Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

 
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Wednesday, Aug 10, 2011
A look back at a 1990’s childhood, with “where is it now?” updates!

PopMatters’ Kerrie Mills recently reviewed Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops?, a book by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper and Brian Bellmont that looks at the food, TV shows, toys, and other pop cultural milestones that kids grew up with from the 1960’s to 1992.


It sounds like a great idea, but why did they stop at 1992? A brand new generation has sprung up since then, with an emerging sense of nostalgia. Look at the success of Toy Story 3, the New Kids on the Block/Backstreet Boys tour, or Nickelodeon’s heavily hyped decision to add reruns of ‘90s series like All That and Clarissa Explains It All to their late-night schedule.


It’s enough to make you wonder what future generations will look back on wistfully, and how this will influence Hollywood and/or manufactures to make a profit out of it. So here’s a look at a few things that have only recently disappeared from the spotlight, and their cultural impact.


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Friday, May 13, 2011

One half of the Digital Cowboys, Alex Shaw, took recent aim on his show at geek on geek snobbery. In a brief screed against what he perceives as divisions within the geek subculture, Shaw (with his usual passionate but still thoughtfully measured approach) considers the hypocrisy of how folks who feel alienated themselves sometimes all too easily judge others that feel the same sting of ostracism.


For those unfamiliar with the Cowboys, Alex Shaw and Tony Atkins produce a weekly podcast on video games that also sometimes touches on other aspects of geek-related culture.


If Shaw’s rant piques your interest, you can find more of he and co-host Atkins’s musings on video games and video game culture at The Digital Cowboys web site. They are well worth a listen.  Digging in with episodes like their one on death in video games or one on sex in video games would be a good place to start and should give a pretty good idea of what they are all about.  In my estimation, they present some smart, engaging stuff.



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Wednesday, Mar 23, 2011
This wonderful documentary shows the perpetual disjunctions between official history and lived experiences.

“I can’t say that I wanted to be like everyone else,” says Lyubov Meyerson, drawing on her cigarette. “That’s not quite how it was. I simply was like everyone else.” Meyerson’s is one of five Russian classmates’ stories in Robin Hessman’s terrific documentary, My Perestroika. Each recalls what it was like to be born into Soviet-era Communism, and now contemplates middle age in Russia’s new market economy. Through thoughtful and absorbing interviews, the film shows the perpetual disjunctions between official history and lived experiences.


My Perestroika opens in New York 23 March and Los Angeles 15 April. Many other cities will follow.


See PopMattersreview.



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Friday, Dec 31, 2010
Here’s a look at gifts from over 20 years ago.

Now that the Christmas season has passed and the gifts have already been received, let’s take a nostalgic look at popular gifts through the years. The 1980s…


Cabbage Patch Dolls: It may be hard to imagine now, but these cloth-bodied dolls with plastic heads were the must-have toy of 1983. Fights broke out among crowds of angry Christmas shoppers who were looking for the nearly-sold out dolls.



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Thursday, Dec 30, 2010
Here’s a look at gifts from over 30 years ago.

Now that the Christmas season has passed and the gifts have already been received, let’s take a nostalgic look at popular gifts through the years. The 1970s saw a boom in electronic technology, but many presents were still pretty old school.


Atari Pong: Before Xbox, Nintendo 64, or Sega Genesis: there was Pong. While you can probably play it on your cellphone today, it was a huge gift in the 1970s. In 1976, they sold for about $55.


 

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