Open Thread for January 1, 2010

Happy New Year, Overthinkers!

You won't see glasses like this for another thousand years.

Happy New Year! We bid a fond farewell to celebratory new year’s novelty glasses with zeros for eyes and give a warm welcome to the 20-tens. Or is it 20-teens?

The beginning of a new year is traditionally a time to take stock, start a diet, and make some positive changes in your habits. (For this reason, if you’re a regular gym goer, you’d be well advised to take a few years off. The weight room is going to be packed this month, there is no hope of snagging a treadmill for the next few weeks. Don’t worry, the newbies will be gone by Valentine’s Day.)

But not all resolutions are self-improving. Or should I say, not all self improvement takes that much resolve. Yeah, yeah: More exercise; less procrastination; quit smoking; better diet. But what about the most important diet of all, your diet of pop culture?

Are you set to eliminate flab and eat your cultural Wheaties? Or are you going to relax and enjoy yourself more? Whatever it is, let us know about it.

Question: What are your pop culture resolutions for the new year and new decade?

And, as ever, the pop culture bandwagon rolls on. 2009 was a record $10-billion year for the movie business (though you wouldn’t know it to hear them whine about how piracy is going to put them in the poorhouse). Think they can repeat their successes in the new year?

Question (The Iron Man 2 Memorial Question): What future classics and cultural artifacts slated for 2010 are you most looking forward 2? (Oops. Did I say “2” instead of “to”? I must have Iron Man 2 on the brain.)

These (and all other topics) are fair game. For this… is YOUR open thread.

26 Comments on “Open Thread for January 1, 2010”

  1. mlawski OTI Staff #

    Not a resolution but a prediction: If the last ten years are any indication, TV in the 2010s will be as good or even better than TV in the 2000s, and movies in the 2010s will continue to be mediocre spectacles*. It seems to me that the advent of Internet-based entertainment and the atomization of the audience has made TV networks take more creative risks–they’re filling audience niches instead of trying to appeal to broad swaths of the population, in other words. Also, sitcoms are funny now? I don’t know how this happened, but I’m going to just shut my mouth and enjoy it.

    Now, movie producers, on the other hand, aren’t big on risk-taking. Their reaction to the Internet and flatscreen TVs has been to make films with exorbitant budgets (which most cable channels and viral movie makers can’t afford) and beautiful visuals (which are better seen on a huge screen–IN 3-D!!!–instead of streaming on a pixelly 12-inch screen). As for plot? Pfft. Who cares about plot?

    Ten years from now, you will be astounded by the accuracy of my predictions. Astounded!

    *Full disclosure: The last TV show I watched was season one of The Wire, and the last movie I saw was Avatar. This, uh, may have colored my views.


  2. dock #

    Are you going to Overthink The Wire? That would be awesome.


  3. mlawski OTI Staff #

    @dock: I would love to do some Wire-related overthinking at some point soon. Unfortunately, it probably won’t be too too soon — next week is Simpsons week, and then I’ve got an article on Avatar that I need to get out of my system, and then of course Lost season 6 is premiering…

    But, yes! Wire! Eventually!


  4. Gab #

    Hm, I suppose I could say I resolve to at least attempt to keep up with the music scene- I kind of stopped listening to Top Twenty when I started college, and not because I wanted to avoid the corporate undertones so much as because I just stopped listening to the radio. But I say that all the time and never take steps to rectify it… So I dunno.

    I hope to see waaaaay too many movies next year. It’s kind of sick. I’m a sucker for a good trailer, movie-makers love me for it.

    I’m sort of in mourning for oldschool Nick. I tried watching some of the crap they call “Nicktoons” nowadays with my younger siblings during the holiday week, and by golly… It made me so upset. To add insult to injury, there was a bunch of oldschool Nick merch at Hot Topic the day before I left the family again- Reptar, _Angry Beavers_, and Spike hoodies, original Doug and Ren and Stimpy shirts, etc. What will it take to get quality stuff like _Aaah! Real Monsters!_ and _Hey Arnold!_ back? The newest Nicktoon I USED to support was _Fairly Oddparents_, but even that one totally jumped the shark- Cosmo and Wanda have a baby? Say WHAT? Why can’t Quailman and Quaildog go in and save us?

