Pop Culture of the Past | PJ Media

Pop Culture of the Past

David Byrne: Creepy Liberal Hypocrite

Monday, February 16th, 2015 - by Kathy Shaidle

Hey, remember the early days of rock & roll? Even if you don’t remember them, surely you’ve heard the story: How white people stole rock & roll from black musicians, paying them a pittance (if that) for their music, then getting rich and famous? How decades later, a bunch of almost forgotten, destitute black artists […]

Was Rod McKuen the Secret Godfather of Punk Rock?

Monday, February 9th, 2015 - by Kathy Shaidle

For hacks of a certain vintage, the name “Rod McKuen” served as a effortless go-to punchline ingredient, the way “Sarah Palin” or “Justin Bieber” does today. Zillion-selling author and lyricist McKuen was the Thomas Kinkade of poetry. His death last week left me decidedly unmoved, except that I was quite distressed to learn this, from […]

4 More Examples Of Disinformation In Cracked.Com’s Walt Disney Parody

Friday, January 30th, 2015 - by Chris Queen

Last week I shared with you the examples of disinformation in the unfunny recent Cracked.Com parody of Walt Disney giving a TED Talk. I only got through a fraction of the video before I reached 2,000 words! So I went back to the video (I sacrificed so you don’t have to watch it) and found […]

Did the 1960s Really Happen? (Part Two)

Monday, January 19th, 2015 - by Kathy Shaidle

As last week’s epically embarrassing “James Taylor” fiasco demonstrated, the Western establishment acts like the Sixties never ended. But as I’ve been insisting for some time, in many respects, that “Sixties” never really happened. All that “peace and love,” “soixant-huitard” stuff comprised but a slender slice of the 1960s, and much of that was bogus, […]

Did the 1960s Really Happen? (Part One)

Sunday, January 4th, 2015 - by Kathy Shaidle

Last year I read three books that challenged the mainstream view of the 1960s. (Herewith I’m employing the folk definition of “The Sixties” as that stretch between the Kennedy assassination in November 1963 and the May 1975 fall of Saigon.) I say “mainstream” because I haven’t entertained many illusions about what really happened during that […]

Is America Overdue for a Satanic Revival? (Part Two)

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

The “Christmas single” phenomenon is unknown in the U.S., unless you’ve ever watched Love, Actually. It’s sort of the “Black Friday” of the British music industry. Since so much music is sold (or, at least, used to be) during the holiday season, having the #1 song on the charts during that time gives one lucky […]

How Tolkien Ennobled Popular Culture (While Star Wars Degraded It)

Monday, December 1st, 2014 - by David P. Goldman

My last post (“May the Farce Be With You“) drew 280 comments, most of them infuriated, and most of them ill-informed. By way of remedy, I repost below an April 4, 2007 review-essay on J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel The Children of Hurin. My literary friends point out that Tolkien’s style is turgid and his literary muse […]

12 Steps for a Perfect Pop Culture Christmas

Friday, November 28th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Sometimes it takes an outsider to notice the confusion laced within a holiday message. When it comes to Christmas, the confusion is on overload. Somewhere along the way a religious message got smacked with a load of pop culture overtones to create a holiday lush with semiotic excess, too much for the brain or heart […]

Is America Overdue for a Satanic Revival? (Part One)

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

The Drudge Report remains one of the most accurate barometers of what’s happening right now. But can we augur near-future trends by sifting through that site’s headlines? Lately, Drudge has posted lots of news stories about “the devil” and “exorcism”: Camera captures exorcism performed on shrieking woman “possessed by devil: Church Turns to Exorcism to […]

Time to Re-Define the F-Word

Monday, November 17th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

This past week a group of scientists from the European Space Agency landed a spaceship on a comet. Contemporary feminists commented on the happening, but not for the reason you’d think. Screw science. One of the guys on the team talked about the major breakthrough in an on-the-spot interview while wearing a shirt with barely-clad, busty […]

Blondie’s Chris Stein Shrugs Off Iran’s Violent Treatment of Women

Monday, November 3rd, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

Debbie Harry’s ex-boyfriend and Blondie co-founder Chris Stein has just released a photography collection, featuring his lifelong muse. And why not? No less an authority than rock photography guru Bob Gruen famously said, “You can’t take a bad picture of Debbie Harry.” Unfortunately, Stein marrs the collection with a stunningly multi-level-stupid comment, regarding his famous […]

Cat Stevens: Why He Still (Sort Of) Matters

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014 - by Kathy Shaidle

In his 1970s prime, Cat Stevens looked like Russell Brand just thinks he does. Neither fellow is quite forlorn or angular enough to be my type, but I can certainly understand the appeal of the former, if definitely not the latter. (Ugh.) As Dennis Miller still likes to muse sometimes on his radio show: Can […]

