Here’s an updated index of all 2009’s “Summer of Pop-Culture” posts. For more information about CaPC’s “Summer of Pop-Culture, read the explanation below.

Summer Blockbusters
Star Trek – Spock’s New Cultural Relevance
Star Trek – Star Trek Gets Real
Angels and Demons – Anti-Christian? Not Really. Antimatter? Oh Yes.
Terminator Salvation – Terminator Salvation and Human Worth
Up – Why Up is the New Down
Year One – Very Silly, Sometimes Thoughtful
Transformers 2 – Not That Great, but That’s Not the Point
Transformers 2 – The Dangers of Dumb Movies
Public Enemies – Why So Serious?
Son of Rambow – ‘Son of Rambow’ and the Ultimate Summer Fantasy
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – Already Nostalgic for Hogwarts
The Summer Movie Season Podcast – Ben and Rich are the Kids of Summer

Summer Television
The Lost Finale – Lost in Religion
John and Kate Plus Eight – John and Kate + Date
The Summer Television Podcast – Jon and Kate + “Oh Great it’s the Summer TV Season”

Summer Reading
The Wordy Shipmates – The Wordy
Shipmates and American Exceptionalism
Tigana – Memory and Ethical Complexity in Tigana
Flannery – Flannery O’Conner and the Christ-Haunted Biography
The Year of Living Biblically – What Does True Biblical Literalism Look Like?

Summer Games
A Defense of “Meaningless Fun”
Baseball – Beautiful Game or Steroided Mess?
The Summer Gaming Podcast – E3 and Summer Gaming

General Culture
The Vacation Podcast – Obama Fail, Vacation FTW!

If you’re a fan of pop-culture (and most of us here basically are), this summer is a big deal. The hype is unavoidable. The movie industry has the most pronounced hold over the season, particularly this year with the already hugely successful and widely lauded Star Trek, the first Terminator movie in years,  the next sure-fire Pixar hit, Judd Apatow’s first self-directed movie in quite a while, Michael Bay’s sophmore Transformers effort, the most anticipated Harry Potter film yet, and G. I. Joe bringing in the rear.

Exhausted yet? Well suck it up, because Green Day is finally following up their critically praised “American Idiot” in May, which is just the first of many high-profile albums threatening to attack our ears by force this summer. Also look for new albums by Bob Dylan, Eminem, Marilyn Manson, Dave Matthews Band, Rancid, Taking Back Sunday, Sonic Youth, Lil Wayne, Spinal Tap (!), The Jonas Brothers, Daughtry, and others. We may not like these bands, but we will hear from them.

And in June, Microsoft’s CEO has said we should “Pay attention to the stuff we’re announcing… on Xbox,” at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, also known as the E3. This will be, as it always is, a hyped up week in which video game companies unveil their big guns to the mainstream press. The statements from Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft are hinting at big things this year and Microsoft has done more than hint, claiming their E3 keynote will “completely transform how people think about home entertainment.”

So, for better or worse, it’s a big season for popular culture. And let’s just admit it: we play right into their hands. Summer is the time when many of us like to take a break. We like to see films that don’t challenge us quite as much. Instead, we just want them to be the Best Movie Ever, at least until we wake up the next morning and forget what exactly made it so great. We like to play games with our friends, just for the fun of it. We like to read books that give us a break from our homework. Summer, in other words, has the tendency to give us a break from thoughtfulness. This is not quite ideal for the Christian who is challenged to remain sober and vigilant.

In light of this challenge, we thought we would make it our business to cover the craziness that is the Summer of Pop-Culture. We will be covering as many films as possible the week after they come to theaters, addressing E3’s announcements and unveilings thoughtfully, addressing the phenomenon of summer reading, and covering some of the bigger album releases and pop singles of the summer. This all starts this week, with a review of Star Trek and a defense of “meaningless fun.”

