Coming Up on Viewpoints Show 18-29

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The Italian Mothers Who Stood Up To The Mafia

Most of us have heard of the Cosa Nostra, but there’s another powerful mafia in Italy: the ‘Ndrangheta. We talk to an expert about this lesser-known mafia and the brave mothers who stood up to the crime organization.

Learning How To Identify and De-bunk actual Fake News

‘Fake news’ has remained a headline mainstay for years now… but politicians seem to be skewing its meaning. We talk to two teachers about what is and isn’t fake news, and how they’re teaching students (and their parents!) how to see through the fiction.

Culture Crash: Bo Burnham’s Brilliant New Film, Eighth Grade

Bo Burnham has followed in the footsteps of Jordan Peele and Greta Gerwig, transforming from a performer to the director of a terrific debut film. His movie, Eighth Grade is out now.

Culture Crash 18-28: The Dark Knight 10 Years Later

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture.  What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.

This week marks the 10th anniversary of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, a movie that is, at once, a Class-A crime movie, an action thrill-ride, a psychological thriller, and a summer blockbuster. Even more remarkable: the film succeeds on every level. It features some of the most incredible cinematography ever captured in Chicago, a zeitgeisty debate about privacy and security in a post-9/11 world, a perfect showdown between two legendary foes: Batman and The Joker, thrilling action that never seems incessant. And of course: it features Heath Ledger as The Joker, a casting which was originally mocked on the internet, but ended up giving us probably the best villan in the history of cinema.

Immediately, The Dark Knight’s cultural impact was felt. The Joker was the Halloween costume of the year, the phrase “Why so serious?” entered the lexicon, so did “Some men just want to watch the world burn” and so did the final speech from Commissioner Jim Gordon says Batman’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now.

And at long last, a superhero movie was a serious Oscars contender. It was nominated for 8 Academy Awards and won two, including Heath Ledger’s posthumous award for Best Supporting Actor. Notably absent from its list of nominations was one for Best Picture, a snub seen as so egregious and out-of-touch that the Academy expanded the field of nominees for future ceremonies specifically to avoid similar instances in the future.

It also cemented Christopher Nolan as one of the best directors of our time. After Batman Begins and The Prestige, the world was interested. But delivering a spectacle like The Dark Knight was what clinched it.

And more personally: the movie inspired me to love movies in the first place. I was 15 years old when The Dark Knight hit theaters. I had loved Batman Begins three years earlier, and for the first time, I jumped online and followed a film’s production. Being from the Chicago suburbs, I would see on the news that they shut streets down for filming, which just further fanned the flames of my excitement. My parents agreed that my brother could take me with him to see it at midnight, and I was literally counting down the days. Years of anticipation led to…one of the most memorable nights of my life. There was such a buzz in the theater, people were cheering so loud that at times, it was a struggle to even hear the lines. My  heart stopped when the “sky-hook” extracted Batman from a Hong Kong skyscraper, I watched in awe when a truck was actually flipped over, and I was entranced by the Joker’s final monolog, hanging upside down, explaining his backwards views on the world. Watching the movie in that theater, it all clicked. I understood finally understood how rewarding a trip to the theater could really be.

In 2008, I was heading into my freshman year of high school. The following day at football camp, so  many of us were bleary-eyed from seeing Batman at midnight that our coaches just called it, and let us play flag football for fun instead of running sprints. 10 years later, the movie still brings with it all the excitement for being 15 years old and getting to stay out late to see a movie.
The Dark Knight is a decade old and re-invented the most popular movie genre in the entire world. For 10 years, every movie franchise, from Star Wars and Bond to Marvel and even Batman’s own DC, have tried to incorporate elements of The Dark Knight and aimed to finally top Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece. None have succeeded.

I’m Evan Rook.

Coming Up on Viewpoints Show 18-28

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Appreciating the Introvert

When you’re at a party, you may notice how people are always drawn to the extroverts. But what about the introverts? We talk to experts about the qualities that make more introverted people great, too.

Breaking Down the Pesky English Language

The English language can be hard to spell since it often follows conflicting rules. We trace the origins of this tricky language, and explain how these difficulties came to be.