Think Pop Culture Doesn’t Matter? Visit Sleepy Hollow, New York

Friday, October 31st, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

If you’re still operating under the false notion that pop culture doesn’t have a real impact on everyday life, take a look at America’s oldest example, Sleepy Hollow, New York. When Washington Irving penned The Legend of Sleepy Hollow in 1820 under the pseudonym Geoffrey Crayon, he probably had no idea that his short story would inspire […]

The 10 Greatest Moments from the Disney Renaissance

Friday, October 24th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

Editor’s Note: Check out the previous installments in Chris’s series exploring Disney history: “10 Disney Cartoons from the 1930s that Reflect the Can-Do Spirit That Survived the Great Depression,” “10 Ways World War II Affected Disney’s Filmmaking,” “10 Examples Of How Disney’s Productions Reflected The Changing America Of The 1950s,” “Walt Disney’s 7 Most Radical […]

Disney’s Wilderness Years, Part 2: How The Studio Navigated The Hit-Or-Miss 1980s

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

For the past few weeks, we’ve looked at the company Walt Disney built and how it has survived over the decades. We talked about how the studio reflected the can-do spirit that beat the Great Depression in the 1930s, as well as how World War II affected Disney. We’ve also discussed the changing world of […]

Disney’s Wilderness Years, Part 1: How the Studio Reflected the Chaos of the 1970s

Thursday, October 9th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

We’ve been looking at the output of the Disney organization by decade, from the 1930s to the ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s, and this week, we’re looking at the 1970s. Everyone who experienced that decade has an opinion about its culture, or lack thereof. From polyester leisure suits to Pet Rocks, the ’70s were the decade […]

Walt Disney’s 7 Most Radical Ideas From His Last Decade on Earth

Monday, October 6th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

Over the last few weeks we’ve looked at how Disney and its productions reflected, and sometimes influenced, the times. We’ve seen how Disney mirrored the can-do spirit of the ’30s, how the studio overcame the challenges of World War II in the ’40s, and how Disney changed with the times in the ’50s. By the […]

10 Examples Of How Disney’s Productions Reflected The Changing America Of The 1950s

Monday, September 29th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

In my last two posts, we’ve looked at how Disney reflected the 1930s and the 1940s. As the studio emerged from World War II and into a new decade, it faced a changing nation. In their insightful book A Patriot’s History Of The Modern World, Volume II, Larry Schweikart and Dave Dougherty write: Long-held and […]

10 Ways World War II Affected Disney’s Filmmaking

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

This is Part II in an ongoing series exploring cultural changes by decade. See last week’s first installment here: 10 Disney Cartoons From the 1930s that Reflect the Can-Do Spirit that Survived the Great Depression. Walt Disney’s phone rang on the afternoon of December 7, 1941. His studio manager was on the other end to let […]

10 Disney Cartoons from the 1930s that Reflect the Can-Do Spirit That Survived the Great Depression

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

A couple of weeks ago, my friend and editor David Swindle published an open letter to me dividing the history of Disney animation into ten eras and encouraging me to explore the history of Disney through the same frame of mind. Here is the first in a series looking at the eras of Disney history. […]

15 Songs Millennials Must Listen to in Order to Understand the 1980s

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

You’ve seen Thriller and heard all about Madonna, but what do you really know about the decade that ushered in the millennial generation? Think the era of scrunchies, boom boxes, pump sneakers and DeLoreans was just a fad? Think again. Some of the 1990s’ greatest pop culture trends were birthed in the millieu of Reaganomics, […]

13 Reasons to Fall in Love with Lana Del Rey

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

13. She has discovered a close kinship with George Costanza. Sure, she may come off all serious in her videos, but Lana Del Rey has a seriously good sense of humor. According to Rolling Stone, Lana Del Rey ”has a George Costanza-like plan for the future.” “I’m really specific about why I’m doing something or writing […]

Whatever Happened to Our Top 10 Favorite Tiger Beat Cover Boys From the 1970s?

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

If you were a teen (or pre-teen) girl at any time in the 1970s, you probably held in your (amateurly manicured) hands at some point a copy (or many, many copies) of Tiger Beat magazine. Known for glossy covers that featured saucy shots of the day’s most popular teen idols — most of them males […]

Escaping The Village: Freedom And The Prisoner

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014 - by Francis W. Porretto

Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner, a 17-part serial of which he was the star and one of the writers and directors, is one of the great cultural legacies of the late Sixties for several reasons: Its portrayal of “The Village,” a synthesis of the ideal English seaside resort with the total-surveillance nightmare of Orwell’s 1984; The […]