1000 Reasons Why We Overthink [Think Tank]

[The article you are reading is the one thousandth post to Overthinking It. It comes just shy of our two and a half year anniversary, which means we have averaged about 1.1 posts per day since we went live on January 22, 2008. To mark the milestone, the writers decided to turn inward, and subject ourselves to a level of scrutiny we definitely don't deserve. Enjoy! And many thanks for reading. — Ed.]

Wrather: In The Beginning

I had started—or been involved in the starting of—a couple of websites before Overthinking It. (One abortive attempt, which we christened “The Singing Bus”, actually had some pretty good articles—including a version of Belinkie’s fabled NES Contra fanfic, Red Pants/Blue Pants—and a logo featuring a pickle driving a sports car. Long story.) All of them had limited appeal (even to the small audience of friends and family I convinced to read them), and all folded inside a month.

But like many of my generation, I was convinced that every thought in my head was worthy of publication, and as I cast about for a suitable topic for a website, one thought kept recurring to me: “You know what’s fascinating? Us.”

You see, most of my smartest and funniest friends had gone to college with me, where we had been involved in the same extracurricular activity. A unique quirk of this organization was that during fall semester—what other, more athletically inclined classmates might have called “football season”—we were tasked with performing an original comedy show with music every Saturday afternoon. Which meant that every Sunday night, we would gather in someone’s dorm room, watch The Simpsons (back when it was good), and try our damnedest to make each other laugh as we dreamt up material for next week.

You can imagine that the obscure pop culture references came fast an furious—and, over time, the whole thing got pretty inside baseball as we, like the dread pirate Blackbeard, sought the mysterious doubloons of comedy gold. And then Belinkie would rewrite the whole damn thing until it was unrecognizable and much better.

(Dedicated fans will note that we record the Overthinking It Podcast on Sunday nights. It is, as Joe McCarthy would say, no accident.)

It was my goal, when I pitched the initial group of writers on my concept for this site, to recreate the feeling of those Sunday nights—watching Manos, The Hands of Fate or Shaft with your underdressed, overeducated pals, shooting Hot Damn and seeing who could make the most meta of jokes on IMDb—and invite an audience into our passion for obscure (and not-so-obscure) pop culture, our friendly one-upsmanship, and our sometimes rather odd obsessions. There was just one hitch.

I had no idea what to call it.

“Overthinking It” was, as I recall, suggested by Stokes. At the time, it was a positive and not a normative claim. It was a attempt—offhand, probably—to approximate what we did. We had no clue that one day we would shoot down one another’s ideas on our writers’ mailing list as lacking in overthink. But we made it our bed, and by gum, we’re going to lie in it.

You see, over time, “Overthinking It” has become our cri de coeur, the almost defiant exclamation of our relationship to the popular culture we love and yet must destroy with our analysis. The “over” in Overthinking It belies the fact that, to a person, we consider this stance a perfectly normal—healthy, even—way to relate to popular culture. And as the audience has widened, I am gratified to say that many agree.

But I am still mindful of those early, primal experiences of overthinking, and I notice that they were always social. And this is my small, provisional contribution to the definition we are working out in this article. Overthinking is a group activity. It was something I did with my friends. It still is—though I’m now proud to count among their numer the over one million people who have visited this website.

Here’s what they have to say.

Perich: SQUEE!

I’ve never been as comfortable embracing the enthusiasm of geek pursuits as others.  I like video games but I’m not an early adopter.  I read the occasional graphic novel but find most of what passes for drama in comics to be a bit silly.  I’m entertained by the work of nerd icons like Joss Whedon and Neil Gaiman, but I cringe at their faked cleverness.  The incoherent squealing that passes for criticism on most genre sites—where the only two settings are “SQUEE!” or “how DARE they?”—turns me off.  And the geek world’s continued obsession with tits and swords doesn’t help.

Maybe this makes me a snob.  Check that—my continued interest in a genre whose other adherents I disdain absolutely makes me a snob.  But I think this also explains why a lot of geek passions struggled for years to find mainstream acceptance.  Science-fiction, in the U.S., is as old as professional football.  And the #1 movie in America, for the past 30 years, is more likely to be sci-fi or fantasy than any other genre.  But it’s hard to say the same of #2 through #5.  D&D and the videogames that it inspired have become more mainstream, but you still won’t see a D&D convention game on ESPN2 at one in the morning (as you would with the World Series of Poker).

