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Stranger Things Season 2 – Comparative Opinions S.2 E.3

Welcome to the Comparative Opinions podcast! This week hosts Holly and David talk about a show they just caught up on: Stranger Things season 2! They try and fail to do much of a spoiler-free discussion, then it’s off the deep end talking about the season.

Comparative Opinions is a weekly half-hour-ish podcast hosted on ComparativeGeeks.com. Subscribe for new episodes every Sunday, or for our weekly news podcast, Week in Geek.

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Music is by Scott Gratton: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Scott_Gratton/Intros_and_Outros

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Should We Go See Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets in Theaters?

So after seeing trailers, it’s probably not far wrong to say that Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets was the movie that we were most intrigued and excited to go see this year, especially taken on its own merits. Okay, sure, there’s lots of continuing franchise films to see this year – Marvel, Star Wars, etc. But this one captured our imagination, and it’s Luc Besson, and it seemed like a sure hit. The new Fifth Element.

And then… people actually saw it.

We’ve now heard from family that has both said “skip it in theaters” and that has said that they liked it. So… just as split as the Rotten Tomatoes score makes it seem. That means, tossing it back to you, dear readers! Vote in the poll! And if you’ve seen it, comment or shoot us a message on social media, letting us know whether we should go or not go!

“I See You” – The xx

An album that I knew was coming last year (at least according to random sources online) and that I was excited for ended up coming out early this year instead… “I See You” by the xx. Like with many albums, I liked this one well enough when I first listened to it, but it didn’t massively stand out. It opened with a great single that I really liked, but not much else took hold.

That one’s an interesting listen. The xx regularly touch on awkward or obsessive love, so the song is right in line with that. However – and the timing is such that it couldn’t mean this but it’s where my head went anyway when listening to it – it sure sounds like the GOP talking about their president…

Sorry, back to the album. This one song is so good that I found myself coming back to the album, and after often listening to it a few times in a row, I let the rest of the album roll over me.

Many albums for me, and probably most people, take multiple listens to really get into. At this point, I’m waking up with different songs from the album stuck in my head… I love it. Excellent stuff. They succeeded at maintaining their old sound, what you’re coming back for as a fan, while giving it a new twist.

I also just love this band at a fundamental level, the duo of lead singers, and they way they often trade off on verses, if not more frequently. Just great stuff. I definitely recommend giving them a listen if you haven’t! Here’s a couple of songs I love from their first two albums:

 

What do you look for when you’re determining what’s good media?

One of our friends started a blog and is working on figuring out what sort of media to review. As such, she asked her friends and followers,

what [do] you look for when you’re determining what’s good media and what isn’t. So – what are categories you consider for your media (i.e., plot, characterization, writing/play style, etc.).

I feel like I both gave a good answer and was maddeningly unhelpful… so I guess I wanted to explore both of those aspects.


As to an answer, I said that for me, when I’m considering media, when I’m exploring and looking for new media, I feel most rewarded when I follow the creators I’ve already enjoyed something by.

Media in general is a tough term, since these days just so many different media – and we talk about most all of them here on Comparative Geeks, so we’re consuming all of these things. YouTube, Social Media, Podcasts, music, movies, TV shows, streaming service shows, books, comics…

If you shape the question another way, as to something like audience level, we’re consuming children’s, YA, adult, and beyond (I’ve said it before… no one is old enough for Game of Thrones!).

Even if you go by genre, sure, we tend towards Science Fiction and Fantasy, but that’s by no means all the media we consume. Nor is it all something that we would inherently call “geeky” – shocking, I know!

So with so many different media that we’re consuming, enjoying, seeking out, reviewing, discussing… I mean, it’s hard to come up with an answer to this. It’s also the sort of question that we’re constantly asking ourselves as we run this site. There’s plenty of stuff we think about discussing that we don’t – because we don’t feel like we have enough to say, or anything interesting or new to say, or we don’t feel like it’s timely.

Overall, the question asked feels like the fundamental question of blogging: what are you looking for in what you spend your time on, and what are you looking for from what I write?


So back to my answer.

