Mary Morgan mocks woke entertainment but doesn’t consider herself a conservative.
She’s squarely in the Gen Z demographic, but the 22-year-old fights harder for free speech than many peers.
Morgan, co-host of “Pop Culture Crisis,” represents a fresh new media voice. She’s not beholden to any corporate property, nor does she conform to her growing audience’s opinions.
She joined the Hollywood in Toto Podcast to share her take on the Hollywood strikes and how she protects herself from being overwhelmed by our digital age. [Conversation is lightly edited for clarity]
HiT: You’ve had a lot of cool guests on Pop Culture Crisis, present company excluded, but who stands out as someone who changed your mind, surprised you or just had an essential grasp of pop culture?
Morgan: This is a super-difficult question partly because I have let all of the shows blur together in my mind, but also because I genuinely enjoy our guests so much. Recently we had on Xaviaer DuRousseau and C.J. Pearson from PragerU, and I just loved having that energy in the room.
They’re amazing but individually they’re great. I aspire to be as articulate on culture as they are, and they’re also just so funny.
Another guest we had where it kind of felt like a full-circle moment for me, personally, was Blaire White. I had pulled out this photo of us when I was 16 meeting her at Tysons Corner Mall in Virginia at some fan meet-and-greet, and then there we were on the show.
Lauren Southern comes to mind, too.
These are people that I looked up to when I was in high school, and I got to talk to them about our culture and just laugh and have fun. I never would have predicted that would happen in a million years.
HIT: You have constant contact with the audience, which is typical in the digital age, and your fans aren’t shy. They will just weigh in on everything. What is that people really want in entertainment today, and is it different than what the media is giving them at this point?
Morgan: Well, specifically, when we interact with the audience on the show if they SuperChat anything $20 and over they interrupt our conversation and we have to read it immediately right then and there. That means they get to put in their feedback on anything we’re talking about or disagree with us.
There is something to be said for that … you don’t get to do that when you’re just listening to traditional media or you’re listening to the news.
I think that’s why streamers are taking over. This Twitch streamer, a 21-year-old named Kai Cenat, announced a fan meet-and-greet kind of giveaway thing for his fans … and it breaks out into a riot.
In the past, it probably would have hurt someone’s reputation, but it actually is giving him more clout. It’s making him seem more cool because it shows that his Internet influence isn’t just numbers on a screen.
He can actually get people to come out to a real-life event.
It shows the power of having a social media following instead of being propped up artificially by a Hollywood studio. No one actually cares about celebrity interviews. I really don’t, and I watch them when we’re researching things to talk about on the show.
HiT: To quote Uncle Ben, ‘with great power comes great responsibility.’ How do you process that when you know you’ve got this influence on fans, this connection? I imagine you can’t take that lightly.
Morgan: I have a built-in understanding of the way that these Internet social relationships work because I’ve been intensely, chronically online since I was a kid. I had my first smartphone when I was 11 years old, and I was watching YouTubers from that point on.
Probably earlier, too.
I like to keep a healthy distance. I generally don’t respond to direct messages. There’s also a part of that’s just being a woman on the Internet, which means you have to have a healthy distance between you and the people who follow you just for safety reasons alone.
But I never want that to come off like I’m above it all or like I’m aloof to my audience. It’s so weird to even talk about it like that because I don’t feel like I have as much influence as I do, and I just plunged into this with no prior experience literally last year, so it’s I guess I’m still learning how to do it.
If I have a contrarian opinion then I think, ‘is it going to be popular on the show or anywhere else?’ I try to lean into that because I don’t want to just say the scripted lines and have the boilerplate taste. I want to have genuine opinions and actually stick up for them, even if my own audience doesn’t agree with me.
HiT: The Hollywood strike is raging on. Any thoughts on when it’ll be settled? Do you think that the industry will be different when the smoke clears?
Morgan: It seems like the strikes are going to be going on indefinitely at this point. I could be proven wrong in a week … I don’t expect that, though.
I think this is giving a huge opening for independent productions to take over and get more major, mainstream traction they didn’t have before. Independent filmmakers and smaller studios have a special opportunity right now, too.
We’re only just beginning to see what A.I. can generate. Whether or not that should be called art is not up to me to say, but what I do know is that it’s just so idiotic for these actors and writers to go on strike now .. you’re making your replacement happen even faster than it would [otherwise].
Despite my suspicions and misgivings about A.I., and the fact that it’s already being used for evil, I think it’s ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend.’
HiT: You’re not ideological, and yet you often sound like me or rail against some of the things I do on “Pop Culture Crisis….”
Morgan: Well, I don’t want to rail against wokeness for the sake of it, and I don’t want to be one of those people that says, ‘get woke go broke.’
I don’t think that Disney is necessarily losing money because their movies are woke. I think it’s just because their products are lacking in quality and people are less interested in them … I’m willing to criticize from either end of the spectrum…
Listen to the full conversation, and much more, at episode 187 of The Hollywood in Toto Podcast.
You can watch “Pop Culture Crisis” at 3 p.m. EST daily on YouTube or grab the podcast version on your favorite audio platform.