Because our goal is to be thoughtful and edifying about these things, our strength will not be rapid-fire response (though we’ll do what we can publish articles in a time-frame close enough to the actual release as to remain relevant). Instead, we seek to demonstrate what happens when pop-culture’s biggest offerings collide with a Christian worldview, that is, a worldview that not only hates sin, but loves beauty.

We both anticipate and dread the summer, and likewise we will be both critical and glowing about the entertainment and artistic offerings we take in. But most of all, we will be thoughtful and prayerful, believing first and foremost that while much of the offerings of this world are flawed and misguided, they are also created by those created by God. And as such, they are worth considering.


  1. Wow! Can’t wait for the summer of pop-culture. Looking forward to keeping up with it all through CAPC.

  2. Wow, absolutely nothing in this summer of pop-culture is tempting me in the least to quote-unquote engage culture. Of the films, G.I. Joe could be interesting but won’t be. Transformers is a sequel to the worst movie I saw last year. Any fire I had for the Harry Potter films has long-since dwindled to smouldering wait-for-DVD embers. Terminator strikes me as long since mined. Judd Aptow? Shrug. And another Pixar thing; since they’re about ready for exercise in formula (a la A Bug’s Life, Little Nemo, or Ratatouille), this’ll probably be it. Still, the Pixar thing will probably be the only of these that I might see in theaters.

    As for the music? Eh.

    The Danes last blog post..20090417.teaParty

  3. Dane,

    I’m with you on everything but Harry Potter. I’ve really enjoyed all the movies. Not that they were great, but for a summer adventure flick, they’ve always hit the spot. Also, I think the Pixar movie might surprise us. They have a tendency to do that.

    G.I. Joe and Transformers boggle my mind. If we are redoing 80’s saturday morning cartoons, when are the Carebear movies coming out?

    E3 is exciting for me too. I’m hoping Microsoft doesn’t let us down. We’ll see!

  4. @Ben – I think you’d miss me if I were gone. But really, since when has not knowing what something was about meant that I wouldn’t comment and maybe say someone was dumb?

    @Alan – Yeah, I wasn’t really bummed on the Harry Potter movies. It’s just that apart from Azkaban, I just haven’t really thought they were that great. I’m sure I’ll see Half-Blood Prince, but I’m not hotly anticipating it. For Harry Potter movies, the primary pleasure has been looking for artistry in the films—since suspense is impossible. And artistry is only going to be possible so far as directors distance themselves from the original works.

    1 and 2 were almost cookie-cutter adaptations and so, in many ways, were lifeless and wooden. 3 was great. 4 got the distance pretty right, but went in the wrong direction and made what should have been one of the best movies of the bunch one of the worst. 5 was fine and an improvement on the fifth book, but really, I could be happy watching these all on dvd (or maybe even not at all) and still be fine.

    I chalk it up, I think, to how much I enjoyed the books.

    The Danes last blog post..20090417.teaParty

  5. I can’t believe what I’m reading here. Can’t we just all bask in the wonder of our pre-preadolescent heroes growing up with us? Transformers and G.I. Joe aren’t out for awards, it’s about taking one generations icons and delivering them to the next.

    And I want to know when Voltron’s coming.

    Charles Joness last blog post..Cognitive Dissonance

  6. But Charles. Michael Bay didn’t deliver up sacred relics from my childhood. He made a terrible film focused around a terrible story populated by terrible actors that had pretty nice effects. I loved Transformers as a kid and can’t help but think that even in the midst of that love, I still would have been jaded enough to think that the Bay movie was tripe.

    There’s a Top 5 for you Rich. Top 5 Nostalgia Properties Reinvented for the Modern Cinema that Actually Better the Original Product.

    That, I think, is going to be the hardest Top 5 challenge you’ll ever run across.

    The Danes last blog post..20090417.teaParty

  7. James Berardinelli reviews Up, praising it for its awesome introduction and then lamenting that having raised the bar early, it never again reaches for such heights, instead pandering to expectations. Kinda the same complaint I had about WALL-E, which was breathtaking until he got into space.

    The Danes last blog post..20090417.teaParty

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