The Sundae launched seven and a half months ago with a history of the decline of multi-cam sitcoms and a counterpoint to the 89th Academy Awards. Since then, we’ve published a piece a week every week for thirty-two weeks, and this week will be no different, except that it’s completely different, because we’re not publishing a new piece of criticism, analysis or opinion.
We’re taking a week off because, well, we don’t get paid to do this, and we’re both in full-time education, and we both have coursework to do, and we’d rather not write something this week than write something half-assed, rushed or forced. So, instead, we’ve looked back over the past seven and a half months of writing we’ve published and picked our favourite pieces. If you’re a long-time reader, revisit the classics. If you’re a recent reader, catch up on some stuff you might not have read. If you’re a brand new reader, take a crash course in what we’re all about.
Here’s the best of The Sundae so far.
Almost no one makes movies about faith any more. When they do, almost no one writes about them. Martin Scorsese is a rare exception to both rules. From his early B-movies to his most recent masterpiece, Silence, the work of Martin Scorsese is deeply informed by his Catholic faith. One of the first posts on The Sundae was a deep dive into the central role that faith plays in his films, especially his violent and dramatic portrayal of grace in the tradition of Flannery O’Connor. It’s not exactly zeitgeisty, but we don’t exactly give a shit – it’s a good article and you’ll enjoy reading it.
Broadway musical Hamilton has an outsized place in a certain kind of liberal politics – which wouldn’t be a big deal if that exact brand of liberal politics didn’t dominate so much of pop culture. Hamilton is treated less like a work of art and more like a blunt instrument for whatever political ends liberals need it for in that exact moment, whether it’s a bipartisan unifier, defending the rights of immigrants or a vague fetish for procedural democracy. We critique liberalism a lot around these parts, but “Hamilton Tickets” is the purest in its rage: whether you love Hamilton or have never heard of it, you should read it.
If we’re gonna be stuck reliving 2016 over and over again until the end of time (and that seems to be the case), you may as well read the only article about the Ghostbusters remake with anything to say other than “women rule, men suck” and “women suck, men rule”. For no reason whatsoever, Paul Feig’s failed remake of the classic film became a massive political touchstone in 2016. If you were as baffled by that as any normal human being should be, this article is for you. From the misogynistic attacks on the cast to its use as a litmus test for feminism and even womanhood, “Ghostbusters (2016): a Hillary Clinton Story” dissects the most bizarre cultural non-event of last year.
Nobody has ever successfully described the career of Adam Sandler, a guy who is one of the most successful people in Hollywood while consistently making films considered among the worst ever made, and maybe nobody ever will. They certainly won’t when hardly anyone takes him seriously, and nobody at all takes his fans seriously, because a cult-like belief in the power of market demand means we mustn’t sympathise with the audience. Outlining the theory that Adam Sandler is a scam artist, this article contends that that just means we need to have more empathy for the people being scammed.
No one says they like pop punk to sound cool, and we’ve dedicated a recurring series to a defense of the genre. “The Agony of Suburbia” is the manifesto of the whole project, explaining our view of the critical landscape and how we plan to respond to it. Most importantly, it says what we’re not going to do, which is try to make pop punk cool. Pop punk isn’t cool. But it’s important and deserves to be taken seriously as art. We want to tell you what pop punk gave us.
There’s a lot of shallow writing on the Internet about nostalgia, whether it takes the form of a Things Only ‘90s Kids Will Understand listicle or a thinkpiece about nostalgia’s evils. Cultural critics, particularly, are so mired in the Whig interpretation of history that they refuse a more nuanced engagement with nostalgia. This article is a corrective – featuring not just exploration of the nature of nostalgia in the age of social media and franchise films, but deep dives on the critical response to nostalgic themes in La La Land, T2: Trainspotting and Stranger Things.
In June, Dean essentially wrote a book about the post-Arrow superhero television boom. It kind of reads like an exorcism. In part, it’s a series of reviews of each of the shows – including Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Gotham, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Legion – but mostly it’s the story of superhero television: which itself is the story of contemporary mass media, the story of television as an art form in the Peak TV era, and the personal story of how Dean came to really love TV. Enough to write this giant article about just some of the shows he watches.
Class analysis of sitcoms isn’t the only reason we do this blog, but, statistically speaking, it’s about 20% of the reason we do this blog. “Duct Tape on Armchairs” is the most complete expression of the genre that we’ve published yet, because it takes on the “re-classing” of a sitcom frequently and unfairly accused of being classless. Frasier is a show about class conflict within a family and if that sounds crazy, then you definitely need to read this article.
Something is rotten in Hollywood – everyone seems to know the quality of wide-release films has steadily plummeted over the last couple of decades, but few seem to know why, and no one has any ideas on how to fix it. Most critics blame audiences, saying we shouldn’t pay to see movies we don’t want to see. We think it’s a little more complicated than that. “Break the Studios, Save the Movies” lays out our theory of Hollywood’s decline (it’s the corporations!) and a plan to fix it (destroy the corporations!). If you’re a fan of movies and antitrust policy, or want to read a brief history of the film industry, you should read this article.
One of our goals with What Pop Punk Gave Me is to put into the world the words to describe what pop punk means to us in a way that our younger selves couldn’t. A big part of that is to do with unpleasant emotions, and Paramore’s dedication to demanding the space to be allowed to feel their feelings is a prime example. Even if Paramore aren’t a pop punk band anymore, they continue to embody pop punk’s ethos: sincerity above all.