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Paradox Project Podcast

The official podcast for the Paradox Project

It's Oscar time! Jonathan Crabb returns this week to talk all about the 2018 Academy Award-nominated films ahead of this Sunday's awards ceremony.

"Fan service well done is a good movie."

Jordan kicks off the movie discussion with a rant that has been a long time coming: Movie trailers are the worst. After seeing the "Red Sparrow" trailer half a dozen times, does anyone really need to see the movie? Jonathan is a fan of good trailers and talks about the art of giving just enough away to get you interested in the film. He also touches on an upcoming movie he's excited about: "Solo: A Star Wars Story."

Our Favorite Best Picture Noms!

It's the most wonderful time of the year ... time to analyze the Best Picture nominations and gush or vent accordingly. We all list our favorites and least favorites from this year's eclectic list. Jonathan's favorite was "Get Out," and he wasn't really into "Phantom Thread." Matthias loved "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" and was not a fan of "The Post." Jordan fell for "The Shape of Water" and "Lady Bird" but could barely pay attention to "Dunkirk."

We also give a shoutout to the most underrated recent trilogy: "Planet of the Apes." The third film in the brilliant Andy Serkis revamp, "War for the Planet of the Apes," is up for Best Visual Effects.

Prediction Time:

We take turns predicting some of the top awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress. Jordan and Matthias have similar predictions, while Jonathan disagrees. We'll see what we got right (and wrong) when the awards are announced on Sunday!

Writer, pastor and counselor Kyle Howard returns to Paradox this week to talk about the cultural significance of Marvel's "Black Panther" as well as the Christian church's role in modern society.

"The great tension with Wakanda"

Just another superhero movie? Tl;dr ... no. "Black Panther" hit theaters this weekend and seems to have lived up to people's expectations for box office success. But what about its representation of black culture and the role models it gives kids today? Jordan kicks off the "Black Panther" discussion with an outsider's perspective of it as a movie, touching on its heavy themes of isolationism and radicalization and drawing some parallels to "Wonder Woman," another culturally significant superhero flick.

[embed]https://twitter.com/KyleJamesHoward/status/965383884929150976[/embed]

Kyle analyzes how "Black Panther" covers the realities of colonialism within the bright packaging of a Disney/Marvel movie. He talks about why one of the most exciting things about this movie is the way it gives black kids some admirable role models to look up to and learn from, men and women who are strong, confident, self-sacrificing and brave. For Kyle, this was a "deeply theological" superhero movie, and he explains why T'Challa is a Christ figure similar to other characters in epics like "The Chronicles of Narnia."

A Neighbor Closer Than Benedict

We talk about the secular vs. the sacred and the church's role in society. How should Christians apply their faith when it comes to voting, getting engaged in politics and trying to change culture? Jordan explains a growing school of thought among evangelical Christian leaders that pushes back against decades of evangelical Christians being ordered to fight the culture war. It's time to stop lifting up politicians as false gods and expecting them to save us. Kyle takes a critical stance on Rod Dreher's "The Benedict Option" and asks why Dreher needed to go so far back in order to find a saint who resisted a culture that hated how he lives out his faith when the black Christian church has been doing that for centuries. "Why didn't you knock on your neighbor's door and ask this?" he wonders.

Tech reporter Sonya Mann joins us this week to talk about why "Smart Kids Should Skip High School" and what cryptocurrency and AI mean for society.

Who needs high school? No ... really. Is it necessary?

Do high school students learn anything that they end up using in a real-world job? Sonya makes the case for either ditching high school or seriously revamping the broken system, which is currently a "stultifying waste of time." Standardized testing isn't about learning for the future; it's about getting credentials in the short term. How do you teach high schoolers to have a vision for the future that doesn't keep them stuck in the standardized test mindset?

Cryptocurrency vs. artificial intelligence

Billionaire and controversial Silicon Valley figure Peter Thiel recently said, "Crypto is libertarian, AI is communist." Sonya explains what he meant by that and what we should look for as these two burgeoning technologies disrupt our lives.

Terrible Opinions

Sonya: I like Starbucks coffee.

Jordan: Authors should be banned from Twitter.

Jordan and Matthias have a special Part I and Part II episode this week! In the first part of this recording, you'll hear our predictions for the Oscar nominations (recorded Monday), quickly followed by our reactions to the official noms (recorded today).

How close were our predictions? Listen to find out. We discuss the Best Picture category, then dive into our respective passions as Jordan dissects Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress and Matthias looks at the Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects races.

Also in this episode:

  • Why this wasn't Jessica Chastain's year
  • Can Meryl be nominated too many times?
  • The problematic Best Picture nomination in a year of sexual abuse allegations
  • Marketing vs. reality for "The Shape of Water"
  • Is Christopher Nolan our Stanley Kubrick?

Note: This podcast has major spoilers for two episodes of "Black Mirror."  Futurist Jonathan Crabb joins us to talk about Netflix's "Black Mirror" and what it can teach us about the dangers of future technology.

Terrible Opinions

Jonathan: White chocolate is the best kind. Jordan: In the long term, it's mean to let your kids be super picky with food. Matthias: The app business model is broken.

"Could have been a 'Black Mirror' episode ..."

We kick off by covering the strange real-life episode that was the false ballistic missile alarm in Hawaii on Saturday morning. Hawaii residents received an alert on their phones letting them know that a missile attack was on its way. "Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill," the message read. Hawaii emergency officials revoked the warning 38 minutes later, but the damage was done.

To Delete or Not to Delete?

Matthias brings in a fireworks-inducing topic: Should Twitter delete President Donald Trump's account because of his threatening tweets toward other world leaders?

