Popular Culture Review 29.1 (Spring 2018) - Page 10

the ongoing plotline of the season as a nuanced and perhaps progressive look at the systemic cycle of help and degradation offered by a society which values certain physical traits so much more highly than others. In Seth Vanatta’s “Essentialism and the Construction of Gender and Race in Season 2 of Lifetime’s UnREAL,” we see many forms of essentialism in a popular television program. Vanatta explores how the show undermines static notions of gender and its presentation of a nuanced and complex racism, even as concerns intersectionality and white feminism. Perhaps these issues have never been more topical. On a completely different note, Heather Lusty’s colorful look at the world of music and social protest screams to life in “Children of the Grave: Visual Nuclear Rhetoric in Heavy Metal Music.” While I can’t say that I am intimately familiar with all of the groups and artists working in the medium, Lusty’s presentation brings the metal world into a dialogue with social consciousness that illustrates how important and self-aware all art can be. These artists have a voice to reach many people, and they are worth listening to. In Richard Logsdon’s “Where Have All the Vampires Gone? An Examination of Gothic Horror in BBC’s Luther,” the timeless qualities of Gothic horror come to life once again, overlaid on what might be considered a crime detective drama. This rich exploration of the cultural threat of mass shootings, stabbings, bombings, and other public threats, with its subtle Gothic allusions, unveils how ubiquitous some of these fears have been in the human subconscious and in art for centuries. Graeme John Wilson’s look at another acclaimed crime drama, “A Man Must Have a Code”: A Contrast of Black and White Masculinity in The Wire” takes a much more contemporary look at the potentially toxic masculinity omnipresent in our society, but especially obvious in the “tough guy” detective featured in so many of these shows. With its surprising and sensitive treatment of sexuality and racial stereotypes, The Wire fulfills the potential of its genre. In “The Trajectory of a Comic Celebrity’s Career: Robin Williams Does Television,” Kathy Merlock Jackson explores the innovative personality of Robin Williams, who lobbied his eccentric charisma in a bit part on television into a memorable and enduring career on both the large and the small screens. He was always destined to make us laugh and cry in his exploration of what it truly means to be a human being, from inside and out. Todd Moffett’s “The Blacksmith” explores one of the archetypal figures that keeps reappearing in myths and stories, perhaps beginning in the Proto-Indian-European tradition and surviving 10