I didn’t name anything specific, but I talked about pursuing the creators you like. And after listing so many different types of media, “creator” can be taken really loosely as well! One of my earliest examples of this is music – I find an artist I like (through any number of sources), and then I check out as much as I can get my hands on by them. There are authors where I’ve read probably 20+ books by them… Peter David and R.A. Salvatore come to mind.

One of my more recent examples is in getting back into comics – I started with characters I liked, teams, these things. It’s the way that comics are presented and sold, especially by Marvel and DC. However, as I started noticing the authors, like the often-written-about Jonathan Hickman, I have followed some of them – right over to their independent projects.

In many media, there’s more than one creator you might follow, like directors or actors. I mean, we’ve seen just about everything Joss Whedon.

And overall, the things I have enjoyed most, that I get the most enjoyment from, are these additional finds from creators I have already found and enjoyed. Yes, there’s joy in finding a new random find, and maybe those are truly the best finds – but to find one random great find can often take either a bunch of research or recommendations, or else a lot of bad finds to come across one good find. The work of the trying things out and recommending good things is absolutely the work of a blog, but it’s also hard to recommend this.


That’s what I’ve got. Still, doesn’t feel helpful, because even as I list creators I like, it doesn’t necessarily help anyone else – though I’ll say again, read some Hickman! But that’s also why I feel like my answer is so unhelpful, because it’s so unspecific. And while on the one hand it might seem obvious, it’s also often something you have to consciously do.

Hey, you guys can help too. Comment below, or head over to Facebook to answer the question yourselves.

Expectations Influencing Our Perception of Reality

I know that when you think about this the statement makes sense in general. Our expectations of what is going to happen often affects what we think about the reality of the situation. At the same time it often feels as though when people consume media they do not seem to take this into account when thinking about their reaction to what they saw or watched.

Where you see this most often is with movies. Certain movies due to the director or story being told tend to get more hype than others – either good or bad – and therefore tend to lead to certain reactions. Now this happening for an average movie goer is one thing, but I feel like sometimes it happens with critics, which seems to create an unfair balance in how movies are reviewed.

Setting Expectations

One of my favorite TV shows was The West Wing – it really had such a great and balanced look at politics. In the episode “The Red Mass” President Bartlett is having his first debate against his opponent in the reelection campaign. The team gets worried because Bartlett is known for his strength in a debate, but Ritchie is expected to fail. The thought is that because the expectation is that Ritchie will fail completely, the only thing he needs to do to succeed is not fall flat on his face. Then for President Bartlett the expectations are so high that if he only meets the expectations it won’t be news. The same thing happens when we watch a movie, or really consume any type of media.

Low Expectations

Whenever we go into a movie with low expectations – or even concerns of any kind – we can often come out of the movie saying that was not as bad as I expected. It is interesting because the low expectations can be built up at a variety of times. It can either be from the critics’ reactions, our friends, previews and trailers, even the general storyline can throw us off. Whatever the case may be if you have low expectations, but are still willing to go to a movie then usually there is something. Very rarely have I ended up going to a movie with low expectations and not ended up at least a little surprised. This of course can end up the opposite situation if the expectations are higher!

High Expectations

Having high expectations going into a movie can end up so much worse, because if it does not meet that expectation… In some ways the only thing you can hope for is that it is as good as expected. The problem can really happen when the hype machine gets going after a movie first comes out. Suddenly when everyone is coming out of a movie saying that it was the greatest and so much fun, then our hopes get up about the time we are going to have. If we don’t have as good of a time as others seemed to have then we can feel like we are missing some piece of information. Rather than missing information we have almost gained too much because seeing how other people reacted is influencing our own enjoyment of the movie.

Critics

Now where critics come into play in this is that sometimes I feel like they play heavily into this influence and at the same time can potentially be influenced by it themselves. Just like the average movie goer has expectations of a movie, it seems that so does any critic. Now as a critic you are supposed to try and be objective, but you cannot completely remove yourself from your own feelings. It can feel as though the critics let outside elements influence their critique, which then has a larger impact on the general expectations for the movie as a whole.

What are some movies where your expectations did not match reality?