“Jesper Simola, are you ready?” “Yes!” Long time readers of BTSB (along with my friends, I’d think) may be aware of my fondness for podcasts. Not a day goes by that I don’t listen to a podcast at one point or the other, and if my headphones were to break (as they did a few weeks ago) I’d find myself perplexed at the lack of voices in my head. Point being, I love podcasts.
At the beginning of this long past summer, I found a new podcast that I became obsessed with almost immediately. It’s hosted by Jensen Karp, a former rapper and current owner of Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles, alongside his co-host Matt Robinson, director of The Invention of Lying, and it’s a podcast that immediately tickled my funny bone with its rather perverse sense of humor and very natural rapport between Karp and Robinson. The two have been friends for a very long time which comes across really strongly on the podcast. Too many times have I had to cover my mouth while listening to this in public in order to hide a smile or suppress a laugh that might come across as just a tad bit strange to the other people around me. However, the main reason I’m writing about this podcast is because it’s a gateway to some of the more exciting media-based experiences that I’ve had the pleasure to go through as of late.
The show is called “Get Up On This” and essentially does exactly what the title says. Each week, the hosts, alongside a guest, bring up several things that are relatively unknown but that more people should be aware of whether it be movies, music, comics, video games, apps, or even random experiences. For me, the podcast has become a treasure trove of awesome new stuff that I can pretend to be an expert on in order to impress my friends. Which is exactly what I plan to try and do with you, our dear readers of BTSB! In this article, I’m going to bring up some of my favorite examples of things I’ve become aware of through the podcast in order to not only share these wonderful experiences with you but also to give a shout-out to the podcast itself. I’ve decided to go with one pick per category (though, yeah, I’ve maybe cheated a little). And so, without further ado…
Dogtooth is a Greek film released in 2009 that was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film award at the 83rd Academy Awards. The last time a Greek film was nominated was in 1977 so this was kind of a big deal and deservedly so.
I’d rather not say too much about the film so as not to spoil all of the disturbing yet often darkly humorous surprises that it contains. Essentially, the film is about a Greek family of five that lives in a compound surrounded by walls. The children have never actually experienced the outside world for themselves because the father is the only one that’s allowed to leave their home. What this means is that any and all knowledge they have about life on the outside comes from what their parents tell them. Everything they know is very strictly controlled by their parents which leads to a thought-provoking analysis of how much our education influences us. It also leads to interesting reflection on language and meaning. For example, the children think that a “zombie” is a yellow flower. Who is to say that this is wrong? That’s just a very small, rather insignificant example but I’d rather not spoil some of the other “truths” that the children have been told.
I don’t want to really say much else about the film and I urge you not to watch any trailers or anything. Just watch the film knowing as little as possible about it and revel in its bizarre tone that is at once humorous and disturbing. This is a film that does not shy away.
Documentary: The Imposter
In 1994, a 13 year old boy named Nicholas Barclay disappeared from his home in Texas without a trace. Three years later, a man named Frédéric Bourdin claimed to be Nicholas Barclay, managing to convince even the Barclay family themselves that he really was their long-lost Nicholas. The Imposter is a 2012 documentary film that tells this unbelievable yet completely true story. To say anymore about the story would be to ruin the unpredictable and spell-binding events of the movie.
The Imposter is riveting not just because of the story it tells but also because of the way it is told. Interviews with the main participants are interjected with life-action reenacted sequences that help bring the story to life in front of your eyes. The reenacted sequences are able to sidestep that pitfall of being melodramatic or silly, but the most memorable moments are still often the scenes where all you see are the people looking into the camera and telling their story. It’s absolutely riveting to look at the expression on Bourdin’s face as he recounts exactly how he managed to apparently fool an entire family that he was their son.
What else can I say except that the end of this film gave me chills.
Graphic Novel: My Friend Dahmer
My Friend Dahmer is a graphic novel by Derf Backderf who went to high school with the infamous American serial killer Jeff Dahmer. On the surface, the novel consists of true stories about Jeff Dahmer as a teenager in high school, many of which are direct memories from the writer while others are based on interviews he later did with other people. The stories themselves are uncomfortably fascinating, disturbing, and humorous in a way that only reality can be. However, the novel is far more than a superficial and exploitative glimpse into the life of a notorious serial killer. Beneath the anecdotes, it’s about what it was like to be a teenager living in the 1970s, in that awkward phase after the conservative 50s and the revolutionary 60s. It’s about feeling alienated and alone in a small, seemingly peaceful American town. It’s about the destructive grasp of bitter loneliness that comes with having an overload of issues with nobody to turn to for help or even understanding.
My Friend Dahmer isn’t about glorifying Dahmer nor is it about creating empathy for him. It’s simply a tragic tale that reflects on how easy it is to get lost in this world. For me, his eventual actions will always be horrific and I don’t think I can ever even fully understand what kind of a person he was. However, the power of the novel is that I found myself relating to bits and pieces of Dahmer’s experience, hinting at the universality of many of the themes within the novel, while simultaneously finding myself feeling very distant from him. It’s heartbreaking but I can’t recommend this graphic novel enough.
Song: Royals by Lorde
This is a lot more upbeat than the previous choices, I promise. When I first heard this song, I think it was still pretty unknown. From what I’ve gathered, it’s since caught on in the States so it might be familiar to some of you but I’ve yet to hear any mention of it in Finland.
Lorde is a singer-songwriter from New Zealand that makes me feel just a little bit self-conscious about my own achievements. She writes her own songs and has a beautiful voice with a hint of roughness that makes her stand out from a lot of the other overly-polished pop artists. She’s also only 16 years old. Hence my self-consciousness. However, she speaks like someone beyond her years with lyrics that are actually pretty poetic, if I may so myself (as an English major). The catchy beat helps, of course, and the stripped down nature of the song lets her voice shine through.
I don’t know a lot about critiquing music. I just know what I like and this is something I was immediately addicted to.
Here’s a link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFasFq4GJYM
Again, these are just a few examples of the kinds of new experiences I’ve been exposed to lately. There were so many other examples that I loved and really wanted to share but now is no longer the time nor the place. Instead, if you want to get a lot more awesome new things to impress your friends with, give “Get Up On This” a shot. Those guys are awesome and I’m almost positive that it’s been scientifically proven that you can become more awesome by listening them.
Feel free to hit us up in the comments if you’d never heard of these before. Feel free to also rub it in my face if you’d already heard about all of these years ago while they were just inklings in the brains of these talented people.
Get Up On This: http://smodcast.com/channels/get-up-on-this/
Special bonus link! On Derf Backderf’s website, there’s something of a rough draft for some of his My Friend Dahmer graphic novel. You can check it out here if you want a glimpse of what the full novel is like: http://www.derfcity.com/comix/jd/jd1.html