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Earthling Cinema Goes For Synchronicity, Analyzes ‘Star Wars: Return of the Jedi’

The premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens is less than two weeks away, and it appears the anticipatory celebration of all things Star Wars has begun for reals. Like, the cool people finally showed up, and they’ve dimmed the lights for proper party conditions. For their part in the synchronicity, Earthling Cinema, still too classy to address the prequels, finishes their look at the original trilogy in their most recent episode. I’ve posted about Earthling Cinema’s take on Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. The results are pretty fantastic.

Unsurprisingly since ROTJ is considered a subpar entry into the franchise compared to the first two, EC does mock it more mercilessly than the first two, and their analysis is likewise somewhat thinner. But as a fan of the film since its theater premiere, I can attest that the mockery is both cathartically satisfying and the analysis is intriguing.

EC ROTJ

In the video you’ll learn about musical leitmotifs, the connections between Endor and the Vietnam war, and the theme of technology vs. the natural. You’ll also get to enjoy the mockery of Star Wars as a one-woman show, the send-off of Boba Fett, and the reuse of plot elements from A New Hope. Plus lots of other lovely jokes I wouldn’t dare give away.

Entertain and edify yourself simultaneously!

 

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Wisecrack Illuminates The Brilliance of ‘Thriller’

wisecrackthrillerI love that Wisecrack is spreading their insight and humor to new areas. This week the team, fronted by Greg aka Sparky Sweets, PhD from Thug Notes, digs into the layers of awesome that makes #1 album of all time, Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

The examination celebrates the progressive intermixing of race and music genre via guest artists and images from music videos, delves into the music history that Jackson appropriates and advances, and discusses the innovations for narrative music videos in the much loved and mimicked “Thriller” video.

As a bonus, it illuminates the postmodern brilliance of Jackson’s best-selling album, a genre/style mishmash full of intertextual call outs.

My hope is that Wisecrack will continue to use their mad skills on music as well as literature, film, and philosophy.


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Earthling Cinema: The Hidden Meaning in ‘Frozen’

Welcome back to Frozen Friday!  A few days ago, Wisecrack released an Earthling Cinema analyzing Frozen, and we can’t pass up the opportunity to share.earthlingcinemafrozen

As with all Earthling Cinema, the video starts with our alien host, Garyx Wormuloid, summarizing the film with various humorous askew interpretations, then he goes on to discuss the deeper motifs and themes of the film. Bonus: What Frozen has to do with Game of Thrones.

Personal note: Although I appreciate the attention to the cisgendered love interests, I would have loved some recognition for the asking consent prior to the Anna-Kristoff kiss.


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Book Review – Thug Notes: A Street-Smart Guide to Classic Literature

Thug Notes: A Street-Smart Guide to Classic Literature by Sparky Sweets, PhD

Thug Notes A Street-Smart Guide to Classic Literature

Sparky Sweets, PhD. and Wisecrack proudly present this outrageously funny, ultra-sharp guide to literature based on the hit online series, Thug Notes. Inside, you’ll find hilarious plot breakdowns and masterful analyses of sixteen of literature’s most beloved classics, including: The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill A Mockingbird, Pride & Prejudice, The Color Purple, Hamlet, Things Fall Apart, and more!

Thug Notes has been featured on BET, PBS, and NPR and has been used in hundreds of classrooms around the world. Whether you’re a student, teacher, or straight-up literary gangster like Dr. Sweets, Thug Notes has got you covered. You’ll certainly never look at literature the same way again.

We’re big fans of Thug Notes here at The Dinglehopper. In fact, we’ve posted about several Wisecrack endeavors. And while I haven’t personally witnessed it, rumor has it that Sparky Sweets, PhD, is providing some flavor in my partner’s classroom. When we saw there was gonna be a book, we jumped at the chance to check it out.

First things first. The content is not identical to the webisodes. You’re getting something similar, sure. But there’s content above and beyond video transcripts. That was my first question. I reckon it was yours, too.

