2017 exposed a lot of ugliness roiling not so far under our somewhat civilized surface, and pop culture could not help but address the issues of the edge-of-history era we seem to find ourselves crazily twittering our way through.
2017 was all about politics, and that doesn’t seem to be letting up any time soon, so its important to find entertainment that takes our minds off the perilous world around us, even if it’s just for a while. That’s how our minds work. If someone were to tell me the only media they pay attention to is their favorite news source, I fear for their happiness and sanity.
My entertainment last year shook out like this:
Since TV has so many quality options available, and its still at least half an hour to our closest theatre, we don’t get to to the movies as much as we used to.
On Netflix, our household binged Stranger Things Season 2, Master of None, and Big Mouth (A), The Defenders, Ozark, Mindhunter, and American Vandal, (A-) as well as the most recent prior season of Showtime’s Shameless (A+, as always).
Favorite TV stand-up specials include Dave Chapelle: Age of Spin, Jen Kirkman: Just Keep Livin?, Marc Maron: Too Real, and Patton Oswalt: Annihilation.
My wife and I saw all but the last two episodes of Game of Thrones‘ 2018 season on a lazy Sunday in a Cleveland hotel room, and caught up with the show’s twisty cliffhanger (SPOILER ALERT: more incest!) on Amazon, where I am currently catching up on both The Man in the High Tower and The Tick, which I am enjoying. You’re the Worst, The Detour, and Search Party are my kind of network comedies, though I also agree with critics that The Good Place is also pretty awesome.
Baby Driver was the best movie I saw in theaters last year. Thor: Ragnarok was my favorite comic book movie, though Spiderman: Homecoming and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 were both fine installments to the cinematic superhero canon. The Big Sick and Mr. Roosevelt were funny, endearing low-key comedies, made by artists with personal stories to tell.
Justice League was good, but man, other than Wonder Woman, my beloved DC Comics just can’t seem to find solid theatrical footing.
Still haven’t seen Get Out, Atomic Blonde, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, The Disaster Artist,or Ladybird but intend on seeing all next first chance.
I’m grooving on Eminem’s new album a lot, but this is the era of singles and streaming services. My favorite songs of 2017 include My Mind is for Sale by Jack Johnson, Livin’ on the 110 by Prophets of Rage, and Foo Fighters’ The Sky is a Neighborhood. The Foos’ SNL performance of that that song and their medley late on the night of the Saturday before the holiday really jump-started my Christmas spirit.
2017 was the year I discovered Postmodern Jukebox, and fell in love with Morgan James’ cover of the Aerosmith song, Dream On. My wife and I are watching both acts tour schedule and hope to see them in 2018.
I didn’t read many new books in 2017, but instead fell back on some old favorites, comfort reading really, in the form of Tom Robbins (Jitterbug Perfume and Skinny Legs and All are still my favorites), Neil Gaiman, and Mark Twain. I look to get back on track in 2018 and read some newer books I’ve been meaning to get to, such as the fictional take on Charles Manson’s cult The Girls by Emma Cline, the kidnapping thriller Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy, and the humorous The People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Ginder.
Nonfiction in my to-read pile include J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy, Corbin Reiff’s Lighters in the Sky, and the Vanity Fair Diaries 1983-1992 by Tina Brown.
My favorite podcasts of the past year are Doug Loves Movies, How Did this Get Made, and Dumb People Town.
Howard Stern still entertains me day in and day out, and though the show’s R-rated shenanigans have mellowed, the staff interactions continue to delight with fly-on-the-wall glee and Howard’s 2017 interviews with such creative luminaries as Bono and the Edge, Robert Plant, Miley Cyrus, David Letterman, Jimmy Iovine, and Chris Cornell get better all the time. Sadly, the Whack Pack is diminished by loss every year, with 2017 taking Nicole Bass and Joey Boots.
The celebrity deaths that most touched me in 2017 were Adam West, Mary Tyler Moore, Chuck Berry, Don Rickles, Tom Petty, and a certain CGI television tiger.
I’m also still pretty pissed about the end of @midnight.
Personal pop culture highlights of 2017 were seeing Stevie Nicks on her storytelling tour (though severely disappointed openers The Pretenders had to bail), Green Day (known in our household) as the best concert ever, and Dave Chapelle at DC’s historic Warner Theater, which aired for the first time on Netflix on New Years Eve 2017, and was as entertaining and insightful as the show was when we saw him live.
Finally visiting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was a bucket list kind of trip.
But my favorite pop culture moment of 2017 was when we went to see WONDER WOMAN in the theater. Four elderly ladies, one using a walker, planted themselves in the the aisle access front row and watched that movie as though they’d been waiting their whole lives to see it. Watching those ladies watch Wonder Woman helped me remember how important entertainment is to our lives.
In 2018, we have tickets to see comedian JB Smoove at the landmark Times Square comedy club Caroline’s. We’ve seen comedy in NYC before, but never at Caroline’s. A visit to this comedy mecca will be crossed of our list by the end of January.
In September, we hope to visit friends and attend the Telluride Blues and Brews Festival, which in the past has headlined such artists as Etta James, Lou Reed, and Willie Nelson. Performers for this event will be announced in March.
We also hope to get back to Nashville in 2018.
And we’ll be looking for breaks in the politics wherever we can find them.
Happy New Year from poppedculturebrent!