Posted in episodes

Episode 11

Better late than never, right, y’all?

The homework for the episode:
Pete: The Skeleton Tree by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, the Pitchfork review of the album, and the Wikipedia page for it
Martha: Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer
Calee: Scrubs, episodes 5.20 and 5.21

A musician familiar with the sounds and strains of death exorcises his grief through a brief, but haunting, album.

Mara Carlyle, high school senior, leads a pretty normal (albeit substance-fueled) life – until her schoolmates start spontaneously combusting.

Dr. Perry Cox makes a call with the best information he has, which kills three patients. This is the aftermath.

Grief is something that everyone experiences in some shape or form during their lifetimes, and pop culture can help us develop the tools to deal with and overcome it. We thread our way through three stories that show us how characters overcome their grief, and also how an artist can use his art to express it.

Your podcasters’ credentials:

Pete: Plizzanet Earth
Martha: Awful Squad: PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds stream from Polygon (here)
Calee: “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” trailer

Martha’s new zen place is watching Polygon employees get shot a lot in Battlegrounds; we debate how long is too long for an animated short before a Disney movie; and Pete tries to explain Snoop Dogg to Martha (J/K; she gets Snoop Dogg, she just doesn’t quite grokk his unique method of speech).

Martha also mentions the trailer for the upcoming Disney/Pixar feature Coco, which you can watch here.

Pop Culture and Mental Health: Discussion Questions and Big Ideas

  1. How do media portrayals of grief and loss align with “typical” experiences?
  2. Does knowing the story behind a highly personal work of media change the way we view it? How?
  3. How can media/pop culture help people deal with loss, both as consumers and creators?
  4. How do others respond to those grieving? What responsibility do we have to people?

There’s a whole lot to unpack here, and not just the notion (a carry-over from last episode) that the idea of “normal people” and the “normal way” of dealing with things is a whole lot of B.S. We all agree that one of the things media can do is normalize the fact that there IS no one way of dealing with grief, but that seeing characters we love go through the grieving process can help us when we suddenly have a heft of it and no tools of our own to process it.

We’re getting our Joseph Campbell on in our next episode, which is going to be all about The Hero’s Journey. Background reading of The Man With the Thousand Faces is 100% optional (PETER). Enjoy doing your homework!

Your homework for June 28:
Martha: The Book of Life
Calee: Shrek (the first one)
Pete: The “Beren and Luthien” chapter from The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkein

And remember, if you have questions, comments, or ideas for a show, give us a shoutout here or send us an e-mail to show@homeworkpodcast.com. We’d love to hear from you!

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Episode 10: Pop Culture Perceptions of Mental Health

The homework for the episode:
Pete: Spellbound, 1945 film by Alfred Hitchcock
Martha: Legion, 1.01 and 1.02
Calee: Adventures in Depression, parts 1 & 2 by Allie Brosh (part of HyperboleandaHalf.blogspot.com)

Mr. “John Brown”––a patient suffering from psychogenic amnesia––is accused of murder, but he cannot recall what happened. Hopefully his psychoanalyst can cure him of “the devils of unreason” and prove his innocence.

David Haller has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and is a patient in a psychiatric hospital. But is his disorder actually a manifestation of super-cool mutant powers?

Allie Brosh bluntly describes what depression is like in ways that those who have never experienced it can begin to empathize with and understand.

What’s going on? We’re looking at pop culture portrayals of mental health issues. How have these portrayals changed over time? Is it better to view mental illness through the lens of fiction or autobiography? And our ongoing through-line of empathy continues to play its part, as we discuss how media portrayals can help people develop empathy, grapple with mental health issues, and the benefits and risks of how the media portrays mental health.