Second, the dialect that flows so easily from the lips of Dr. Sweets is serviceably transliterated. After a few sentences, I was entirely used to it. I can’t speculate whether that would be the case for an uninitiated reader. So. Let’s clear that up.

There, now he’s in your head. Refer back as needed. I’d actually recommend checking out the sample pages available online somewhere like Amazon.

If it’s a stumbling block, but you liked what you heard in the video, then I have have good news. There’s an audiobook narrated by Greg Edwards, Sparky Sweets himself. And it’s incredible.

The book performs some fast and dense critical analysis of sixteen classic texts. What’s great is that it does it in an interesting way. Thug Notes doesn’t necessarily have new revolutionary things to say, but it engages the reader. It sneaks literary analysis in with humorous vernacular, adroit observation, and affable confidence.

The analyses are divided into repeated sections, introducing the text, then the characters, then summarizing and analyzing the plot. The paper doll art from the web series is used sparingly but effectively. Perhaps the best parts, however, are the reinterpretations of classic lines. Sweets takes the florid artful language of the original texts and represents them in brief hilariously accurate “remixes.”

We love literature. We talk about it for fun or for work or just out of necessity. But Thug Notes occasionally articulates something so simply, so perfectly, that our passion for one of these old tomes is instantly reignited.

 

Recommended for fans of Harold Bloom, KRS-ONE, and W.E.B. Du Bois.

 


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Wisecrack’s Newest: ‘Boss Bitches of History’

Let’s not bury the lead: Wisecrack’s brand new video series Boss Bitches of History is developed, written, and hosted by porn stars. But these are no ordinary porn stars (I can only surmise, though my experience and insider knowledge is extremely limited.) Ela Darling has a masters degree in library science. Her co-host Sovereign Syre has a masters in creative writing and a background in sociology. Are these the new millennial adult entertaintresses? Highly educated but also in total control of their sexual selves? That sounds feminist AF.bbofhistory

If so, they may be the perfect hosts for the new show which focuses on a “boss bitch” of history in the Wisecrack way. I’ve been a fan of Wisecrack’s edutainment videos since I first saw Thug Notes: Pride and Prejudice.  When they added Earthling Cinema and 8-Bit Philosophy, I was tickled. These guys know how to make a fun but informative video. Now they’re giving us the greatest “give zero f**ks” women in history–yes, please!

The new comedic series is dedicated to celebrating emboldened women throughout the ages who bucked the system and boldly faced the sexist hegemony of their time.

One difference from the other shows to be aware of. There is sexual innuendo and some cussing. This isn’t a show that will likely find its way into history classrooms, except perhaps at the expense of the teacher’s job. History teachers: for now, stick with John Green.

But in your off time, after you put the kids to bed, do enjoy Boss Bitches. The first two episodes are out and embedded below.

 

 


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Only Ever Yours in Context: The Handmaid’s Tale

Only Ever Yours is billed as, “The Handmaid’s Tale meets Mean Girls.” I’m not ashamed to admit to a shortness of breath at that. Mean Girls is one of the three funniest movies of all time and The Handmaid’s Tale is capable of creating feminists. High praise and heady company.

I don’t know that it’s entirely accurate, mind you, but it informed my reading. I actually think Only Ever Yours is more cynical than The Handmaid’s Tale, Brave New World, or even 1984.

Still, imagine my delight when it was pointed out tThug Notes Logohat Thug Notes had released their summary and analysis of Margaret Atwood’s classic book only a day before we posted our review. At Thug Notes, you “learn literature from yo’ boy Sparky Sweets, PhD. It’s classic literature, original gangster.” Erin wrote a short introduction to Thug Notes last year and talked about why she uses it in her classes.

Check out “The Handmaid’s Tale = A Whack-Ass Future For Women?” Spoiler warning, just in case.