I think mass culture’s continued (though waning) skepticism toward geek culture comes from geeks’ refusal to translate.  Geeks get excited about obscure things.  That’s what makes them geeks.  But geeks have a hard time translating that excitement into a language that non-geeks can get.  They have a hard time critically evaluating their own passions.  This is why it just now occurred to DC to put some pants on Wonder Woman.

So that’s why I overthink.  I want to give geek culture—video games, RPGs and sci-fi movies—the language of sober analysis.  I want to turn the Coke-bottle lenses back in on themselves.  I want to teach people that mere enthusiasm is not enough to make something Good Art.  I want people to start thinking about their passions.

Stokes: Joseph Campbell/Roger Ebert Slashfic

My answer is exactly the opposite of John’s.

I Overthink because I am, like, an unabsashed, mouth-breathing fanboy.  But I am not a science fiction fanboy.  I am a science fiction fan—there’s a difference.  I am a fanboy for critical discourse. (This, by the way, is just about as socially unacceptable as being any other kind of fanboy.  Oh sure, most people know that someone is doing it somewhere, but tell someone outside of the ivory tower that “hey, I think Julia Kristeva is just the coolest,” and they’ll look at you like you’ve grown an extra head admitted that you spend most weekends dressing up in a fursuit and running around the woods pretending to be a wizard.)

Geeks of all stripes like to find outlets for their geekery, and OverthinkingIt.com is for me a daily Comic-Con, a safe space where I can void my lit-crit bile without censure. Why do I overthink? Because it feels so…damn…good!  Because, against all odds, we have found an audience whose reaction to our Joseph Campbell/Roger Ebert slashfic is, “That sounds totally hawt.”  Because the alternative, for me, is curling up in the corner on my life-size Michel Foucault body-pillow and crying myself to sleep.  If John is trying to bring analysis back to geeky hedonism, my goal is to bring the geeky hedonism back to analysis.

Mlawski: Doin’ it Granger Style

In tenth grade, we read Lord of the Flies, as tenth-graders are wont to do. At some point after we had completed the novel, my English teacher, Ms. Green-Lee, asked us to write a short essay on what we thought the book meant.

This came as a shock to me. Before that moment, I don’t believe I was ever asked to consider my own response to a novel beyond the obvious “I liked it” or “I didn’t like it.” In elementary school we read Number the Stars, and our teachers told us what Number the Stars was about. In middle school we read The Giver and Tuck Everlasting, and our teachers told us what The Giver and Tuck Everlasting were about. To be fair, when I was Bat Mitzvahed, I was told to write a sermon about the meaning of my assigned Torah portion, as I saw it. Unfortunately my portion was all about the proper way to sacrifice a goat, and I didn’t come up with a particularly nuanced interpretation.

Then, in tenth grade, Ms. Green-Lee sat us down in the computer lab and asked us to write an essay about the meaning of Lord of the Flies. I skimmed through the book, lingering on the pig-rape scene, and had an epiphany. “Yes, what is it, Shana?” Ms. Green-Lee said, seeing my hand rigid in the air.

“I know what the book is about!” I said. I was slightly breathless. “It’s about William Golding’s fear of sex!”

Ms. Green-Lee took a breath and paused. Fear of sex. I see. She appeared, shall we say, bemused. Then, with an awkward laugh she said, “Okay! And… can you, uh, support this claim with passages from the text?”

“Of course!” I said, flinging my book open, Granger-style. “Just look at the pig-hunt scene! It’s not just a pig—it’s a mother sow. Golding seems to believe that, without laws or government, pre-teen boys would immediately start raping their mothers!” I could see Golding in my mind’s eye, sweaty and breathing belaboredly as he wiped his glasses with a handkerchief. (In my mind, William Golding wore glasses and carried a handkerchief.) “Seriously!” I exclaimed, pointing down at my book. “He’s so scared of sex that he didn’t even put one girl in the whole thing!”

Ms. Green-Lee seemed to shake her head a little, but then she laughed again. “Okay!” she said again. I don’t think she agreed with my reading. But then she added, “Now write it down.”

