Gone are the days of film podcasts that simply go through movie plots beat by beat and rattle off IMDB trivia. The hosts of Show Me The Meaning dive deeper into the sociology, psychology, and themes of movies than most other podcasts out there, stripping back the layers until they get to a film’s bare, philosophical bones. But Show Me The Meaning never devolves into self-important snootiness; each host engages with geek culture in an engaging, open-minded way that highlights the passion they all have for cinema.
Run by Wisecrack, an online video production company made up of comedians, academics, and filmmakers, Show Me The Meaning brings together a range of profound perspectives that rarely agree on any given film. Austin’s insights in particular are a joy to listen to, as his background in philosophy brings genuinely thought-provoking readings of movies to the foreground. The role of philosophy is to spur on thoughtful discussion, not to lay down hard truths, and it is clear that this is always Austin’s intention when engaging with his fellow hosts and listeners. He is clearly very knowledgeable when it comes to the teachings of famous academics, but it is in his delivery of this information that he turns what could be dry musings into stimulating explorations of cinema.
While the podcast sometimes looks at current movies that stand out above the competition, the bulk of the episodes look back on films from the past 30 years, particularly those with cult followings. They have tackled each instalment of The Matrix franchise and their religious undertones, The Big Lebowski as an unintended source of inspiration for the ‘Dudeism’ movement, and even Borat’s boundary-pushing approach to constructing cinema narratives. Sometimes Show Me The Meaning will run special episodes outside their ordinary film analyses, like pitting Star Trek and Star Wars fans against each other in friendly, well-researched debates, or responding to specific film culture phenomena like the backlash to The Last Jedi.
Of particular note is their celebration of Nicolas Cage month this January, which attempted to nail down the actor’s unique style that keeps him in the public eye despite our constant ridicule of him. By looking specifically at Vampire’s Kiss, Face/Off, Adaptation, and Con Air, the Show Me The Meaning team indeed somehow managed to find meaning even in Cage’s most nonsensical roles.
Every movie is a reflection of the culture it was born in, and the ability to find these nuances and express them so eloquently is a massive strength of Wisecrack’s Show Me The Meaning. The way we interact with film on an artistic and psychological level can drive our desire to understand society and, by extension, ourselves as individuals. This isn’t a new or particularly niche idea, but you would be hard-pressed to find any podcast that explores it as thoroughly as Show Me The Meaning.