What We’re Reading: Summer Nostalgia: Super Mario, Spider-Man, and Ariel

A selection of Medium stories you may have missed this week

The Medium Blog
Published in
5 min readJun 16, 2023

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Hi everyone,

Summer’s movie tentpoles rely upon nostalgia blended with modern sensibilities to tell a new kind of story that will appeal to a wide audience. For many of you, these films opened up a new wave of thoughts and research into storytelling, cultural mores, and personal histories. Case in point is LGWare’s breakdown of hyper masculinity in The Super Mario Bros. Movie.

“I assumed my relentless teacher brain would find things to contemplate as I watched this children’s movie, but I did not expect the themes of masculinity to yell so blatantly in my face,”

writes. “So instead of ignoring them, I overanalyzed them and I am now writing an article about performing masculinity in a video game adaptation about super-powered plumbers fighting evil turtles.”

Similarly, several writers have touched upon the global, multicultural history of mermaids while also addressing Disney’s live-action version of The Little Mermaid.

discusses the love and hate directed toward the film, which now features a Black American as the lead character, while also explaining that Yoruban mermaid-esque deities such as Yemoja existed before the Hans Christian Andersen tale was penned.

Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse has also brought about thoughtful commentary by many of you. Scroll down to find analysis of that film along with a couple of stories about the U.S. celebration of Juneteenth.

The thoughtful consideration of big cultural shifts can often spark a lovely, well-thought-out essay. I’d love to read yours.

See you around on Medium!


Director, Creator Growth @ Medium

Your Weekend Reads

Across the Spider-Verse Hits Harder for Black, Brown, & Latine Viewers” by , community advocate

Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) was a dark-skinned, curly-haired, Spanglish-speaking, plátanos-eating kid dodging besos from his overprotective Latina mom just like me. For the first time, I could picture myself under my favorite superhero mask.

Celebrating Juneteenth: 5 Ways to Do So Meaningfully and Authentically by , managing director of transformation & culture at BerlinRosen and founder of Onward

Please be mindful that Black people are not a monolith, so embrace intersectionality and support Black people of all walks of life. By educating ourselves, amplifying Black voices, advocating for change, collaborating with Black artists and creatives, we can take meaningful steps towards honoring Juneteenth and supporting the Black community.

Storytelling with Design: How to Persuade your Team with Narrative by , author of Data-Informed UX Design, in UX Collective

We often create design artifacts centered on storytelling, such as storyboarding and journey maps, yet it’s not always obvious how to improve at telling stories.

However, it may be easier than you realize. To learn how to tell stories with design, keep one question in mind: what tension is the audience hoping to resolve?

It Happened in Memphis: First Installment by , researcher of American history archives

In this first installment, I include two historical images: one, a story that appeared in the Cleveland Leader in February of 1864. The story was about the decision of then Commander at Memphis Gen. Ralph Buckland who, influenced by the appeal of a nearby slave owner, returned three young children to their master after their father, John Christian, with help from fellow soldiers, absconded with his offspring, taking them to one of the city’s contraband (refugee) camps.

Freedmen’s Camp Memphis, Feb. 18, 1864. Courtesy of Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museum

3 Things Entrepreneurs Should Know About Startups That I Discovered While Playing the New Zelda by , Duke University instructor and software engineer, in The Startup

The point is, this paradigm of doing anything you feel like in a modern video game is wildly different from how video games used to function when players had to strictly follow a game’s pre-plotted course.

This distinction is a helpful metaphor for understanding the difference between how entrepreneurs think building a startup is going to work versus how building a startup actually works.

It’s Not the Crowded Field That’s the Problem” by , New York Times bestselling author of I Can’t Date Jesus

For at least two years now, much of the shape of Ron DeSantis’ national coverage has been selling him as Trump’s successor. The purported smarter, less chaotic version of Trump, which makes him more “electable” — especially when compared to a 80-plus year-old man on the other side of the ballot. I don’t have the privilege to look at Ron DeSantis in that kind of detached way.

Understanding What We Lose” by , President at Harvard Technology Review and Co-Founder of Oban, in Towards Data Science

Just as people forget, so do machine learning models — in particular, Large Language Models. These models learn by adjusting internal parameters in response to data exposure. However, if new data contrasts with what the model has previously learned, it might overwrite or dampen the old information.

The shared experience of forgetting. Image generated by DALL·E, developed by OpenAI.

How the Vagrancy Act of 1866 Turned Black Freedom into a Crime” by , editor of Momentum and founder of Writers and Editors of Color (WEOC), in Momentum

Meaning even after the federal government liberated Black Americans from their captors, they would be expected to work. If they were caught not working, simply enjoying their newfound freedom, or looking for work they’d actually enjoy, they would be immediately forced into labor contracts.

What have you been reading this week? Let us know in the responses. ✨

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What We’re Reading” is a weekly roundup of insightful stories and perspectives from across Medium. Browse previous editions here.

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