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Low Key

What's behind the door?

Aaron Lanton, Keith Dennie, and Tim Molloy look at pop culture through a racial lens, focusing on the low-key things some people might miss to discuss their deeper meanings.
Latest Episode7/2/2020

Do the Right Thing

Season 1, Ep. 66
Today’s episode revisits the 1989 classic that put Spike Lee on the map, Do the Right Thing. Over 30 years later, the film’s raw depiction of racial relations in Bedstuy remains controversial - every group feels aggrieved, lashing out with both words and actions. By the time the film is over, one could make a strong case that no one did the right thing. The bubbling tension under the surface during the hottest day of the summer explodes into a riot that feels unavoidable once 911 is dialed.Lee refused the urge to give the audience simple good versus bad character depictions. Singular characters act on their righteous impulses but are often guided by misplaced, unspoken misunderstandings. By the time Mookie throws the trash can through Sal’s pizzeria, his actions are about more than simply the death of Radio Rahim. The audience is given several reasons Mookie could be at the end of his rope with Sal and his family from Pino’s liberal use of the n-word to Sal’s supposed flirtation with his sister - Mookie’s frustration is macro and micro, legitimate and illegitimate.Although Do the Right Thing takes place almost entirely on one neighborhood block in 1989, it represented situations happening nationwide. Gentrifying neighbors and passersbys still have the same tense interactions with the black and brown youth today.. No wonder the film continues to resonate in the summer of 2020 as Black Lives Matter protests continue.Do the Right Thing is available for rent today on several streaming platforms.Episode Breakdown0:48 - Where did ‘Sweet Dick Willy’ get his name from?1:50 - Themes echoing in the modern day5:05 - Is Mookie a passive character?11:36 - Does anyone do the right thing?16:50 - Radio Rahim’s intimidating presence and killing21:00 - Real life police brutality comparisons23:15 - The shock of police brutality, camera phones, and Black Lives Matter31:40 - Mookie’s future and parenting in the film35:50 - Closing thoughts
6/1/2020

The Justice League Snyder Cut (feat. Sam from the Sam Said It podcast)

Season 1, Ep. 63
The nerd nightmare is over: the badgering has paid off, and the Synder Cut of the DC Extended Universe’sJustice Leaguewill be released as an HBO Max exclusive sometime in 2021.In the latestLow Key Podcast, we talk about what it all means, and what we want from the Snyder Cut. And great news: This episode features Sam from the Sam Said It! podcast.The corporate overlords have bowed to the overbeating might of tweets and petitions to remake the underwhelming November 2017 release into Zack Snyder’s intended glory. The remake will be released as either a four-hour epic film or a six-episode miniseries with enhanced CGI, new character designs, and additional scenes to flesh out the story. This is the sort of thing that would normally only happen in a comic book and yet here we are.So how did this happen? A group of executives from HBO, Warner Brothers, and DC decided to move forward with the project after viewing an unfinished version of the Synder Cut back in early February 2020.This cut was based on post production work by Snyder that was unfinished when the director had to step away because of a family tragedy. The film was later completed by Joss Whedon and, understandably, had some mixed issues with tone and plot that audiences didn’t enjoy.Despite grossing $658 million worldwide, it is considered a missed opportunity by avid comic book fans, casual viewers and business people alike. The Synder Cut could alleviate some of the issues aroundJustice Leagueand become a huge part of HBO Max’s arsenal as the streaming wars continue to heat up.This episode of the Low Key pod features special guest Mr. Sam P of theSam Said Itpodcast (please check him out!) and follow us onInstagram.1:00:Sam Returns!1:42:Wearing a mask during COVID-19 pandemic in Texas and Tennessee5:00:Timeline ofJustice Leagueand the Synder Cut8:30:Why did audiences not gravitate to theJustice Leaguetheatrical release?11:15:Limitations of the current DCEU compared to the CW Arrowverse15:22:The problem with creating the Snyder Cut and the R-ratedBatman v. Superman.18:10:Why is the Snyder Cut happening?21:50:Superman’s insane power level in Justice League24:00:How the DCEU attempted to mimic MCU’s apocalyptic prophecy and hero relationships.30:20:DCEU standalone films work better than the team movie.33:36:“Marvel doesn’t make superhero movies”38:18:DCEU and latest Star Wars trilogy had no plan41:20:Should fan criticism lead to massive changes for a franchise’s direction? (listen to this episode of the Movie Maker podcastto hear from the director about changes to Sonic the Hedgehog based on fan feedback)44:36:Examples of screenings leading to a different final cut.46:45:Changes to other mediums after a final release (video games, music, etc.)48:06:Is a four-hour Synder cut too long?
5/27/2020

62. Why Murder to Mercy is a Netflix Doc Worth Watching

Season 1, Ep. 62
Netflix does not shy away from distributing stories that give voices to the voiceless - the recently released documentary Murder to Mercy is no exception. The doc shares the story of Cyntoia Brown, a woman who was sentenced to prison for life at the age of 16 for killing a man when she was being sex trafficked at the Nashville, Tennessee area in 2004. Brown told police that she feared for her life and shot the man with a gun inside the house when she believed he was going to violently attack. Fifteen years later, she was granted clemency by the state governor and now works as works as an advocate for helping vulnerable young people who are survivors of sex trafficking.The film contains footage from initial arrest up until her release from prison which demonstrates a positive example of what’s possible when rehabilitation resources are available. On the other side of the coin, interviews with the women in her biological family are present, each of whom are survivors of sexual abuse by men in their lives whom they trusted. The generational trauma experienced by each of these women is given room to be explored and considered without a political bend which undoubtedly will bother some critics and viewers.A takeaway that hopefully hits home is that more can be done to help create more accountability from how the justice system responds to the issues of domestic abuse and sex trafficking. The lawyers who fought to secure Brown’s clemency mentioned that the case was having an impact on both a domestic and global scale. Stories like these are difficult to watch but they are worth our engagement given their common occurrence. Give the Low Key podcast a listen for our full thoughts.Murder and Mercy is available on Netflix now.