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Illustration by JR Fleming

By Chris Rinthalukay

In the 2013 music video “Gimme Chocolate,” three teen girls adorned with red hair bows and tutus sing and dance a song befitting of your typical J-pop band. Except, it’s not. The girls are the face of Babymetal, a synthesis of pop vocals and heavy metal. In “Gimme Chocolate,” a musician dressed like a skeleton delivers a guitar solo, while a man crowd surfs on top of a packed audience. The video ends with these words on screen: “See you in the [mosh] pit.”

On first viewing, one might describe it as “vaguely fascist, but cute” —…


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Illustration by JR Fleming

By Olivia Crandall

Few people would describe Gwyneth Paltrow as chill. But in the new Netflix series The Goop Lab, the actress-turned-lifestyle-guru and her staff of witchy yet incredibly attractive believers act as missionaries for a new era of devil-may-care wellness. Paltrow and team go to great lengths to show that they’re an easy-going bunch, eager to encourage curiosity and action around all that ails us. However, this lackadaisical nature frames something darker. …


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Illustration by JR Fleming

By Ross McIndoe

“They just don’t get what Star Wars is really about!”

That complaint has been circulating ever since those big yellow letters crawled back up our screens to announce the return of Star Wars in 2015. The resulting vitriol has been aimed at the filmmakers, the studio employing them, and anyone who praises the creative choices that many felt were tantamount to sacrilege.

So, what is Star Wars really about?

A long answer to that could go on for volumes, roping in samurai and Western cinematic traditions, science fiction, space opera, hero myths, good and evil, the Vietnam…


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Illustration by Will James

By Michael Burns

We live in a cynical age. As a culture, we’re less inclined than ever to trust institutions, corporations, or the media. While this cynicism manifests brilliantly in shows like Succession or It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, perhaps no network has milked it as effectively and hilariously as Adult Swim. …


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Illustration by Will James

By Myles McDonough

Human beings are gluttons for emotional punishment. And Larry David knows how to dish it out.

Between Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm, our culture has spent more than thirty years laughing at the beloved comedian’s characters and the uncomfortable situations in which they find themselves. Whether it’s George faking a disability to get a private bathroom, Elaine calling a baby ugly in front of its parents, or Larry returning to a dinner party that he ruined in order to retrieve his watch, we just can’t get enough televised masochism.

What’s going on here? Why are we so…


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Illustration by JR Fleming

By Andrew Paul

Marilyn Manson’s 1997 “Dead to the World Tour” was anything but its name. The controversial performer played nearly 180 international shows in little over a year, minus the multiple dates cancelled or delayed due to church protests, town bans, and bomb threats. When not sporting a thong and corset while theatrically destroying Bibles at sold-out arena stops, Manson argued against American evangelical conservatism on Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher and gave controversial performances lambasting MTV’s core audience during its Video Music Awards. …


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Illustration by JR Fleming

By Myles McDonough

Spoiler Warning: Cats and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Why do you go to the movies?

If it’s to see impressive set pieces and cool character designs, you probably left Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker overcome with joy. And with good reason: Creepy Exegol is one of the few planets in the Star Wars universe that doesn’t appear to be made out of sand, ice, or bogwater, and Ian McDiarmid is gorgeous as the revived Emperor Palpatine in all his red-eyed, intubated glory.

If, however, you like your movies to have basic storytelling devices like…


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Illustration by JR Fleming

By Ross McIndoe

Spoilers for the John Wick series to follow.

The assassins of John Wick work within a secret society that extends around the world, complete with a mysterious, multi-tiered government, and even its own currency.

The gold coins which these contract killers use to pay for everything have been warmly ridiculed by fans since the first movie, largely thanks to how impossible it is to glean any sense of their monetary value. A round of drinks, a hotel room, a bulletproof suit, and an arsenal fit for taking on the assembled goons of a mafia princess each somehow…


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Illustration by JR Fleming

By Myles McDonough

By now, we all know or at least suspect that Disney has hijacked our brains to make us obsessed with a certain big-eared puppet who has gone on to become the internet’s littlest meme factory.

Baby Yoda, with his soft, tiny body, stubby limbs, and ginormous eyes, ticks all the boxes in what ethologist Konrad Lorenz first called Kindchenschema (“baby schema”) — that set of physical features that makes us lose our minds at the sight of anything remotely resembling a human infant. In other words, whatever we perceive as “cute.”

But there’s more to this character…


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Illustration by JR Fleming

By Michael Burns

Spoiler Warning: The Good Place Season 1–4.

There is a widely overused quote from Samuel Beckett, from a story that nobody has ever read (“Westward Ho”), that goes: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

While The Good Place creator Michael Schur has yet to reference the Irish author when discussing the show’s inspirations, this quote sums up what seems to be its unifying theme as it nears its final episodes.

For the uninitiated, The Good Place is a half-hour comedy that explores what happens when an oddball group of strangers wakes…

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Wisecrack covers the intersection of culture, philosophy, and criticism.

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