I listen to a lot of podcasts. A lot of podcasts. Looking at my podcatcher, I have over seventy five on there. I can also say, going total hipster, that I was into podcasts way before Serial. I listen to podcasts, I’ve been on podcasts, I work with podcasts. I thought I’d share some of the podcasts I listen to and share some of the ones that may have passed you by with the current glut out there.
In the beginning, there was In Search Of. Before podcasts explored the width and breath of the paranormal, before The History Channel became the Ancient Aliens Channel, and before The X-Files made us all want to believe; there was the TV Show In Search Of. Airing from 1977 to 1982 and hosted by Leonard Nimoy, it “investigated” various strange and unusual subjects, from Bigfoot and ESP to King Tut and Vincent Van Gogh. Now given the time it was made and its less than rigorous research, a lot of the episodes can be considered out of date and/or inaccurate. So archeologist Jeb Card and skeptic and pun-smith Blake Smith are going through each episode to separate the fact from the batshit insanity in their podcast In Research Of.
I want to say that although this is a takedown of In Search Of, the two hosts do enjoy the series and acknowledge that this introduced a whole generation to the unexplained and weird. They know that in a lot of cases, they didn’t have the resources or knowledge at the time that we do know. The two hosts fill in the facts with their own research into the subjects and into some of the “experts” the show uses. Still, when the show goes off then rails, they have no problem calling it out. Of course the show takes subjects like astrology and ghosts seriously. But it does more prosaic attention-grabbing by making a show on Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid to cash in on the movie Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid. The use a very scientific rating system based on Credibility, Weirdness, and Entertainment that helps determine the quality of the episodes. And of course there is the Nimoy Fashion Update where the 70s appeal of host Leonard Nimoy is admired in all its sartorial splendor.
The Harry Potter movies lasted for 10 years. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has lasted for 13 years (and counting). James Bond has lasted for 59 years and will probably continue for the foreseeable future. However, being a franchise that started in the 60s and whose hero is legally cleared to kill people on the orders of a crumbling conservative colonial empire, a lot of James Bond can be… problematic. You could also get into the plots that make no sense, the writing that can be just pure cringe, and acting that amounts to three (count them) facial expressions. Three brave souls (Alice Caldwell-Kelly, Abigail Thorn, and Devon) are here to analyze the Bond canon, take the piss and call out that sexist, misogynist dinosaur to see if its time to Kill James Bond!
Let me start by saying that while the three hosts go at James Bond with a feminist, socialist outlook, they are not overly didactic or preachy. They come to mock James Bond, not to cancel him. They will call out when nuclear apocalypse is, for some reason, part of of the supervillain’s plan as well as treating all the Asian people or African American or Indian people as one simplistic stereotype. They do talk about when it’s good as well, as in Christopher Lee’s performance in The Man With The Golden Gun, or how women’s roles in the series improved to some extent. I think the best way to demonstrate this podcast’s ethos is with how they rate Bond movies using the SCUM scale. SCUM stands for Swarm, Cultural Insensitivity, Unprovoked Violence, and Misogyny. Of course, the ratings only go up to seven.
Puberty is a pain in the ass. The physical and hormonal transformation is hard enough but misinformation (or no information) can make it so much worse. I can’t even imagine what’s its like for girls. There is so much mystery and trauma and perceived weirdness attached to when women start to menstruate. And don’t get me started on how weird people can get about pregnancy, birth, and other so-called womanly things. It’s almost as though we live in a patriarchal society that demonizes women as a form of social control. Of course, creators are going to use this to make horror content. Especially horror movies. Horror movies LOVE the monstrous feminine trope. So host Caitlin Grant is going to deconstruct the misogynist bullshit from the true exploration of the trope in Plug It Up!
So, you know, they cover Carrie and Ginger Snaps in the first two episodes. What’s good about this podcast is that it’s willing to dig deeper than the obvious examples of the trope. We’re talking mainstream movies like The Witch and Jennifer’s Body as well as more under the radar fare like The Other Lamb and The Blackcoat’s Daughter. Caitlin and her guests really delve into how movie directors use a significant event in a woman’s life in a horror context while others exploit it to play on the attached baggage of mysteriousness and disgust it has acquired. Puberty in general as seen by horror is analyzed as well as monstrous pregnancy. They look at how horror portrays the monstrous feminine as a reflection of man’s fears and how a patriarchal society turns the feminine monstrous or at least what they consider monstrous.