I can haz Andrew Lloyd Webber?

26 Comments on “I can haz Andrew Lloyd Webber?”

  1. Will #

    “Overthinking It subjects the popular culture to a level of scrutiny it probably doesn’t deserve.” Or, used to. This site is lately becoming the Onion. I miss the old Overthinking It.


  2. Rob #

    Lay off the Haterade, Will! All that high-fructose scorn syrup is bad for you.*

    I come to this site for the awesome *variety* of overthinking that goes on. There’s vertical overthinking, where a single subject is mined extensively, e.g. the Things I Didn’t Like About Crystal Skull series, or Why Strong Female Characters are Bad for Women, or the upcoming Karate Kid Week; and then there’s lateral overthinking, where folks present novel connections between previously-unlinked cultural phenomena, e.g. this graphic or the Dark Bailout video or the Joe the Plumber piece. Each strain of overthinking is entertaining and illuminating in its own way. So, Will, take it easy.

    * Haterade also is fortified with disparagine, a negatively-charged amino acid that lends a distinctly bitter taste.


  3. fenzel #

    I think your critique is somewhat deserved. We’ve been feeling a little silly lately. Anything you’d like to see analyzed?


  4. Will #

    Nah, I don’t really have any alternative suggestions. For the most part I enjoy the surprises, like starting an article and then being blindsided with a TaleSpin reference.

    Ultimately, what I come to the site for is to observe something ostensibly simple and throw-away ripped apart and analyzed like a grad thesis is on the line. There’s obviously a lot of pop culture that isn’t even completely aware of its own roots– mythologically, philosophically, sociologically, historically, literary, etc. There are a billion Funny Guys on the internet already, and I think this site’s uniqueness comes from the scholastic pedigree that drips from each overthought analysis. The humor is automatically generated when the reader realizes the sheer ridiculousness of someone’s desire to look into something so silly so deeply. This is what millions of drunk college students do every weekend, while some designated driver at the table thinks, “Man, I should be recording this. This is GOLD.”

    Thanks for being receptive, fenzel. My overarching point is just that you guys have hit on something really different here, and I feel you’re strongest when you’re sticking closely to the credo.


  5. sarielthrawn #

    I’d like to see an analysis of The Simpsons. I’m sure most who watch the show would be aware that the show has changed a lot since its inception. The way it looks, the way it’s edited, the pacing, the types of jokes they use, the themes and character development.

    Actually you could probably devout an entire website to overthinking The Simpsons. But I think you guys could bring something to the table. Perhaps “Theism vs Atheism: Why Lisa Simpson going to hell”, or something like that.

    I like the variety too. But I have to say that the stuff that got me hooked on this site was the philosophy of Batman material and things of that nature. The lighter stuff is good but I dare say that it’s not what keeps people coming back.


  6. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    Will –
    I too appreciate the feedback. We’re still a young site, and we’re still tweaking the formula. And I think your favorite kinds of posts are our favorite kinds of posts too. Ideally there’s a balance between the meaty, epic analysis of something that doesn’t deserve it, and the shorter posts with one interesting observation. Don’t worry – we’re not going to let the site become entirely cutesy Photoshops.
    – Matt


  7. Matthew Wrather #

    The biggest change in the Simpsons over the years has been the transition from a Bart-centric realistic show to a Homer-centric cartoonish show.

    Along with some of the other decisions that Matt Groening established early on — e.g. that the characters don’t age — came the determination that the Simpsons just *happened* to be animated, and that nothing would happen to them that couldn’t happen on a live-action sitcom.

    If you buy the DVDs of the old seasons (my favorite is Season 4), you’ll be struck by how mundane the situations seem in contrast to more recent episodes which are full of cartoon exaggeration and meta-textuality.

    You’ll also be struck by how wholesome they seem in contrast to our moment’s television, and you’ll wonder how on earth George H W Bush (the elder) got it into his head to criticize them as an example of the moral decay of the family and American values…


  8. mlawski OTI Staff #

    Man, it WOULD be fun to write about The Simpsons, but that would mean I’d have to watch the last few seasons, which I’ve been avoiding.

    What I noticed when our local Fox syndicate started replaying very old episodes was that the Simpsons used to have real heart. Funny, yes, but it also managed to strike a chord. I’m thinking specifically of the “Homer tries to jump over Springfield Gorge” episode. I almost cried. And it was hilarious.

    I think someone mentioned it in one of the podcasts: since Homer is screwing up his relationships with his kids and trying to win them back almost every single episode, the show loses its heart. It’s hard to care about the family when you know Homer’s just going to do something awful to them the next episode…and then they’re going to take him back, every time.

    On another note, I think the reason I, specifically, haven’t been writing the super-deep posts lately (and I do want to), is that there hasn’t been any movie, TV show, etc that everyone to rally around. To make an OverthinkingIt post work, the audience has to be fairly familiar with the original text. We were able to write a bunch of deep posts about The Dark Knight because everyone had seen it, and they were popular because everyone got the joke. I’ve been watching a lot of Deep Space Nine lately, but I don’t think many of you want to hear my philosophical musings on it.


