Glen Weldon

Glen Weldon is a regular panelist on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. He reviews books, movies, comics, and more for the NPR Arts Desk.

Over the course of his career, he has spent time as a theater critic, a science writer, an oral historian, a writing teacher, a bookstore clerk, a PR flack, a completely inept marine biologist, and a slightly better-ept competitive swimmer.

Weldon is the author of two cultural histories: Superman: The Unauthorized Biography, and The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture. He has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, The Atlantic, Slate, McSweeney's, and more; his fiction has appeared in several anthologies and other publications. He is the recipient of an NEA Arts Journalism Fellowship, an Amtrak Writers' Residency, a Ragdale Writing Fellowship, and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts for Fiction.

Batman Turns 80

Mar 29, 2019

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

No matter what happens in this unsettling world, at least Batman is on the case.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "BATMAN")

WILLIAM DOZIER: (As narrator) Fear not, America. They are still on duty, that legendary duo.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Warner Bros. says the next Batman film will drop in 2021, and it looks like Ben Affleck won't be sticking in the main role.

(SOUNDBITE OF DANNY ELFMAN'S "THE BATMAN THEME")

"Critique is so limiting and emotionally draining." — Morf

Say this much about L.A. art critic Morf Vandewalt (Jake Gyllenhaal) — he's right about the act of criticism. It's reductive by nature, and it can take a psychic toll on the critic, who, if they're any damn good at all, worries that their zeal for identifying the essence of a work may prove inadequate, if not flat-out wrong.

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(SOUNDBITE OF JONATHAN LARSON SONG, "SEASONS OF LOVE")

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The hit Broadway musical "Rent" made it to the small screen last night on Fox TV.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

Eight best picture nominations emerged on Tuesday morning: Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, The Favourite, Vice, Green Book, Bohemian Rhapsody, Roma and A Star Is Born. They are comedic and dramatic, based on real events and conjured from the pages of comics, in color and in black and white.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

"Stan Lee" was a pseudonym. Which is to say: an alter ego. A larger-than-life persona whose secret identity was that of not-particularly-mild-mannered writer Stanley Martin Lieber.

Let's talk about the teeth.

They're impossible to ignore, that prosthetic ring of upper chompers worn by Rami Malek in the listless musical biopic Bohemian Rhapsody as he — and the film itself -- lurches through all the now familiar, VH1 Behind The Music stations of the rock-music cross: discovery, meteoric rise, betrayal, precipitous fall, contrition, redemption.

Alyssa Edwards (née Justin Dwayne Lee Johnson) is a lot.

She has to be; she's a drag queen. Being a lot comes with the lace-front wig. A drag queen who isn't a lot is no drag queen at all; she's food without flavor, art without color, Cher without Auto-tune. It's the difference, more specifically, between a fierce and fabulous queen like RuPaul and that one jock in high school who slapped on a Halloween store wig and stuffed himself into his girlfriend's cheerleading outfit for school spirit day.

You know that joke-ish, brain-teasery thing about the doctor who says "I can't operate on my own son," but you're told the doctor isn't the patient's father, and the answer turns out to be that the doctor is a woman? It works, to the feeble extent it does, because it rests on our unconscious, culturally programmed preconceived notions — the kind of sexist background radiation that bombards us every day. You just assume the doctor is a man, for no clearly definable reason.

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