Weekend Reads: Chadwick Boseman, Anime Food, Phineas and Ferb, Pandemic Moviegoing, Bandcamp vs. Spotify
Recommended weekend reading material for August 29, 2020.
Every week, I compile a list of interesting, thought-provoking, and enjoyable articles. I hope they provide you with some good weekend reading material.
Chadwick Boseman, who starred in Marvel’s Black Panther, died yesterday after a four year battle with colon cancer. He was 43 years old.
It’s difficult to overstate the impact “Black Panther” and Boseman had on the larger culture. The film was the first superhero movie ever nominated by the Academy Awards for best picture, earning six other nominations and winning three. More to the point, as Black Panther, Boseman presented to the world an image of a powerful and thoughtful Black man who was the leader of a thriving African nation and a superhero willing to race into whatever battle he felt was worth fighting, no matter the odds.
It’s staggering to me that Boseman starred in several of the biggest movies of all time, including Black Panther and Avengers: Endgame, while battling cancer (he never went public with his diagnosis). And reading the tributes to Boseman, it’s obvious that he left behind a powerful legacy through the roles that he played. That such an inspiring career was cut short is a tragedy.
Kathryn VanArendonk has grown increasingly tired of one particular trope in TV and filmmaking:
There’s something particularly effective about the combination of blood spraying across a wall and an effusively happy song — the experience of both elements is deep and pre-intellectual, a brainstem-level response to stimuli. Because one response is pleasure and one is fear/horror/revulsion, and because both of those responses happen at the same time, a peppy song/violent montage can be like the on-screen version of eating a Sour Patch Kid. Your brain registers intense sweetness and intense sourness at once, and the collision of opposites feels so good.
Don’t be surprised if you feel yourself getting hungry after watching a Studio Ghibli movie like My Neighbor Totoro or Spirited Away.
The food scenes in Studio Ghibli productions, particularly the most famous ones from Miyazaki’s movies, are distinct from other anime in that the narratives slow down to accommodate the cooking, eating, and sharing of food… From the tiniest details of a cooking sequence, like an eight-year-old chopping vegetables in a way that suggests she’s had to do it for years because of an absent parent, to the presentation of beautiful dishes, like a steaming fish pie with a golden brown fish carved into its crust, the focus on preparing and enjoying food seems to make these animated worlds come to life.
Phineas and Ferb is such a great show that it’s really hard to believe that it almost didn’t get made. (Can you imagine a world without Phineas and Ferb? Perish the thought.)
It’s hard to imagine Disney Channel without Phineas and Ferb, whose characters headline theme-park attractions, pop up on current Disney Channel shows, and have become staples on TikTok. But as iconic as the show now is, it’s surprising that it got made in the first place. Creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh spent 16 years pitching the show before it finally got picked up at Disney, and they almost gave up several times.
I don’t know what your family is doing this weekend, but mine’s watching Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Candace Against the Universe (watch the trailer).
Movies are slowly returning to theaters, with one of the year’s biggest titles — Christopher Nolan’s Tenet — arriving next week. However, that doesn’t mean you should be returning to movie theaters.
Are we overreacting? Is it actually safe to go to a movie theater in the middle of a pandemic? “Short of renting out an entire theater, which is obviously not an option for most of us, there is no scenario in which going to a movie theater is a good idea,” says Dr. Anne W. Rimoin, professor of epidemiology and director of the Center For Global And Immigrant Health at the University Of California, Los Angeles.
Related: The New Mutants is finally arriving in theaters after years of development hell — and The A.V. Club won’t be reviewing it. (“We are… adopting the official policy of only reviewing films our writers can safely watch, whether in a socially distanced press screening or with a digital screener.”)
Like many of you, I was surprised to find Netflix streaming episodes of Supermarket Sweep, that classic grocery-themed gameshow from the early ‘90s. Kevin Fallon tracked down the show’s most famous competitors.
Brandon and Kevin originally stood out for demographic reasons. College students at University of California, Santa Barbara, they were not only the rare all-male team, but a good decade — maybe even two — younger than the average age of the women competing.
Then they totally dominated the game. Like, destroyed it. There are videos online of people watching them play, marveling over the extent to which they owned the trivia rounds and then their strategy in the sweeps.
On a related note, I find this Pizza Hut training video from 1988 oddly calming.
Rotten Tomatoes has compiled a list of 25 essential anime series that’s a nice blend of old and new titles.
Our recommendation that these shows ought to be sought out and watched is based on the immediate quality of the stories, characters, and animation, along with their crucial impact in exposing new audiences to the world of anime.
Most of the entries also include helpful links to where you can watch them online (e.g., Funimation, Hulu, Netflix).
Longtime Opus readers will know that I’m a big of Bandcamp as a way to buy music and support musicians. This piece by Damon Krukowski compares and contrasts Bandcamp and Spotify.
Spotify is now worth an estimated $54 billion on the stock market, despite having never shown an annual profit. Bandcamp is privately owned, has been in the black since 2012, and continues to grow… slowly. You might be tempted to say that one is a 21st-century business, and the other belongs to an earlier age. But neither could exist at any other time.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you really want to support your favorite musicians, buy their music, don’t just stream it.
Kaitlyn Schiess is a Liberty University graduate. In this New York Times opinion piece, she reflects on her education there and how it relates to the ongoing Jerry Falwell scandal.
Christian education, then, has historically focused not merely on delivering the right information, but also on giving students the tools — music, prayer, storytelling — to shape our loves. Yet evangelicals — and Liberty, in particular — have often neglected this focus, falsely believing that if we know the right information, we will act rightly. What we’re seeing in Mr. Falwell now are the consequences of that neglect. How does a man who knows all the right answers come to do so much wrong? By underestimating the power of the loves in our lives — in this case, political power — to shape our actions and alter our moral commitments.
It could be argued that the Falwell scandal is a direct result of Christians being too enamored with gaining worldly power and influence. Eric Tonjes suggests a different way:
Worldly influence is all about triumphing through size and superior firepower. Those with the greatest impact are those with the ability to get the most done. As long as we seek worldly influence, we will idolize big people. And bigness often runs contrary to Christlikeness; he who pursues power has little in common with He who “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant.” (Philippians 2:5) The only way we can fall in love with Christian character is to fall out of love with worldly strength.
From the Blog
25 years ago this week, the Macross Plus movie arrived in Japanese theaters. Macross Plus has been one of my favorite anime titles ever since I first saw it in the late ‘90s, but how well does it hold up in 2020?
Even if you’re not a mecha anime fan… the quality and intensity of Macross Plus’ aerial action sequences is impressive, coming as it did before computer animation became as widespread as it is today. Furthermore, it’s worth seeing to experience the pairing of its visuals with Yoko Kanno’s wonderful music. As a technical achievement, Macross Plus can still dazzle and thrill, even after nearly three decades.
This post is available to everyone (so feel free to share it). However, paying subscribers also get access to exclusives including playlists, sneak previews, and podcasts. If you’d like to receive those exclusives — and support my writing on Opus — then become a paid subscriber today for just $5/month or $50/year.