Five Years of PopMatters


by PopMatters Staff

1 December 2004


The center column of the site. The first thing you see when you open PopMatters. The large picture. The splashy headline. The Features section is where some of the most interesting and broad topics in the PopMatters array wind up. Every one of the regular sections fields pieces to become features: articles that promise a more focused and thoroughly researched view of their subjects. These are the in-depth portraits of musicians, authors, and filmmakers; the detailed critiques of sports and video games; the most engaging and timely interviews. These are the pieces that most fully concern themselves with history and contemporary culture.

The Features section is also the place where the site’s many special feature sections appear — thematic approaches to topics in pop culture — as well as articles on subjects that go beyond the borders of our regular sections . You will find features listed in the Editors’ Picks of each of the site’s respective topic areas, but here we’d like to highlight some of the individual features and special features sections that stand out for various reasons. These pieces train their sites on subjects as diverse as artist tributes, Internet culture, the War in Iraq, and even a much-beloved movie monster. As with all of the writing at PopMatters, these are explorations of contemporary culture that employ a wide-lens, panoramic view of the world we live in, and they bring that picture into focus with clarity and style.

PopMatters Editors’ Picks

These Times/This Place
Feature by PopMatters Writers; edited by Karen Zarker
A collection of essays — part cultural criticism combined with personal experience, part reportage combined with colorful travelogue — from various parts of the globe devoted to what the world looks like from this time, in that place, where each writer is standing. Given the scattered locale of PopMatters’ writers, These Times/This Place brings its readers a variety of essays placed in North and South America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.

Godzilla at 50
Feature by PopMatters Writers; edited by Karen Zarker
Godzilla has changed. At 50, he is no longer the hulking, pea-brained brute we thought. Our writers contemplate his transition from bringer of Armageddon to bringer of agathon, a fierce and ironic comfort to children who sense that theirs is a dangerous world.

The Road to Baghdad — “Wear a Button All the Time!” (sample article)
Article by Jocelyn Szczepaniak-Gillece; feature by PopMatters Writers
Post-September 11, 2001, the world watched as the US’s attentions slowly turned towards Iraq and an impending war. PopMatters writers describe here the moods and attitudes of the citizens at home during those heated, polarizing months.

This Is It (2002) and Now Hear This 2003 and Now Hear This 2004
Feature by PopMatters Music Writers
Initially called This Is It, the recurring feature now known as Now Hear This has given the PopMatters music staff the chance to make some predictions about the future of music, highlighting bands that should and probably will hit the big time. And our success rate speaks for itself, the staff having highlighted Drive-By Truckers, Liars, the Hidden Cameras, the Darkness, Saturday Looks Good to Me, and Joanna Newsome, to name a few, all before the buzz became a frenzy.

To: Big Five Re: Download Sites
Feature by David Medsker and Neil Soiseth
Medsker and Soiseth take a hard look at the laments of the music industry in face of online file-sharing and offer sound advice for how the music business can change its tune.

24 Hours Live — The New Cyborgs: Cyberculture and Women’s Webcams
Feature by Wes Lee
A fully academic analysis of Internet culture’s seamier sides, Lee’s expansive feature piece here is a wonderful example of the medium’s ability to be self-reflexive and PopMatters’ broad scope and vision.

Adventures in Dust: A Journal of the 2001 Burning Man Festival
Feature by Andy Hermann
Hermann’s account of the Burning Man Festival is great armchair travelogue. Reading this, one feels the spirit of the event without having to suffer a sunburn.

The Racial Lessons of 9-11
Feature by Carol Chehade
A beautifully (and brutally) honest piece about racism in the USA, Chehade’s article asks tough questions of the country as well as her own community.

Tying Knots by Tying Knots
Feature by Terry Sawyer
A stinging and humorous look at a hot topic in today’s culture wars: gay marriage.

Of Big Oil, By Big Oil, For Big Oil: The 10 Most Startling Speculations and “Conspiracy Theories” About September 11 and America’s New War
Feature by Mike Ward
A smart and thorough exploration of contemporary times, this essay articulates for us the thoughts in our minds that hadn’t, until now, taken full shape.

‘80s Nostalgia and the Vicious Circle
Feature by Colin Snowsell
In this essay on music history, revisited, Snowsell discusses how, when industry-induced nostalgia churns up ‘80s music, many things forgotten come to light.

//Mixed media

Authenticity Issues and the New Intimacies

// Marginal Utility

"The social-media companies have largely succeeded in persuading users of their platforms' neutrality. What we fail to see is that these new identities are no less contingent and dictated to us then the ones circumscribed by tradition; only now the constraints are imposed by for-profit companies in explicit service of gain.

READ the article