MJ’s latest pick is the podcast Pop Rocket. This podcast is being selected as an addition to NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour and Slate’s Culture Gabfest, which I previously featured in the post Two Podcasts for Pop Culture Literacy. As I discussed there, Pop Culture Happy Hour and Gabfest complement one another in terms of style, topics, and the approach to the consideration of popular commercial culture. Pop Rocket adds to this variety in an interesting, energetic, and new way.
Pop Rocket describes itself aptly: “Pop Rocket is a high-octane weekly discussion of the culture we all love to love. Join host Guy Branum and panelists Wynter Mitchell, Oliver Wang, and Margaret Wappler for smart, funny, sometimes sweary chat about everything great in entertainment. Combining comic, journalistic, academic and digital media expertise, the Pop Rocket team will keep you up-to-date on what’s most exciting in pop culture this week.” The key word in this description is expertise, which can be understood in terms of practice—as in practice versus theory. One can talk about popular culture, but one can also produce it.
Pop Rocket’s host, Guy Branum, and panelists Wynter Mitchell, Oliver Wang, and Margaret Wappler are in various ways producers and curators of popular culture. In this way, Pop Rocket contrasts the other pop culture podcasts by providing a practitioner’s, if not also a creator’s, perspective. This pushes the discussion beyond theory and critical discourse into the consideration of actual practice.
Pop Rocket also keeps pace with recent trends in popular culture, e.g., The Daily Show, Real Time with Bill Maher (which will be featured as its own pick soon), and The Colbert Report. These shows have one thing in common: the use of comedy to get at the sober and the serious. Accordingly, Pop Rocket performs entertainment as much as it discusses it.
Between Pop Culture Happy Hour and Culture Gabfest and now Pop Rocket, one can further detect the disruption the internet has wrought upon academia. Once upon a traditional time, the academic conference circuit and the publications it produced were the primary domain for an informed consideration of popular commercial culture, but in our ever-digital age, this discussion has moved and morphed into the more democratic realm of the internet. This portends well for a critically engaged populace to support a mindful consumption of popular commercial culture.
Click on the logo above to find out more about Pop Rocket or search for it in your favorite podcast aggregator. I highly recommend checking it out. And, as with any good podcast pick, there is a meaty backlog of episodes to fall into a fun listening hole. You will emerge educated and entertained.