  9. Matthew Wrather #

    Of course we do.

    But you’re right — we’re in the midst of awards season, with Serious, Important Movies that are NOT good for overthinking.

    This is one of the reasons that we’ve established Karate Kid week — http://www.overthinkingit.com/tag/karate-kid/ — and will probably have more theme weeks to come.


  10. Gab #

    mlwaski, what you say reminds me of a conversation I had a while back with some of my own college buds. The basic thesis of the discussion ended up being that many television shows depicting families (that still live in the same household) have swung toward the “new” setup for _The Simpsons_, meaning Dad messes up at some point in the episode and has to fix it somehow in order for his family to “take him back,” so to speak. _Home Improvement_ was the first show any of us could think of with that basic format, but the antics Dad pulls off have only become worse (since Tim Allen’s character was always acting with reasonably good intentions, whereas you get characters nowadays that are flat-out duplicitous).

    Can anybody think of a show older than _Home Improvement_ like that? IMO, that would make for a cool post.


  11. Will #

    It’s heartening to read so many gracious responses by staff writers– thanks, fellas. I myself was one of the bajillion readers first brought in by the Philosophy of Batman stuff. I recognize it must be tricky to find something popular, meaty, AND current to work on, and then write a good article on it in a short period of time. I envy you not.

    If you take the “current” criterion out of the mix, there must be plenty that’s still left, albeit less inherently self-promoting. Sarielthrawn’s suggestion of The Simpsons is truly loaded with potential on multiple levels– is there a distinctive cultural or political moment where the show became wackier (the rise of South Park and/or Family Guy? the 2000 elections? Beats me). And I can’t speak regarding Deep Space Nine, but I know that when I went back to The Next Generation a decade after it aired (Spike TV started showing about fourteen episodes a day… boo yeah) the maturity with which they approached all sorts of philosophical and ethical issues really struck me. And have any of you had that post-childhood moment where you catch an episode of Bugs Bunny ruining someone’s shit and wonder to yourself, “Fuck me running, was this show this brilliant when I was a kid?” I once had a course in which we studied the roots of the WB cartoons, delving into the operatic and mythical influences, and I can assure you there’s plenty of meat there.

    But again, I appreciate that need to tackle subjects whose contemporaneity makes them all the more likely to sell themselves to readers. Hell, you may never have a goldmine like “The Dark Knight” for a very, very long time; that was a perfect opportunity for a site like this, and you smoked it. I wish I had better suggestions for you, heh. There are plenty of TV shows, current and not, that could serve as interesting fodder, but no intelligent TV show’s mass appeal has ever matched the whole “Dark Knight” fury. I don’t know, maybe you guys can recruit a musicologist to rip apart the new Britney record and find melodic allusions to horse rape or something. (There’s a fantastic, if overly musical theory -based, article at http://www.patrickdailly.f9.co.uk/VAI.htm that I really enjoy.) You don’t often dig into comic books directly, either– the resident Nietzsche expert could probably find many exemplifications of the Ubermensch in a guy like Lex Luthor. (And for the record, I love you all dearly simply because you brought the name Schopenhauer into people’s lexicons.) If you have a physics nerd, or even just a guy who watches The Big Bang Theory a lot, you can attack pretty much ANY storytelling medium for inconsistencies on that front. Belinkie’s “Superman II” bit about the kid falling down Niagara was tight– maybe you could do a series glorifying the scientific rigor of Futurama, dude. (They actually made a joke based on Schrodinger’s cat– that’s HUGE… if you happen to GET the joke.)

    Again, thanks to you all for being so receptive. Please keep on keepin’ on, and readers like sarielthrawn and I will be watching for those shining moments where you’ve obviously had a great opportunity to stretch in that unique Overthinking It fashion.


  12. sarielthrawn #

    Perhaps a comparative analysis of Bugs and the Simpsons. Symbolism and cultural reference in popular animation. Kind of like popular culture eating its own tail.

    The progression of the popular culture: From Bugs Bunny to Eric Cartman.


  13. sheely OTI Staff #

    Will, thanks for the suggestions. Your enthusiasm for the website and your appreciation for our are super-exciting- your ideas have definitely given me a bit of a kick in the butt to end my semi-hiatus and get back to regular overthinking.

    Also, your suggestion about doing more musicological analysis reminded me of a post from the really old days of the site that you may not have seen: http://www.overthinkingit.com/2008/04/26/im-listening-to-whitesnake-im-drinking-natty-ice/


  14. Will #

    Oh yeah! I was probably subconsciously referring to the Beethoven-rape thing with my Britney-bestiality suggestion. (And dude, my man Steve Vai’s swaggering in the “Fool For Your Lovin'” video, especially the solo, is in my books the celluloid epitomization of “rock star coolness.”) If you read that musicological breakdown I linked, I hope you dug it half as much as I did (even though I didn’t always agree with his overly-erotic interpretations).