Culture Crash: The Dark Knight 10 Years Later

Christopher Nolan’s landmark superhero epic, The Dark Knight was released a decade ago this week, but its effects on our culture are still being felt.

Culture Crash 18-27: What to do when you don’t really like the book you’re reading

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture.  What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.

It’s a moment that eventually befalls all book-readers: You finally picked up a book you’ve been meaning to read and…you don’t really like it.

Do you finish reading it, or abandon it halfway?

For most of my life, I’ve believed in the former. I thought it was a cardinal sin to abandon a book before completion. Then I met my match: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. By all accounts, I should love that book. I love mysteries and detective stories. My friends and family have read it to rave reviews. And yet for years, I have stopped-and-started, trying to get through a book that just doesn’t grab my attention.

Last month, I gave it one final try. I got 200 pages into its 804 page length and decided it just wasn’t going to happen. For some reason, this renowned book that everyone says I’ll love and me just don’t click. So I set it back down, maybe forever.

For a little bit, that felt like quitting… and then I remembered all the other books I want to read. Since abandoning Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I’ve torn through Cujo and The Outsider by Stephen King and started reading Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. None of them have given me the feeling of having to eat my vegetables before dessert that I had every time I picked up The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

So my advice is this: If a book or movie or TV show is starting to feel like self-assigned homework instead of an enjoyable experience, just remember you don’t have to finish it. There are plenty of other stories on the shelves. And maybe down the line, you’ll go back to that abandoned novel and it will grab you in a way it didn’t before. Maybe there’s another attempt at Girl With The Dragon Tattoo in me. But not right now, I’m having too much fun with these other books.

I’m Evan Rook.

Coming Up On Viewpoints Show 18-27

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American Illiteracy

America is facing a literacy problem: according to surveys, fewer than 50% of American schoolchildren are highly proficient readers. We talk to several experts who suggest that we may simply be teaching the skill incorrectly.

Catholicism and the LGBT Community: One priest’s mission to ‘build a bridge’

For centuries, the Catholic Church and the LGBT community have been at odds. Now, the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest, is trying to usher in a new era and welcome LGBT individuals to the church.

Culture Crash: What to do when you don’t really like the book you’re reading

It’s a dilemma many of us face from time to time: Should you keep reading a book even if you don’t like it very much, or should you set it down?

Culture Crash 18-26: Music in a streaming world

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture.  What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.

But those apps present a problem for musicians and their labels. New music is no longer competing with other new music for our attention: it’s battling with every other song ever made. People just aren’t paying attention to upcoming and new releases like they used to. And why would they when the catalog is seemingly infinite? This phenomenon is probably what’s behind the era of surprise releasing albums. Beyonce shocked the world in December 2013 when she simultaneously announced and released her self-titled album. Since then, there have been many imitators: Drake, Frank Ocean, even David Bowie subsequently put the practice into action. Last month, Beyonce herself released another surprise album, a collaborative collection with Jay-Z.

Instead of relying on our steady interest, musicians now seek to gain our attention for one moment and shock us into hitting play. It certainly works as a promotional tool, but what happens after those first few days?

For many of us, we favorite the songs we like and forget about those we don’t. In a music app, anything that doesn’t immediately grab us gets washed away by whatever new music is released the following Friday.   Such is life in the digital music world.

I’m Evan Rook.

Coming Up On Viewpoints Show 18-26

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American Detainment: Lessons to learn from America’s internment camp shame

It’s a topic that has been in the news lately: how our government detains groups of people. We look back at history to see what really happened in World War II Japanese internment camps, and how we can avoid similar shame now and in the future.

Maximizing Your Experience Traveling Internationally

Many of us have spent years dreaming of traveling the globe… but what should we do when we book the trip and are preparing to make the dream a reality? Journalist and author Andrew Soloman gives tips on how to get the most out of your trips, from embracing new cultures to establishing better connections.

Culture Crash: Music in a streaming world

As apps like Spotify and Pandora have taken over, musicians have been forced to make their new albums into an “event.” We look at how they do that, and how streaming music impacts us as listeners.