Your podcasters’ credentials:

Pete: Evicted by Matthew Desmond
Martha: Something Positive webcomic archive (located here)
Calee: The Good Place, NBC sitcom

Pete is seriously proselytizing Evicted as mandatory reading (Martha wanted more of a call to arms and less of a narrative angle), we all get nostalgic for legacy web comics, and Calee and Martha yell at Pete to watch The Good Place, which is apparently what it would look like if Bryan Fuller opened a FroYo shop in Heaven.

Pop Culture and Mental Health: Discussion Questions and Big Ideas

  1. In general, media portrays struggles with mental health in one of three ways: demonizing it, romanticizing it, or normalizing it. Where do we feel our homework pieces fall on this spectrum?
  2. How have media portrayals of mental health evolved over time?All experiences with mental health issues are different and specific to the person experiencing them.
  3. How can pop culture and media help us find common ground in something that is so radically different from person to person? How can we use pop culture to work towards a normalizing view of mental health struggles?

Martha mentions the article “How Mental Illness is Misrepresented in the Media” by Kristin Fawcett in the episode, read it here. Pete mentions 50 First Dates. Don’t watch it.

Our theme for our next episode is going to be: Grief in and through Pop Culture. Enjoy doing your homework!

Your homework for June 7:
Pete: A homework in three parts:

  1. Listen to the album The Skeleton Tree by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. (YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, everywhere fine music can be heard)
  2. Read the review for the album from Pitchfork and the Wikipedia page about the album.
  3. Listen to the album a second time. (and a third, fourth, twentieth…)

Martha: Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer (YA novel)
Calee: Scrubs, 5.21 and 5.22 (tv show)

And remember, if you have questions, comments, or ideas for a show, give us a shoutout here or send us an e-mail to show@homeworkpodcast.com. We’d love to hear from you!

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Episode 9: Strange Bedfellows

A note from your podcasters: you’ll notice our episode is slightly different this week! In order to bring you the best content possible, we’re streamlining our discussion and shifting focus from trying to generate a syllabus of materials in the episode, to generating a lesson plan of Big Ideas that you can address using the media we assign as homework. Follow-up blog posts will include more media on the theme as usual, but more from us about how they connect to the podcast. 

Feedback is, as always, more than welcome! Tweet us at @DYDYHpodcast or e-mail us at show@homeworkpodcast.com to let us know your thoughts on our new direction.

The subtitle for this episode is basically “radical empathy,” which is the theme a lot of these stories boil down to and a very useful thing to be teaching!

The homework for the episode:
Pete: Good Omens, 1990 novel cowritten by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Martha: Anya’s Ghost, 2011 graphic novel by Vera Brosgol
Calee: The Man from U.N.C.L.E, 2015 film by Guy Ritchie

What exactly do we mean when we say “Strange Bedfellows”? If you didn’t get it from the homework context clues, we’re talking weird character matchups between people who have absolutely nothing in common – or DO they? We get down and dirty on the subject of odd couples, weird matchups, character growth and something Pete has dubbed “Radical Empathy.” Our homework takes us from ghosts to the apocalypse, from the Cold War to first generation Russian immigrants, and from the idyllic English countryside to 1960’s Rome in our search for commonality. What we find may shock you! (It won’t, but it does end up being quite interesting.)

Your podcasters’ credentials:
Pete: I Love You, Honeybear by Father John Misty (album)
Martha: Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, vol. 1: Who is Oracle? by Shawna and Julie Benson, and Roge Antonio and Claire Roe (DC Rebirth trade paperback)
Calee: Mystery Science Theater 3000: Cry Wilderness (Netflix incarnation)

Martha is digging hard on the DC Rebirth incarnation of the Birds of Prey, while Pete feels only lukewarm on the new musical offering from Fleet Foxes alum Father John. Calee has never seen MST3K before (author’s note: WHAT), but the new stuff sounds pretty great.

