Fri, 20 January 2023
In episode four of (Pop) Cultural Marxism, Ajay, Isi, and Joseph review the year 2022 in pop culture via the prism of five topics and trends: "open world" (and cinematic universe) fatigue (for example, Assassin's Creed: Vahalla, Sonic Frontiers, Legend of Zelda); the plague of remakes and cultural nostalgia (Top Gun Maverick, Wednesday, Interview with the Vampire); cultural paranoia (true crime TV and paraphernalia, including the "In Case I Go Missing Binder," Nextdoor, Tár); liberal fan fiction (Handmaid's Tale, Bridgerton); and the substitution of moralism and forensic analysis for actual aesthetic judgment (explainers, the backlash to critique, and "explains it all" prequels like Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power). Do open worlds lend gravitas to video games—or do they just create sameness? What are the pastoral impulses behind farming games? Is the mania for remakes confirmation of Francis Fukuyama's "End of History"? Is Tár a product of cancel cultural panic? What is "plastic representation"; and how does representational fantasy like Bridgerton erase the very historical knowledge that makes social critique possible? And finally, what explains the urge to explain it all? How does ambiguity provide potency to art? The podcast closes with a discussion of Ajay's, Isi's, and Joseph's favorite 2022 things (whether actually released in 2022 or just personally discovered): Elden Ring, Yellowjackets, Hades, Azor, The Banshees of Inisherin, Station 11, and Xenoblade Chronicles 3.