So I did. And that is why I overthink.

Lee: Why do I Overthink? Because chicks dig it. Duh.

Seriously, though, I do it because it’s how I was taught to enjoy pop culture by the rest of the Overthinkers. When I met these guys in college, I was a young, naive product of an environment that lacked an appreciation for irony, subtext, alternative interpretations that deviate from the orthodoxy, amendments to the constitution other than the 2nd and 10th, etc. etc.

So imagine my shock when I discovered this motley crew of pop culture enthusiasts who enjoyed spending hours coming up with alternative porn titles to movies, analyzing the theological implications of Crom worship, and debating the ethical implications of killing thousands of stormtroopers on the Death Star for the greater good of the galactic rebellion. I was way out of my league, and way out of my comfort zone. At first I recoiled in fear. Then I came to embrace this way of thinking, not solely from peer pressure (though there were severe beatings involved at one point when I refused to acknowledge that one can appreciate “Freebird” ironically), but mostly from simply learning to appreciate things on more than one level. Two, most of the time. Three on a good day.

I don’t know if there was a specific moment when I realized I’d finally become one with my postmodern brothers and sisters. Perhaps it was that time we performed Oedipus Rex as a football halftime show. Or perhaps it was that time we organized a screening of the then-rare Mr. T VHS tape, Be Somebody or Be Somebody’s Fool.

No, it was probably that moment when I organized a Terminator marathon and realized there were enough people in my life who shared in both my dedication to Arnold Schwarzenegger and lack of anything better to do for 6 hours than debate time travel paradoxes and Skynet’s tactical mistakes.

I was with friends then, and I’m so grateful that I’m still with them now.

Fenzel: The Rule of Three

I overthink for three reasons. Firstly, I believe we should never apologize for what we love. To shout your love from the rooftops is one of the great redemptive joys. I love the world I live in, I love humanity-of-the-now (as distinct from the Cool Tombs of Sandberg), I love the weird things humanity creates that it loves (I mean, soaps! Really! Shoes for sliding down railings!), and I love that it loves them. Yes, I only know a slice of it, as much as I know, but I feel the dual loves of the eater of birthday cake —I love my slice, and I love that, my slice taken, huge and frosted, there is still so… much… cake…

Sure, I could put aside my given slice and scour the earth, searching for a sliver of the finest cake, high in the Tibetan Himalayas, but nobody would ever dream of demanding better cake at as fine a birthday party as this.

Despite the fortunate worldly condition of many geeks, overthinking is democratizing in two ways—it formally elevates and legitimizes the downcast and illegitimate, and it mocks and deflates formal elevation and legitimization themselves in the process. It is both right and ridiculous at the same time, like most love that demands rooftop-shouting.

Secondly, I get to play the Shakespearean fool, who is able in a special way, to speak the truth. Even in our liberal society, there’s a lot an adult just plain can’t say, because of both internal and external factors. By framing what I’m saying as a little foolish or disposable, I hope to find and express greater honesty.

Thirdly, restrictions breed creativity. I love writing, talking and performing and love when I get to do a lot of it. Having a premise to work from gets me past the terror of the blank page and gets me going. Not the most romantic reason, but, pragmatically speaking, a very important one.

Belinkie: What, me Overthink?

I don’t think what we do here is Overthinking at all. Creating good pop culture is every bit as hard as creating good high culture. When they wanted to make Spider-man 2, they hired Michael Chabon to write the screenplay. This was right after he won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature. Know what happened? They ended up tossing out most of his work. He also pitched movie plots for The Fantastic Four and X-Men, which were rejected. You could argue that this is just proof that movie studios don’t value talent or originality, but I don’t buy it. Movies just require a different kind of talent and originality. William Faulkner was one of the greatest writers in American history, but  he spent ten years trying to hack it in Hollywood and got only a few credits and a lot of writer’s block.

Great blockbusters are actually rarer than great novels, because while you can produce a novel by yourself, a movie takes the work of a thousand people. When something like The Dark Knight comes along, it’s a goddamn miracle. It’s the same thing with a great pop song, TV show, or even a commercial. Take the Old Spice guy who’s currently burning up the internet. You can dismiss it as silly fun and roll your eyes at anyone who takes it seriously. But there’s a world of ad agencies out there who spend all day, every day, trying to create a viral hit like that. “Livin’ on a Prayer,” Pirates of the Caribbean, Gossip Girl… whether you personally dig them or not, home runs like these take skill, hard work, and plain old serendipity. They may be designed for thoughtless consumption, but there’s a tremendous amount of thought that goes into their creation.

