Weekend Reads: Sean Connery (RIP), Goth Songs, Satanic Panic, Netflix Anime, K-Pop vs. QAnon

Recommended weekend reading material for October 31, 2020.

Every week, I compile a list of interesting, thought-provoking, and enjoyable articles to give you some good weekend reading material.

And 2020 just keeps on taking… Sir Sean Connery, the original James Bond, has died at the age of 90. James Whitbrook provides a brief overview of Connery’s career:

Connery’s career on stage and on-camera has spanned decades, iconic turns like the beloved Henry Jones Sr. in Indiana Jones, Highlander’s Juan Sánchez-Villalobos Ramírez, Marko Ramius in The Hunt for Red October, or Zed in Zardoz. There was also his camper side in genre, playing infamously cheesy turns in the likes of the reboot of the other British spyfi legend, The Avengers, and memorable parts in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Time Bandits, and Dragonheart. But none will be forever seared into the hearts and minds of generations of pop culture as his role in turning James Bond into a global movie legend.

Just in time for Halloween, the Treble staff have compiled a list of the top 50 goth songs. Break out the black lipstick and fingernail polish and prepare to brood.

Gothic rock as a genre has its own signature sounds, but the goth aesthetic has spread far and wide since the early ’80s. Goth-rock begat deathrock and darkwave, and eventually the spheres of industrial and EBM began to cross over — go to a goth club in 2020 (early 2020, I suppose — sigh), and you’ll likely hear all of these different distinct, yet related styles and subgenres. Which is the intent we had in mind when we took it upon ourselves to compile a list of our favorite goth songs.

Treble’s list contains plenty of obvious choices (e.g., The Cure, Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Sisters of Mercy), but it contains a few surprises, too.

The irony of the “Satanic Panic” of the ‘80s and ‘90s is that even as it warned parents of the occult’s influence on their kids, it made anything that seemed occult-ish (e.g., heavy metal, Dungeons & Dragons, He-Man) more exciting and interesting to those same kids.

Amid the fervor of the satanic panic, the 1980s and early 1990s were absolutely a boom time for creepy kids’ shit. The cycle of deviance amplification and convergence in America’s collective cultural imagination of the early ‘80s seems to have resulted in a deviance softening as well, eventually making the occult, a source of terror earlier in the decade, a fun pastime for kids by the end of it. In addition to Skeletor’s Baphomet-topped staff, ‘80s children interested in the occult had their druthers of toys and entertainment to choose from, from the Ghostbusters hearse to the Saturday morning cartoon of the same name, to the films of Tim Burton and countless others who pretty much cashed in on the fact that the macabre was having a cultural moment.

Sidenote: I’m not sure if this was Alford’s intent, but her point about interest in the supernatural, etc., increasing for those who don’t regularly attend church reminds me of this quote that’s (falsely) attributed to G.K. Chesterton: “When a man stops believing in God, he doesn’t then believe in nothing, he believes anything.”

Back in 2017, I commented on Netflix’s move into the anime business. Return to the present and that has only intensified, with Netflix planning at least 16 anime titles for 2021. I’m particularly interested in Eden, Godzilla: Singular Point, and Spriggan, and the first chapter of Transformers: War For Cybertron proved interesting, so I’ll be checking out the second one when it drops, too.

Speaking of Netflix, K. B. Hoyle sings the praises of Enola Holmes, a recent Netflix original that stars Stranger Things’ Millie Bobby Brown as Sherlock Holmes’ younger sister.

Enola Holmes is not only delightfully witty and adventurous, but it serves as a needed entry into the empty space in entertainment for that tween/teen audience that has grown too old for children’s programming and is still too young for the content of a TV-MA show on Netflix (or any other streaming channel). I haven’t read the books, so I don’t know how the stories read, but from a purely visual arts perspective, Enola Holmes is a story the entire family can enjoy, especially if you have young teens looking for stories made just for them. And Enola Holmes treats its young audience with respect, assuming they bring to their viewing experience an awareness of the world they themselves are growing up in.

My family watched Enola Holmes a few weeks ago and thoroughly enjoyed it; it’s a fun and clever film, and Brown is excellent as the younger Holmes. Here’s hoping that Netflix brings us an Enola Holmes sequel (or two).

Darren Aronofsky’s harrowing Requiem for a Dream turns 20 this year. To mark the occasion, Alison Willmore sat down with Aronofsky and members of the film’s cast and crew to discuss its production, filming, and release.

The thrill of Requiem for a Dream comes from it being the work of artists who hadn’t yet been told what they could and couldn’t do, for better and, maybe in one instance, for worse. It took on uncompromisingly dark material with such an exuberant sense of style and boundless energy. Twenty years after Requiem made its debut at Cannes and tangled with the MPAA over an NC-17 rating, it remains an influential cultural milestone that continues to reverberate through different media, and an ending that still has viewers curling up in the fetal position like the characters do right before the credits roll.

Requiem for a Dream is one of those rare films that I admire and respect, but have no real desire to ever see again. Via Drew McWeeny.

K-pop isn’t just a global music phenomenon. Its numerous fans are also going toe-to-toe against Trump and QAnon on social media, and holding their own.

K-pop stans have regularly hijacked QAnon and MAGA social media hashtags. They’ve led get-out-the-vote efforts against the president. And many were among the online pranksters who boasted about helping derail a Trump rally in Tulsa where he’d said 1 million people planned to show up, and barely 6,000 did. It’s tough to know how many of the 13,000 unused seats were meant for stans who’d asked for tickets with no intention of going, but the emptyish stadium infuriated Trump and came to be seen as a turning point in the presidential campaign. While K-pop stans probably won’t swing the election, their trolling is enough of a cultural force that political consultants have taken notice.

Who here had “BTS vs. QAnon” on their 2020 bingo cards?

Velvet Blue Music has long been one of my favorite record labels and they’re finally on Bandcamp. Now it’s even easier to support awesome artists like Lee Bozeman, Fine China, LN, Map, and Starflyer 59. If you don’t know where to start, then I highly recommend Fine China’s Not Thrilled. (Here’s hoping that VBM starts adding their earliest releases, too, like all of those Bon Voyage, Lassie Foundation, and Pony Express 7” singles from the ‘90s.)

If you need something to pick up your spirits these days, then maybe you should check out some Superman comics.

Yet there is perhaps no character that has instilled so much awe and wonder in both comic book fans and creators, and those emotions have been beautifully distilled into stories that show why the last son of Krypton deserves his place atop the pantheon of DC Comics and all superhero stories. These comics treat Superman’s strength as a storytelling opportunity rather than an impediment, and more often than not they also explore the Man of Steel’s weaknesses that have nothing to do with kryptonite.

For what it’s worth, I think this might be my favorite Superman moment, from Superman issue #701.

From the Blog

One of the Slack groups that I’m in was recently discussing samurai films, which reminded me that I wrote about the long-running Sleepy Eyes of Death series at the beginning of the year.

Arguably the most popular adaptation of Renzaburō Shibata’s novels and short stories, the long-running Sleepy Eyes of Death series follows a cynical rōnin (i.e., masterless samurai) named Nemuri Kyoshiro who always seems to find trouble no matter where he goes in Tokugawa-era Japan. In just seven years, Daiei produced twelve Sleepy Eyes of Death films starring celebrated actor Ichikawa Raizō as the samurai antihero.

Though not nearly as well-known as, say, Kurosawa’s movies, the Sleepy Eyes of Death movies are worth checking out for any true fan of chanbara cinema.

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