There’s this odd category of media that is seasonally appropriate: Summer ___. We have summer movies, summer television, songs of the summer, summer beach reads … But what makes a piece of media a good “summer movie” or “song of the summer?”
When I proposed this topic, Mav asked if I meant blockbusters or popcorn flicks, and while, sure, Jaws (the proto-blockbuster, apparently) is an adventure film set during the Fourth of July weekend, I was thinking more about vibes. To stick with movies, In the Heights was recently released; the week before its premiere, I read a lot of headlines emphasizing fun and summer. But it bombed at the box office. (And anyway, blockbusters in non-COVID times are released year round. Black Panther famously debuted in February and did very well at the box office, to say the least.)
But does the media we might associate with the summer actually have to take place during the season? And Stranger Things season one was released during July, but only the third season takes place in the summer. Maybe there’s a certain type of genre we might also associate with this time of year? Or maybe I just want to mention Stranger Things in this blog so I can convince everyone to talk about it on the show, two years after the last season premiered.
So what makes something a “summer movie” or “summer show?” The literal premiere date? The setting? Common themes (friendship? coming of age? nature fights back?)? Or is this just a ridiculous category created to sell you on something?
🎶Well-a well-a well-a-huh… tell me more, tell me more…🎶 Seriously, tell me more. I’ve thought about this a bunch before and I am really curious as to what people thinks makes summer media into summer media. Like Hannah said, my first thought was just “the big movie season” but then about more the stuff she’s talking about. I’m not even sure what makes something thematically summery. Like sure, in the old days you had stuff like Gidget (which I maintain is an EXCELLENT movie), a shit ton of beach films starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, and eventually even Wet Hot American Summer… but something like Grease also feels very much like a summer movie to me for no good reason I can identify. Is it just because of the song? Are Dirty Dancing, Call Me By Your Name, Dazed & Confused, American Pie and Booksmart summer movies? They happen during… or at the end of the school… and they all sorta FEEL like summer movies to me. But I can’t quite put my finger on why. And then compare that to Do The Right Thing. Summer is specifically PART of the plot of that film, but it never occurs to me to think of it as “summer media” the way Hannah says at all. The same with It: Chapter I, Stand By Me, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Little Miss Sunshine, and Point Break. They all feel like they don’t count and I can’t quite put my finger on why.
I feel like is more confusing with summer songs. Sure, you can put the word summer in the title like Grease‘s “Summer Nights”, or Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer” (and the EXCELLENT cover by DJ Sammy) and Will Smith’s “Summertime” and I think it’s easy to lump anything specifically about surfing, beaches, or bikinis in there so that gets you to 99% of the discography of the Beach Boys and Katy Perry… but it feels like every year there’s a pop or hip hop song that comes out that people start raving about as the “song of the summer”. People debate it with the fervor of politics. But seriously… what the fuck does “Old Town Road” have to do with summer? I have no idea… but it certainly feels like it does.
There’s probably others too and I don’t know how it works. Hannah talked about summer media, and it feels like this is easy to do with movies or music and maybe even TV shows. But are there really summer books? She said “beach reads” but for me, every time I’ve taken a book on vacation in my life, it was just “the book I was reading” I never considered the season or the destination at all. Are there summer comics (aside from Trouble, which is a young, hot, sexy Aunt May starring in a Dirty Dancing rip-off, which I maintain is actually good dammit!)? Are there summer video games? Summer… I dunno…websites and podcasts? And if so can we be one?
This is a pretty open topic so yeah, please give us your thoughts in the comments. 🎶But, uh oh, those summer nights.🎶