    ANYHOO, people complain about bands “selling out” all the time, yeah? What if a Christian band goes mainstream and gets a bunch of fans that don’t realize they’re originally a Christian rock group? (I could provide context for this one, but I’m sure everybody is sick of me telling them about my life by now.) Are they selling out their faith by going mainstream? Do those fans have a right to like them, or, conversely, NOT to like them when they realize the origins of the group?


  5. Heather #

    I resolve not to tell Pete anything I don’t want Perich to post on the internet. Oh you brilliant ivy league editors! ;-)


  6. Sillyweasel #

    @Gab I’ve been mourning a lot for Nickelodeon recently, not long ago I found a streaming site of old nicktoons (which was shut down) and ever since I’ve found myself making disgusted faces and switching the channel off of Nick faster and faster.
    Cartoon Network, while it has it’s share of complete and utter crap at least has some gems in there.

    My pop culture resolutions for the year/decade, I suppose to give more music a chance, I’ve been fairly closed off about new music this decade and rarely find things I like anymore. I’ve just about given up on music actually, which saddens me. I used to love music so much.
    … also to make the attempt to stop watching so many cartoons.
    No, no, that’s totally a lie. I’m watching Looney Tunes as I write this. I’m a liar. I need cartoons to live. ANIMATED ENTERTAINMENT FOREVER!


  7. mlawski OTI Staff #

    Don’t give up on music, peoples! There is so, so much music out there that it must be statistically impossible for there not to be any music out there for each any every one of you. When I was in college, I had the same problem as you folks. I had given up on the radio but didn’t know what music to look at next. Luckily, I had some good, knowledgeable friends who gave me some excellent, beginners-level music suggestions. Now it’s five years later and I’m one of those annoying faux-hipsters who has said on several occasions, with a straight face, “Their first album was better.”

    Gab, Sillyweasel: what kind of music are you looking for? Rock? Pop? Folksy things? Jazzy things? OverthinkingIt’s readers and writers are organic knowledge depositories. I am positive one of us can help you out. You, too, can become a music snob!

    And, as for Nickelodeon, any channel that aired a fun show like Avatar: The Last Airbender gets a five-year pass from me. So I guess I can start criticizing it again in 2013.


  8. Hazbaz #

    There has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth in Britain this new year, with the departure of Beloved Timelord David Tennant from Doctor Who. I loved the OverthinkingIt article on Deus Ex Machina in Who, and hope that you guys can squeeze in a few more Albionic articles this year.

    To continue on my Patriotic theme, might those looking for new usic want to give [BBC 6music]( a try?


  9. Sillyweasel #

    @mlawski I think the problem is I don’t know what I’m looking for musically anymore, basically all I listen to is techno for background noise when other people want music and I’m in control of the soundscape (Usually running a tabletop game). Outside of background music I still listen to what was on the radio in the 90’s. My favorite band is still Our Lady Peace (though I haven’t heard the new album because I refuse to steal music from my favorite band and have no money to buy it yet). I still basically listen to alt and post alt, and when I see live shows it’s all metal, which I’ve never felt is fitting to listen to if it isn’t live, it takes all the soul out of it somehow. I think the newest things on my computer that aren’t techno are still old, because they’re things off of Cowboy Bebop’s various soundtracks.
    I used to be a lyric junkie, but I can’t seem to get into most of what’s written nowadays, even Raine Maida’s writing has gone downhill and if it weren’t for the fact I’m still in love with his voice (I’m not counting The Hunter’s Lullaby, I really enjoyed that solo project and wish he’d do more) I’d have probably have given up OLP as well,…
    And that’s my musical babble.

    As for Avatar, I somehow missed that show and am now catching up randomly online when I remember to watch things, though for some unknown reason my computer refuses to stream anything from official sites like cartoonnetwork adultswim nbc etc .com

    In conclusion someone walked in while I was typing this and I got distracted by that and Batman:The Brave and the Bold.


  10. AsWicked #

    Ani Difranco still kinda kicks ass. Still not rooting for the Bills, though. I wonder if she does?


