Img_1798aThe PopCulteer
August 5
, 2016

This is a weird time for me to be writing about Pop Culture.

Part of it is my personal medical situation. I’m undergoing treatment for Myasthenia Gravis, which I’ve already written about here, and it’s sort of commanding a lot of my attention. I’m doing well with it, but there are some drawbacks to the medicine I’m taking and the recovery process.

Prednisone is a bit of a wonder drug, but it comes with a price. While it’s working to rebuild the muscles that have atrophied over the eleven or more years that my disease went undiagnosed (my own fault, by the way, you can’t be diagnosed if you don’t go to the doctor), the side effects have been a bit disruptive. I’m very easily irritated and controlling my appetite has become much more of a struggle than it had been. My attention span is not what it normally is.

But aside from that, this is just a strange point in history for Pop Culture.

First of all, it’s a presidential election year. As election years go, this is one of the most bizarre I’ve ever witnessed. One one hand, we have a qualified, seasoned politician who has a history of doing great work, but who also has the drawback of being a female who has been the target of the most calculated smear campaign ever focused against a single person.

trump+t-shirt+email.tifOn the other hand, we have a cartoonish buffoon with no legislative experience, a clearly evident personality disorder and a business history that is littered with failure and ruined lives.

One of our two major candidates for president is a goofy, larger-than-life eccentric tycoon who has been compared to characters like Biff, from Back To The Future and Scrooge McDuck. Like many of us, I never expected to see the political process perverted into such a ridiculous parody of what it’s supposed to be.

Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president, is often reported to have said, “You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” Evidently, modern GOP strategists are playing the over/under and hoping that they can get by with fooling some of the people all of the time. They’ve been doing this very effectively for years, fooling people with the Southern Strategy and the idea that Ronald Reagan was a leader who did good things for this country, while tearing down their opposition with myths, legends and fables that don’t stand up to close scrutiny.

But now they’ve created a monster. This huge misinformation machine that they’ve been using rather efficiently for the past 36 years has gone out of control and has been hijacked by an egomaniacal pop culture creation who frightens millions of people on both sides of the aisle. They have been hoisted on their own petard, and the fate of the country hangs in the balance.

We have to ask ourselves how a party is supposed to be trusted to govern the nation when they can’t even keep their own party from choosing a candidate for president who is so over-the-top that he renders centuries of political satire useless, simply because his actual behavior is so much more outrageous than that of any satrical figure.

Back to the point, it’s a bit hard to focus on cool toys, comic books and movies when we’re looking at the possibility of our next president being a combination of Benito Mussolini, Josef Stalin and Moe Howard.

So that’s a couple of things that have had me distracted from filling this blog with the normal cool stuff that I would like to bring my readers on a regular basis. My health issues and the dominant looming political story have combined to make it tricky to keep up with stuff.

But there’s more going on than that.

NEW AIR LOGO 002I’ve relaunched the internet radio station, The AIR, and it’s been taking up a lot of my time. It’s definitely a labor of love because there is no money involved. It’s also way easier for me to produce radio than almost anything else right now. This gets back to my health. I am dealing with double vision as part of my Myasthenia Gravis. The muscles that pull my eyes outward and the muscles that pull them inward were both affected by the disease, and they are not recovering at the same rate. Some days I can see fine, but more often than not it’s a chore to focus on a computer screen.

I can edit audio without staring at the screen. Hence, it’s been rather easy to put together radio programming. If I have to edit video, I need to stare at the screen intently, and as I struggle to focus, I inevitably wind up with a nasty headache. That’s why there hasn’t been a new video episode of Radio Free Charleston since January, and it’s why my JoeLanta wrap-up video and Toy Fair coverage remain unfinished. I hope to get those projects back on track soon, but I have to pace myself. In the meantime, I will still produce Radio Free Charleston, Radio Free Charleston International, The Swing Shift, The Comedy Vault and Beatles Blast for The AIR, along with special RFC Interviews and our other programming.I hope some of you take the time to check out what I’m doing there.

The eye problem has also affected my reading. The PopCult Bookshelf will return. I have a stack of great stuff to go through, but it’s not the easiest thing in the world to do right now.

You may note that this hasn’t kept me from posting at least once per day here in PopCult. In a couple of weeks I’ll hit three years of posting at least once a day. Again, there’s no money involved, but I figure if I’m going to blog, I’d better keep at it, because it’s really easy to let something like this languish. If I skip a day, it’ll be easy to skip two, then three, and then it’ll be months since I’ve posted anything. I can’t expect people to read this regularly if I can’t write it regularly.

But as pop culture blogs go, I’ve been missing a lot of stuff lately. Some of this has to be chalked up to me possibly being too old to be entranced by current pop culture trends. I do worry about that. How long will people be content to read about toys, movies, comics and other pop culture coolness that just happen to be celebrating their fiftieth anniversaries?

suicide-squad-plot-synopsis-picThis week The Suicide Squad opens. It’s a major motion picture based on a DC comic book and ten years ago I would have been really psyched to see it.

Now, I really couldn’t care less. I still love the classic DC Comics characters, but this movie is based on the “New 52” reboot, and I can’t identify with or even follow what they’re supposed to be. It might be my age showing, but I hate the new version of Harley Quinn. They revamped her origin story and took what was an incredibly complex character–an educated but damaged woman who snapped and became fixated on The Joker–and changed it so that she’s now simply a victim of The Joker who was doused in a chemical bath that turned her skin white and somehow gave her the personality of Marvel’s Deadpool.

The rest of the movie looks like DC’s typical dark and grim cinematic universe, where the saturation is turned down and Superman is still running around without his pants (Superman is not actually in Suicide Squad, but it still just looks wrong for him not have his trademark trunks). This movie just doesn’t seem to have anything for me.

demographic-targetingI think maybe I’ve aged out of the demographic.

I have wondered if I’m too out of touch to continue covering pop culture. I hate mainstream music today, but to be honest, I’ve hated mainstream music for the most part since The Beatles broke up. In my adult life, I’ve never watched the top-rated TV shows. My stint as the co-writer of the Charleston Gazette’s animation column cured me of any desire to see a movie in a packed theater.

AnimalhouseposterThe fact is, I haven’t seen a movie in a theater since 2014. That will change a week from Sunday when I go to see a special screening of National Lampoon’s Animal House in Nitro, but even then, it’s a movie I first saw on my sixteenth birthday, not a new release. It’ll be interesting to see if my eyes work properly when I watch it.

When I am tempted to see a movie in a theater, I tend to avoid opening day because, especially while taking prednisone, I don’t enjoy hating all of humanity. Then the first week or two I also want to avoid the crowds, and then, before I realize it, it’s out on DVD and Blu Ray. And before I get around to picking it up, it’s in the five-dollar bin. Time seems to move so much faster as you get older.

There are still cool toys, both new and old, to write about. I hope to start bringing you The PopCult Toybox on a regular basis again soon. It’s just been a weird time for your PopCulteer. So weird, in fact, that I woke up this morning with no topic for The PopCulteer, so I cranked out this essay. Because that’s what I do.

Thanks for reading. I’ll still be here.