Supercontext: an autopsy of media

A weekly Society, Culture and Arts podcast
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Episodes of Supercontext

This podcast ran independently from 2016 to 2020. We reflect on our goals in creating it and how successful those were while trying to be transparent about the ins and outs of podcast production, marketing, and monetization.
This graphic novel by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell came out between 1989 and 1998, 100 years after the Jack the Ripper murders it's based on. We look at the meticulous research they put into this to try to understand how this story manages to
This 1995 film by Michael Mann is considered a quintessential cops-and-robbers epic. We look at Mann's attention to detail and his attempt at authenticity in light of the movie's influence on audiences, filmmakers, and real-life criminals. Inte
This 1985 concept album by Kate Bush is split into pop songs and a suite of music about someone drowning. We look at Bush's career arc leading up to this record and how the support she received from those around her allowed to experiment and cr
Dan Simmon's 1989 science-fiction novel is acclaimed for its unique structure, references, and style. We take a closer look at how it interrogates our expectations of genre to explore a complex host of themes. Thank you to Chris Marlton for cop
This 1987 film is celebrated as a cult classic for its depiction of self-destructive young Englishmen at the end of the 1960s. We discuss how creator Bruce Robinson got it made, and whether it congratulates its characters for their alcoholism o
This 1962 novel is being reappraised by critics and fans as a creeping meditation on 1950s housewives, agoraphobia, and good old-fashioned New England persecution. Interested in the media we discussed this episode? Please support the show by pu
This 1945 children’s book by Tove Jansson began a publishing empire in Finland that is worth millions of dollars. We look at Jansson’s beloved allegory about a world where a family survives turmoil and everyone is accepted for who they are. Int
This 2001 record is praised as being metal for the thinking man. We peel back the lyrics and the time signatures to understand why this band inspires an almost-religious devotion in its fans. Interested in the media we discussed this episode? P
This comic book series by Brian K. Vaughan and artist Cliff Chiang started in 2015 as a story about four preteen girls coming of age in the 80s. We look into how the creators produced the comic while examining their skepticism of nostalgia in a
This 2019 series of Gizmodo articles and videos by Kashmir Hill look into how difficult it actually is to stop using The Stacks: Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft. We place Hill’s research within our larger understanding of Big Tec
This epic 1970s manga series is celebrated for its influence on other stories. We look at the conditions that produced it and how the comic represents Japanese history, revenge, gender, and the irredeemable hero on the road to Hell. Interested
This 1975 rock album began to define Rush’s identity after the late Neil Peart joined the band on drums and lyrics. We look at how they treated their band as a business to try to understand the particular blend of instrument solos and libertari
This 2013 novel generated a cantankerous debate in the world of literary criticism over the quality of fiction and how we define it. We look at Tartt's writing process and themes to try to understand whether this book deserved the praise and aw
This 1969 double-album has been described as both “unlistenable” and “one of the greatest albums of all time.” We discuss its volatile production while trying to understand its composition and how it influenced another fifty years of weird musi
This 1999 cannibal-horror-comedy film went through three directors in a troubled production. We discussed how it successfully critiques American consumption and Manifest Destiny despite its financial failure. Interested in the media we discusse
This comic book series by Neal Adams is a strange combination of talent and narcissism, along with the realization that its lead character and its creator aren't as in control as they want to be. We discuss gun violence, Expanding Earth theory,
This 1996 film is a purported biopic about a famous painter by another famous painter, Julian Schnabel. We ask whether the narrative this movie presents is an inaccurate portrayal of its subject because it exploits him or because the director i
This is a repost of a 2016 episode. In our 2016 holiday episode, we looked at the forgotten Christmas Eve tradition of telling ghost stories. M.R. James' work from over a hundred years ago best represents this Victorian trend, so in his honor w
This 2013 novel is a sequel to The Shining. With guest Emily Lewis, we consider how King continues his own redemption arc through these stories about alcoholism and parenting. Interested in the media we discussed this episode? Please support th
This 2018 comic series by Mark Russell and Mike Feehan reimagines the cartoon character as a gay playwright at odds with 1950s American politics. We examine Russell's writing goals while considering a critical debate about the book: is it formu
Thank you to our Co-producer patron Kevin Wetter for selecting this week's topic! This 1994 indie rock album means a lot to its fans as proof positive that you can survive a romantic breakup. We look at the small business that drove its creatio
This animated series was an MTV oddity, televised between 1991 and 1994 in a blur of non-linear, ambiguous chunks. We talk about how creator Peter Chung got this made while inserting symbolic references to the limits of 1990's storytelling. We
This 1975 children's book by Roald Dahl is about class conflict and an idealized relationship between a child and their parent. We talk about Dahl's notoriously disagreeable personality while trying to reconcile it with this genuinely joyful st
This 2017 graphic novel is a memoir about growing up, figure skating, and coming out of the closet. We talk about how Walden approached the project with guidance from her editor while we look at the comics industry as a whole and the tensions b
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