Modern Movie Theory: Bo Burnham’s Inside

Will Beaman and Thomas Chaplin join Scott Ferguson on the Modern Movie Theory podcast series to discuss Bo Burnham’s Inside (2021). A musical comedy special written, directed and performed by Burnham for Netflix, Inside reckons with contemporary sociopolitical traumas and transformations through hysterical and frequently painful engagements with digital media culture. In the episode, Will, Thomas, and Scott contextualize Inside’s complex mode of address, wherein Burnham dramatizes past struggles with mental health to express present suffering felt variously by audiences during the first year and a half of the Covid-19 pandemic. Along the way, the co-hosts work through the show’s scathing indictment of today’s flattening, irresponsible, and dangerously anti-public corporate Internet. Yet at the same time, they tease out Inside’s paradoxical affirmations of mediation—and the abstract potentialities of light, in particular—in ways that resist misleading accelerationist fantasies of total destruction and disintegration.

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