“Friends” had its fair share of homophobia throughout its ten-year run. It was also quietly radical.

Carol and Susan’s wedding in Friends Season 2, episode 11 “The One With The Lesbian Wedding”

When it comes to internet listicles about nostalgic shows from the 1990s-00s that have not, “aged well”, to use the broadest of terms, Friends is never far away. It is not difficult to see why, or even find disagreement amongst the most hardcore of fans — with an all-white, all-heterosexual cast, the show’s lack of diversity seems highly unreflective of the real world that we live in. …

Female Mandalorian armour in The Mandalorian Season 2, Episode 3: “The Heiress”

Star Wars is at a crossroads when it comes to diversifying the franchise and renewing its appeal for future generations of its vast fandom. The Skywalker Saga has (supposedly) reached its conclusion in Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, an ending that drew significant criticism from both film critics and many of the saga’s fandom.

As referenced in a previous essay of mine over the relationship between Disney and American conservatism, The Rise of Skywalker drew particular backlash for its decentralised approach to its female characters and their agency in the saga. The apparent retconning of Rey’s lineage, whose powers…

“Space Jam: A New Legacy” showcases images from some of our most beloved films, but its use may undermine its very artistic value.

The Iron Giant in the trailer for Space Jam: A New Legacy — Warner Bros. Pictures

Content Warning: This article references suicide and gun violence – including within a school setting and in an abusive relationship – and may contain triggering material for some readers.

“I am not a gun”, The Iron Giant declares in the climactic ending of the 1999 animated film. The Iron Giant’s rather blunt allegory on gun violence in its dialogue was entirely deliberate – it had shaped the film’s production greatly. Released a few months after the Columbine High School Massacre, the event may not have influenced the film from its inception, but the tragedy’s lingering in the public consciousness likely…

Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) in “Wonder Woman 1984”

Content Warning: This essay makes reference to sexual assault, rape and murder. Reader discretion is advised.

When I watched the scene of one of WW84’s antagonists, Barbara Minerva (player by Kristen Wiig) be stalked and catcalled by a man while walking through the park, I quickly felt uncomfortable. I had had a similar experience myself. Most women I know have had something reflecting that experience. When the catcalling quickly escalated into a violent assault, I felt even more uncomfortable. I felt uneasy that such a real danger for everyday women was playing out in front of me as a part…

Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff in “Wandavision”

The recently-concluded series Wandavision, Disney+’s first Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) television project, as well as character Wanda Maximoff’s first solo outing, has been well received by audiences and critics alike. While its genre-bending style and nuanced approach to the superhero genre has been met with praise, there has been criticism from advocates of on-screen representation. The manner in which Maximoff has been presented in the MCU, both culturally and ethnically since her debut in 2015’s Age of Ultron, has been a source of controversy that has only been brought to promience through Wandavision.

As expertly demonstrated in Gavia Baker-Whitelaw’s deep-dive

Gina Carano as Cara Dune in Disney’s “The Mandalorian”

Gina Carano’s highly-publicised firing from the Disney+ Series The Mandalorian has been cited as another example of so-called “cancel culture” by conservative pundits. Cancel culture, a phrase latched onto by Trump-era conservatives, pedals a conspiracy of a social and political climate that ostracises non-progressive ideology and those that possess it. This conspiracy is how Carano explains her experience of Disney “bullying” her over her political views.

Carano’s firing, announced in the wake of her comparison to the treatment of Trump supporters to the experiences of Jewish people in the Holocaust, was the result of being “headhunted” by the company for…

Michael J. Fox, taken by Mamadi Doumbouya for the New York Times

Today’s announcement of the death of conservative political commentator and radio personality Rush Limbaugh at the age of 70 made for a mixed obituary across the political spectrum. Modern American conservatives, most notably now-former President Trump, paid tribute to Limbaugh as a “legend” — a display of Limbaugh’s role in helping to shape America’s current political climate.

For those in contrast from this form of conservatism, neither praise nor sadness followed the news of Limbaugh’s passing, and one particular controversial moment of Limbaugh’s went viral since the announcement. Limbaugh’s accusation that the actor Michael J. …

Advertisements for Lysol as a “feminine hygiene” product (left) and for OMV! by Vagisil (right)

Lysol (known in other countries as Dettol), is known today as a popular household cleaning product containing benzalkonium chloride — an organic salt used as a chemical preservative. In its higher concentrations, the chemical is used to provoke serious changes in the body, as Lysol’s inception in 1889 aimed to aid the ongoing cholera epidemic in Germany. Its commercial success in early 20th century America came with its marketing as protection from the 1918 influenza pandemic. …

Queen Latifah as Hattie McDaniel, alongside Laura Harrier’s fictional character, in Ryan Murphy’s “Hollywood”.

The afterlife of Hattie McDaniel, the first African-American to win an Academy Award, has largely been one of increasing recognition of her role as a historic trailblazer within the constraints of Jim Crow’s Hollywood. McDaniel, who won the Oscar for her role of “Mammy” in 1939’s Gone With The Wind, was invited to the ceremony under special invitation, as the ceremony was strictly “whites only”. McDaniel, and her date for the evening, F.P. …

Judy Garland in A Star is Born (1954)

This essay was inspired by Karina Longworth’s podcast on the life, death, and legacy of Judy Garland. You can listen to it here.

The demonstrations held at the Stonewall Inn in New York City in the early hours of June 28th, 1969, referred to as The Stonewall Riots, is widely regarded as the start of the modern Gay Rights Movement in the United States. The resistance towards increasing police and state interference set the precedent for LGBT activist groups and pride movements thereafter. What is not as certain, however, is the events that prompted the riots to happen that particular…

Bethany Gemmell

Recent graduate of the University of Edinburgh, specialising in American history, pop culture, and everything in-between.

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