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The Ten Percent: Where Scholars Dwell

“Ninety percent of everything is crud.” – Theodore Sturgeon

Hello, and welcome to another installment of “The Ten Percent”, a regular column where Ensley F. Guffey and I take turns examining the inverse of Sturgeon’s Law; in other words, the small portion of everything which is not crud. As regular discerning readers of Biff Bam Pop! know, we usually we use this space to discuss a film or television show or comic that gets people talking years or even decades after its premiere. The Ten Percent are the works which stand the test of time, and it’s not a question of genre here in the Ten Percent – slapstick comedy has a place, along with high-toned drama. Quality animation rubs shoulders with science fiction and over there you can find show-stopping musicals chatting with bloody horror. The Ten Percent last because they are high quality productions which demand more of their viewer than simple passive reception.

But this is going to be different for, instead of talking about the show, I’m going to discuss the people. See, there is a small, ferocious band of people known as television scholars. They apply critical theories to television, and they’re not kidding about it. Think of it like this. English literature has scholars. Some of these scholars focus intently on the work of one author – let’s say it’s Charles Dickens.  (Remember that, because we’re going to come back to him.) Now, some Dickens scholars dig into his works to see what can be learned about Victorian society by examining the novels (generally called “texts” in this case), while others look at the texts to discover what can be learned about Marxism, philosophy, the class system of England, teaching itself, and so on – there are a lot of different ways of looking at things.

Television scholars do the same thing, but their “texts” are TV shows, with each episode being the equivalent of a chapter. It’s relatively new (certainly compared to English literature as a field of study!), having only been around for 30 years or so.

While plenty of shows (including The Wire, The Sopranos, and The Simpsons) have been the subject of scholarly works, including graduate theses and doctoral dissertations, the one that is most often the subject of these studies is –

Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

By a long shot.

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Biff Bam Pop’s It’s All Connected – Just a Kid from Brooklyn: Captain America, American Memories of World War II, and the MCU, Part II

 

Splash page from The Ultimates #1, 2002. Script by Mark Millar, art by Bryan Hitch.

Splash page from The Ultimates #1, 2002. Script by Mark Millar, art by Bryan Hitch.

In the first part of this essay, I briefly sketched the construction of American memories of World War II that began slightly before the war and continue into the 21st century. In many ways the war has become a defining part of American identity, and the dominant, triumphal memory narrative we have created about it serves to elevate American participation in the war almost to the level of the sacred, and certainly to the realm of the simple black and white, good v. evil duality that is much more comforting than any messy and contradictory reality might be. The character of Steve Rogers/Captain America is one of the more perfect cultural artifacts to illustrate this process of memory construction, and the ways in which counter-memories, which challenge the dominant narrative, inevitably influence the national mythology.

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Celebrate Captain America’s 75th Anniversary With the Oversized CAPTAIN AMERICA: SAM WILSON #7

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Marvel Comics continues to recognize the 75th anniversary of Captain America this March as superstar creators unite to celebrate the sentinel of liberty in CAPTAIN AMERICA: SAM WILSON #7! Meet me after the jump for your first look!

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Game of Thrones S05 E05: Kill the Boy

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We’ve reached the midway point of season five of “Game of Thrones,” and fittingly some very important characters make some very important decisions that have kingdoms hanging in the balance. We also get some some dark Bolton family history, a reminder of what makes the North great, and find out exactly what boy needs to die in an excellently focused, extremely tense and foreboding episode five. Find out more after the break.

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Andy Burns On…Avengers: Age of Ultron

Each week, one of Biff Bam Pop’s illustrious writers will delve into one of their favorite things.  Perhaps it’s a movie or album they’ve carried with them for years.  Maybe it’s something new that moved them and they think might move you too.  Each week, a new subject, a new voice writing on… something they love.

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This edition of on is a little different from the others, simply because, while I love Marvel and the Avengers, I didn’t quite love Avengers: Age of Ultron. I liked it. A lot. But love? Not so much. Here’s why.

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Avengers Age of Ultron Countdown: What Is Ultron?

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Avengers: Age of Ultron opens tonight across America, and has been out in most of the world for a week now. Not only the Avengers, but also their adversary Ultron, are everywhere, but what do we really know about Ultron? Who is he, what is he? Ultron has been called the Avengers’ greatest enemy, and he is, because it’s personal, he’s family. Meet me after the jump for the meltdown on Marvel’s malevolent machine messiah, Ultron!

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Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S02 E19: The Dirty Half Dozen

ag1Just as many of the factions and plotlines collided in the last episode of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” they continue to in this episode. The lines of good and evil and the area in between blur further, we get some real exciting espionage action, Coulson gets the old band back together, and there’s a hint of upcoming Avengers movie as well. For all this and more, meet me after the jump and read my review of “The Dirty Half Dozen.”

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Glenn Walker On… Firefly

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Each week, one of Biff Bam Pop’s illustrious writers will delve into one of their favorite things. Perhaps it’s a movie or album they’ve carried with them for years. Maybe it’s something new that moved them and they think might move you too. Each week, a new subject, a new voice writing on… something they love.

I’ll be talking about Joss Whedon’s “Firefly” and its cinematic sequel Serenity. Meet me after the jump, for some of my favorite stuff.

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The Ten Percent: Wonder Woman (2009)

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“Ninety percent of everything is crud.” – Theodore Sturgeon

Ever since Lynda Carter started spinning around on TV, “where is the Wonder Woman movie?” has become something of a perennial question. Back in 2005 fans squeed when Joss Whedon was hired to write the script for a feature film, but two years later he left the project (and despite his claims to the contrary during that period, it appears that Whedon never actually wrote a draft script). Seven years later things are looking up with a film finally in the offing, and this week it was announced that Michelle MacLaren (Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones) will direct, becoming the first female to direct a superhero film – assuming she stays with the project.

Only it turns out that the Wonder Woman movie we’ve all been howling for actually came out in 2009, check it out after the jump.

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Trailer Time – Avengers: Age of Ultron

AvengersAgeofUltronAfter leaking yesterday evening, the hi-rez, official trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron is here, and it is spectacular. Take a look below and let us know if you’re excited to see the stringless Ultron take on Earth’s Mightiest Heroes this spring.

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