Discover more from Follow Friday
Netflix's weirdest podcast, buff dragons, and a magic trick with a kick
Welcome to an abbreviated edition of Follow Friday, because I am busy busy busy this week. We’ve got some beefy podcast recs and more this week, so let’s get into it!
The best podcasts I’ve heard this week
I am very supportive of podcasts that experiment more with the format, for example by doing full-length audio commentaries over movies and TV shows. The downside to that idea is that you have to sync up your podcast app with whatever you’re watching, which is why I’m befuddled by Netflix’s Watching With... The barely-used podcast feed (it had nine “episodes” between 2019 and 2020 and then wasn’t updated until last week) is where they dumped Rian Johnson’s commentary for Glass Onion. Not on, like, the global video platform they own. Johnson always delivers outstanding audio commentaries on his movies, and this one is no exception; he pointed out a ton of details that I missed in my previous three viewings of the film, and I’m very glad I listened to it. But making us sync it up with Netflix when there’s an obvious better option ... to quote Benoit Blanc, “It’s just dumb!”
I’m consuming even more movie-related podcasts than usual in the run-up to the Oscars, sorrynotsorry. And I loved Marc Maron’s back-to-back interviews on WTF with actor Michelle Yeoh and directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert from Everything Everywhere All At Once. Up until this point, I had figured EEAAO would be like Mad Max: Fury Road, an amazing film that get tons of Oscar nominations but only stands a chance of winning anything in the “below the line” categories, i.e. not Best Actor/Actress/Director/Picture. But I dunno, hearing Maron dig into the themes of the movie with the Daniels really made me optimistic for the first time that it has a real shot. Crossing my fingers.
Sometimes the best way to title a podcast episode is to go with your gut instinct; someone asks you “what’s this about?”, how would you answer? That’s exactly what Matt Belloni did with an episode of The Town that immediately got my download: “How F—ked Is Fox News?” Joined by his Puck colleague Dylan Byers, Matt dives into the looming defamation court case brought by Dominion Voting Systems against Fox for amplifying Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election. I’m currently catching up on Succession, and as Matt & Dylan point out, it is uncanny how well that show captures the craven soullessness of the Murdoch clan. Blood sacrifice!
Food for thought for the podcasters in the audience: In The Audio Insurgent, Eric Nuzum asks what we can learn from Spotify’s mistakes
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(don’t) help i’m addicted to this fitness game
In March of 2020, two weeks into COVID lockdown, I went to eBay and overpaid for a Nintendo Switch, because all the legit channels were sold out. My one goal was to play the new Animal Crossing game and little else (and I did, for months).
But later that year, Polygon contributor (and, small world, my middle school friend) Sam Greszes published “Nintendo’s Ring Fit Adventure removed the toxicity from my workouts.” I bought the fitness game soon after.
Since then, I’ve played Ring Fit in (ahem) fits and starts, but over the past couple weeks, I am finally making time for it almost every day. I revisited the article this week, and can now fully appreciate what Sam loved about the game. It’s not just a brilliantly made mashup of RPG and workout game (though it is that), but also counter-programming to the toxic attitudes about our bodies that one finds in traditional gyms (including the one I belong to).
The main enemy in the game’s adventure mode is a hyper-buff dragon in a singlet named Dragaux. […] Why not have the antagonist be some sort of demon that represents lethargy, procrastination, or bad eating habits? Better yet, why not have monsters representing all three? If the goal of the game is to get shredded, why are we fighting against an enemy who represents our own ideal selves (except with wings and a tail)?
It has to do with what the game is actually trying to do, versus what we’re used to seeing from fitness programs.
Nintendo is not the first company that comes to mind when I think about media companies that are changing minds — when I was a video game industry reporter, I wrote about their weak-sauce conservative responses to fans who wanted better representation for female and queer players. So the fact that the designers of Ring Fit Adventure worked a message like this into a brilliantly fun game is cause for celebration.
The best thing I’ve read this week
SIGH. That’s my general takeaway from this Vulture article about how multiplexes are further destroying their own future, and possibly the future of the theatrical movie business. By neglecting to maintain their own projectors and cutting corners on their staff costs, they are making it harder for much of the country to rationalize leaving the couch. I feel very lucky to live near good theaters that care about this stuff and pay projectionists to take care of it.