We’re a few weeks into the new year, so hopefully it’s not too late for me to share my favourite sources of entertainment from 2017. I’ve selected a favourite from the following categories: books, TV shows, movies, podcasts, music, and comedy. It was tricky whittling my list down when there’s so much I’ve enjoyed, but it had to be done.
Books: So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
I’ve been avid user of social media for the last decade, as well as being very familiar with the ‘social justice’ community, public shaming and ‘pile ons’ is something I’m aware of. Some of it seems to me to be quite deserved, and other times less so. Jon Ronson’s book touches on some well known cases of public shamings for reasons ranging from plagiarism, to ill-thought out tweets. He talks to the people who have been shamed as well as those who have done the shaming. He looks at this behaviour from a psychological perspective which is interesting to me as someone who minored in Psychology during my Bachelor of Arts. I’d definitely recommend it.
Continuing my psychological interests, Mindhunter is based on the experiences of two FBI agents and a psychologist during the early days of criminal profiling. It’s fascinating to see how the theories which are so widely known developed. There’s also a good plot of personal stories for the characters, including some rather steamy sex scenes with the very cute main character. It’s a Netflix exclusive, so if you want to watch, you better get on there.
Movie: The Big Sick
This is another ‘based on a true story’ being based on the romance of Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V Gordon, who are comedians and the writers of this film. Kumail also plays himself, whilst Emily is played by actress Zoe Kazan. They come from very different ethnic backgrounds, and the clash of cultures plays a big part in the film. I heard of Kumail and Emily via podcasting, and had been following them on Twitter for a couple of years. When the movie came out I went to see it as a preview by myself because I wanted to see it so badly. It made me laugh, and it made me cry, as well as gave me some reflecting to do.
Music: Dancing on My Own by Calum Scott
Calum Scott came to fame via Britain’s Got Talent, where Simon Cowell said he was the most talented man he’d seen on the show. From someone who has been so influential in the music industry that’s enormous praise. When I first heard this song, I hadn’t seen him in Got Talent, nor did I know that this song was a cover of a song originally sung by Robyn. I just loved the way it made me feel, with his beautiful voice over the beautiful instrumentals. Sad songs performed by cute British boys is probably my favourite genre, see – Sam Smith, James Arthur, even Ed Sheeran. I’ve embedded his audition video because it really shows how sweet he is, but he’s recorded it too and it’s out as a single with his album due out in 2018.
Podcast: The Dollop
To explain the premise of The Dollop, I’ll quote the intro they do at the start of every episode:
Dave: “You’re listening to The Dollop. This is a bi-weekly American History podcast where I, Dave Anthony, read a story from American History to my friend…”
Gareth: “…Gareth Reynolds, who has no idea what the topic is going to be about.”
If you think, oh but I’m not interested in American History – well that doesn’t really matter. A lot of the topics are globally relevant such as the Iraq war and the history of Uber. Others are not really location specific such as the story of one bizarre baseball player, which was hilarious despite the fact I know nothing about baseball. They have a big following in Australia due to their close friendship with comedian and podcaster Wil Anderson, so they tour down under at least once a year. When they tour, they tell stories from that area’s history. I went to their show in Auckland which was on a part of our history I’d never heard of.
You don’t need to start at the beginning, I’ve skipped around based on suggestions, but there are some in-jokes that are funnier if you have the context that has developed over the years. Based on a poll in The Dollop’s fan group on Facebook, the 5 best episodes are as follows:
- Episode 207 – The Animal Horror of Macquarie Island
- Episode 12 – The Rube
- Episode 104 – The Hippo Bill
- Episode 200 – Otto in the Attic
- Episode 46 – The Cereal Men
Comedian: Alice Brine
Alice Brine got on my radar last year when she posted an analogy between rape and robbery that went viral. I liked her humour and feminism, and have been following her on twitter ever since. One of her New Zealand Comedy Festival shows coincided with a trip I was taking to Wellington, so I went along. She and I are a similar age, and have a lot in common it seems, which made her show extremely relatable. My friends and I were absolutely howling with laughter. Alice is currently living in London, but I really hope she comes back for the festival in 2018.
If you take up any of my entertainment recommendations, please let me know what you think of them! I love sharing and receiving recommendations for things to watch, read, and listen to. I’ve written about podcasts a couple of times before on here, but the rest is uncharted waters for me. I’d also love any recommendations that you have for me, if you think I’d enjoy them. Let me know in the comments section below.