  11. AsWicked #

    Here’s a question for your overthinkers:

    Given that Fenzel’s article was dead-on or at least pretty freakin’ pertinent: I still recommend Avatar to people who haven’t seen it in theater yet. Not because it is a great story, but because it is an awesome movie. So where does that leave the rest of us? I mean, the people who make obscure but relevant pop culture references at New Years parties that impress no one and do not get us laid.

    Random question, with background sentence: My father has a habit of saying things like, “So wait, the good guys have to go destroy something powerful where it was made? Pfft. Tolkien, bitches.” He doesn’t actually call us bitches, because that would be rude and inappropriate, but: what is the newest *story* you have heard/seen/read recently? Who is doing new stuff out there?

    I will succinctly and inexplicably suggest Paolo Gacipalupi’s Windup Girl as an example of a new story. That’s because I consider Concision to be One of My Greatest Virtues and it is too late to go into more detail. Bitches.


  12. Genevieve #

    Q1: My Pop Culture Resolution: to be more open-minded about new music, and to seek it out instead of waiting for it to find me. I listen to quite a bit of new music, but it’s mainly things that people such as my boyfriend and my bandmates have shoved down my throat. I have a serious hate-on for commercial radio (although I have found new things on various NPR music shows.) I generally find that my tastes are too obscure for the cool mainstream folks, and too mainstream for the cool obscurists. In other words, when I talk about my favorite music (new or classic) half the people I know say, “Who?” and the other half scoff at me as a sell-out. (it’s all part of my secret identity as Ms. Mediocrity – shhhh, don’t tell anyone!)

    Q2: The final season of Lost. I have not looked forward to a future classic so desperately in quite a long time. I’m on pins & needles, but I’m incredibly sad that it appears to be switching to Tuesdays, because I don’t have a tv, and generally watch it either streaming or bought from iTunes… but I work on Wednesdays! Thursdays are my day off, and in the past, it has been my habit to wake up Thursday mornings and watch Lost first thing, before venturing into the world where some damn fool could accidentally ruin it for me. Now, I’ll have to spend all day Wednesdays with my fingers in my ears shouting “LALALALALALALA!” which will make work rather difficult.

    I admit, though, there are also several films I am desperate for as well. I claim the right to include “The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus” on this list, since wide release isn’t ’til the 8th, and I most certainly am not in a location privileged enough for limited release. I’m also, yes, I admit, eager for “Iron Man 2.” I have a bit of wary wonder regarding Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland.”

    @AsWicked – re: “new stuff,” I’d have to say China Mieville (which reminds me, his upcoming “Kraken” should be on my list of things I’m anticipating, above. In fact, I should really have many more books on that list, shouldn’t I?) (further, do any gamers know whatever became of the proposed “Tales of New Crobuzon?” seems to have nothing) Also, for all that he’s quite the 21st c Orwell in terms of being more politics than plot, Cory Doctorow tends to couch his philosophy in original and fascinating ideas.


  13. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    @AsWicked – But of course, Tolkien would be the first to admit he didn’t INVENT his plot, but rather adapted it from various myths and legends. It really is true that there are only so many different plots. Trust me, I’ve been rolling my eyes at how cliche a lot of Avatar seems, but at the end of the day criticizing a plot for lack of originality is something you can almost always find a way to do, but isn’t always a valid criticism. A movie can do a lot worse than telling an old story well.


  14. Gab #

    @Sillyweasel: I can’t think of any gems on Nick that are still gems. I used to LOVE _Fairly Oddparents_, but it totally jumped the shark when Cosmo and Wanda had a kid. Seriously, guys? And I lost respect for Cartoon Network when IT jumped the shark and started showing live pseudo-Mythbusters crap.