Simulating God's Image?

We look at two specific "Black Mirror" episodes: "Fifteen Million Merits" and "Hang the DJ." Jonathan admits that while he tends to be a positive person, he also takes the warnings in "Black Mirror" to heart. The show is basically telling people, "here's what will happen if X technology is used in a way that dials it up to 11." Somehow, we think it's OK to keep using that technology at a level 2 or 3 ... which is why we need to pay attention to "Black Mirror." "How would we treat the AI version of ourselves?" is a recurring question in "Black Mirror," and Jonathan characterizes this theme as an imitation of a common argument about God. We analyze the episode "Hang the DJ" and draw different lessons from the story about a futuristic dating app.

Yes, the Gorilla Channel Is Satire

@PixelatedBoat kicked off 2018 memes with a joke about the new book "Fire and Fury," which purportedly details the disheveled early days of the Trump White House. The satirical tweet was just close enough to the truth for some people to believe it, and gorillas took over the timeline. 

Focus and Build

We talk about our New Year's resolutions for 2018 and how much we like making resolutions and embracing the rhythm of having a new year. After reading Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers," which includes the "10,000 hours" theory, Matthias is resolved to focus on one area of expertise in his field and become better at building that instead of jumping around to different projects and new technologies.

Jordan wants to grow instead of "just surviving" and talks about using meditating to be calmer and able to focus better.

Terrible Opinions:

Matthias: We should leave up Christmas lights for as long as possible.

Jordan: You should stop watching TV shows that just make you sad.

Katrina Jørgensen is back this week to talk about what a truly weird year 2017 was, starting with an embarrassing flub at the Oscars and ending with a new Star Wars movie for people to fight over (for the record, all three of us enjoyed it).

2017 Was Weird

We kick off with a speed-read review of foreign policy in 2017 through the lens of a simple, terrifying question: "Are we closer to nuclear war after this year?" We then cover some of the craziest things we remember from a bizarre year and wrap up with our latest Terrible Opinions. Here are some of the funniest/weirdest things that happened in 2017. Listen to the full episode to see what else made the list.

Terrible Opinions:

Katrina: I hate brisket.

Jordan: I liked "The Last Jedi," and I'm surprised it's suddenly a "Terrible Opinion" to enjoy the latest Star Wars movie.

Matthias: The updated Barbies with different body sizes are frustrating for kids.

Katrina Jørgensen joined us again this week to share her foreign policy expertise and millennial perspective. You can follow her on Twitter @Veribatim.

Terrible Opinions

Jordan: I've been enjoying "bad" made-for-TV Christmas movies this year.

Matthias: I'm not OK with how Twitter turned the man who committed suicide at the Hague into a meme.

Katrina: White chocolate is not a chocolate, and it is bad.

"You'd think it'd be really simple, but it's not."

Katrina covers some of why the question of Israel's capital is so complex and details the fallout from the administration's decision to officially acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Riots, increased hatred for America, and injury and death show why the decision was so controversial.

The myth of "work-life balance."

Using this article as a jumping-off point, we talk about how work-life balance simply isn't possible unless you work less and about bad workplace culture in general. Jordan explains the typical millennial workplace experience: leaving a job once you're exhausted and knowing that another millennial is waiting to take your place. Matthias proposes a new regulation for businesses that would ensure they either cover their employees' education so they can still be competitive in the job market or pay a fine that would go into a government fund to protect people who get fired and can't get a new job without more education.

Terrible Opinions

Jordan: Fans are actually the best music critics.

Matthias: Christians who are living out their faith and lean toward socialism in politics are far more winning and influential than conservative Christians preaching to the choir.

Perception is truth now

Jordan talks about the introduction to "Reputation" that Taylor Swift included in the album's liner notes and details her theory that Swift secretly slipped in some references to today's toxic political climate without being explicitly political. Matthias ties the idea of "reputation" being seen as fact to the way people get trapped only seeing the worst of the "team" they disagree with: "People end up in their bubbles."

Can comedy save us?

We talk about the "Saturday Night Live" parody ad for the Democratic National Committee and Sarah Silverman's new Hulu show, "I Love You, America." Are liberals showing more self-awareness as a group, or is there just too much noise for these two examples to break through? We also discuss the inevitable future: a reckoning for the Democratic establishment when millennials and on-the-ground activists stop putting up with untrustworthy "establishment" figures like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.

Kate Bryan returned to the show this week to talk about Harvey Weinstein, Roy Moore, the avalanche of sexual misconduct allegations that are disrupting the entertainment industry and the world of politics – and for some pop culture, the new Taylor Swift album.

Will the stores about Moore affect his Senate campaign in Alabama? And what made the Weinstein story different when people haven’t cared before about sexual harassment and assault in Hollywood?

Terrible Opinions

Kate: I hated Taylor Swift’s new album and here’s why.

Jordan: Taylor Swift’s initial singles for her albums aren’t great – I didn’t love “Look What You Made Me Do” but I loved “Reputation.”

Matthias: I relate more to progressive Christians who have socialist views and strive to be faithful believers than to conservative Christians who embrace the Trump crowd.

Weinstein and Hollywood history

We discuss the allegations against film mogul Harvey Weinstein that sparked a revolution in Hollywood, the music industry and politics to expose serial predators. Decades of abuse in the entertainment industry are finally coming to light – but what made this story about Weinstein different? We analyze the political moment, the timing and the research that went into exposing Weinstein’s years of allegedly exploiting and assaulting young actresses.

Matthias asks an important question: How can these abusers in entertainment, politics and all of society go about making restitution?

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