Sunday, May 2, 2010

... and in the end ...

This is the text, more or less verbatim, of the announcement I'm making at the end of the 2 May 2010 edition of Pop Culture America:

In 1970 when the Beatles broke up, it was left to Paul McCartney to announce the split to the world. That onerous duty fell on Paul's shoulders because he was the last Beatle left standing. When asked about it later he said, "I never would have left the Beatles if everyone else hadn't left them first."

With that in mind, it falls to me this afternoon on the Second of May 2010 to announce that you've just listened to the last Pop Culture America with John and Dave. It's possible that in the future something might crop up on blogtalkradio.com or elsewhere calling itself "Pop Culture America." If it does, I'm sad to say that it will do so without my participation.

This show began back during the second week of May in 2007, so it ends just a hair shy of its three-year anniversary. It's too bad. I love anniversaries. In that time I have missed exactly one scheduled episode: the one slated to air the week after my mother died. Neither the program's termination, nor the timing of same, were my choices.

When we began this endeavor back in 2007, I didn't really think much of it. Frankly, I couldn't imagine anyone listening to a couple of entertainment junkies going on about TV and movies and comics and the rest of it. Nearly three years and tens of thousands of listens later, I am glad to take the full measure of just how wrong I was.

(Only a handful of those listens were me pushing the streaming audio button over and over again, by the way)

It is especially sad that Dave has chosen not to be here for the end of the show. This was his brainchild. I was always the tag-a-long. He was Johnny Carson and I was Ed McMahon. I loved being Ed McMahon.

There are so many people to thank through these past few years for helping to make the program however good it managed to be. I can't possibly name them all but I would like to take the time to note those who have helped us out on multiple episodes. If I forget anyone, please forgive me.

I want to thank Dr. Phil Simpson of the Pop Culture Association. Dr. Simpson was our very first guest and a great guy who came back to talk with us again after we attained a firmer footing on blogtalk. His appearance and compliments made me believe that this show was a worthwhile endeavor.

I want to thank lifestyle columnist Liz Langley, who not only guested for us, but filled the co-host chair on two different occasions. When I first stared thinking about people I might like to talk to on the show, her name was at the top of the list. It has been a privilege to get to meet her.

I want to give special thanks to our two most frequent contributors. In the earliest days of the show there was my long-time friend Jim Parson. And throughout our run we could count on Uncle Marty Selgrad. Their distinctive voices and perspectives enriched our efforts and I'm indebted to them both.

Our two most frequent guests were Dann Gire of the Daily Herald in Chicago and Amy Amatangelo -- AmyTVGal -- from zap2it.com. They always brought great humor and unique insight to us and it was always a treat to talk with them. P.S. Amy is currently on maternity leave after giving birth to her daughter Molly. Congratulations on your li'l TVGal!

Others who were kind enough to join us multiple times include Gord Lacey of tvshowsondvd.com, Mark Prindle of Prindle's Record Reviews, author Doug Brode and blogger Leslie Grey-Streeter. I had a great time talking with all of them and send them my most heartfelt appreciation.

More special thanks to my brother Michael for stepping up and helping us out on a number of different occasions. His presence these past few weeks has done a great deal to make a difficult time better than bearable.

And last but certainly not least, thanks to Dave Weiser, without whom -- as they say -- none of this would have been possible. I love you Davey and I hope you get better soon.

Finally, I want to revisit something from the very first episode of Pop Culture America. That installment ran a scant half hour and I don't think it even got archived, which is probably just as well, because as I recall, it was kind of a mess. But as we embarked on this journey, I wrote a little piece called "Why Pop Culture Matters." I still have my notes from it and I want to close here with a bit of an updating of it.

Pop culture is, first and foremost, Culture. And culture matters because it defines how we think about ourselves. What kind of people are we? What do we value? What are our goals? What do we fear? what do we cherish? We see all that reflected -- and sometimes even initiated -- by our culture. Watch "American Idol" and see how we cherish fame, talent, music, perseverance, and democracy. Watch A Nightmare on Elm Street and see how we fear horrors visited upon children and the betrayal of our own minds. Scratch the surface of even the cheesiest movie or the most cynically slapped-together television program, and you can learn about us. As Americans. As humans.

Pop Culture matters because it's a way to start dialogue. Try this experiment on Monday: Walk up to a co-worker, someone you know but aren't terribly close to. Try to engage him or her in a conversation about the environment. Maybe you're a tree hugger. Maybe you're a free-market absolutist. Doesn't matter what side you take. Just try to start the talk cold, diving right into your opinion on the matter. See what happens.

I suspect there might be an eye roll. I suspect the other person will try to back away from you. It's possible that you may be met with out-and-out hostility.

Now try something different. Walk up to someone else you know about as well as the first person and start up a conversation about Avatar. Or Wall-E. See what kind of reaction you get then. Chances are, you're at least going to be able to begin a dialogue. You might even see eyes light up, instead of rolling up.

Popular culture can get the ball rolling when nothing else can. It gives us a common ground, a place to start. We may disagree mightily about the environment, but we also might both dig Avatar, and that means at least we're speaking the same language. Even if that language is Na'vi.

And it isn't all about serious issues. Popular culture is the place where we can be silly together, where we can indulge in pure fantasy wish-fulfillment. We can punch the bad guy in the nose and get the girl and be cheered by the masses. And for no greater purpose or deeper meaning other than it feels great! Everybody needs that. Try it sometime. Not only will you live a longer span on the earth, you'll live a more joyful span, as well. Life on earth is always better if you can at least once in awhile meet it with a big goofy grin.

And that's what I hope Pop Culture America has provided. Some serious consideration of the issues reflected by popular culture, coupled with a big goofy grin. If we ever got that result, that was the show at its best.

It's the end for Pop Culture America with John and Dave, but it's nowhere near the end of our popular culture. It needs no permission from me. And as long as pop culture continues, I'm going to be sounding off about it.

Keep your eyes peeled!

Wow. What a gross expression.

But sadly, I will not be sounding off here any longer. Thanks again to everyone. Thanks to Andrea Reiher of zap2it.com, our final guest. We've linked to her blog at johnanddaveswebsite.com, now with 100% less John! Thank you Michael. Thank you Dave. Thanks to everyone listening.

Can't wait for Iron Man 2 next week!

Hope you enjoyed the show. I know I did.

Bye!

31 comments:

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John and Dave talks Oscar nomination predictions