All posts by Samantha Garrison

Samantha Garrison belongs to a Saint Bernard named Laddi, so her life is an endless stream of drool. She believes in Ewoks, the true saviors of the galaxy far far away, Tilda Swinton, and a world without Jurassic Park sequels.

True Crime: Where’s The Line?

Wrestling with the balance of entertainment value of True Crime vs its insight.

 

The true part of true crime always gives me pause. It’s not that I am distrustful of documentarians, reporters, or even murder enthusiasts on podcasts. But engaging with true crime content makes me uneasy in the same way I felt nervous as a child when I did something I knew was wrong. For all the commentary these pieces offer, for all the new perspectives they provide or questions they raise about the quality of our justice system, these programs are first and foremost always about engaging an audience. To call them entertainment might seem crass, but therein lies the rub. True crime series and documentaries are inherently voyeuristic and thrilling. There is entertainment to be gained from real human suffering, and while we might learn something, it becomes a hard balance to reconcile.

 

Continue reading True Crime: Where’s The Line?

Samantha Garrison belongs to a Saint Bernard named Laddi, so her life is an endless stream of drool. She believes in Ewoks, the true saviors of the galaxy far far away, Tilda Swinton, and a world without Jurassic Park sequels.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Sam’s first dive into fandom!

The end of summer always brings with it a sense of nostalgia. Even though I am not longer concerned with back to school or even the changing weather, the end of easy summer traffic and dearth of action movies still makes me wistful. In reflecting on summer’s past, I often find my thoughts drifting back to 2003. It was the summer before I began high school. I had just discovered my beloved Lord of the Rings trilogy and with it, one of my first celebrity crushes: Orlando Bloom. Because he was such a new presence, there was only so much I could consume, but I waited with baited breath for his next lead role: that of Will Turner in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

Continue reading Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Samantha Garrison belongs to a Saint Bernard named Laddi, so her life is an endless stream of drool. She believes in Ewoks, the true saviors of the galaxy far far away, Tilda Swinton, and a world without Jurassic Park sequels.

Crazy Rich Mommy Issues

Move over, Thanos. Eleanor Young is this year’s most formidable and well-written movie villain.

 

This past week saw the release of Crazy Rich Asians. Based on Kevin Kwan’s popular book of the same name, the film tells the story of Rachel Chu, a Chinese-American economics professor who goes to her longtime boyfriend’s home of Singapore to meet his family for the first time. Nick Young, her handsome and humble beau, neglects to mention that his family is one of the wealthiest in Singapore. Rachel is tossed into a world where social status, protocol, and family are everything, and she has to justify her love for Nick despite coming from what they consider nothing. Her biggest detractor is Nick’s mother Eleanor, played by Michelle Yeoh.

Continue reading Crazy Rich Mommy Issues

Samantha Garrison belongs to a Saint Bernard named Laddi, so her life is an endless stream of drool. She believes in Ewoks, the true saviors of the galaxy far far away, Tilda Swinton, and a world without Jurassic Park sequels.

When Gossip Is A Virtue

Time to give gossip the credit it deserves!

 

In the same way that most the fine folks here at After the Hype consume comic books and graphic novels, I devour celebrity gossip. No, I’m not talking about misogynistic trash like TMZ, I’m talking about the groups of women who have been writing under the guise of fashion, fame, and who’s dating whom as a means of sharing information and dissecting popular culture. This used to be my guilty pleasure, but in the wake of #MeToo and #TimesUp, in which whisper networks fueled by entertainment rumours and musing grew to a shout, gossip is finally getting the credit it deserves.

Continue reading When Gossip Is A Virtue

Samantha Garrison belongs to a Saint Bernard named Laddi, so her life is an endless stream of drool. She believes in Ewoks, the true saviors of the galaxy far far away, Tilda Swinton, and a world without Jurassic Park sequels.

The Strange Beauty of Dr. Pimple Popper

A show that allows us to revel in our imperfections!

 

Two weeks ago, “Dr. Pimple Popper” made its debut on TLC. The show follows dermatologist Dr. Sandra Lee as she treats patients with unusual skin conditions. She earned her name through her Youtube channel where she post “popping videos” in which she removes cysts and blackheads. Popping videos have their own unique subculture, but because hers are produced in a sterile environment with top of the line tools, she’s seen over 2 billion views.

 

Beyond the ick factor of watching graphic skin procedures, there’s a lot that gives pause about the show: TLC, as a network, does not have the best history when it comes to exploiting the real-life people on its shows; outside the surgery, this could come across as a freak show in which we marvel at people with strange lumps, like this is a PT Barnum joint in the 1920s; and there is something terribly perverse about living in a country where healthcare is so expensive that people will go on television in order for low- or no-cost necessary care. Needless to say, I went into these first two episodes with a fair amount of skepticism. Instead of gross medsploitation, however, Dr. Lee and her patients taught me both about my skin and the vital importance of being able to put our best face forward.

