Arts, Movies, Column

Pining for Podcasts

Driving in Florida, especially Orlando, is the worst. People actually drive slower in the left lane which is for PASSING, they don’t use their signals, traffic within a 10-mile radius of Disney World is a nightmare at every hour of the day, the entire state is a retirement community so many of the drivers are elderly, and it’s really hot. Yet I find myself missing the daily drives up and down Aloma Avenue (shoutout Winter Park) to and from school. I miss them because these drives were the ideal time to listen to podcasts. I really enjoy the small selection of podcasts I subscribe to, but it seems that I don’t have much opportunity to listen to them unless I’m sitting on the T as it stops every 15 seconds on my way to the movie theater.

Most of the podcasts I listen to are about movies, which shouldn’t be surprising at this point. But one of my favorite movie podcasts is Black Men Can’t Jump (In Hollywood). I know the title sounds weird, but stick with me. It’s hosted by Jonathan Braylock, James III, and Jerah Milligan, three black actors working to make it in Hollywood. The point of the podcast is to draw attention to the fact that there are few black men (or people of color for that matter) in leading roles in major motion pictures. Go ahead, think of all of the people of color who have led major motion pictures. I’ve seen hundreds of movies and I can count them using my hands and one foot. So the three hosts review the small number of movies that do star people of color in leading roles. There is also a bit that Milligan does every episode called “The Swirl.” Typically, black men (and men of color in general) are not portrayed as romantic interests in movies, unlike basically every white male role. Milligan takes the lead person of color and re-writes a love scene for them in the movie. Black Men Can’t Jump (In Hollywood) is funny, interesting, and it gives me a look at the issue from the eyes of three people who face this sort of discrimination in their daily lives.

The second movie podcast I listen to on those long T rides to the Kenmore stop is SinCast. The show is hosted by the creators of the incredibly popular YouTube channel CinemaSins (famous for the “Everything Wrong With” videos), Jeremy Scott and Chris Atkinson, joined by the voice of Music Video Sins, Barrett Share. These three have seen even more movies than I have (1607 in case anyone was wondering). They discuss different topics about movies every Monday, sometimes sharing funny or weird stories from their time working in movie theaters or doing “mini-pod” reviews of movies. The episodes are stocked with references to obscure movies (i.e. Locke and The Raid) that, when I catch the allusion, help to validate all of the hours of my life I’ve spent watching movies. Their most recent series of topics have been a weekly discussion of the best movies from every year since Scott  was born (1975). At the end of each episode, the three vote on the best movie of that year.

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History is my gateway podcast. Big surprise, it’s not about movies. Host Dan Carlin talks about history, but manages to tell the story in a way that is engaging and interesting. My favorite podcasts from Hardcore History are his five-episode series called “Wrath of the Khans.” I have never wanted to learn more about the Mongolian conquest of Asia more than when listening to Hardcore History. The show actually helped me in real life, too. I discussed the topic of one of his podcasts called “Prophets of Doom” on an essay for AP Euro. Who said history has no real-life applications?

The last podcast I listen to at least semi-regularly is comedian Bill Burr’s Monday Morning Podcast. Burr “checks in on you” every Monday morning and Thursday afternoon. He talks about recent events in the news, often digressing on tangents for long periods of time. The main gist of the podcast is Burr’s ramblings on whatever pops into his head. For example, Burr has sponsors for the show and therefore has to read out the ads. Often, Burr will decide in the middle of an advertisement that he hates the product or service he’s talking about and will instead just goof around for a few minutes. The podcast also features Burr answering questions posed to him by listeners. Bill responds as best he can (by rambling), ending every response with “Have a nice day, and go f—k yourself.”

I look forward to those long drives on I-4 when I go home to the Sunshine State for spring break because instead of screaming obscenities at people who apparently don’t understand the concept of moving with the flow of traffic, I can listen to my podcasts and keep my blood pressure at a reasonable level.

February 1, 2017