Our tag line is cute, but I don’t think any of us feel that we’re subjecting the popular culture to a level of scrutiny it probably doesn’t deserve. We’re taking something many people take for granted and popping open the hood, to reveal just how complicated it is to create the simple pleasures in life.

[So, readers: Have we got it? Or are we, like, totally taking this website too seriously? I mean, c'mon, it's just for entertainment, right? Why do you overthink? Let us know in the comments.]

28 Comments on “1000 Reasons Why We Overthink [Think Tank]”

  1. LB #

    I, for one, am glad you all ‘over think’. I’m grateful that my company has yet to block this address, as come to this site daily. I can only assume that the IT department also enjoys a little scrutiny from time to time.

    Thank you for the dedication over the years.

     
  2. matt #

    Fire everyone but Fenzel.

     
  3. Robert Q #

    I think I enjoy this site for a motley combination of reasons. This site bridges the gap between geekdom and intellectual discussion. You take often boring concepts like feminism portrayal or Kantian philosophy and apply them to things like understanding Mario’s desire to rescue the princess without a second thought. While a university discussion might have you discussing those concepts in relation to Shakespeare or a Margaret Atwood novel, this forum brings these notions to things we actually see in our daily lives but don’t consider. It encourages us to be more critical of the world around us, and I think that should always be encouraged.

    I also enjoy this site because of the sheer comedic value in what you’re doing. It’s all given away in the site’s title: you recognize that you are reading way more into things than they were ever intended (no one really needs to figure out why video game characters do what they’re told), but its a fun guilty pleasure – one that makes use of things we learned in that university setting but have never found a pragmatic use for.

    I hadn’t thought about it originally, but after reading Perich’s comments I’m inclined to agree. There’s a certain distinction between geeky overobsession and Overthinking. While a geek might have a discussion as to whether stormtroopers have bad aim or poor vision, an Overthinker will look at the bigger picture and how it can relate to the real world – say, how the stormtrooper’s poor killing ability is an allegory for the problems of communist “equality”. They’re both fun to engage in, but Overthinking moves on beyond geekdom into sober analysis of things no one’s considered before. Picture Leonard and Sheldon of “Big Bang Theory” – they would probably spend hours talking about how they’d determine whether a person was a Cylon, but never discuss whether those same actions could work to institutionalize racism and xenophobia. They can both be intellectual joyrides, but Overthinking just has that extra little…je ne sais quoi…that I enjoy so much.

     
  4. Chris #

    In honor of your achievement in overthinking I will, in turn, proffer my feelings about the site in a severely underthought way: ‘s good

    Unfortunately, if my egregious misreading of Mayan calenders is correct, none of us shall live to see post 2,000.

     
  5. Count Spatula #

    Despite sounding like the very kind of fan he proclaims to dislike: I want to marry you, Perich!

     
  6. Gab #

    I overthought my answer, got a little choked up when I came to a conclusion, and decided to put it like this: I overthought everything in high school, but I had no one else to do it with, so I felt alone, lost, and afraid- I didn’t “shout it from the rooftops” as I wanted to, and it hurt to have to hide that part of me from everyone else. Then I went to college and, thank God, I found people that were my kind of geek, the kind that uses the trees as a catalyst for not just the forest, but the whole world. Finding my own kind in college gave me hope for my future at that institution in itself, but finding my own kind online, as stupid and sappy as this may sound, gives me hope for the rest of my future, for it says I can find my own kind *anywhere* if I look hard enough. So I come to this site because it inspired me not to give up on other people- or myself. And because I feel safe enough to be me here, as with those people I hung out with in the dorms: opinionated and critical, yes, but altruistic, educative and inquisitive at the same time. I may not be the most eloquent of speakers or writers, but my intent is there, and at least the spirit of my meaning comes across, usually; and for that to be understood *any*where is a wonderful feeling.

