ou can choose one of the following four topics: 1. Tragic Basketball in Reagan’s America Listen to any one of the first three episodes of director Adam McKay’s brilliant podcast, Death at the Wing. Write an essay about the way McKay (Anchorman, The Big Short, Vice) contextualizes professional basketball’s changes and personal tragedies in neoliberalism (e.g., deregulation, off-shoring, union-busting, wage-suppression, wealth tax cuts, labor precarity, and “War on Drugs” criminalization). Your essay must clarify the cultural politics presented in McKay’s basketball podcast with clear and convincing connections to our critical and theoretical readings, e.g., post-midterm Barker chapters and David Harvey’s Brief History of Neoliberalism. Introduce a defendable thesis statement early on so that your “universal” academic reader knows what your paper is arguing and why that argument is important. 2. Neoliberal Fast Food and Transnational Culture In the introduction to their superb book, The Globalization of Chinese Food, David Wu and Sydney Cheung write, “In Hawaii, a popular Chinese restaurant was built according to stereotypic ‘Chinese’ architectural design, which few Chinese from China today would recognize as Chinese” (7). Wu and Cheung seem particularly interested in a restaurant’s or restaurant chain’s self-conscious appropriation of specific culture as well as the patron’s dining as performance and spectacle: “Status-consciousness and acting out through choice of food and cuisine reflect a strong motivation that is associated with social stratification and group affiliation, whether they are ethnic, political, or even national” (9). With Wu and Cheung’s work in mind, write an essay that reveals something important about fast-food’s appropriation, transformation, and commodification of culture. Your focus should be on the U.S. market— e.g., Panda Express, Taco Bell, McDonalds, and Pizza Hut—and the performative dimension to eating “fast-food.” You might want to consider fast food consumption and teen culture or youth categories, e.g., Millennials or Generation X; David Harvey’s brilliant account of neoliberalism, e.g., today’s fast-food worker, like fast food itself, as “cheap” and disposable; and/or Edward Said’s influential analysis of orientalism (even our James Bond critical essays on Bond orientalism, e.g., “Doctor. No: Bonding Britishness to Racial Sovereignty”). Of course, you also have those excellent chapters from Wu and Cheung! 3. Subcultures and Participatory Culture According to Talcott Parsons, youth or adolescence is a “social category which emerged with the changing family roles generated by the development of capitalism” (Barker 407). One relatively recent classification scheme to help bring a better understanding of youth, specifically the teenager, is “subculture” (e.g., cosplayers, Goth, hip-hop, metal, punk, skaters, and video gamers). Write an essay that reveals something important about one subculture and that subculture’s relation to political, cultural, and/or economic reality. Your essay might address one or all of the following questions: What is produced and consumed by this subculture? How do television, music, film, and/or social media construct this subculture? How does this subculture participate in and shape political, economic, and/or cultural space? 4. The Rise of Reality! We considered that the rise of reality culture (e.g., Keeping Up with the Kardashians, The Jerry Springer Show, and The Bachelor) could be the result of changing tastes in entertainment and socioeconomic shifts. Write an essay on reality culture that draws on your understanding of any one reality TV show, reality icon, or reality cultural phenomenon. Your essay should attempt to answer the following questions: What does your example of reality culture reveal about the relation between late capitalism (e.g., globalization, neoliberalism, and postmodernism), the reality aesthetic (e.g., “live” cameras, “real” people, and “authentic” locations), social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok), and/or late capitalism’s three attitudinal corollaries (dispositions): skepticism, cynicism, and voyeurism?