    And again, I appreciate all you guys being really cool about me seeming like such a nitpicky punk. Since my last post I’ve listened to the podcast, and while I get the picture I should have been more thought-out and articulate in my initial criticisms– indeed, trying to craft a disparaging comparison to The Onion would have been a futile attempt, and I wasn’t trying to be disparaging anyway– I’m glad you guys engaged my issue on the level when, based on my comments, you could have easily torn me apart or even just ignored me. If I can clarify one thing: I like the goofy stuff as much as the next guy, and I read pretty much all of them– I was more or less whining that I hadn’t seen an epic, meticulous, erudite dissection in what seemed like a fairly long time (in internet years). I really didn’t have any problem with this article in particular. I guess I was just grumpy on having to wait so long for my next “quintessential Overthinking It” fix. You’re running out of time to expose Disney’s advocating ecoterrorism via the Gummi Bears, you realize.

    (And Mr. Wrather: apologies for the split infinitive. Many, many apologies. It’s driving me nuts too, seeing it up there. I’m in the middle of finals and essays and Jesus CHRIST am I not into proofreading anything more than I need to right now. Excuses aside, please know that I am sorry.)

    Please, gentlemen– keep on keepin’ on. I’ll be reading them.


  15. Gab #

    Will, mlwaski’s name is Shanon- she *is* rather ballsy, but she’s not a gentleman.* ;p

    But you gave me another reminder. _Fairly Oddparents_. That show is on Nickelodeon right now and chock-full of social commentary and jibes at pop culture. I sometimes think it’s their version of _The Simpsons_. All sorts of parallels to and allegory for real personalities and institutions in there, worthy of analysis. And I see a lot of this in some of the Disney spin-off movies and shows, like the _Aladdin_, _Little Mermaid_, and _Lion King_ (series called _Timon and Pumbaa_, and OH MY GOD THE COMMUNISM IN _The Lion King 1 1/2_): those are filled with a lot more puns and jokes that run along the lines of Pixar movies (like a baddie named Iam Agoul) (I may have misspelled it, but say it aloud), meaning things the parents could laugh at because they recognize the allusion, while a kid may not laugh at all or would do so because it’s just appropriate for the moment and that’s what kids do. The question to overthink there is: a show like _Fairly Oddparents_ v. _Timon and Pumbaa_, would it have a different purpose for using that sort of humor? Does the spinoff/sequel nature of some shows or movies make them inherently contain a different form of humor?

    *That was a compliment.


  16. fenzel #

    Mlawksi’s name is Shana :-)


  17. Will #

    Yeah, I realized the “gentlemen” thing after I posted. Brain fart. (I’ve been awake for a very long time as of right meow.) I DO use “guys” and “dudes” in a non- gender specific way all the time, but the “gentlemen” reference was a straight-up slip.

    Apologies to Shana, if she noticed/cared.


  18. mlawski OTI Staff #

    I am so offended. You bastards.


  19. fenzel #

    Is this as bad as that time I was all mean at karaoke?

    Was that when I wore that sweater with my name on it?


  20. mlawski OTI Staff #

    Lolcats to you Fenzel. Lolcats to you. :)


  21. Gab #

    In the words of Homer:


    ::hides in shame now::

    Sorry Shanon/Mlwaski/Goddess of the Comix and Fanfix and Who Knows What Else

    fenzel: A sweater with your name on it?


  22. Gab #

    OH MY FUCKING GOD AND I WROTE THE WRONG NAME AGAIN. Alright, I’m just going to stop now. I’m not even ahead. I’m about to come out near Beijing.

    This is what happens when you write comments while on the phone. Or at least when I do it.

    Sorry, sorry, sorry…


  23. Siwi #

    Okay, so, posting about Simpsons would certainly be welcome. I just last week had a talk with my roomie about it (he re-watched the old episode where Bart’s going to have to repeat fourth grade, and was astonished by how moving it was).

    But also, well, I wanted to comment on the post. Because awesome.

    For the record, I might as well carry a sign over my head that says “Target audience for a Cats/Lolcats mashup.” But it makes my head go stupid, imagining, say, an image of Grizabella the Glamour Cat with the caption “Grasefuly surenduring teh things of yuoth: Ur doin it wrong.” I am apparently spending my life preparing to be a middle-aged woman.

    But the more I look at this image, the more it actually fits; both are fun without a deeper level; lolcats is aggressively a phenomenon without one, while Cats is infinitely more fun that way (I assume this because I loved it when I saw it. Because I was 7. And I had no idea who T.S. Eliot was. But I damn well knew great dancing and pretty lights and impressive set building when I saw it. And SHUT UP I AM NOT BEING DEFENSIVE.)


  24. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    Siwi –

    You know, I considered whether the LolCats joke could be expanded beyond the one Photoshop. Thought up a couple song titles. But “Grasefuly surenduring teh things of yuoth: Ur doin it wrong” is better than anything I came up with. Nice job.

    My best was “Memory (of Mah Bukket)”.

    For the record, I did try and replace the dancers in the eyes with cheeseburgers, but it looked teh suck.

    k bai

    – Matt


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