    [And now, to derail the sentimentality (and because I was *so* going to post this on the Open Thread today, but there isn't one- albeit for wonderful reasons-, and he was mentioned): Old Spice Man meme? Yes, please.

    http://www.urlesque.com/2010/07/15/old-spice-man-response-videos/ ]

     
  7. rtpoe #

    Congratulations on your milestone!

    I think you’re part of the current trend towards Philosophy as a field worthy of popular study. I refer to the various “Plato and a Platypus” books for general audiences as an example.

    You’re a great mix of humor and education, and I hope you continue for many, many more posts!

     
  8. inmate #

    I’m just happy to see the Think Tank back out in the field.

    My Overthinking began in middle school when I started hanging out with both the top of the class and some future /b/tards at the same time. Know what it is and how it can be wrong.

    Hence I will forever request a podcast entitled “Cemetery Ridge”.

     
  9. John Perich #

    Aw, thank you … um … Count Spatula?

     
  10. Timothy J Swann #

    Quoting from another thread: ‘Because it’s fun, as it was intended to be… you are all taking this way too seriously.’ (Thank you, Tadpole, I thought I wouldn’t see the classic underthinking catchphrase).

    Anyway, I’m glad you are all here to overthink, to give a word to that thing we’ve been doing and to take us further on an adventure that always informative and hilarious, and long may it continue.

     
  11. Monzenn #

    First of all, I’m glad there’s a site like this that “overthink” things like pop culture. For one, it’s a good break from the daily grind of memorizing facts. Facts are meant to be analyzed, that’s what I think. They are a means to an end, and not the end itself. Another reason is that it shows that people still care about pop culture (though sometimes in a critical sense), and is not something of a joke (or what we would call “baduy” in the Philippines).

    Which brings me to why I put quotes in the word “overthink” (like so), and as to why I “overthink.” What you do, for me, is bringing together different disciplines to a specific area, i.e. pop culture. Disciplines that don’t seem to mix fit nicely. That is not overthinking; that is collaboration and crowdsourcing. And that makes this site shine for me.

    I think that to truly appreciate something (be it something written, spoken, or performed), one has to scour its inner depths, using one’s analytical tools at his disposal, and come up with an analysis (again, whether written, spoken, or performed) to one’s liking. I overthink pop culture because I like pop culture. (Much as I took up courses in math analysis because I like math, I guess.) I believe it does not deserve the flak it gets from some quarters. It does not deserve the deprecating implication the monicker “low class” gives it. Pop culture is culture for the masses, and that is not something that high society should not immerse itself in.

    Still, “overthink” is a catchy term. Keep it :D

    Thank you for breathing new life to pop culture, albeit to the delight of a niche audience.

    BTW you should DEFINITELY team up with cartoonoveranalyzations.com.

     
  12. cat #

    Great article. I definitely appreciate the revival of the Think Tank as it provides a more complete view of why we overthink. It’s both the excitement of finding something in a work of fiction, art, literature, etc. that speaks to us and calls to us for our own unique interpretation that only we feel qualified to provide. It’s about community and being able to thrive off of the energy of our fellow overthinkers. I’m incredibly grateful to you all for creating this community where we can all truly enjoy the things we love and appreciate them at a higher level of truth and understanding.

    @Perich SQUEE!

     
  13. Rosa #

    Congratulations on quite the achievement! And oh, Script… I vote you give Tom Duffy a guest post, just to see what he’d come up with.

    I love that y’all keep your fancily educated thinking muscles in shape by flexing them on pop culture and the like. You make Sartre and the Hero Cycle accessible and relevant, and I certainly prefer your scrutiny to that of TMZ and other tabloids.

     
  14. Megan from Lombard #

    My first article from this site was Belinkie’s ‘The Nazgul=Epic Fail’ (which was during my LOTR phase) and I was hooked. I’m one of those geeks who overthinks their fandom and fangirls about it (sort of a cross between Perich and Stokes). To me this site is a place where people would get all my random observations about pop culture (who else would understand my theory of the Desperate Housewives each being a part of the ideal woman or NCIS hating powerful females?) and finding a place to explore other areas of thought.

    @Gab- did you hear that the Old Spice Guy sent flowers to Alyssa Milano?

     
  15. Gab #

    @Megan: OMG, that was my first, too!!! SQUEEEEE!!!!

