My 2015 in Review

New Year’s Day falls on a Friday this year, which is great because it means that I can start the year off right with a blog post!

Of course, this isn’t one of those super awesome posts that I normally throw together; this is the obligatory retrospective on 2015 where I share my nifty WordPress stats with everyone who’s interested (because I know someone out there is just as fascinated with Catchy Title Goes Here‘s metrics as I am… or not).

First a quick rundown of my most viewed posts, which is a pretty eclectic set (I think all of my major interests are represented here except for explorations of faith).  It’s always really interesting to see what things seem to attract the most views compared to what I write with the most care and personal investment.  Anyway, here’s the list:

  1. “Is Final Fantasy Anti-Religion?” – I wrote this post in the summer of 2014 and it’s still my all-time single most viewed post.  I’m not sure what it is about this one that attracts people (other than perhaps a confluence of discussion of a lot of Final Fantasy games, which are a perennial big topic on teh googles).  It’s probably also the starkest contrast between something I’ve written with a lot of effort and something that people respond well to (if I recall right, this was a post I wrote on a lark after watching the Youtube video that’s embedded there; I’m not sure I still have such strong feelings about the matter now as I did then).
  2. “Depictions of the Joker in Media” – Let’s be honest; I really don’t have any interest in the new Suicide Squad movie.  My small history of live action versions of the Joker was definitely a labor of love, but that’s more because of an interest in the character than because of the upcoming movie.  At any rate, this is my best performing post written in 2015, and it’s at least one that’s a little more timeless.
  3. “Yeah, I’m a Feminist” – I wrote this post way back in the summer of 2013 when Catchy Title was just getting off the ground.  In retrospect I suppose it ended up being a somewhat more comprehensive “about” post than my actual about page (my interest in feminist thought as presented in pop culture seems to be the one thing that people who bring my blog up to me in person always talk about).  I’ve read over this post recently, and I offered a small update a few months ago, but I’ll probably need a more comprehensive revisiting of the topic sometime in the future.  The big thing that strikes me in that post is my apparent ignorance on the state of conversation surrounding issues of gender presentation (things always get more complex when you learn more about them, don’t they?), and I think it’d be valuable to clarify that.
  4. “The Good and the Bad in Knights of Sidonia Season Two” – Folks, I have to be honest: I’m really befuddled by this one.  Knights of Sidonia‘s notability to me as a television show comes from the fact that it’s an anime that gets first North American release on Netflix.  It’s not my favorite thing ever, and I feel like my viewing of each season so far has stemmed more from a surplus of time during the summer months when I’m not working.  Like with most Japanese cultural products, I feel really uncomfortable trying to critique something that’s simultaneously very socially regressive in comparison to what I’m personally immersed in and also filled with unnoticed context and subtext which I’m sure would enrich the experience for me.  On the other hand, space battles with giant robots are always fun, so maybe I’m overthinking why people keep clicking on this post.
  5. “So I’ve Been Watching Gilmore Girls” – This post’s also a really weird one.  I understand that Gilmore Girls is experiencing a small cultural revival since it came back on Netflix (and an actual revival, since Netflix is apparently going to run a new four episode season written and directed by the Palladinos at some point in the future), but in terms of public thought, this one was just kind of a blip for me.  I binged the entirety of the show earlier in the year, and I regularly listen to the Gilmore Guys podcast (mostly because the hosts are funny and Gilmore Girls offers an interesting focal point for discussions of pop culture both in the past and presently), but as a topic for my own in-depth thought, I’ve kind of drawn a blank.  Still, I guess Gilmore Girls is a thing that people want to discuss.  Excelsior?

Now, those are the posts that objectively did the best in terms of pageviews in 2015.  There are also some posts that I put together that meant a lot to me personally, even if they didn’t resonate so much with readers.  I want to highlight some of my personal favorites.

  • “Satan is a Fictional Character” – The time I’ve devoted this year to exploring how my faith has evolved has diminished pretty significantly; part of this is probably a shift in focus away from introspection about my spiritual life towards concern over social issues that are impacting people’s wellbeing.  Of course, sometimes there are theological points that I do want to drive home, primarily because I see them manifesting in ways that encourage more selfish, fear-based behavior, and one of the big ones that I decided to tackle this year was the idea of Satan.  He’s a fascinating character who gets used in all kinds of interesting contexts, but the blurring of lines between his fictional nature and actual belief in his existence as a personal entity drives me bonkers sometimes.
  • My series on Life is Strange (Part 2, Part 3, Part 4) – I came to Life is Strange late in its life cycle, so I didn’t get to participate in all the fun speculation that went with waiting for each new episode to release, but I still found it to be one of the most affecting games I played in 2015.  I love choice-based adventure games, and the subject matter of this one really worked for me on a lot of levels.
  • My current events posts (Mother Emanuel, Paris Attacks, Toupee!Hitler) – Because I blog primarily about trends in pop culture entertainment, I usually stay away from commenting on news stories of the day, but there have been more than a few events this year that have been utterly horrible.  In a lot of ways, 2015 was a wretched year, and I’ve been moved to address some of those events.  They’re never very fun posts to read, but they represent a significant mental and emotional investment on my part, and I’m proud of them.
  • “Hip Hop, Comics, Ta-Nehisi Coates, And Exploring Black Culture” – Back over the summer I was inspired to put forth more of an effort to explore expressions of Black popular culture since it’s a section of Western social discourse that I’m not well-versed in.  This was a pretty daunting task because I had very few points of reference for jumping in, and I asked my readers for a little help in finding places to start.  This one’s an ongoing process for me, and I’m highlighting it here just to say that I still want to learn more, and I’d still like guidance.
  • My The Sandman review series (index here) – It’s no secret that I love reading comics and I’m fascinated by the value of the medium as an art form.  The Sandman was the first series I ever read that struck me as an expression of high art, and my review series is a way for me to continue to enjoy it in a way that I hope is a little more rigorous than just passively re-reading the stories.  I’m trying to write it as a spoiler-free series, so I generally avoid discussing things that happen in stories that appeared after the one I tackle in each post, so if you’re coming to The Sandman fresh, I hope you don’t feel like you need to reading my commentary for fear of finding out what happens before you’re supposed to.  I’m a little over halfway through the original series run, and I’m looking forward to wrapping it all up in the coming year.

And that’s it for 2015.  It was a really satisfying third year, and I hope that the next one is better.

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