Strange Bedfellows: Big Ideas
– Radical Empathy: using media examples to teach empathy and understanding
– Determining the appeal of “strange bedfellow” relationships, through what they reveal about a character (and by extension the consumer by proxy)
– The idea of living in an “echo chamber” (slightly rehashed from our episode on News Media): how absorbing the viewpoints and opinions from others can expand your worldview
– The difference between understanding and empathy, and why it matters

We briefly mention a comic from the popular blog The Oatmeal, “You’re Not Going to Believe What I’m About to Tell You.” Read it here, it’ll be good for you.

Our theme for our next episode is going to be: Pop Culture Depictions of Mental Health. Enjoy doing your homework!

Your homework for May 24:
Pete: Spellbound, 1945 film by Alfred Hitchcock (watch it in its entirety on YouTube here)
Martha: Legion, episodes 1 and 2 (2017 show on F/X)
Calee: Hyperbole and a Half, Adventures in Depression parts 1 and 2 by Allie Brosh (located here and here)

And remember, if you have questions, comments, or ideas for a show, give us a shoutout here or send us an e-mail to show@homeworkpodcast.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Posted in episodes

Episode 8: Caring (Or Not) For the Natural World

The homework for the episode:
Pete: Avatar, 2009 film by James Cameron
Martha: Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind, vol. 1 by Hayao Miyazaki
Calee: Idiocracy, 2006 film by Mike Judge

In this era of EPA rollbacks, what role should pop culture play in raising awareness? Is capitalism the source of all environmental evil? Is Avatar actually a really racist movie? All this and more is on the table as your phenomenally nerdy cohosts dig deep into the conservation warnings broadcast by their homework. Discussion points include sources of environmental destruction, the role of consumerism in environmental deterioration, and more that’s sure to leave you perky and upbeat and not full of despair at all!

Your podcasters’ credentials:
Pete: “DAMN.” by Kendrick Lamar
Martha: Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer
Calee: Archer animated TV series

Environmentalism – Additional Material
The Day After Tomorrow (film)
Dune
series by Frank Herbert (novels)
Fern Gully
(film)
Godzilla
 (film)
The Happening (film)
Pokemon the Movie 2000 (film)
Princess Mononoke (film)
Swamp Thing (DC character. Solo titles by Alan Moore and Scott Snyder. Also shows up in Justice League Dark)
The Two Towers by JRR Tolkein (novel, but we refer specifically to scenes from the film)
Wall-E (film)

We’re a little film-heavy today, but the follow-up entry will mix it up a little.

Our theme for our next episode is going to be: Strange Bedfellows. Enjoy doing your homework!

Your homework for May 10:
Pete: Good Omens, 1990 novel cowritten by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Martha: Anya’s Ghost, 2011 graphic novel by Vera Brosgol
Calee: The Man from U.N.C.L.E, 2015 film by Guy Ritchie

And remember, if you have questions, comments, or ideas for a show, give us a shoutout here or send us an e-mail to show@homeworkpodcast.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Posted in episodes

Episode 7: Alternative Facts, or, How We Relate to News Media

The homework for the episode:
Pete: The West Wing, episode 1.13: “Take Out the Trash Day”
Martha: Shattered Glass, 2003 film starring Hayden Christensen
Calee: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (book)

Martha uses the podcast as a thinly veiled excuse to watch Shattered Glass again, and to plumb the depths of Slate to read about the real world scandal. Pete is way more politically savvy than anyone else in the room (natch), and Calee keeps us all grounded by reminding us that teenagers really are the future of the resistance (a thematic callback to Episode 2, even if we all forgot to point that out!). Martha ALSO awkwardly shoehorns in a discussion about superheroes and news coverage of vigilantism, but maybe it comes out all right in the end?