 

 

What really struck me in watching the two existing episodes is the constant refrain of people who put off treating their skin conditions because it’s deemed cosmetic by insurance companies or because they felt it was vain and there were better uses of their time. For as much as we take it for granted, our skin is an organ. If we had a benign lump on our heart or spleen or kidney, we would still have it removed, just in case. But because our skin is something we decorate and moisturize and treat more like our clothing than the vital body part it is, no one seems to take it as seriously.

 

Doctor Lee, however, takes skin very seriously. But she does so with a kindness and compassion for her patients that I find absolutely refreshing. Because she’s seen it all before, she talks to people who have felt shame and gives them a sense of hope. One woman in episode two suffered from a rare condition called hidradenitis suppurativa that caused severe, painful series of fistulas all over her torso. Since she was eight years old, no doctor had taken her seriously. Because sweating exacerbated her condition, she could not do much physical activity, which caused weight gain, which led to one physician dismissing her condition as weight-related. It was heartbreaking. But Dr. Lee did not shirk away from the problem. She treated this woman with respect and put her in touch with another woman who had the condition, making this woman feel less alone. It was a beautiful moment in which the audience got to see that health is not just being free of physical ailments, but also a matter of mental and emotional well-being.

 

 

Although most people would never mock or bully someone with a visible skin condition, “Dr. Pimple Popper” is a lighthearted reminder that what may seem gross or horrific at first glance is actually very human. She treats patients of all ages, ethnicities, sizes and shapes, and each lump and pustule is for Dr. Lee not something to be feared, but something to examine. Her curiosity is infectious. After removing the largest lipoma she had ever seen from a woman’s neck, she encourages the woman to look at what was inside her with the sort of glee I normally reserve for puppies. They weigh it together, and she explains that it’s just fatty tissue.

 

Our bodies are capable of the strangest, most bizarre phenomena. They are imperfect machines that sometimes scar or grow cysts or glitch in a way that can be visible and embarrassing. What “Dr. Pimple Popper” does is to remind us that our skin is not scary or foreign, that it doesn’t have to be perfect, but that we can embrace it for the fascinating organ that it is.

 

Samantha Garrison belongs to a Saint Bernard named Laddi, so her life is an endless stream of drool. She believes in Ewoks, the true saviors of the galaxy far far away, Tilda Swinton, and a world without Jurassic Park sequels.

On Quitting

We need to take a step back and look at why we love the things we love.

 

This past weekend, I watched Hannah Gadsby’s comedy special, “Nanette,” on Netflix. It was a revelation. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say her words confirmed and shaped some things that had been percolating at the edges of my subconscious for the last several years. In the special, which you should absolutely watch if you have not yet, Gadsby talks about why she is quitting comedy, how jokes are only two parts — setup and punchline — and not a whole story. Essentially, she says comedians create tensions through their setups so that the punchlines can break it, and she no longer wants to create tension. She wishes to instead create connection. Rather than use comedy to obfuscate her painful past, she tells the rest of the stories that inspired her funniest bits, and the humor goes away, but something so much deeper remains.

 

This week, I had meant to write about why I have quit consuming and engaging with so much of nerd culture in recent years. And while I cannot make quite so eloquent a connection as Hannah Gadsby with the two parts versus a whole story metaphor, I can say that I think it’s to do with how mistaking engaging with pop culture the same as engaging with and influencing our communities.

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Samantha Garrison belongs to a Saint Bernard named Laddi, so her life is an endless stream of drool. She believes in Ewoks, the true saviors of the galaxy far far away, Tilda Swinton, and a world without Jurassic Park sequels.

Violence and Hypermasculinity in Film

“But it’s just so unrealistic. It doesn’t work that way in real life.”

 

As an avid fan of romances, romantic comedies, and other chick flicks, this is a constant refrain from my friends. The thing is, I am an adult woman with a couple LTRs (Long Term Relationships) under my belt and a string of less-than-glamorous personal and romantic mistakes. I am fully aware. What is maddening for me, a grown human with a functioning brain who can separate fantasy from reality, is that I never hear this same criticism lobbied at action films. Romantic comedies are all but dead and buried, largely in part because of this constant asinine chorus designed to question my and other fans’ credibility. But in a world where women fight for their voices to be heard, for bodily autonomy, for equal pay, I’d say we’re doing a lot better at separating our fantasy lives from our real ones than we’re given credit.

 

We live in a world where a man can rape a woman and leave her unconscious behind a dumpster and engender sympathy from a judge. I, and many of you readers, live in a country where mass shootings happen at an alarming rate — all at the hands of men. Boys are discouraged from showing emotion, and even women, in their quest for equality, aspire to be “badass” and “tough” and, ultimately, more like men. Perhaps romance is not the fantasy we should have killed. Instead, we should look at the violence and hypermasculine themes so pervasive in every blockbuster and consider how that impacts us.

Continue reading Violence and Hypermasculinity in Film

Samantha Garrison belongs to a Saint Bernard named Laddi, so her life is an endless stream of drool. She believes in Ewoks, the true saviors of the galaxy far far away, Tilda Swinton, and a world without Jurassic Park sequels.