    And about Old Spice Guy: Yeah, he totally had a thing with Alyssa Milano- the article I posted actually has a video he made for her! I wish there was a brand made for women that could pull off its own spoof like that in a real ad campaign, but what is there? Herbal Essences? Oil of Olay? And besides, a campaign where women make fun of themselves would automatically be decried as sexist and misogynistic and such. (I’m stopping myself- This is a rant I’ve had with friends a few times since the original campaign started, one where I’m overthinking something that’s “just a funny commercial” and kind of getting on their nerves… sigh…)

     
  16. Kevin S #

    Hey guys,

    I just wanted to let y’all know that I think your site is fantastic! I think one of the best articles I’ve ever read was the Overthinking article dissecting a Backstreet Boys song. I’ve never purposefully listened to Backstreet Boys but I heard it plenty of times back in the day and it was interesting/funny to see the interpretation of the song, especially because it seemed dead-on. Anyway, keep up the good work! Also, I would be honored if you would check out my comedyand let me know what you think.

     
  17. Kevin S #

    Hey guys,

    I just wanted to let y’all know that I think your site is fantastic! I think one of the best articles I’ve ever read was the Overthinking article dissecting a Backstreet Boys song. I’ve never purposefully listened to Backstreet Boys but I heard it plenty of times back in the day and it was interesting/funny to see the interpretation of the song, especially because it seemed dead-on. Anyway, keep up the good work! Also, I would be honored if you would check out my comedy website, StrictlyKevin.com, and let me know what you think. I think it may be a type of humor y’all would enjoy, it’s thinking person’s comedy.

     
  18. Megan from Lombard #

    @Gab- You must be my twin, I swear we have so much in common! and to think that we never would’ve crossed paths if this site hadn’t exsisted. LOL

    And I agree with you, while the Old Spice ads are entertaining they just further perpetrate the double-standard that society has for gender roles; Men can parody themselves with the “ulitmate man” but if a women did it then people would say that it’s sexist, ect.

     
  19. gerant #

    Thank you so very much for your dedication to Over Thinking.

    I hadn’t realised I had been lingering here since near your INCEPTION… I should have realised when there were so few articles at first!

    I finally found the gumption to comment back in the Over Thinking Paul Verhoeven days and I was so pleasantly surprised to find that not only do you Over Think in general, you take the time to Over Think the comments left by your eager readers… I’m still a little intimidated to return to the discussion of whether or not Total Recall is a dream or not.

    I Over Think and I love it. I look forward to all your future articles and pledge to join in on (or return to) more discussions soon.

    Thanks again!

     
  20. dock #

    Im glad you are here to overthink because I am not always able to. At times it feels like having something on the tip of your tounge but not being able to actualize it. Then I read it here. A previous comment mentioned Mario and his motivations, and the article he is refering to is a perfect example of what I mean. A topic whose threshold I breached on my own, but never fully explored. And then I read it here. I “overthought” stuff all the time, in my own head to myself. It wasnt that I was afraid to share, its that I knew no one else would either A. Care, or B. Get it. It didnt bother me, I looked at it like a pleasure treasure all my own. But I could never make the connections I see here on my own. For one I am not educated enough to even know half the obscure literary references that are made. Also, and I had trouble comming to terms w/ this, I think I may actually be an Underthinker, who just happens to enjoy the shit out of pondering overthinker topics. At any rate, Congrats on the 1000 article!! You guys rock (in other words- SQUEE!!)

     
  21. David #

    I’ve been reading your website for years now (since the Dark Knight vs. Schopenhauer article, which got me hooked in an instant), but always found both the articles and comments too humbling in their excellency to make any comment myself.

    In any case, congratulations on your milestone. As usual, most has been said already – especially Robert Q’s comment makes sense. All these philosophical conundrums and mythological archetypes have a hard time seeming relevant in everyday situations, when the connection is hardly obvious to observe. Yet, such things have shaped cultures and societies for centuries and thereby, albeit indirectly sometimes, continue to do so. Just as Belinkie observes, people like Christopher Nolan or Shigeru Miyamoto don’t need majors in philosophy for Immanuel Kant or other philosophers to matter to their work. In fact, I believe that these subconscious connections, instead of in-your-face references (I’m looking at you, Lost), may be even more fascinating to detect and dissect.

