strange proof of humanness, would almost...
Read More »

Game of Thrones in an Age of Greed

By
6
April 3, 2014
Game of Thrones in an Age of Greed

  Game of Thrones depicts a cutthroat world driven by brutal self-interest and unabashed greed. The show also boasts a growing number of disabled figures whose missing limbs and diminished abilities remind viewers of the violence...
Read More »

Toy Story 3 and the Problem with Stuff

By
3
February 7, 2014
Toy Story 3 and the Problem with Stuff

One of the best sight gags in Toy Story comes when Sheriff Woody and Buzz Lightyear are stranded at a “Dinoco” gas station, its brand logo a silhouette of a brontosaurus. With this play on Sunoco, Pixar reminds us of fossil fuels, our cars running off of dinosaur bones. In this scene, Woody fears...
Read More »

Where I’m Calling From: Philip Seymour Hoffman, 1967-2014

By
1
February 3, 2014
Where I’m Calling From: Philip Seymour Hoffman, 1967-2014

Philip Seymour Hoffman was great on the telephone. If you start to think about it, it’s going to be hard to stop. He’s unbelievably, pitifully terrifying foisting phone sex on Jane Adams in Happiness; exploding with frustrated, syncopated rage at Adam Sandler in Punch-Drunk Love; being coolly, almost elegantly threatening in Mission Impossible III;...
Read More »

“Terry was a dude”: A dialogue on “Backstreets” and “Governor Chris Christie’s Fort Lee New Jersey Traffic Jam”

By
3
January 23, 2014
“Terry was a dude”: A dialogue on “Backstreets” and “Governor Chris Christie’s Fort Lee New Jersey Traffic Jam”

Recently Rolling Stone published a list of the 100 greatest Bruce Springsteen songs of all time as decided by a panel of Rolling Stone judges. Predictably “Born to Run” nabbed the first spot, and predictably, some folks in my earshot complained that Rolling Stone’s panel seemed a little bit white and a little bit...
Read More »

Beyoncé’s December Surprise

By
2
January 7, 2014
Beyoncé’s December Surprise

In politics, an “October surprise” refers to a news event occurring just before an election, usually publicized with the intention of influencing voters—they’re game changers. While she’s not a politician (yet), 2013 was the year in which Beyoncé came to truly feel like the Queen of the World, dominating public consciousness with everything from...
Read More »

From Television to IMAX: Catching Fire

By
1
December 10, 2013
From Television to IMAX: Catching Fire

The 75th annual Hunger Games begin with a change in scenery. Poised on a circular platform, the starting block in a race of survival, Katniss Everdeen, the main character of Francis Lawrence’s film The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (based on Suzanne Collins’s novel), emerges from the relative safety of her training area into the...
Read More »

We Don’t Want to Build That

By
25
November 26, 2013
We Don’t Want to Build That

GoldieBlox: you are a Serious Toy for Smart Girls. And yet in true Goldi-fashion, you’re not too serious, and not too smart. You want to “disrupt the pink aisle” of Girl Toys, but you are full of pastel plastic and Barbie-haired cartoons. You want to advance Girl Power in a still-sexist world, but you...
Read More »

Gravity: a 3D Movie About 3D Movies

By
3
November 7, 2013
Gravity: a 3D Movie About 3D Movies

We know we’re watching a 3D movie when a body scatters into ashes; when walls or windows shatter; when bodies crumble to bits and pieces; when time slows down so we can revel in the textures of rain, snow, or floating tears; when heroes get caught in networks of rope, web, fabric; when things...
Read More »

Deep Background: The Walking Dead

By
4
October 29, 2013
Deep Background: The Walking Dead

A proposition: one strategy or function of the Gothic genre is to disrupt a stable, received sense of figure and ground.  I mean this in the most gestalt-psychology kind of way: the Gothic messes with our idea of what we should pay attention to and what it’s safe to ignore, what counts as positive...
Read More »