Releases, Returns, and Resurrections (ICYMI April 20, 2024)

Releases, Returns, and Resurrections (ICYMI April 20, 2024)

“In Case You Missed It” is a roundup of the news and stories in faith, culture, and entertainment over the past week that you might have missed, with some context that we hope you’ll find thought-provoking or interesting.

Welcome to the fourth edition of ICYMI, covering the week ending April 20, 2024! :

If you blink at the wrong time, you might miss a Taylor Swift album drop. This time, it’s a 31-track monster that she apparently wrote and recorded while re-recording two of her old albums, causing earthquakes, and making a whole bunch of football fans bizarrely mad. The Tortured Poets Department has her fans tearing up even as the album is tearing through the Top 40 (and that pun will either make you laugh or punch me), with Rolling Stone calling it an “instant classic” and wondering if it’s “Taylor Swift’s Most Personal Album Yet,” while Pitchfork calls it “extremely revealing.”

For Taylor’s part, along with the album she released a statement that “this writer is of the firm belief that our tears become holy in the form of ink on a page.” We tend to want to run from our sadness, to hide it behind hard work or cover it with humor, but doesn’t all of that denigrate the emotions that we were created to feel? The idea of turning emotions holy—that specific word—well, how would we do that? I think Taylor’s on the right track, and I think the Psalmist who wrote, “My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’ These things I remember as I pour out my soul…” would probably have agreed. Getting our tears out into words is expressive, it’s transcendent, it elevates the experience of sadness and pain into something you can hold in your hand. It makes holy something which would otherwise weaken us.

The MCU’s Shang-Chi responded to a fan’s concern about the future of his character. When Threads user @victoria_avalor posted, “I feel like Marvel has abandoned the Shang-Chi fan base. There has been no effort by the studio to get the sequel filming or even include the character in other Marvel films. Frustrating as hell,” the Other Ken replied, “I proooomiss it’s happening” (sic). While the hero’s first outing in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings garnered excellent reviews and a resounding “solid, I liked that a lot” from fans, the film seemed to lose a lot of buzz by closely preceding The Eternals, which…didn’t so much.

Still, Liu has been pursuing the role since 2014 (before Kim’s Convenience even!), so don’t count the master of the Ten Rings out too quickly.

Everything old is new again.

The old-media-streaming industry is in an weird place. On one hand, digital releases are speeding up content delivery to breakneck levels (“I’ll just watch it at home” isn’t as much of a diss anymore), and store after store is announcing that they’re going to stop stocking physical media. But Disney just eked out a victory in a shareholder revolt because their streaming strategy isn’t working, Paramount is considering buyouts from Skydance and Sony, and new media companies like Amazon are eating their lunch with blockbuster direct-to-streaming shows like Fallout.

So, in the middle of all of this chaos, Disney has apparently decided to bring some old-school stability in the form of…terrestrial television. Bold move, Cotton. As a way for them to add another, even cheaper tier to their streaming service, it might have some promise. I’ll probably try it, but in a spoiler-averse world, I don’t have high hopes for it.

Don’t worry. Bluey isn’t over.

“My friends, we’ve come home.” This isn’t the 11-foot model that’s in the Smithsonian right now, which had been used in much of The Original Series, but it is the one that graced the opening titles of Star Trek and sat on Roddenberry’s desk for years afterwards.

Notable Social Media funnyman and Lord of the Memes “J.R.R. Jokien” published this surprisingly poignant and thoughtful essay about resurrection, contrasting the world Tolkien created (in which Gandalf the Grey returned from death as Gandalf the White) with the world that Martin is staunchly refusing to finish (in which Beric Dondarrion came back wrong). Martin infamously said of Gandalf’s resurrection, “I never liked him coming back. I think it would have been an even stronger story if Tolkien had left him dead.” To which Jokien retorts,

It would make no sense for Tolkien to have written the fate of Gandalf according to Martin’s philosophy where death has the final say. What could be a stronger, more beautiful, and more realistic story than one that echoes the greatest Story there ever was? […] I don’t know about you, there is no tale ever told that I would rather find was true than that of the Resurrection. I long for the power of death to not have the final word. I need the promise that I will see [my younger brother] Joey again.

Jokien’s Tolkien humor is always on point, but his heartfelt longing for the resurrection is even more so.

• • •

This column is another thing that always comes back better. Be sure to return next week for more news; just in case you miss it.

ICYMI is a Redeeming Culture/Reel World Theology experiment. If you value or enjoy this, have tips for future stories, or suggestions for how we could improve, please let us know in the comments below!

1 comment

I haven’t heard Taylor Swift’s new album, but love your to-the-point and eloquent theological take on it!

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