In the final weeks of the semester, it can feel like your brain is being boiled inside your head and dripping out of your ears. Exams, final essays, theses, and, you know, the general state of things, is more than enough to make it feel like you’re floundering in a pressure cooker. It can also be enough to make you feel less than enthused about the general concept of ‘learning.’ You’re taking in so much information, often for a really short period of time, and falling a little bit out of love with the subject matter of your degree. After taking a well-deserved break, it’s important to get your thought juices flowing, and remind yourself that you’re not simply an academic goldfish.
There’s been an explosion in the field of podcasting in the last few years. If you’re looking for some ramblings on literally any subject, a simple flick through Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Podbean will make you an ‘expert’ on some niche, annoying topic. To reboot your post-deadline brain, and keep you sharp over Summer, here are some of the best podcasts to remind you why learning is fun. There’s also some that are dumb as shit, for, you know, healthy balance (bimbos unite <3).
He Kākano Ahau
There are now two wonderful seasons of this RNZ podcast available to listen to, the first being He Kākano Ahau: Urban and Māori and the second being He Kākano Ahau: Wawatatia. The show is hosted by writer and activist Kahu Kutia of Ngāi Tūhoe, who grew up in Waimana, before moving Te Whanganui-ā-Tara for uni. He Kākano Ahau is explained to explore “stories that are firmly rooted in our past to magically dream about the futures we want to create for ourselves.” The show travels into the history of Aotearoa across both seasons, with the second season including two episodes in te reo. There’s also one short documentary in the first season, with episode three “Decolonising Gender & Sexuality In Wellington City”. In the doco, Kutia goes out to talk to Takatāpui in Te Whanganui-ā-Tara, about what it means to be Takatāpui in the city. This episode serves as an excellent introduction to the series and pulls you into the audio version of the show. The kōrero that Kutia shares is really intimate and the kaupapa is explored in an interview with Michelle Rahurahu on The Pantograph Punch.
(Read on here: https://pantograph-punch.com/posts/maori-way-to-listen)
Not Past It
Hosted by self-proclaimed All-American-Girl-Next-Door-Maxim-Hometown-Hottie Type, Simone Polanen, Not Past It is the perfect show for budding history enthusiasts and history buffs alike. With each release, the show takes listeners back to a moment from that week in history and explores how that event has influenced the world we live in now. It’s often funny and strange, and Polanen does an excellent job of situating the events in relation to our lives now. It’s a great exercise in teaching basic cause and consequence, and reminds the audience that looking to our past is vital in constructing our futures. Since it’s currently the spooky season, Polanen is investigating all that is witchy and spooky, debunking certain myths and recontextualising sensationalised stories. The show is intensely bingeable, and probably best saved until after exams (it’s likely that you’ll prefer to learn about the genesis of the sexy green M&M, rather than Foucault). The sound design is also worthy of a mention, as it’s utilised in such creative ways and keeps you hooked in and moving along with the narrative that Polanen weaves. If you’re a little newer to podcasts, this is a great one to get started on, as it’s a quick half hour, packed with all the good stuff.
While we’re all working through the restrictions of a post-Delta NZ, it can be difficult to displace that feeling that our late teens or early twenties are somehow being taken from us. While it’s maybe a little bit self-indulgent and dramatic (at least that’s how I’m prefacing my long rants on FaceTime), it’s natural to lament the way Covid has disrupted our ambitious plans for early adulthood. Generation Covid, an RNZ show released earlier this year, explores this upset amongst young adults within Aotearoa, looking at the schedules that were disrupted, the difficulties and losses that occurred after the virus hit our shores, and the career pathways that shifted with the unexpected restrictions. It’s a short, easy, and therapeutic listen, and an extremely safe place to ruminate in your anxieties and complaints. No more bugging your friends with complaints about summer festies (just kidding, the Craccum group chat will continue to blow up with our grumbles). There are also a couple of episodes that revel in the surprising decisions and lessons that Generation Covid have taken from the difficult period, so it’s not always doom and gloom. This podcast may one day serve as an important sociological record, but for now, it’s a great space to simply feel heard. While listening, you can try to manifest those trips to Tauranga and Taupō… it might work?
The weeks during uni semester move very quickly, which can suck some of the intense focus out of the more specific case studies you do in certain degrees. Lolita Podcast is the perfect show to reinvigorate this focus and restart your critical thinking skills. With a total of 11 hours, comedian, TV writer, and apologetic podcaster, Jamie Loftus (who also hosts The Bechdel Cast and MY YEAR IN MENSA) traces the long path that has led us to the warped cultural identity of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. Loftus explores the various readings of Lolita, the early days of the book’s release, the tragic and misrepresentative stage and screen adaptations that followed, the influence of Hollywood imagery on platforms like Tumblr, the receptions from survivors, and ultimately, sets out to understand who Dolores Haze is and what she represents. The show is incredibly thorough, and Loftus interweaves interviews and close readings to inform her discussions. Of course, there’s some really heavy themes and subject matter explored throughout the long episodes, so proceed with caution!
Black Men Can’t Jump [in Hollywood]
Film jocks everywhere, I send you my love. The theatres are closed, and we are left to weep during Netflix watches on our phones. Counting down the moment to hit play on a FaceTime call doesn’t quite hit the same as sharing popcorn and Malteasers across red leather seats. Exam season has also made it borderline impossible to watch a scene without committing to a close reading analysis (ahhh, I see, the gun IS phallic in this context). Black Men Can’t Jump [in Hollywood] is the perfect show to remind you of why you fell in love with film in the first place. It’s hosted by Jonathan Braylock, Jerah Milligan, and James III, and is a comedic podcast that reviews films with leading actors of colour, and discusses them with the context of Hollywood’s issues with race and diversity. The three hosts exhibit such a passionate love for film, and consistently engage with the wider context, instead of coming too close to the picture (like some of the worst film podcasts do). It’s really funny, and fills that void you might be feeling for spirited, non-pretentious film based debate.