Media & Culture: An Online Journal


Here it is! Media & Culture, the 2020 edition.

The production of this journal took a dramatic turn in the middle of March. Suddenly, a class that was supposed to take place in a workshop setting – with all of us working closely together week in and week out to produce an online publication – became a much more scattered, isolated, and socially-distanced experience.

The fact that this edition of Media & Culture actually came together at all is testament to the creativity and the perseverance of all my students in 4P59 in the face of a very difficult, challenging, and anxiety-inducing situation.

Kinik’s Picks

These are posts that Yours Truly deemed to be of particular merit at the time that they were first submitted, but which became even more outstanding after they passed through our editorial process, were revised and updated, and eventually reached publication stage. There are dozens of excellent pieces of cultural criticism that were produced for Media & Culture this year. ‘Kinik’s Picks’ are just a few of my personal favourites. I encourage you to read these selections and to come up with your own list of favourites from among the entire collection. And if you have comments for our writers, feel free to share them.

Media & Culture

In the digital pages of Media & Culture, you will find a wide variety of reviews, articles, and opinion pieces produced between January and April of 2020 by the students of COMM/FILM/PCUL 4P59: Writing Cultural Criticism for the Media at Brock University. These posts cover such topics as GamingFashionFoodTravelSportsTechnology, and Internet Culture.

You’ll also find an unprecedented number of audio-visual podcasts produced by students themselves on everything from Gaming and Film, to Music and Food, not to mention several reviews of podcasts.

Scroll down for a sample of students’ work or click on the button below to explore the 2020 edition in full.

film & tv

Wyatt Boutilier

Building a Marvel: Culture and Counter-Culture in Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

“It is a powerful thing, to be able to experience the popular and counter culture, working in vivid tandem. It is one of the most important things we can consider mindfully: that our culture is not a concrete, cohesive singular thing which merely is, unchecked by anything but an invisible guiding force. It is instead made up of a million, billion micro-outlets through which we all engage with, or do not.”

Devon DiMarco

“Schitt’s Creek”: Why Representation Matters

“Obviously, I recommend the show if you haven’t seen it. Regardless of whether you care about issues of representation, or just want an entertaining show in itself. The subject matter is dealt with the dignity it deserves, the Canadian sarcastic style humour (particularly in the banter between the characters) is my jam, I’ve had a blast following these characters for the last few years and if you’re looking for something to binge and you love a good comedy, look no further than Schitt’s Creek.”

Holly Connoy

Stranger Than Fiction: A Review of “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness”

“The absurdity of this documentary is what makes it so captivating. The focus of the docu-series is the drama within the exotic animal-owner community in the American South. While following along with the antics of each episode, viewers are exposed to three of the largest exotic animal collectors who are highly competitive with one another in the eco-tourism/exotic animal exhibit market. Some of the antics are more serious than others, such as the unveiling of sex cults, suspicious building fires, and even murder accusations.”


Bridget Dagenais

Coronavirus Steals the Spotlight at Paris Fashion Week

“Bottles of hand sanitizer were being given out as door gifts to attendees of the fashion parties. There were no shortages of medical face masks being handed out to each of the show-goers upon request, and greetings amongst attendees and industry members were reduced to upper arm squeezes, as opposed to handshakes, close-quartered hugs, and the fashion world staple of two-cheek kissing.”

Marina Sheridan

The Horror Of 1917: A Review of “1917”

“My point is that we have learned and heard stories about WWI but there is still this mystique around it because none of us were there. And well, we tend to be fascinated, even morbidly, with dark content which is heightened when the focus in on something real. It’s like the guy in the horror movie, you tell him not to look in the closet, but HE HAS TO.”

Madelynn Vahrmeyer

Romantic, With a Dark, Sinister Twist: Designer Alessandro Michele Delivers at Milan Fashion Week

“Michele possesses the ability to combine contrasting styles, eras, textures and colours in a way that still produces a cohesive collection. I also noticed some of the models had mascara running down their faces, a purposeful “tear streaked” look done by makeup artists. This touch was subtle, but added an emotional and personal touch to the aesthetic of the show. There was nothing boring about this unforgettable fashion experience that showcased the personal, forward thinking, passionate inspiration of Alessandro Michele.”


Trey Gardner

A Beautiful, Bloody Mess: The Weeknd Takes SNL By Storm

“The Weeknd does a remarkable job at hitting every note throughout the song in his well known falsetto register, at a few points sending chills down my back. Tapping into all his pain and regret, it’s as if you can feel his every emotion throughout the song. His performance ends with a few Michael Jackson-esque dance moves, blinking to hide his tears, and a final bow. It was a great ending to such an emotional performance.”

Amber MacDonald

Halsey’s “Manic” is the Brutal Rejection of Self and Stardom That We All Need to Hear

“Manic tells the true story of Ashley Frangipane; a 25-year-old tormented by bipolar disorder, a suicide attempt, addiction, grief, sexuality and abuse, all whilst navigating stardom under her pseudonym: Halsey – an anagram of her own name and homage to her first boyfriend who lived on ‘Halsey Street’ in Brooklyn. With 16 tracks, 4 artist collaborations and 2 direct film quotes in its arsenal, Manic is the ultimate contemporary rejection of stardom and stage persona.”

Noah Culp

Dua Lipa Shines Like A Disco Ball On “Future Nostalgia”

“In a press release leading up to the album’s launch, Lipa listed Gwen Stefani, Madonna, Blondie, and Outkast as her chief influences during the writing of the album, but the resulting project sounds older than these muses. Lipa’s vocals are supported by retro synths, catchy programmed drum beats, and funky basslines, all brought together by a clean, modern, production style. Future Nostalgia sounds like it was written and composed in the 1970s, filed away for the next four-and-a-half decade, rediscovered in 2020, and recorded using modern technology.”


Matthew Scott

Sporting a New Normal: How Sports Stories Can Get Us Through Isolation

“By now, weeks into Canada’s COVID-19 precautions, for many people, they’re bored at home. If you’re a sports fan looking for some entertainment, there’s isn’t much out there other than marble racing, reruns of iconic games, and video game simulations. Due to this, we need sports more than ever right now. There is one solution… sports movies.”

Ramie Bilowus

“The Outer Worlds”: Obsidian’s Take on a Dystopian Future

“Thanks for watching my review of ‘The Outer Worlds.’ I’ve added my top 5 list of things I wish I knew before playing this game. If you found any tips or tricks not mentioned, feel free to add them in the comments below!

Meet the Critics

If you want to learn more about the talented group of cultural critics that produced Media & Culture, please check out the “About Us” section, where you’ll find the names and identities of the entire team, along with photos.

Congratulations, guys! You should be proud of what you’ve accomplished.