The Plugged In Show, Episode 80: Our Formative Pop Culture Influences


When I was a kid, I couldn’t get enough of Hanna-Barbera’s Super Friends. The Saturday-morning cartoon (that’s the only time I could see cartoons in my pre-cable, pre-streaming childhood) showcased the adventures of Superman, Batman (and his pal Robin), Wonder Woman and Aquaman, along with a couple of other folks (which would vary, depending on the season), battling everyone from common crooks to intergalactic threats.

For 5-year-old me, “superhero” felt like a viable career track, if only I could get my hands on some serious superpowers or lots of money. And for a couple of years (before my dad barred super-people from the house), my life was all about these caped characters. I’d stick socks in my shirt sleeves (to mimic bulging biceps), strap on a cape and zoom around the house. In my quieter moments, I’d draw pictures of superheroes in action. Why, I even “wrote” a full book that my parents still have stashed away somewhere.

A few decades later, I wrote a second. You could say that I owe a chunk of my career to Super Friends.

The influence entertainment has on us can shape more than our careers, though. It can influence how we think about dating and marriage, inform what scares or inspires us, even change how we look at the world—and God. And here’s the tricky thing: We don’t always feel that influence in action.

This podcast episode is a little more personal than most. This time, we take a deep dive in what books, movies, television shows and songs helped shape those of us who work for Plugged In—both for better and worse. We explore how these bits of entertainment influenced how we think, feel and act, and suggest how entertainment is at work today in our lives—well past the age when cartoons were the province of Saturday morning.

Take a listen, if you will. And take a look at everything we talk about, too.

Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.