    I like Our Lady Peace, too. I discovered them because they’re on the _Armageddon_ soundtrack. ::refrains from singing::

    Batman WHAAAT?!?! Awesome. ;p

    @Mlawski: It isn’t as though I’m not interested in music, I just don’t listen to the RADIO. Distinct difference. I have literally over a day’s worth of muzak on my compy. Lots of different artists/composers. Some are more well-known than others. I get a lot from commercials or soundtracks- I’ll like the clip or song, look up the band, and end up buying the album(s) (it’s how I found The Damnwells- look them up, they’re frakkin’ made of awesome). iTunes has a free music application on iGoogle I’m quite fond of, too (how I found my second-favorite band, Anberlin). I listen to everything, though- I have Jay-Z’a _American Gangster_ album sandwhiched between Taylor Swift’s first and REM’s greatest hits. Techno? Sure! Classical? ALRIGHT! I’ll headbang to metal and cry along with emo (or screamo). And I guess I’m perfectly capable of being a “music snob” if I wanted to about some artists (although not all of them are necessarily very popular, granted).

    Enough circumlocution. POINT: It’s more the physical act of listening to the radio I need to do. Or at least stream it from the interwebz. That way I’d know what’s “getting around” more.

    And yeah, the cartoon _Avatar_ from Nick is totally made of awesome. It’s the exception to my rule of Anything from Nick From the Past Four-ish Years Sucks Whale Balls. Thoughts on the upcoming movie?

    Genevieve, you are SOOO right!!! How could I forget that LOST is wrapping up this year? I’ll do my Prawn voice and say, “I am ashamed,” now. I had a class scheduled to let out right as Lost started during season three. Boy, that was torture. Some weeks, I’d barely make it back because we got out early, other times I’d miss it by like five minutes- and you can’t watch an episode of Lost without seeing the first couple minutes, it just doesn’t roll that way. I’d do the Thursday-Morning-Catch-Up thing, too.

    AsWicked: No clue about new plots. I suppose _500 Days of Summer_ was at least a good inversion: the guy was the one that seemed totally emotionally histrionical for a change, and… well… I won’t spoil it, but yeah, I thought that was different, and refreshingly so. I actually saw a lot of _Babylon 5_ in _Avatar_, but that’s probably because I finished season 4 (again) a few days prior.

    General question: Did Cameron ever claim he wanted the PLOT to be “changing” or whatever? I know he wanted the MOVIE to change how we watch films or whatever, but did he include in that his STORYTELLING? There is a difference, after all…


  15. Valatan #


    If the storytelling ISN’T what Cameron was out to completely change about our filmviewing experience, what the hell was it? If it was intended a a pure technical accomplishment, couldn’t he have done a nature film or something, to exactly the same effect? Surely, it had to have SOMETHING to do with the storytelling.


  16. dock #

    LOST!!!!! Soooo close!


  17. AsWicked #

    @Belinkie, Gab

    I think the novel point of Tolkien’s plot was the idea that there is some artifact of extreme power that the good guys have to destroy in order to save the day. The most obvious (to me) forerunner of the idea is the Ring of Gyges in Glaucon, but even then the magic invisibility ring is only a sort of philosophical Macguffin to drive the commentary on the temptation of power. Isn’t the idea that something is so powerful as to corrupt indiscriminately kind of Marxist? What’s the mythological corollary to the One Ring? Those questions, my friends, are what is known as a non-sequiter. Or lazy writing.

    I mostly enjoyed 500 Days of Summer for the somewhat seamless combination of a 60s aesthetic with 90s sensibilities. It’s like what Garden State would have looked like if shot in the days of Camelot (the, uh, Kennedy one). With cell phones.


  18. AsWicked #

    It’s 2010! That means I can quit boycotting references to the 2000-2009 decade (aughties? naughties? all dumb) by pretending that Darcy and Iha are still a part of a hit-producing Smashing Pumpkins. Or I could use “contemporary” instead of “90s.” Last week, I still partied like it was 1999, so maybe it’s a personal thing. My apologies to any readers who were (as) confused (as I am) about what decade it currently is.


  19. Gab #

    @Valatan: Well, I can’t quote directly, but the general vibe I got from articles and interviews was he wanted the film EXPERIENCE to be different, but that he never specified storytelling. And maybe I’m cynical, but I find it hard to believe he cared that much about story if he worked on it for ten frakkin’ years and gave us… that.

    @AsWicked: If you could write a piece about Marxism in LotR, I’d totally grant you at least one whole internet. Not because I don’t think it can be done, but because it would be made of so much awesome.


