By Jordan Hamel
Apologies for the terrible title pun, but now that I’ve got your attention, lets dive into some of the pop culture we can expect 2018 to produce. 2017 was a year of political and social unease, both in Aotearoa and internationally, and while there was the typical batch of phenomenal films, TV shows, albums etc, pop culture as a whole didn’t feel as important to the zeitgeist as it had in previous years.
Most people use film, television, etc as a means of either escape, entertainment, or to be challenged, sometimes all three, but it can become hard to engage when real life starts to feel like a parody of itself and the threat of a Twitter fight leading to nuclear warfare is constantly looming. Anyway, deep and meaningfuls aside, 2018 looks set to deliver a range of top content to the world. Here’s a preview of what I’m excited to stuff into my eyes and ear-holes this year.
Marvel has spent ten years and countless films world building and preparing for The Avengers: Infinity War, the first part of which, featuring Josh Brolin as Thanos in all his weird purple skinned glory, arrives this year. But while this, in theory, should be the most hyped superhero film of the year and probably the decade, Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther is the flick which has stolen the 2018 hype.
Every since the first Chadwick Boseman ass kicking, Andy Serkis monologueing, Run the Jewels rapping trailer dropped last year the internet thirst levels for Black Panther have reached insane heights. Superhero fatigue is setting in and people are finally growing tired of the Marvel films which feel like they’re identical. Whether it’s the same characters, similar storylines, forgettable villains or the alarming lack of diversity in their films (including repeated claims of white-washing), Marvel seem to be losing whatever it was that has made them so successful over the last ten years.
However, Marvel are looking to turn the tide and champion innovation, creativity and diversity. This started with the boy Taika’s Thor: Ragnarok and looks set to continue with Black Panther. I look down the cast list and it feels like a who's who of Hollywood’s most talented young actors: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, 2018 Golden Globe winner Sterling K. Brown and 2018 Oscar Dark Horse Daniel Kaluuya. If that doesn’t get you excited what about talented veterans like Forest Whittaker and Martin Freeman? No? Finally getting to see the mythical land of Wakanda in all its CGI glory? Not into that? I guess you can’t be convinced then.
Oh yeah I forgot, Coogler hired some guy called Kendrick Lamar to produce the soundtrack for the film, I hear people like him, maybe that will get you as excited as I am.
Over the last two years Netflix have made a huge transition into the production of original content, and while they’re operating at a huge loss, with a lot of high budget flops on their hands (e.g. Bright, Will Smith’s blockbuster buddy cop comedy/failed social commentary), ultimately the ends have justified the means. Thanks to this push we’ve been blessed with shows such as Stranger Things, Narcos, Mindhunter and many more.
2018 looks set to be another huge year for Netflix and while they have a lot of ambitious projects on the horizon the one I’m most excited for is Maniac. A series that is set to reunite Emma Stone and Jonah Hill, not seen together since my adolescent self’s favourite film, Superbad, not lot is known about Maniac it reportedly “revolves around the fantasy worlds of two patients at a mental institution.”
It’s also set to be helmed by True Detective and Beasts of No Nation Director Cary Fukanaga. It sounds pretty ridiculous and you should be excited, but don’t take my word for it, check out Maniac co-star Justin Theroux’s on set Instagram video for a small taste of what’s to come.
Atlanta - Season 2
Donald Glover (actor, comedian, musician, director, ridiculously handsome) is a renaissance man in every sense of the word. He broke out in a big way in 2016 with his unlikely hit show Atlanta. Glover, who both directs and stars in the series, described it before the premiere as ‘Twin Peaks with rappers’, this seems like a strange juxtaposition to say the least, but Atlanta became an instant hit. It had young breakout actors (shouts to LaKeith Stanfield), a soundtrack meticulously curated by Glover himself and most importantly, it was built on Glover’s absurdist tendencies.
Breaking the traditional sitcom mold, every week viewers didn’t know what they would get, be it a mock public access talk show or an “Eyes Wide Shut directed by Spike Lee” dinner party from hell. Now after a long hiatus and Glover’s stint playing a young Lando Calrissian in the upcoming Star Wars: Han Solo film (which I’m also frothing for) Atlanta is back for its second season and I am ready.
More Aotearoa Records
2017 was arguably the best year in Aotearoa music in recent memory. Lorde continued her certified world take over with Melodrama, which went to number 1 in America. Aldous Harding released what I would call the best album of 2017 in Party, which took her from Port Chalmers folk-goth singer (it’s a thing) to international indie superstar overnight. The likes of Fazerdaze, Kane Strang and Nadia Reid followed suit, garnering well-deserved success abroad for their respective albums. Overall there were five to ten New Zealand-made albums last year that I genuinely love. For a nation as small as we are having such a strong music presence both at home and abroad is a point of pride.
While it’s hard to predict exactly what will come out of the NZ music scene in 2018 its harder to think that it won’t build on the success of last year. Whether its rejuvenated stalwarts like The Chills or a rising Pitchfork darling like Marlon Williams or Anthonie Tonnon, I guarantee you that Aotearoa will produce some records this year that will blow you away and make more waves on the international stage.
Records made in places that aren’t Aotearoa
Kanye West - Turbo Grafx 16: Will probably go through 16 different names and iterations before release, regardless, Yeezy season’s approaching and I can’t wait.
Car Seat Headrest - Twin Fantasy: 2016’s breakout act, I’ve never heard such a beautiful song about drunk driving and killer whales.
Earl Sweatshirt – TBA: Well overdue
Arctic Monkeys – TBA: Well well well overdue
Vampire Weekend – TBA: Holy xylophone playing Christ it’s been a long time between records.
No Game of Thrones
We all knew this was coming but HBO have officially announced that GoT won’t return for its final season until 2019. Since there’s also no sign of George R.R. Martin finishing The Winds of Winter fans will be deprived of any GoT content for what could be two years. But watch as the hype for the ending of the most popular television show of all time reaches fever pitch come the end of 2018, winter is coming, we just have to wait a little longer.