“A” Company of the 4th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (9th Brigade, 3rd Division) on 22 August, 1914 (Source: Wikipedia)

A lot of people coming to the professional literature of the Great War from popular histories like G.J. Meyer’s are often surprised to discover that the narrative of “lions led by donkeys,” in which incompetent traditionalist generals led valiant men to pointless deaths against German machine guns, has been debunked for decades. In fact, the reality was that this narrative was never true to begin with.

The problem began with a man named Basil Liddell Hart (1895–1970). Liddell Hart was a British officer who took part in the disastrous first day of the Somme. After being invalidated…


Image source: The Rising of the Shield Hero Wiki, used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License 3.0 (CC-BY-SA).

was one of the big hits of last couple of years, and it’s not hard to see why. It has well-drawn sympathetic characters and a story that is a marked departure from the cliches of its genre. But what has gained remarkably little attention from the English language pop culture media is the show’s handling of psychological trauma.

Make no mistake, is a series that is first and foremost about trauma and healing from it. And it handles its subject matter with a startling level of accuracy —…


By the end of Saturday, February 13, 2021, Donald Trump had once again made history: he had become the first President of the United States to be impeached twice, and the first to be tried for impeachment after leaving office and found not guilty. Many commentators in the media treated the verdict as a foregone conclusion — but in reality it wasn’t. In fact, the case was the House mangers’ to lose, and the blame for the not guilty verdict falls squarely on their shoulders.

The House managers could not have hoped for a better situation in which to convict…


It’s no secret that Doctor Who has gone downhill quite a lot in the last couple of seasons. So, as a thought experiment, I decided to figure out how, in the extremely unlikely hypothetical event (particularly since I don’t work in television) that I was appointed as the new showrunner for Doctor Who, I would go about fixing all the stuff that has gone wrong under Chibnall (the timeless children, etc.).

I would start with the post-regeneration sequence. The 14th Doctor would emerge from regeneration, declare that something has gone terribly wrong, and fall over in cardiac arrest. …


The problem with the Timeless Child overarching plot of season 12 of Doctor Who was far simpler than many believed. It wasn’t too complex, nor did it fail because it tried to be too progressive — it all just came down to bad, and even terrible, storytelling.

In its conception, the Timeless Child was not a bad idea — in fact, it had the potential for greatness. It could have recontextualized everything we knew and thought about the Time Lords. But it never came close to reaching this potential. Every step of the Timeless child story arc had serious storytelling…


(Warning: Contains spoilers.)

At the end of the first episode, it really looked like HBO’s had tried to tackle the problem of modern racism and whiffed it.

In fact they hadn’t whiffed anything — by the end of the season, HBO’s had become a compelling and nuanced examination of racism, white supremacy and the reaction against it. But that wasn’t at all clear at the end of the series premiere.

The problem was that groups such as the white supremacist Seventh Kavalry are reactive — they don’t exist in a vacuum and the violent racism they carry out…


Does ’s Doctor Manhattan have free will?

It’s a question that both the graphic novel and HBO’s sequel series — which just finished a run as one of the most compelling shows on television — lend themselves. Jon Osterman, aka Doctor Manhattan, is a blue-skinned god who is omnipotent and omniscient — he knows all and sees all. He is also utterly alien.

Comic books and their screen adaptations have no shortage of gods. In many ways, the entire genre started with the godlike character of Superman. Superman was soon joined by Wonder Woman. Within…


Source: Sony Pictures, used under fair use and fair dealing.

One of the most notable thing about the new trailer is what isn’t there: a backlash.

The trailer sets itself up as a sequel to the original , with most of the action revolving around a little girl (the granddaughter of Harold Ramis’ character Egon Spengler) becoming a ghostbuster. The video was an immediate success, getting over 7.4 million views on YouTube in under 24 hours, with 240,000 likes and only 14,000 dislikes.

This is a stark contrast to the trailer for the 2016 reboot directed by Paul Feig, which suffered a massive backlash. By the first day…


In last night’s stunning segment about HBO’s legal victory over coal magnate Bob Murray that included a musical number with line dancers, host John Oliver made a strong case for implementing anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) legislation in every corner of the United States.

Unfortunately, he did not go nearly far enough. While anti-SLAPP legislation is indeed a necessary safeguard against businesses and large corporations terrifying critics into silence through the threat of legal action, American defamation law is badly broken: it needs to be easier to sue people for libel and slander.

This is not…


The Nazi is kind of amazing.

For the course I teach this term, I delivered a lecture on the sinking of the RMS Titanic, using a modern disaster analysis framework to demonstrate how the pieces of a catastrophic accident fit together. As a happy side-effect, my wife and I ended up watching most, if not all, of the major cinematic takes on the Titanic. It was an incredible voyage, and not one that led to the places one might imagine…

Atlantic (1929)

wasn’t the first Titanic movie to be made (the first movies about the sinking were made…

Robert B. Marks

Robert B. Marks is a writer, editor, and researcher. His pop culture work has appeared in places like Comics Games Magazine.

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