I’ve been following Lindsay Ellis’ in-depth video essays since her days under the moniker of Nostalgia Chick. Back when she began the show in 2008, her witty explorations of the strangest corners of the 90s film landscape were a rare example of genuine intelligent analysis meeting the areas of pop culture usually thought of as below the bar for such discourse.
In recent years, Ellis’ output has developed into something even more impressive. Her Youtube channel is one I make sure to keep up to date with, for both her analytical video essays and her show “Loose Canon,” where she discusses the various interpretations of popular characters (e.g. Mad Max, King Kong, Death).
A meeting point of these two categories is her new series of video essays “The Whole Plate.” Like a lot of film fans out there, I find very little to like about the Transformers movies. When each new installment comes out, we all moan about it, it makes a lot of money anyway, then we all try to forget about the ordeal. But as Ellis points out in her video, something that clearly resonates with such a large audience should be studied at least a little bit, even if it is awful.
The jumping off point is effectively that for better or worse, movies as lucrative as Michael Bay’s critically-maligned Transformers series “illuminate the dreams, desires, and values of a culture”. So why aren’t we discussing it in academic terms?
Each part discusses the series through a larger aspect: from auteur theory, to genre, to feminist theory. Ellis approaches these topics with a great balance of humour and sincerity, speaking with a clarity that means you won’t get lost in the fog of academic terms if you’re unfamiliar with them. The series is still running, and is expected to clock in with around 12 parts before it’s done.
Featured Image: Paramount Pictures