DEAD POETS SOCIETY (1989)

Language, John Keating tells us, was developed "to woo women." But Mr. Keating obviously never met The Unenthusiastic Critic.  

This week, Nakea and Michael have a preliminary discussion about judging older movies by the standards and values of the present day, before attempting to suck all the marrow out of Nakea's first viewing of 1989's Dead Poets Society. We're talking poetry, privilege, and pedagogy, and narrowing in on the answer to an unthinkable question: Was Mr. Keating really a crappy teacher?

0:00–0:17: Prologue (Walt Whitman's "O Me! O Life!" from Dead Poets Society)
0:17–1:26: Theme Music (Arne Huseby's "Warm Duck Shuffle," with excerpts from Nakea's viewing of Dead Poets Society)
1:26–16:52: Listener Mail Discussion (Viewing Old Movies Through Modern Eyes)
16:53–17:25: Interlude (Vachel Lindsay's "The Congo: A Study of the Negro Race" from Dead Poets Society)
17:25–26:50: Cultural Osmosis (Pre-Viewing Discussion of Dead Poets Society)
26:50–27:57: Excerpt from Trailer for Dead Poets Society
27:57–1:08:25: The Verdict (Post-Viewing Discussion of Dead Poets Society)
1:08:24–1:09:16: Outro and Next Week's Movie
1:09:16–1:13:01: Outtake

Notes and Links
—Film reviewed: Dead Poets Society, directed by Peter Weir, Touchstone Pictures, 1989.
—From the Corrections Dept.: Mr. Perry in Dead Poets Society is played by the great Kurtwood Smith, of course, and not—as Michael suggests—"Kenneth Something."
—Reviews of Dead Poets Society discussed: Roger Ebert, rogerebert.com; Vincent Canby, NY Times; Josh Larsen, Larsen on Film.
—Article discussed: "Dead Poets Society Is a Terrible Defense of the Humanities," Kevin J.H. Dettmar, The Atlantic.
—Video discussed: "Farewell, Mr. Bunting," from Saturday Night Live.
—Read The Unenthusiastic Critic in prose form at unaffiliatedcritic.com.
Email us, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook. (Suggestions of movies to watch for future episodes are welcome!)
—"Warm Duck Shuffle" by Arne Huseby is licensed under CC BY 3.0.

The Unaffiliated Critic

Michael G. McDunnah is a freelance writer, a recovering lit major, a pop-culture junkie, and an unaffiliated critic. He lives in Chicago.

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3 thoughts on “DEAD POETS SOCIETY (1989)

  1. This movie made me gag at the time (and a pox upon it for unleashing Skeletor, I mean, Ethan "Hawke" on the world); absolutely pretentious bullshit aimed at the 90s teenagers who were too pussy at the time to take acid (these same idiots made "Reality Bites" a hit. Morons) and Madonna/Whore-complexed to the fullest. I think I spat at the TV, in 1989, as I watched it. I can't WAIT to hear the Unenthusiastic Critic's takedown.

  2. I have all my comments saved in a large file cabinet. We should make t-shirts of awesome Barney comments for us veterans. "Nice line." Or my favorite: "This is a pathetic fallacy, but go ahead, if you must..."

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