The Handmaids Tale

You can compare the book blurb with Only Ever Yours

In the world of the near future, who will control women’s bodies?

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are only valued if their ovaries are viable.

Offred can remember the days before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now….

Both books depict a patriarchal nightmare following an ecological disaster. Atwood offers a complex look at her world through her protagonist’s fragmented memoir. The structure of the novel reflects both her shattered life and resultant mental state. O’Neill aims at a younger audience, but with no less audacity. While Offred is allowed both a past and a future, frieda is confined, literally and narratologically, in her present. The structure of Only Ever Yours, while more straightforward, is similarly representative; frieda’s ability to understand and navigate her environment is defined by its constraints.

I reckon a fan of either book will enjoy the other. But I’ll share the openings of both to give you a sense of what you’re in for. Note that they both begin with communal feminine sleeping quarters.

We slept in what had once been the gymnasium. The floor was of varnished wood, with stripes and circles painted on it, for the games that were formerly played there; the hoops for the basketball nets were still in place, though the nets were gone. A balcony ran around the room, for the spectators, and I thought I could smell, faintly like an afterimage, the pungent scent of sweat, shot through with the sweet taint of chewing gum and perfume from the watching girls, felt-skirted as I knew from pictures, later in miniskirts, then pants, then in one earring, spiky green-streaked hair. Dances would have been held there; the music lingered, a palimpsest of unheard sound, style upon style, an undercurrent of drums, a forlorn wail, garlands made of tissue-paper flowers, cardboard devils, a revolving ball of mirrors, powdering the dancers with a snow of light.The Handmaid’s Tale

The chastities keep asking me why I can’t sleep. I amOnly Ever Yours 2 at the maximum permitted dosage of SleepSound, they say, eyes narrowed in suspicious concern.
Are you taking it correctly, freida?
Are you taking it all yourself, freida?
Yes. Yes. Now, can I have some more? Please? No more can be prescribed. Not safely anyway, they say. They warn of muscle spasms. Internal bleeding. The corrosion of vital organs.
But I cannot see these “vital organs” in the mirrors. All I can see are the dark circles under my eyes, a gray pallor like a dusting of ashes over my face. The hallmarks of too many nights spent burrowing a hole in my mattress, tossing and turning, yearning to join the perfectly synchronized breathing of my sisters. I can hear them now, sucking artificial heat into their lungs greedily, oblivious to me, lying in my cot, buzzing like an exposed wire.Only Ever Yours

 


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Earthling Cinema Video Analysis: The Big Lebowski

One of the first tasks I give my film students is to create a top 5 of the greatest films they’ve ever seen. It’s meant to be a personal list. Inevitably, they want to know what my favorite film is, and that’s a question that causes my brain to freeze up and give the blue smoke of death. But when I do get rebooted, I often start talking about a few favorites, and one of them is always The Big Lebowski.

lebowski-16

It’s often difficult to detail exactly why Lebowski is so beloved–by me and millions of others. It has inspired conventions–Lebowskifest–and even a religion–Dudeism. It’s endlessly quotable, absurdly hilarious, remarkably acted, and beautifully shot. And after all of its plotted antics, it deconstructs itself into meaning not much of anything. But watching this film feels like coming home. It’s cozy and warm, familiar and comfortable.

This week Wisecrack released a video analysis of The Big Lebowski as part of their Earthling Cinema series, in which an alien discusses the significance of visual artifacts from Earth after the planet has been destroyed. As was the previous entries on Pulp Fiction and Fight Club, the perspective on the film is at turns hilarious in its parody of the film’s meaning and impact and spot on in its analysis. Included is a comparison between the Dude and Jesus, an examination of the pull of the past on different characters, a comparison of The Big Lebowski and The Big Sleep, and a look at the deconstruction of various sources of meaning for characters, like religion and success.

If you’ve seen/love The Big Lebowski or wondered why your friends won’t shut up about it, check this out.