Open Thread for September 24, 2010

John Perich is on special overthinking assignment this week, so I have the pleasure of returning to my former post as the opener of threads. And we have more to cover than usual, so let’s get right to it.

Michael Douglas (get well soon!) reprises his role as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Oliver Stone’s sequel to his 1987 financial thriller which gave us the commonly and inaccurately quoted mantra: “Greed is good.” Despite some interesting competition, including Ryan Reynolds in Buried and Joaquin Phoenix’s “performance” as terrible hop hop artist JP in Casey Affleck’s mockumentary I’m Still Here (Letterman may sue), Douglas and sidekick Shia Leboeuf, taking over for Charlie Sheen as an idealistic naif, look poised to win the weekend. I’m not saying that I give a crap about the box office—I actually think that our collective fixation on the theatrical earnings horse-race distracts us from what is actually worthwhile about movies, especially on a website like Overthinking It. I’m just saying that The Beef may bring home the bacon.

Ooof. Sorry.

For your consideration, then, some questions:

  • Oliver Stone: Overrated?
  • Greed: Good?

It’s also worth pointing out that despite not opening for a week, The Social Network, a fictionalized account of the founding of Facebook (based on the book The Accidental Billionaires), from the dream team of Aaron Sorkin (“The West Wing”) and David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club), is kicking ass with reviewers, scoring a perfect 100 on both Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic as of this writing. Upon release, expect the full “Dark Knight” treatment from Overthinking It, which is to say wall-to-wall coverage.

Actually, while we’re on the subject of stupid things like box office numbers, who was the idiot that thought that aggregating the opinions of film reviewers and reducing them into an average score could tell you anything remotely interesting about a movie? All opinions are not created equal, and the interesting opinions can’t be reduced to a score! Apparently it gets traffic, though. So, for this week, another question: How can we cynically capitalize on humankind’s obsession with ranking and status by creating some kind of Overthinking It Score? What should we rank and how?

Wow. I’m cranky this week.

Turning, now, to our continuing coverage of children’s television, a segment featuring Katie Perry may be cut from Sesame Street, which has not prevented everybody on the Internet from seeing it. I’ll let the fine people at the Associated Press explain:

Don’t worry, it’s “concerned parents” making a self-defeating fuss, not Children’s Television Workshop or PBS. Lest we forget, Sesame Street is still awesome:

And, in case you’ve been living under a rock, the new American Idol judges have been officially announced.

We were young once, and credible.

Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez will join Randy “A Little Pitchy, Dawg” Jackson, hoping to revitalize FOX’s once-and-future cash cow. Needless to say I don’t watch the show, since I find the idea that singing in the shower is good preparation for international superstardom offensive. So let me leave you with this final question.

In this age of “user generated content” and instantly-accessible pools of knowledge a mile wide and an inch deep, is there any role left for expertise in guiding our thoughts and actions?

Also, who replaced my coffee with Folgers Crystals and made me so damn cranky?

Get off my lawn, you crazy kids, and get to overthinking. This is your… Open Thread!

12 Comments on “Open Thread for September 24, 2010”

  1. Stoner75 #

    “In this age of “user generated content” and instantly-accessible pools of knowledge a mile wide and an inch deep, is there any role left for expertise in guiding our thoughts and actions?”

    I’m convinced there is such a role, but I’m not an optimistic guy, so that’d be all… and I’d prefer a rephrasing of the last idea, so I can keep the illusion of not being herded. ( :

     
  2. Sillyweasel #

    Later today I hope to go and see the Legend of the Guardians, which I have been looking forward to for what feels like a year. This is one of three movies I actually WANT to see in 3-D, the others being Tron and Jackass 3D.

     
  3. Heather (An Underthinker) #

    Muppet Sookeh is a terrible example for young girls. Look at how she scurries to get Muppet Bill his True Mud.

    Also, “Blood” is substituted with “Mud”. This makes me think of Harry Potter and “Mudbloods”, as a muggle-born witch, I am very offended.

     
  4. Darin #

    RE: … financial thriller which gave us the commonly and inaccurately quoted mantra: “Greed is good.”’

    The quote is actually more like Greed…is good. He says “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.” ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7upG01-XWbY )
    I don’t think it falls anywhere near misquotes like “Play it again, Sam”.

    Also, you said, “…who replaced my coffee with Folgers Crystals and made me so damn cranky?” The first thing this reminded me of was Mr. Vargas in Fast Times at Ridgemont High where he announces he switched to Sanka.

    RE: Oliver Stone – overrated; Martin Scorscese – overrated. They both use the camera pov and camera cuts to influence the viewer in an aggressive manner. I feel beatup after watching one of their movies. It works well for some movies like Platoon (Stone) and Bringing out the dead (Scorsese), but I don’t think it makes them great.

    RE: “user generated content” and instantly-accessible pools of knowledge a mile wide and an inch deep, is there any role left for expertise in guiding our thoughts and actions?