Your podcasters’ credentials:
Pete: Cheated and has two, but we’ll forgive him since Knox Fortune, the talent behind the single “Help Myself” is his little brother. Also the Legion playlist on Spotify.
Martha: Brave Chef Brianna, issue no. 1, by Sam Sykes and Selina Espiritu
Calee: Tangled: the Series, episode 4

Alternative Facts – Additional Material
All the President’s Men (film)
Daredevil, 1.11 and 1.12 (Netflix tv show)
“Paparazzi” by Lady Gaga (song)
Spider-Man (specifically the 2002 film starring Tobey Maguire, by J. Jonah Jameson is a character that transcends media formats)
Spotlight (film)
The Wire, season 5 (tv show)

Pete also notes the life and real life escapades of Jayson Blair, a journalist for the New York Times who was fired in 2003 in the wake of a plagiarism scandal of his own. You can read about him, and some candid hot takes from a talk he gave at Duke recently, here.

We also refer to a couple of additional articles found on Slate, covering the Stephen Glass scandal (including Hannah Rosin’s, the inspiration for Chloe Sevigny’s character Caitlin, review of Glass’s fictionalized account of his story The Fabulist). You can find those here:

“Steve and Me: How accurate a portrayal of journalism is Shattered Glass?” by David Plotz

“Glass Houses: Why did I – vain skeptic – fall for the too-good-to-be-true journalism of Stephen Glass?” by Jack Shafer

“Glass Houses: Stephen Glass still doesn’t believe in the world around him” by Hannah Rosin

“Lies, Damn Lies, and Fiction” by Adam L. Penenberg (The Forbes article that outs Glass)

Also, Pete found an archived version of Glass’s “Hack Heaven” piece, find it here

Our theme for our next episode is going to be: Caring (or Not) for the Natural World. Enjoy doing your homework!

Your homework for April 26:
Pete: Avatar, 2009 film by James Cameron
Martha: Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind, vol. 1 by Hayao Miyazaki
Calee: Idiocracy, 2006 film by Mike Judge

Posted in episodes, homework

Episode 6: Sacrifice

The homework for the episode:
Pete: X2: X-Men United (movie)
Martha: Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Beginnings (movie)
Calee: The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle (book)

It’s here! It’s here! Martha takes a victory lap when Pete admits that one of these items is his most favoritest homework he’s been assigned yet (which one may surprise you), we argue intent of story versus intent of character, Calee feels skeptical about deconstructed magical girls, and we once again forget to talk about Logan even though it’s apparently relevant to absolutely everything we’re doing anymore.

Your podcasters’ credentials:
Pete: Hour of Code (check it out here!)
Martha: Mad Men, season six
Calee: Star vs. the Forces of Evil (tv show)

Sacrifice – Additional Material
The Expanse (tv series on SyFy)
Frozen
The Hunger Games
 (book or movie)
His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman
Mass Effect 3 (video game)
The Matrix
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Supernatural,
episodes 3.16, 4.20, 5.10, 5.22
– (Look, this whole show is people falling over themselves to die for the greater good. I picked a handful of episodes that stand out as being particularly meaningful examples of the theme. -Martha)
The Twilight Saga 
by Stephanie Meyer

Our theme for our next episode is going to be: Alternative Facts: How We Relate to, and Experience, News Media. Enjoy doing your homework!

Your homework for April 12:
Pete: The West Wing, episode 1.13: “Take Out the Trash Day”
Martha: Shattered Glass, 2003 film starring Hayden Christensen
Calee: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (book)

Posted in episodes

Episode 5: The Hero/Sidekick Relationship

The homework for the episode:
Pete: Batman & Robin, vol. 1: Batman Reborn by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (graphic novel)
Martha: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (graphic novel)
Calee: Adventure Time 1.04, 1.05, 1.06 (TV show)

Have you ever wanted to put the relationship between Batman and his many, many sidekicks under a microscope and really get to the bottom of them? Good news! In this week’s episode, we dig into the hero/sidekick relationship in all its forms, including a rough history where Martha asks Pete to show his work and he doesn’t immediately strangle her with her headphones cord. We talk a whole lot about Star Trek and never come to a conclusion about whether or not it’s relevant! All this AND MORE.

