A Batch of Video Essays for the Last Days of Winter


This month two video essays we highlight touch on Disney — one looks at an influential writer of Donald Duck comics who couldn’t put his name on his work, while the other explains how America Idol became an attraction at one of the company’s parks.

Megan Thee Stallion, movie sex scenes, and more round out this month’s selections. Enjoy!


The hunt for the anonymous cartoonist who transformed pop culture” by matttt

You might be skeptical of the idea that one man influenced a broad swath of global art merely by making a lot of midcentury Donald Duck comics. But this channel — one of the best making videos about the history of comic books — explains the life and times of Carl Barks, and how a mostly self-taught cartoonist turned what were supposed to be disposable cash-ins on Disney’s intellectual property into beautiful, engaging stories that influenced writers and artists as far-flung as manga giant Osamu Tezuka.


black women, vulnerability & megan thee stallion” by Yhara Zayd

YouTube video

Yhara Zayd knows how to talk through a variety of current pop culture topics succinctly. One recent example is her skeptical take on complaints about the Barbie Oscar snubs. Here, she unpacks the way Megan Thee Stallion is depicted and discussed in the media, particularly the denial of her shooting several years ago on social media, linking it to wider issues of misogynoir. 


The Thinking Machine #77: Sectioning Sex” by Filmkrant

More of a visual exercise than a straightforward essay, this piece by Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin juxtaposes similar shots from sex scenes in several different films, with a focus on hands on bodies and minute erotic actions. The comparisons invite the viewer to think about how a filmmaker chooses to convey sex, and what is suggested both by what they depict and what they eschew.


The American Idol Theme Park Experience” by Defunctland

YouTube video

For years, Kevin Perjurer has used the Defunctland channel to build a compelling compendium of bygone amusement park experiences. At heart, though, these videos aren’t truly about licensing popular brands for rides — or at least not just about that. They are most engaging as studies in logistics — the way ride creators must consider elements as mundane as queuing areas in order to facilitate fun for guests. How do you structure an attraction modeled on American Idol in a way that draws visitors?


I Want to Tell You About My Favorite Fight Scene” by Jacob Geller

YouTube video

As is typical of Jacob Geller’s videos, this one starts from a simple premise — here stated in the title — and then expands on it. It seems easy to explain why you love a fight scene: this, that, and the other cool thing happens. But why do we really find such physical feats so riveting? Geller lays out how the best fight scenes use physicality to viscerally communicate character traits and emotional moments.



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