    Here’s a quote from jon jost:
    A little perspective from now moving on 50 years of “independent” filmmaking. When I started, the thought of money/pay never really entered my mind, and it would seem for a little part of my generation it was the same – we were the “underground,” “hippies” whatever. I still don’t know how I stayed alive though I know how I made films: borrowed cameras and editing stuff, film stock that was meant to print on and was garbage to the labs; friends in labs who processed film off the books. That kind of thing. Eating, well, I don’t know – I lived a few years on candybars and looking in the garbage. I still look in the garbage for useful things. I’ve had a retrospective at MoMA (they paid $1000 for a month of screenings), honors here and there, and most of my life I lived well below govt certified “poverty.” A few times I made some money, or sold a film to Euro or US public TV. Finally, at age 64, with a lifetime savings of about $20,000 (I am real frugal), no pension, no insurance of any kind, I got my first job, teaching (in Korea, I put out some feelers in USA but to no response), only to make money and save it for the very imminent rainy days of old age to come (67 now).
    You can Google me and get 100s of pages; I am told by some I am “well known.” Some say I am the Father or Grandfather of American indie film (bullshit); etc.
    If you make genuinely “independent” work, this is going to be your fate. If, like most currently known “indies” (or whatever changeable term is used) you make more or less conventional narrative films, maybe you will make a living making commercial films. That’s the only way you can make “a living” outside teaching. There’s a long list of real independent filmmakers – James Benning, or Ernie Gehr, and others who made there living teaching and made films when they could. There are NONE who made a living making “independent” films in the USA. In Europe and Asia it is another story.
    Jon Jost

    In other words, the driver of the story is giving voice to the images. The only ‘problem’ now is that everyone with an opinion is given the power via cheap technologies to make videos. I think great video is still being made, it’s just drowned out.

    Re: an OverthinkingIT score. No fucking way. I could reference Dead Poet’s Society’s opening on making metrics for poetry, but I won’t. More like, the metatalk is meta because it keeps away from standards. Rubrics are fixed and culture is dynamic. Easy star ratings, thumbs, that’s for well…the common folk (which I mostly am except when I’m not).

     
    • John Perich #

      RE: Oliver Stone – overrated; Martin Scorscese – overrated. They both use the camera pov and camera cuts to influence the viewer in an aggressive manner. I feel beatup after watching one of their movies.

      Yes, but Oliver Stone also overlays out-of-context imagery (nuclear explosions, Indians on the warpath, storm clouds, wolves snarling) in case you didn’t get it. In that respect, Scorsese’s a better director.

      I agree with you that they’re both pretty brutal. But (to me) Scorsese’s is the cold brutality of early James Bond, while Stone’s is more bullying.

       
  5. DrSylvan #

    I’d think that the most reliable barometer for an OTI rating would be some measure of just how over-thought a piece of pop culture is. For instance, how many articles does OTI publish on it? How many OTI podcasts discuss it? As a side effect, this could potentially be compiled by a script counting tags on your posts.

    If you wanted to expand it to reflect Internet-wide overthinking, you could consider critics’ activity on other sites, but that sounds harder and less necessary.

     
    • Timothy J Swann #

      Had similar thoughts. Maybe some bonus multipliers, as in an arcade game… say for number of fields discussed (so Inception has filmcraft, economics and psychology as well as any others I’ve forgotten. And Mlawski’s is definitely a Twofer or Threefer with psychoanalytics (which is not psychology) and literature).

      Also, what’s awesome is that Jason Segel is writing the new muppets’ movie The Greatest Muppets Movie Ever Made. And I’m definitely looking forward to The Social Network.

       
  6. Paul #

    No mention that Sharktopus drops tonight? Those Folgers Crystals ™ must really have you addled, Matt. I’m hoping to hear your thoughts on Sunday night’s podcast. Or is the bloom off the rose (tentacle off the aquatic hybrid monstrosity)?

     
    • Matthew Wrather #

      Oh, don’t you worry. Not only did Fenzel livetweet the whole thing, we’ll definiely be talking about it on the next episode. I mean, something tries to fill our time until The Social Network releases.

       
  7. Sillyweasel #

    Just coming from Legend of the Gaurdians:The Owls of Ga’hool, that is friggin’ amazing. Obviously it’s very condensed but the story has this quest, epic, feel to it. I’m very interested in reading the books now, and very much will be pimping the hell out of this movie.
    It’s so solid and just, feels real, no fluffy disney bullshit here. This is like, Lord of the Rings, with owls. I wish I could put that into better words, but it’s late and just wow.

     
  8. Matt #

    Okay, just saw this absolutely amazing gameplay footage from Bioshock: Infinite:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGXZ2VKRpwk

    So then naturally, I Google when it comes out, so I can save up my vacation time beforehand.

    2012. As in, two years from now.

    That is just MEAN.

     
  9. Emma #

    I don’t understand why they got two new judges, but Randy Jackson is still hanging around. If they completely replaced all three judges, I may give the show a try again. But Randy was the least watchable judge. I’m still not interested, FOX.