Your podcasters’ credentials:
Pete: The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth
Martha: You Are Here: An Owner’s Manual for Dangerous Minds by Jenny Lawson
Calee: The Venture Brothers tv show

Reboots and Reimaginings – Additional Material
Big Hero 6
Hawkeye, vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon
by Matt Fraction and David Aja
The Illiad
Logan

Sherlock Holmes (books, movies or tv show)
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Venture Brothers
 tv show

Our theme for our next episode is going to be: Sacrifice. Enjoy doing your homework!

Your homework for March 29:
Pete: X2: X-Men United (movie)
Martha: Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Beginnings (movie)
Calee: The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle (book)

Posted in episodes

Episode 4: Reboots & Reimaginings

The homework for the episode:
Pete: The Magicians 1.01 (TV show)
Martha: Riverdale 1.01 (TV show)
Calee: Sailor Moon Crystal 1.01 (TV show)

It’s our fourth episode, which means we’ve officially been doing this for over a month! Hooray! This week, we dive into the concept of remakes, reboots, reimaginings and adaptations and Martha realizes that each of these concepts could probably be their own episode? What makes a good reboot, motives, and purpose are all discussed, and we all unanimously agree to strike the phrase “[X] ruined my childhood” from our cultural vernacular.

Your podcasters’ credentials:
Pete: SPQR by Mary Beard (audiobook as read by Phyllida Nash)
Martha: Tagalong Girl Scout cookies
Calee: Outlander tv show

Reboots and Reimaginings – Additional Material
Archie by Mark Waid and Fiona Staples (ongoing comic)
Coupling (Britain – 2000-2004) and Coupling (America – 2003)
Eat Drink Man
 Woman (China – 1994) and Tortilla Soup (America – 2001)
Fargo (The Coen Brothers, 1996) and Fargo (F/X TV show, 2014-current)
The Hobbit (novel by JRR Tolkein; film by Peter Jackson, 2012)
The Jungle Book (Jon Favreau, 2016)
Let the Right One In (Sweden – 2008) and Let Me In (America – 2010)
The Office (Britain – 2001-2003) and The Office (America – 2005-2013)
Seven Samurai (Japan – 1954); The Magnificent Seven (America – 1960); and The Magnificent 7 (America – 2016)
Shall We Dance (Japan – 1996, America – 2004)
Star Trek (JJ Abrams, 2009)
Transformers (Michael Bay, 2007)
Yojimbo (Japan – 1961) and A Fistful of Dollars (America – 1964)

Supplementary reading:
“Don’t Call It a Reboot: How “Remake” Became a Dirty Word in Hollywood” from The Guardian (located here)
“The Mary Sue Interview: Lexi Alexander on Why Hollywood Loves Remakes” from The Mary Sue (located here)

Our theme for our next episode is going to be: Exploring the Hero/Sidekick Relationship. Enjoy doing your homework!

Your homework for March 15:
Pete: Batman & Robin, vol. 1: Batman Reborn by Grant Morrison (graphic novel)
Martha: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (graphic novel)
Calee: Adventure Time, episodes 1.03, 1.04, 1.05 (TV show, available streaming on Netflix)

Posted in episodes

Episode 3: Not All Wounds are Visible

The homework for the episode:
Pete: Dazed and Confused (film)
Martha: Th1rteen R3asons Why by Jay Asher (YA novel)
Calee: Hjørdis (mini series on Netflix – 4 half hour episodes)

In our third episode, things get a little dark as your hosts discuss bullying in all its ugly forms, including but not limited to: the differences between girls and boys, adult-on child bullying, adult-on-adult bullying, our culture’s fascination with real-life bullying, and how our society has normalized bullying in a really discomfiting way.

Content warning for discussions of depression, suicide, violence. And your hosts would like to remind you that if you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, help is available to you and you are not alone. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255. Depression lies and you are not alone.

