Pop Culture

Coverage of and commentary on current events and announcements in the world of TV, Movies, Comic Books, and Literature.

12 Local Ways to Honor Prince in This Thing Called Life

Many people remember where they were when they learned of Prince’s death on April 21st, 2016. It shook the lives of many music fans around the world, especially those in his home state of Minnesota. Tributes to Prince are already beginning to surface, as this month marks two years since his death. For example, Minnesota Public Radio station the Current has created a special livestream called “Purple Current” on their website. It promises a playlist of funk, jazz, hip-hop,...

The Science of Star Trek: Discovery’s Mycelial Network

Warp drives, subspace networks, inertial dampeners, transporters, holodecks, universal translators, transparent aluminum. With Star Trek, the list of high-tech concepts and gadgets (both the more well-thought-out and grounded ideas and the slightly less realistic) is nearly endless. Now, thanks to the most recent iteration of the franchise, Star Trek: Discovery, words such as “spore drive” and “mycelial network” can be added to the list. Despite taking us to the past in terms of Trek canon, Star Trek: Discovery pushed us to look forward...

Back to the 80s Minnesota Brings the Fun to the Ready Player One Premiere

Lions and tigers and DeLoreans, oh my! That was the scene at the Minnesota Zoo on Wednesday, March 28, for the IMAX premiere of the long-anticipated Ready Player One. The film, based on Ernest Cline’s best-selling novel, is a pop-culture wonderland filled with hundreds of movie, television, and video-game references from the ’80s and beyond, so it’s no wonder Back to the 80s Minnesota would plan a grand event for all us geeks. A number of ’80s car enthusiasts brought...

Minnesota Newbery Medalist Kelly Barnhill Writes Captivating Stories for Adults

Could a writer who once put me in a magical trance with a children’s book deliver an equally stunning book for adults? This question was on my mind when I picked up Minnesota author Kelly Barnhill’s new book, Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories, which is a collection of short stories for an adult audience. I loved Barnhill’s The Girl Who Drank the Moon, a children’s fantasy that won a Newbery Medal. So, I picked up Dreadful Young Ladies...

Erik Killmonger Isn’t a Villain—He’s an Indictment of America

Black Panther spoilers ahead. Every superhero movie has a supervillain. The archenemy who is the counter to the hero. They’re supposed to make you hate them and love the hero; to create the tension that you’ll be relieved to see resolved; to give you a shadow that the hero can shine brightly against. They’re not generally made to make you think. And usually, it’s the acting range, costume and makeup, or catchy one-liners of the actor playing them that...

Simpsons Fans, Rejoice! “Embiggen” Is Now in the Dictionary

It’s official: Merriam-Webster has added embiggen to its dictionary. If you’re not familiar with this highly cromulent word, it comes from The Simpsons, where it’s part of the town’s motto, “A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man.” Like so many Simpsons references, it’s seeped its way into the real world over the (oh god) 22 years since the original episode aired—and, notably, into Ms. Marvel. (In the interest of being thorough, Mental Floss notes that C. A. Ward once...

Going Back through the Wormhole with 25 Years of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

When we meet the charming and beautiful Lieutenant Jadzia Dax in the pilot episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, we learn two things—she’s impossibly old, and she has a slug inside her body. Dax’s species, the Trill, was a compelling creation, first introduced to fans in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Inside each joined Trill is a wormlike symbiont that can live for hundreds of years, transferring to a new host at the end of each lifetime. It’s...

The X-Files Returns, But Can We Really Go Home Again?

I’m having trouble writing this preview, because I’m not excited. When it was announced about three years ago that The X-Files was coming back for another season, it was exciting—finally, a chance for the iconic show of the ’90s to deliver the answers it had promised. The moment was nigh for redemption from the disasters that were seasons 8 and 9 and the second motion picture. I was giddy that finally I could discuss my favorite show without the...

Star Wars Fandom, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Force

Star Wars season is once again in full swing, and The Last Jedi has captured my imagination as much as any of its predecessors. Over the years, I have taken in the space-opera franchise in all its forms, from the books that brought my experience of the galactic adventure beyond what is seen in the films, to the electronic and tabletop games that informed who I am today in a very real way. The Force runs so deep within me that imagining...

Who Gets Excluded from the Gender Commentary of Sleeping Beauties and The Power

This fall, the books Sleeping Beauties by Stephen and Owen King and The Power by Naomi Alderman were released. Both make an attempt at viewing what the world is like for women by depicting plagues that affect them while leaving men (mostly) unharmed. This is not a new mechanism in genre literature, with the popular comic Y: The Last Man being a prime example of earlier explorations of a gender-based malady. However, the basis of these two novels, an illumination of inequality...
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