Why Do We Love ‘Choose-Your-Own-Adventure’ Stories?

From the I Ching to an Upcoming Netflix Romcom, Interactive Fiction Dares Us to Decide What Happens Next

The new Netflix original horror movie Choose or Die turns on an interactive computer game called “CURS>R,” which resembles a classic ’80s adventure program in which a user inputs text to move the story forward. Naturally, there’s a twist—the protagonist discovers that every choice in the game, no matter how small, will determine whether she and the people around her stay alive.

While the movie itself isn’t interactive (something that could have helped rehabilitate the plot), the release reflects Netflix’s growing interest in choose-your-own-adventure-style programming. Since the debut of Black Mirror: …

importance-earnest | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Importance of Watching Other People Being Earnest

From Abbott Elementary to TikTok, Pop Culture Is Having a Rosy Moment with Victorian Roots

There’s an old adage that goes something like, “Be always sincere but never earnest.” The idea being that while sincerity engenders honesty, earnestness is hampered by its strength of conviction.

Maybe …

Will the Real Lucille Ball Please Stand Up? | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Will the Real Lucille Ball Please Stand Up?

I Love Lucy Is Having a Moment, But We’re Still Not Ready to See Its Star and Creator Clearly

“Scary Lucy,” the much-maligned statue of comedy legend Lucille Ball in her hometown of Celoron, New York, was just a brief blip on the cultural radar when a fan campaign …

Is Euphoria a TV Show or an Aesthetic?

From the HBO Series to Cottagecore, the Blending of Surface and Serious May Serve Modern Life

In the comment section of a one-hour loop of the Labrinth song “Forever” that’s already hit upward of a million views on YouTube, one person wrote: “This song makes me …

Why Do We Count Down to the New Year?

How the Doomsday Clock, a German Sci-Fi Film, and Dick Clark Got Us to '5-4-3-2-1'

Few people counted down to anything until the 1960s and 1970s—and yes, that included the new year. Celebrations and midnight kisses on December 31, of course. Countdowns, no. How, then, …

How 1970s Pop Culture Cemented Today’s Partisan Divisions | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

How 1970s Pop Culture Cemented Today’s Partisan Divisions

Journalist Ronald Brownstein Explores the Creative Explosion in Los Angeles That Prefigures Our Current Politics

Longtime political journalist Ronald Brownstein paid a visit to Zócalo yesterday to speak about his new book, Rock Me On the Water: 1974- The Year Los Angeles Transformed Movies, Music, …