Summer Reruns: Editor’s Choice

The best of the first half of 2010.


While all of the writers in our sweatshop produce good material, every now and then a real gem emerges. It shines a light on an aspect of pop culture that we thought we understood perfectly and proves that there was something we’d missed. I’ve selected a piece from each of our regular writers over the first six months of 2010. This is an early stab at a “Best Of” for the year. Sit back, pour a cooling drink (if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere), and enjoy this discriminating collection.

Kesha’s Tik-Tok Blues: I’m always a fan of our original media. Mark Lee’s recording of “Tik Tok” as a scratchy Muddy Waters standard deserved more attention than it received at the time. Add it to your iPod today.

Red State Jack, Blue State Jack: Matt Belinkie looked at two pop culture icons coming to an end at the same time, Law & Order and 24, and waxed eloquent on how each show’s Jack spoke to a different facet of the American scene.

The Lethal Weapon in the Hurt Locker: Taking nothing away from its critical acclaim, Pete Fenzel dove into the “buddy cop” roots of last year’s Oscar winner, The Hurt Locker. He brought a rare bit of deconstruction to a movie which had been met with otherwise slack-jawed stares, which is why I chose this piece for the collection.

USA vs. USA Network: We try not to step too deep into the political here at OTI, but Josh McNeil had a burst of insight that linked the serious—the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project—with the frivolous—the light-hearted spy romp Burn Notice. And it got a tweet from one of the show’s producers, so clearly we were on the right track!

Are Male Characters More Likable Than Female Characters?: Shana Mlawski killed it all through the spring with her “Overthinking LOST” series. But she took time out to add another brilliant treatise to OTI’s growing corpus of feminist readings of pop culture. Make sure you check this one out.

Choose Your Own Adventure: I chose this Jordan Stokes article in part because Choose Your Own Adventure books were such a staple of my early childhood, and partly because I love explorations of avant-garde literature like Oulipo. And partly because I wasn’t convinced a book called Escape from Fire Island existed.

Did I forget any of your favorites? Have anything new and exciting to say about these classics? Sound off in the comments, and we’ll answer as soon as we’re back from the beach. We promise.

9 Comments on “Summer Reruns: Editor’s Choice”

  1. stokes #

    I can understand why Perich wouldn’t want to toot his own horn, but no OTI 2010 retrospective would be complete without Star Wars Episode i: The Seven Warriors. I always like our “Fixing [pop culture property X]” articles, but this one takes it to another level.


  2. Paul #

    I just listened to Tik Tok Blues last night on my way home, followed by some Robert Johnson ‘Dead Shrimp Blues’.


      • lee OTI Staff #

        I assume this is in reference to the BP Oil Spill, in which case, it’s not too soon. It’s more like the perfect theme song for the Spill. Check out the lyrics:

        I woke up this mornin’ and all my shrimps was dead and gone
        I woke up this mornin’, ooh, and all my shrimp was dead and gone
        I was thinkin’ about you, baby, why you hear me weep and moan

        I got dead shrimps here, someone is fishin’ in my pond
        I got dead shrimps here, ooh, someone fishin’ in my pond
        I’ve served my best bait, baby, and I can’t do that no harm

        Everything I do, babe, you got your mouth stuck out
        Hole where I used to fish, you got me posted out
        Everything I do, you got your mouth stuck out,
        at the hole where I used to fish, baby, you’ve got me posted out

        I got dead shrimps here, ‘n’ someone fishin’ in my pond
        I got dead shrimps here, someone fishin’ in my pond
        Catchin’ my goggle-eye perches, and they barbequin’ the bone

        Now you taken my shrimps, baby, you know you turned me down
        I couldn’t do nothin’, until I got myself unwound
        You taken my shrimps, oohh, know you turned me down
        Babe, I couldn’t do nothin’, until I got myself unwound


  3. Tom P #

    I missed the pair of Jacks column the first time around. I always thought Jack McCoy was the most terrifying man on television… between the point you mentioned about threatening to imprison someone over half a vicodin or charging a bunch of firefighters under terrorism statutes for fighting in Tompkins Square Park. McCoy’s the epitome of everything -wrong- with the adversarial legal system where his reputation is based on how many people he puts in prison innocent or not. McCoy’s methods, for me, are much, much shadier than Bauer’s — mostly because McCoy’s prosecutorial discretion protected by the law.

    An interesting question to me is how many innocent people McCoy threatened and coerced in his career by “creatively” charging people under existing laws. I find that a far more terrifying abuse of power than anything Bauer ever did.


  4. Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

    I just wanted to say that I just watched The Dark Knight again. It’s still made of pure awesome. That last Commissioner Gordon monologue… goosebumps every single time.

    I just don’t see how a third Batman movie could be remotely that good – neither Catwoman or the Riddler (or probably both) is going to hold a handle to Heath Ledger’s Joker. HOWEVER, I have complete faith in Christopher Nolan. In fact, there’s nobody in Hollywood that I have more faith in right now – the man just doesn’t make bad movies. And if he says he’s got a great story to conclude the trilogy, I believe him.


    • Gab #

      So do you think the Joseph-Gordon-Levitt-as-Riddler rumors are because of the hype surrounding Inception, and how do you think he’d do, regardless?


  5. Gab #

    I’d actually go with the “Six Reasons Avatar Sucks” piece by Fenzel because not only did it prove how brilliant he, and, ostensibly, the rest of the regulars are, but because it’s a great example of every aspect of Overthinking: it presents problems, makes lots of nerdy references in discussing them, and presents solutions.


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