Episode 100: A Sidetrack from our Broader Thrust

The Overthinkers celebrate 100 episodes by overthinking the idea of popular culture itself.

Matthew Wrather hosts with Natalie Baseman, Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, John Perich, and David Shechner to overthink 100 episodes of this show, the difference between popular and high culture, “film” vs. “movies”, democratization of the means of production, streamlining the supply chain, new and old business models, Nintendo Power and its discontents, and Why We Overthink.

In accordance with Murphy’s Law, some bandwidth and computing problems interfered with the livestream and the audio recording—rendering the first 10 minutes of the show—the question of the week—unlistenable. Very sorry to the dedicated viewers who join us for the livestream every week, and to the dedicated listeners!

To make up for it, let’s have everybody answer this week’s question in the comments below: What is your earliest memory of pop culture?

→ Download Episode 100 (MP3)

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21 Comments on “Episode 100: A Sidetrack from our Broader Thrust”

  1. Timothy J Swann #

    Well, I recall the first film I saw in the cinema, which was Aladdin… I’m reliably informed that I was party to British soap EastEnders when I was a fresh neonate.


  2. inmate #

    I think it says a lot about me that my earliest pop-culture related memory is watching a VHS recording of Return of the Jedi from the SciFi Channel. This is closely followed by watching, not necessarily of my own volition, Star Trek Voyager.

    I was about 6 or 7 years old at the time.


  3. Shawn Pitre #

    The first movie I first saw in the theaters was The Muppets Take Manhattan ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087755/ ). I saw it when I was 4. I still remember bits and pieces fondly.

    I remember also when I was in my early teens staying up way too late watching Are You Being Served marathons. Best thing PBS brought me back then. I wouldn’t say at the time it was very pop-culture for my area, most of the other kids either didn’t quite get it (Neither did I, I think I was watching for the occasional shot of someone in their knickers *blush*), but I still faithfully watched many an episode of it.

    I also am told I used to watch Price is Right from an exceptionally early age, like, 16 months old. Had to get my Bob Barker in at noon every day. Gave my mother some peace and quiet. Come to think of it, I wonder if it wasn’t the bells, whistles, and flashing lights that kept me occupied.

    Ooh, look at the kitty.


  4. Heather #

    3 years, screaming along with the radio: “BABY, BABY; JUST CALL ME ANGEL, OF THE MORNING, ANGEL, JUST TOUCH MY CHEEK BEFORE YOU LEEEAVE, BAYBEEEE!!!” Thank god my parents didn’t own a camcorder at the time.


  5. Matthew Wrather #

    I should mention, too, that the first thing I went for when I was old enough to pick out my own (beta) videocassettes at the rental store was the Police Academy series of cinematic masterpieces.


  6. cat #

    I would guess that my first pop culture memory was seeing Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs though oddly enough I can’t remember most of that movie now. I think it probably has something to do with why certain archetypes and plotlines are engraved into my consciousness.

    It’s hard to believe I’ve listened to almost 100 podcasts (I skipped a few from 1-10 and I think the one about Mad Men). Thanks for devoting your time to this weekly. My brain now has a little cabinet of knowledge of pop culture, etymology, California geography, and film production that was previously empty. :)


  7. Martin #

    Geez, the first film I remember seeing in the cinemas was Star Wars Episode 1. Then our first DVD was The Fugitive with Harrison Ford, and then George of the Jungle with Brendan Fraser. I guess our parents hated us or something.


  8. RiderIon #

    I can’t really pinpoint one pop culture moment as the earliest as they are all a little hazy but they are definitely in the same age range (4 to 5 years): watching one of several VHS tapes of recorded programs (Voltron, Super Duck Tales, Kissyfur), going to Disney land with my family and seeing Captain Eo (my first and only 3D movie) and playing Super Mario Bros. on the NES. Really…much hasn’t changed.


  9. LB #

    As a kid, after I was put to bed – I would wake up just in time to watch Johnny Carson. I would watch the whole show with my parents and then go back to bed. I guess I had an internal pop culture clock early on.


  10. Gab #

    My oldest pop culture memory is also my oldest (happy) memory in general. The first time I watched _The Last Unicorn_. I was almost four, but the movie itself was seven. It’s still one of my favorite movies (and the book is one of my favorite books) of all time, and I’ll admit that’s partially due to the emotional attachment (for myriad reasons) to the memory- but I’d objectively argue the movie’s quality in every aspect a movie can be critiqued on, too. Oh, nostalgia. ::sniffle:: I should go watch that again.

    And to take a leaf from Wrather’s book, I have also been told by my mom that before I could talk, my favorite song was “One Way Out” by the Allman Brothers Band. I’d (supposedly) totally rock out (flailing my arms and feet and wagging my head around) and try to sing along, and would insist it be played repeatedly (as adamantly as an infant can). Mom says that if she couldn’t figure out why I was crying, she’d turn the song on and I’d perk up.


  11. station agent #

    It was either Grease or the Garfield album, featuring the single “Big Fat Hairy Deal”. Music was ever an uphill climb from there.


  12. Amanda #

    My first pop culture memory is probably seeing The Little Mermaid, though my first theater memory is seeing My Girl with my neighbors family. I also recall seeing the Thriller music video for the first time and being scared sh*tless for years afterward…


  13. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    You guys addressed the question of whether Nintendo Power ever gave anything a bad review. This was indeed a rare event. Obviously, the magazine could only review a portion of all the games released that month, and it wouldn’t make sense to waste those column inches on pans, or even lukewarm shrugs.

    But I distinctly remember them hating “Where’s Waldo.” This game, as you can imagine, was very, very stupid. I’m sure the Nintendo Power review was actually much tamer than the game deserved, but when I was 11, it seemed shockingly harsh.


  14. Chris #

    Nintendo Power lambasted the Superman game for the N64 which, while I never played it, I heard was truly awful and nearly impossible to play. That’s the only negative thing I can recall, as I haven’t read that magazine in over a decade and all I remember is the positive stuff and a bunch of art work sent in by fans.


  15. lee OTI Staff #

    At the end we talked about “underthinking it”–giving one star reviews to the classics. Unfortunately, we’ve been beaten to the punch…by people doing it for real:



  16. Chris #

    I realize now that Superman for the N64 wasn’t created by Nintendo, and in stepping into an arena of which I have little knowledge I have come across looking foolish. Perhaps I can redeem myself by saying that Film and Film Studies are indeed two very different areas of study, though at the university I attended each major required you to dabble in the other area briefly. I never dealt with any actual film in the one production class I took (and I never watched any movies on actual film for that matter) and I don’t know anybody who actually has. I’d imagine that was a very unique thing.


  17. Timothy J Swann #

    To use the pernicious phrase ‘to be fair’, Mr. Lee, (actually, I probably shouldn’t use titles because I know at least Shechner is a doctor, right?) I really did not like Catcher in the Rye – though the ”’critiques”’ in that website aren’t exactly thought-through, might it sometimes be the Overthinking way to hold a position that does not accept the classics without question. Except, of course, for Mario Brothers.


  18. Timothy J Swann #

    I have as of this moment joined the Century Club of the Podcast. Started in December… it’s been great, now need to find a new podcast binge.


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