  20. Sillyweasel #

    @Gab Yeah the moment that baby entered the storyline the entire show dynamic went out the window. Cartoonnetwork makes me very, very sad with it’s shows that ARE NOT FRIGGIN’ CARTOONS, and the fact they’re apparently not renewing Chowder or The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, as well as the death of Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends which was just such a excellent show.
    Also, I can’t help but feel a little weirdly bad for Andrew W.K. I mean, I really don’t know how to feel about what he’s doing on CN,… I still can’t even listen to I Get Wet without wanting to drink myself into a monumentally fuzzed evening, but I just feel massively confused when he shows up on children’s TV.

    Supersatellite is what was on that soundtrack right? I hate that movie so it’s hard to remember. I still have homicidal rage twitches when I’m for some reason forced to listen to I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing, I can’t even think of a song I hate more passionately than that song.

    Back to Nick, I’m not hating Fanboy and Chum-Chum, and Making Feinds is cute,… but neither inspires me to run around with them on my chest in t-shirt form, which for me is a higher form of praise than ratings or dvd sales. I advertise stuff I like when I leave the house, for free even.


  21. SeanFracture #

    I can’t think of pop culture in 2010 without Lost – it’s driving me half-mad with how awesome it is going to be. Mlawski, I cannot wait to start watching alongside your OTI piece, which was definitely my favourite (re)watch article, because watching someone experience Lost for the first time always feels to me like watching a baby learn to walk; feelings of joy, amazement and pride.

    I love Lost by the way. It’s a (the!) sickness.


  22. Genevieve #

    @AsWicked: the idea of the powerful object corrupting indiscriminately is seen with another ring about a century earlier, in Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen… which of course drew from myriad ancient Norse and Germanic myths.

    I think the more cogent point regarding Tolkien is that, whether or not he was original in plot or presentation, the fact remains that most of the authors who came after him were not influenced by his *sources,* but by HIM. Much of his inspiration would’ve remained obscure were it not for his success, and his successors model after him far more consciously than accidentally. He was a benchmark. It’s much like how, when speaking of a term or phrase being coined, it’s far more relevant to talk about the person who brought it into the vernacular than the person who literally came up with it, or literally spoke it first. People *really are* ripping off Tolkien, no matter who he ripped off.


  23. mlawski OTI Staff #

    @Sean Fracture: Funny, I felt like a baby trying to walk when I was writing those posts. Seriously, though, I cannot wait until Lost comes back. What have you done to me, Lindelof and Cuse?!


  24. Gab #

    @Sillyweasel: Fanboy and ChumChum bothers me, but for really overthinkingit-type reasons. The relationship between the two is disgusting, dehumanizing of BOTH characters. And Foster’s WAS an awesome show, I don’t know why it didn’t do better/last longer.

    The song from the _Armageddon_ soundtrack was “Starseed.” I wonder, though, why does everybody hate on “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” so much? Is it *really* all that bad? Was it ever meant to be Good in the first place? Is dissing it sort of like how hating on Micheal Bay is cool now?


  25. stokes OTI Staff #

    Going out on a limb here, I’m going to say that the movie Paprika had an original plot. Which is kind of a weird thing to say, because Paprika is one of the most self-consciously allusive movies I’ve ever experienced (and is in any case based on a novel I haven’t read). But if you use the old theory that stories are either man vs. man, or man vs. nature, or man vs. society, and so on, Paprika strikes me as the first story that is fundamentally about man vs. internet.


  26. Sillyweasel #

    @Gab Oh yeeah, I should relisten to Naveed I’m getting songs mixed up. Bad weasel. As for I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing, I cannot remember ever liking that song, I’d switch the channel every single time that video came on. I began to despise that song when it became so overplayed I literally heard it more than any other song in existence, ever. I can think of worse songs, I can think of worse bands and videos, but I can’t think of a single one of those that was so consistently SHOVED DOWN MY EARS, EYES AND SOUL OVER AND OVER AND OVER. It’s like that song raped me and there was nothing you could do about it. It WAS EVERYWHERE. I’ll stop abusing caps lock now.
    But yeah, I think saturation rape is the only way I can describe why I hate that song so much.


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