Pop Pilgrims and Primers

If you’re a fan of popular culture and you’re not regularly checking out the copious wares that The A.V. Club is turning out at a furious, daily pace, then you’re missing out. This (mostly) non-satirical sister publication to the satirical newspaper The Onion brings a smart, intensive, critical focus to television, film, music, books, games and all manner of pop culture, and it generates what is probably the most consistently high quality and wide-ranging coverage of its kind out there. Many people are familiar with The A.V. Club as an insert within the print edition of The Onion, but the publication produces significantly more content on its Web site. You could explore it for hours, or you could subscribe to its RSS feed and find yourself inundated with great stuff on a daily basis, like I do.

Here are two examples. First, the site recently published this fantastic Robert Altman primer, which goes into extensive yet expedient detail on the legendary director’s ouevre, including lots of embedded video clips of his movie trailers. For anyone unfamiliar with this master filmmaker’s work, this is probably the most efficient, thorough and enjoyable crash course you could ask for. Even for someone like me who’s seen most but not all of his films, this was enlightening.

Example two: The A.V. Club’s recently inaugurated Pop Pilgrims video podcast is a great idea very entertainingly executed: A.V. Club hosts travel around the continental United States (in a sponsored Fiat, apparently) logging video essays on real world locations made famous by pop cultural milestones. The first episode, which won me over to the series immediately, took a look at the actual building that stood in for Nakatomi Plaza in the 1988 action masterpiece “Die Hard.” I mean, come on, that’s brilliant. Subsequent installments visited the diner from “Reservoir Dogs,” the Initech building from “Office Space,” the hotel from “The Shining,” the headquarters of Fantagraphics Comics, and others. See them all here.

  1. I watched the first one, but the Fiat sponsorship was so heavy-handed that I don’t think I can be bothered to sit through any more. Sometimes a smaller, quieter approach works a lot better, as it’s more likely to receive repeat views.

    You might also be interested in this: last year BLDG BLOG posted a great article on Nakatomi Plaza, specifically John McClane’s realistically inappropriate use of the architecture to out-maneuvre his enemies: link

  2. That’s a great find. I enjoyed watching the one about “Office Space”, a favorite film of mine. I always imagined to be filmed in California, not Texas.

    Ironic that it’s so heavily sponsored by a large car company but at least it’s for a small Fiat and not an SUV…

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