    As much I enjoy the ensemble of writers contributing to this website and their particular interests and mindsets, I am particularly fascinated by Belinkie’s view on Overthinking, or the non-existence thereof. It is exactly those larger-than-life blockbusters, number one hit songs or omnipresent internet virals that do indeed deserve this level of scrutiny. Precisely because of their omnipresence, it is important to look at what these cultural outings are exactly saying, what messages they may carry underneath and how they may shape culture – for I reckon they do. Especially since, as pointed out, most blockbusters do tend to suck.

    And if, in the process, Overthinking creates a critical (or, reflective) climate that may lead to blockbusters and pop culture being less unnecessarily sucky, that’s an enormous bonus. Thanks for the wonderful reads and please keep it up.

     
  22. Eli #

    When I first found Overthinkingit, I think the feeling I was overcome by was something akin to what an Otaku feels when s/he discovers that there are several anime conventions across the world, which attract millions of people.

    Initially, I was disbelieving of this community. Yes, there was a great article to be found whenever I wanted to dig, but surely those were random flukes. There’s no way that there are people who occasionally over-analyze pop culture with the same zeal that I do, and in a sense, I was right. Overthinkers go far beyond any logical conclusions that I would achieve on my own (@mlawski: I had a similar tenth grade experience with La Chanson de Roland, but I was being contrary, not an Overthinker).

    I have only one friend I can ever achieve something not-far-removed from Overthinkingit discourse with, and those moments are too few and far between. Also, he personally dislikes Overthinkingit (seeing it as nothing more than a pretentious version of Cracked.com).

    Yet on the other-hand, these posts, and discussions are so much more like an everyday conversation my brother and I would have. These posts make me feel like my brother and I aren’t weird for these strange conversations, but rather, they make me feel like we’re the Amerigo Vespuccis of pop culture. Sure, we’re not finding anything other people haven’t, but we’re looking at it in such a way as to call it something completely different than what everyone else thinks it is.

    A final thing I must add about Overthinkingit, is the community. Very rarely do I see comments on Overthinkingit posts descend into the realms of a youtube video. Most of the people here are those who can let someone disagree with them, and let there thoughts and ideas be changed by calm and careful debate. That alone would be enough to make this site an Eden on the web, but that it also gives us yummy treats from the Tree of Knowledge makes this site all the more satisfying.

    So in so many words, I am saying thank-you to Wrather, Perich, Stokes, Mlawski, Lee, Fenzel and Belinkie for the wonderful ideas you have amongst yourselves and decide to share with the world.

    My only complaint about this site is a personal quibble. I wish there were more articles analyzing hip-hop and rap in the way that “I’m A Hustler, Homey; You A Customer, Crony” does. That has been my favorite article this year, and I quote it rather frequently. Other than that, this site is more than perfect. Keep on Overthinking, and I’ll keep coming back!

     
  23. Matthew Wrather #

    @eli — We agree. We would like to have more coverage of hip-hop (and of music generally), as well as video games and comics. We are always looking to expand our roster of writers. Submitting a guest article is a great way to get on the radar.

     
  24. mlawski #

    @Eli: Awwwww, I’m blushing! I think I’m speaking for the rest of the Overthinking It staff when I say that we wouldn’t keep doing this if it weren’t for our awesome readers and commenters. Thanks for everything, folks!

    I also think like what your friend said about us. It should be our second motto. Overthinking It: A More Pretentious Version of Cracked.com…

     
  25. John Perich #

    @Eli: I’m trying, man! I will brainstorm some more hip-hop content soon.

     
  26. TheSquirrelfish #

    I overthink because I believe what we consume forms us involuntarily. A commercial with faceless people helps define what we expect people to be. A movie or television series that we enjoy and watch religiously is as formative of who you are as a religious ceremony attended for the same length of time.

    Humans are distinctive in that we consciously try to control and change our world. Yet, that doesn’t mean that all the ways we control and change our world are conscious. And we are very adaptable – we (hopefully) change our view of the world if someone proves us wrong, and even more importantly we change our view of the world when little things add up to a pattern. We create/perpetuate patterns in media and influence everyone exposed to them in ways neither we nor they may notice or expect. Unless we overthink it.