John Wills

Episode 181,   Oct 30, 2023, 06:24 PM

My guest this week is John Wills, Professor of American Media and Culture, who has been at the University of Kent since 2005. We discover that John owns various consoles and machines from the 1970s onwards and we find out where his academic interests, e.g. in video games, have come from.

John talks about how the things he is interested in emanate from his teenage years, as with cataloguing films, and we discuss defining oneself and having an attachment to something, and the way it can lead to academic pursuits.

John also worked in a video store when young, he initially started a degree in Architecture, and we discuss how we make sense of our pasts and work things out, finding patterns along the way.

John talks about why being a teenager was not always helpful and what he has learned from those days, including depression, and we discuss whether any of this can be talked about with others, e.g. revisiting elements from childhood.

He grew up in Leamington Spa in Warwickshire, and his family then moved near Birmingham and Bristol. We find out that his parents would go to the cinema and he saw in the mid-70s Benji and Star Wars. John talks about the comfort of going to the cinema.

John recalls the time a few years ago when two men had a fight in the cinema auditorium in Ashford before watching Creed II, and we discover which films really mattered to John when he was growing up, e.g. dystopian films such as Logan’s Run.

We find out about John’s taste in horror when growing up, and we talk about violence in ‘real’ life compared to violence in the movies, and being conflict-averse – and that John watches horror films at the cinema with a fellow Buddhist.

We find out if John has ever walked out of a film, and what happened when he and his partner took their young son to see Barbie at the cinema in summer 2023.

Then towards the end of the interview we find out why his younger self would be shocked to find out what he is doing now, what happened to the diaries he kept when young, and why John has some discomfort in looking back.