2021 was a bitch. There’s a sense that each year of the 2020s is set to be a steady decline. The consequences of human behavior on the environment are becoming harder to ignore. Right now, Colorado is dealing with wildfires, record highs abound in the United States and around the world, and the weather is becoming less predictable and more extreme. COVID-19 is still ravaging the population, most notably the US, where half a million new cases a day seem to be the new normal. The American government has basically surrendered to the virus and now wants to blame the states and individuals rather than taking dramatic action and doing bold things.
2021 was a year of significant changes for Ariana and me. We sold our home and moved to the Netherlands. We’ve got an application pending through the DAFT (Dutch-American Friendship Treaty) using a small venture I was doing on the side. The wait time on these applications right now is months-long, but we can stay in the country until a decision is reached. Everyone we’ve spoken to with some knowledge on the subjects says that my background as a credentialed primary school teacher and that we’re Americans with good money puts us in a safe place. For now, we continue to get to know our new home, hoping it will be a permanent place. The Netherlands is under lockdown that adheres closer to what that means than anything the United States has attempted. It’s not bad, and it helps that the two of us are naturally homebodies. There isn’t some reservoir of social energy that needs to be filled.
Things were very good on the blog in 2021. I saw my viewership increase 13% to just over 18,000 visits. January and December have my most views, with January coming close to cracking 2,000 for a single month. As for popular posts, here were my Top 5 Most Viewed:
JLA by Grant Morrison Omnibus
Superman by Grant Morrison Omnibus
Spider-Man: No Way Home (April Fool’s Review)
Wonder Woman by Phil Jimenez Omnibus
Superman/Batman: Generations Omnibus
So it’s clear my reviews of DC Comics’ big omnibuses published in 2021 were popular. It makes sense; people are curious about these often expensive collections. In addition, I enjoyed reading and re-reading the material in them. The JLA Omnibus review was the longest review I’ve ever written, and I had a lot of fun revisiting that classic series.
2022 is going to look a little different. We’re going to get the podcast up and going again soon to discuss our Top 5 Films of 2021 and then our most anticipated films of the new year. I’ll be posting less as I start a second blog that hasn’t launched yet. It’s titled The Reading Circle and will be focused on reviewing children’s literature aimed at an audience of teachers & parents. As a teacher, I’ve read so many great kids’ books, and I’d love to help showcase those books that get overlooked in a very saturated market. I will be getting The Reading Circle up and going by the first of February. It will also be a venue to direct people to my Teachers Pay Teachers store, which did far better than I expected in 2021, having made over $2,500 over the year.
Here on PopCult, I am starting the year with an overview of the films of Peter Weir. We’ll be starting with Picnic at Hanging Rock and working all the way up to his most recent The Way Back. Weir is a director who has made such an eclectic group of films, and I want to dig in and start to understand his common themes and character types. That will be followed in February by looking at some selected Michael Haneke movies. Haneke is a director I have admired for years but haven’t explored his filmography in enough depth.
March/April will see us going over a themed duo of film series. The first is Transformational Cinema, which I define as movies that provide powerful emotional and character experiences. For example, John Cassavetes’s A Woman Under the Influence and Lynne Ramsey’s Ratcatcher will be part of that collection. This will be followed by a bleak turn with The World is Hell. Inspired by the dark path humanity seems to be going down, I’ve put together a list of movies that don’t pull their punches when portraying human cruelty and suffering. We’ll start with Bicycle Thieves, end with The Greasy Strangler and watch a lot of downers inbetween. May/June will be devoted to a Flashback to 1974, which leads into the summer, where I’ll do a Flashback to 1982. I’m still contemplating the rest of the year, but that is our rough plan for the first half of 2022.
I have no idea where PopCult will go in 2022. I know I’ll keep watching and reading things that intrigue me and reporting back to you with my thoughts. I’ll be leaning into writing fiction more seriously, setting a deadline for myself to have something completed by mid-year. I might share that through PopCult or think about another venue I can link back to here. As always, the films I love are never the ones I know much about going into a new year, so that’s one of my favorite things, discovering those as the months glide along. I’m hoping there’s a turn in the COVID-19 situation as now that I am in Europe, I would love to eventually get to attend one of the more prominent film festivals on the continent and give some early feedback about movies to come. Whatever is to come, make sure you cling close to those you love and appreciate the time we have. As things stand, that time becomes undoubtedly limited.