Where to Find It: Into It Podcast
The Players: Elle Collins and a guest
What Is It: Billed as “a podcast about everything you love,” it lives the premise. Every episode sees Collins joined by someone she knows, often from her childhood or college years which lends the podcast a depth and intimacy that you do not necessarily get from your average “person shows up and talks about a thing” style cast. However, Collins nicely directs the show from going too far in the other direction and becoming all about a shared past that you have no knowledge or chance to know about.
What further differentiates the episodes from a lot of others that might be similar is the way the topics are explored. It is not just about things you love but also about why you love them and the other reasons to love them that you might have missed. The cast can do surface but even when it does, it offers something a bit more delightful, as when recent guest Meredith Yayanos praises the ALIEN films—and ALIEN in specific—for being “sexy.” The moment is great because a.) it is earned, coming after she and Collins have dissected the franchise through all kinds of filters including whether or not Ripley is an affirmation of heteronormative family dynamics, what could’ve been with Harrison Ford in the Tom Skerritt role, and who the true villains of the films are and b.) because even as the comment is commentary on the surface aspects of the series, the language chosen demands you pay attention.
Collins is an affable interviewer who nicely matches up with her guests’ styles, flexible enough to not take on the art being discussed in a chronological manner but firm enough to keep the whole enterprise still on the tracks even if its journey is a bit more of a wander than a straight away stroll.
Some episodes to start with: “#47: Bring It On with Aidan Sullivan”- One would not necessarily expect the Bring It On movie (the first one is the focus, the others only ever so slightly touched up) to be a rich topic for exploration but one would certainly be wrong. In addition to contemplating the avenues the film seems to hint at but not take—the sexuality of Eliza Dushku’s new girl/rebel cheerleader character in particular and how that sexuality may or may not effect Kirsten Dunst’s head cheerleader—Sullivan and Collins explore the ways in which the movie is a mirror of the era it was created and how it ascends above those trappings, the messages of inclusion that one might not expect from a cheerleading movie while not shying away from some of the queasy aspects including jokes about sexual violation that are tossed off with incredible casualness. The episode is great because it embraces all aspects of its focal point and makes the argument that it can be appreciated even if it is not perfect.
“#12: The Matrix with Dr. Kati Corlew”- Probably my favorite episode, by far. Dr. Corlew, while exploring other topics along the way, weaves an argument for Trinity as the hero/true savior of the Matrix films throughout the episode, tantalizingly offering evidence here and there until she pulls the thesis tightly together in the cast’s climax. It is a fascinating and, in my opinion, utterly convincing, take on the material is far more “mind blowing” than any of those fan theories we are bombarded by on the internet. It also showcases Collins’ skills as a host as she deftly covers the franchise while still giving Corlew more than enough room to lay out her evidence over the course of the hour or so running time.
“#9: Christmas with Chris Sims”- Anyone who’s listened to Sims’ various podcasts or read his work knows the writer and commentator loves Christmas. It is nonetheless wonderful to listen to him discuss it with all the runway in the world though, not just as the holiday relates to Batman or a brief description of his insane (in length and detail) playlist of Christmas songs that soundtrack his life from about November 1 to January 7th (gotta wait for Epiphany!). And while Sims is admittedly a fairly committed atheist, he nonetheless offers one of the best summaries of what makes Christmas wonderful and important in an entirely secular way that still resonates (or should anyway) with the most religious amongst us.
“#13: Spider-Man with Matt D. Wilson”- I needed to throw a comic book episode on here, given my reputation (in my head anyway) and this is a favorite. Wilson is understated and humble in his love of the character but he is unquestionably a fan and the more he talks the less self-conscious he becomes about that. A nice exploration of what the character has done within pop culture (with the focus on comics) and what he has meant to Wilson at different stages of his life.