Your podcasters’ credentials:
Pete: The Weeds podcast
Martha: Rose Buddies podcast
Calee: Outlander on audiobook, written by Diana Gabaldon and narrated by Davina Porter

Mirriam Webster Dictionary’s Definition of Bullying:

Definition of bully

plural

bullies

  1. 1a :  a blustering, browbeating person; especially :  one who is habitually cruel, insulting, or threatening to others who are weaker, smaller, or in some way vulnerable <tormented by the neighborhood bully>

    bullied ; bullying

    1. transitive verb
    2. 1:  to treat (someone) in a cruel, insulting, threatening, or aggressive fashion :  to act like a bully toward <bullied her younger brother>

    3. 2:  to cause (someone) to do something by means of force or coercion <was bullied into accepting their offer>

    4. intransitive verb
    5. :  to use language or behavior that is cruel, insulting, threatening, or aggressive

Bullying – Additional Material
A Few Good Men (film)
Back to the Future (film)
Butter by Erin Jade Lange (YA novel)
Carrie by Stephen King (novel, 1976 film, 2013 film)
Glee 1.20, “Theatricality” (tv series)
Harry Potter book series by J.K. Rowling
Heathers (film)
Hurricane Bianca (film)
Mean Girls (film)
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Beck Albertalli (YA novel)
Stranger Things 1.06, “The Monster” (Netflix tv series)
Supernatural 4.13, “After School Special” (tv series)
Zootopia (film)

Our theme for our next episode is going to be: Reboots and Reimaginings. Enjoy doing your homework!

Your homework for March 1:
Pete: The Magicians 1.01 (streaming on Netflix)
Martha: Riverdale pilot (streaming on the CW)
Calee: Sailor Moon: Crystal 1.01 (streaming free on Crunchyroll)

Posted in episodes, homework

Episode 2: Welcome to the Resistance

The homework for the episode:
Martha: The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson (novel)
Pete: Heavn by Jamila Woods (album, streaming on SoundCloud)
Calee: In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang

In our second episode, we all get real fired up about the current political climate, while also DEEPLY admiring the role that people of color, teens, and especially teenage girls are playing in our resistance. We talk about music for the first time! Warning: this episode is deeply biased and reveals the biases of all your hosts (spoiler alert: our biases influence the things we love and how we react, and thus will always be an inherent part of our podcast).

Your podcasters’ credentials:
Pete: Brooklyn Nine-Nine (tv show, streaming on Netflix and Hulu)
Martha: The Great British Baking Show (available through your local PBS outlet for a monthly donation – support your local arts and education station!)
Calee: Steven Universe (streaming on Hulu)

Show Corrections and Additions: Pete references the film Chi-Raq, but attributes it to Spike Jonze. The film was actually directed by Spike Lee.

Calee would like to pull out the following quote from The Summer Prince as being particularly relevant:

“I wish…is it so hard to just be honest? To just say, no, this is wrong, and stand up for that, and not think about advantage and placement and promotion and all that Auntie bullshit for just one second? Is that all you grandes are? Is anything real?”

Resistance and Revolution – Additional Material
A Seat at the Table, Solange Knowles (music album)
Captain America: Civil War (film)
Drawing Blood,
Molly Crabapple (memoir)
Lemonade
, Beyonce (music album)
Little Brother, Cory Doctorow (novel)
March, vols. 1, 2, 3 by Sen. John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (graphic novels)
Pirate Cinema, Cory Doctorow (novel)
Pussy Riot YouTube channel (here)
Telefone, Noname (music album)

Supplementary reading:
Support the ACLU and CAIR by buying original art from In Real Life! (here)

Our theme for our next episode is going to be: Bullying. Enjoy doing your homework!

Your homework for February 15:
Pete: Dazed and Confused (film)
Martha: Th1rteen R3asons Why by Jay Asher (YA novel)
Calee: Hjørdis (mini series on Netflix – 4 half hour episodes)