About J. Goodson Dodd

J. Goodson Dodd was born and raised in Houston, Texas. He has often remarked that he showed a particular aptitude creative storytelling and invention. At the age of twelve with the aid of a childhood friend he produced his first short film and continued to write screenplays throughout high school, producing them on a shoestring budget with a small cabal of close friends. While attending college at the University of Houston he steered his focus toward prose work. He eventually graduated with a degree in English Literature with a minor concentration in history. His first novel, “A Dark Tomorrow,” was published in January of 2009 after spending a solid month in seclusion following a self-proclaimed personal crisis following an explosion of overwrought relationship drama. In retrospect he feels such a description is a gross overstatement of the severity of the situation. He followed up with his sophomore effort “The Song Before Nightfall” in July of 2011, a fantasy novel in the vein of his major influences such as Robert E. Howard. Later that year he published his third novel as part of the NaNoWriMo initiative entitled “Grave Danger” which served as a deconstruction of the vampire noir genre. His latest novel, "One Fate for Failure" is available now. He currently resides in Houston with a basset hound of unstable temperament.

Cynicism, Entitlement, and Critique

Cynicism is not healthy. I don’t know how else to start this little essay without laying that out up front. Cynicism can be overtly damaging and yet I see so much of it with regard to the media we consume.

Allow me to provide context; in 2013 I started a weekly podcast about bad movies called Pop and Schlock. It evolved over time to be a many-headed beast, but in my mind our driving focus was always a blended analytical/critical evaluation of pop culture past and present. My belief was, and still is, that anything can be viewed, analyzed, critiqued, and come out the other side unscathed. Art and media are subjective entities after all, and sometimes it is important to look at the lens that we view these pieces through just as much as it is to examine the work itself.

In the wake of a few major pieces of pop culture, I have found myself looking at the mindset of certain groups within larger fandoms and trying to examine the greater purpose behind the perceived cynicism that seems to dominate the landscape. For the sake of this writing, I will center my discussion around two entities; The Last Jedi and Infinity War.

Now, I do not wish to argue that criticism or even dislike of a piece of work is inherently a negative. Far from it. As stated above, art is subjective. What I have determined to be an issue is the growing divide between thoughtful, analytical criticism and a sense of entitlement on the part of the consumer.

Exhibit A; The Last Jedi.

The Last Jedi was, admittedly, a divisive entry into a franchise that had more than its own fair share of baggage. But many of the critical reactions to the film had little to do with meeting the work on the terms set by the creators and more to do with hypothetical interjections of what certain fans wanted to see done with the narrative itself.

Disliking The Last Jedi because it was oddly paced, or because there were issues with plotting at the script level are all well and good. I’ve read some convincing critique myself. The major conversation however has been more heavily pointed in the direction of disappointment not in what was created but how it did not align with expectations. Not expectations of quality, mind you, but expectations of narrative direction.

The question that this creates is whether it is valid to dismiss a work because it turned left when the audience expected the road to bank right. Honestly, I think it is okay to be disappointed when a story doesn’t tick the right boxes for the audience. The discussion can then go forward and address whether the creator understood the audience for the piece and create an interesting dialog going forward. In the case of something like Star Wars, which has decades of history attached. Dissecting the choices of Rian Johnson with regard to The Last Jedi in a manner that addresses the significance of audience expectations would be enough to fill a dissertation.

In terms of modern media consumption, The Last Jedi is essentially old news at this point. We’ve moved on. It’s all about Infinity War now. And yet the arguments and the cynicism surrounding Marvel’s latest echo some of the same things I encountered in the wake of The Last Jedi’s release.

More ink seems to be being spilled on adverse audience reactions to the way the narrative played out than addressing the work on its own merit; the standard arguments that the film doesn’t stand on its own or that it doesn’t justify its own existence within the grand scheme of Marvel’s plan don’t engage with the presentation in any meaningful way.

What this reeks of, ultimately, is entitlement. Entitlement on the part of the consumer to dictate the worthiness of any given work. You can see this in every major corner of fandom. Comics. Film. TV. Music. Name it, you will find this mindset prevalent in the critical landscape. And while examining something in this way isn’t necessarily a complete negative as a component of critique or analysis, using it as one’s only basis for critique is largely damaging as it devalues critique and analysis as a whole. It also has the side-effect of rendering segments of the associated fandom somewhat toxic. It is largely why I no longer find myself actively engaging with the comic fandom, because critical response to current publications make enjoying anything something of a chore.

Is there a point to all this? Not really. I don’t think anyone who feels that looking at media in the way I’ve rallied against is going to discontinue to do so after reading a random blog post, but I feel as if I needed to articulate this feeling for the sake of anchoring my own attempts at critique in the months coming forward.

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Pop and Schlock LIVE on KPFT – Episode IX – Mute

Pop and Schlock LIVE!

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This week on Pop and Schlock LIVE, Jake and Meredith sit down to discuss Duncan Jones’ MUTE now streaming on Netflix. The film stars Alexander Skarsgard, Paul Rudd and Not Luke Wilson.

The film is not perfect, which makes for some good discussion. We hope you enjoy the episode!

We would also like to remind our listeners about the KPFT Spring Fund Drive. We here at Pop and Schlock would like to thank KPFT for their support and encourage anyone who can donate to do so at the link below.

The station’s staff, volunteers, and contributors are all getting ready for a spectacular 48th year at KPFT — and we appreciate all the help we can get! Our Spring Fund Drive begins today, and our beautiful phone banking team is ready to take your donations. It’s been a wild time here. The entire country has gone through some huge changes and faces many challenges…

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Pop and Schlock LIVE on KPFT – Episode VIII – Annihilation

Pop and Schlock LIVE!

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Annihilation is pretty much Jake’s cup of tea. Nevermind the fact that Jake doesn’t like tea. Meredith is more ambivalent. This episode deals with some of the themes and arguments brought up in the Black Mirror episode and ponders whether internal narratives can be translated to a filmed medium. Also they fancast Jake into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Fun all around.

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Pop and Schlock LIVE on KPFT – Episode VII – Black Panther with Special Guests Isaiah Broussard and Stephen Patrick Kelly

Pop and Schlock LIVE!

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Black Panther is one of the best films of the year so obviously this is one of our best episodes of the year. We brought on local Houston artists and Black Panther enthusiasts Isaiah Broussard and Stephen Patrick Kelly to talk about what made the film work, why it was so special, and somehow work in a tangent about why the X-Men don’t work when Spider-Man is also around.

OUR GUESTS:

Isaiah Broussard is an independent cartoonist from Houston, Texas. His work, “Crackers & White Wine” was named Houston’s best political webcomic by Houston Press. He also creates the comic all-ages comedy/horror comic “Transyltown” and is the illustrator of the wacky superhero/adventure comic “Help Wanted!” and the manga/anime inspired “Fight School High School”. He is currently crafting an afro-futurist sci-fi short story called “The Funktastic Adventure.”

You can find Isaiah’s work at the links listed below.

Related Links:
Isaiah…

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Pop and Schlock LIVE on KPFT – Episode V – The Cloverfield Paradox

Pop and Schlock LIVE!

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Sci-fi is like orange juice; some people like a little pulp. The recent surprise release of Julius Onah’s The Cloverfield Paradox became a major talking point on the web this week and we sat down to talk about why the backlash seemed so severe. We get into the nature of science fiction and also the way distribution models for film are wildly evolving and what we can expect to see in the coming years when it comes to streaming.

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