Matthew Wrather hosts with Natalie Baseman, Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, Josh McNeil, John Perich, and special guest Amanda Marcotte to overthink Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.[audio:http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/traffic.libsyn.com/mwrather/otip111.mp3]
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I would love to have a band named Prince of Persia and the Revolution. But if I had a jazz group it’d be Ganonball Adderley, and if I were a solo MC, I’d go with Dr. Octorok.
The more I thought about it, the more I wanted my band name to be “Ikari Warriors.”
Or, of course, “Bad Dudes,” but that’s probably already the name of like ten bands.
There’s always “Sumo Headbutt,” “The Soul Still Burns” or “Animality.”
“Gyromite” isn’t bad. “Clu Clu Land” also isn’t bad.
Of course, what I really want is a reggaefuturist Ziggy Stardust meets Jimmy Buffet band called “StarTropics.” I’d hook the synthesizer into a yo-yo, and all our songs would be fiendishly difficult.
Or maybe I should have a post-grunge emo band called “Grumble, Grumble …”
Or a trip-hop band called “A Secret to Everybody.”
Or a ska band called “Wind Fish.”
My obscure yet influential rock outfit, “The Velvet Underworld.”
Guys. GUYS. “Grand Theft Autotune.” Come on.
Super Crunk Brothers Brawl
The Sex Zappers.
Isn’t the fact that Scott Pilgrim is set up for a 2112 thesis paper ensure that it’s a movie that will have longevity?
The themes of the story are fairly universal, young love/overcoming the past/growing up, so in that sense it will always be relevant. The pop culture references are the tools used to tell the story. So, couldn’t it be the case the the story itself keeps the future generations enteratained and the references keep the future generations interested because they get all this research to do?
I mean, if you think that researching all the references and homages in a movie is good way to spend time.
It’s interesting that you brought up the 90s thing, because I remember looking up Scott Pilgrim on Google (I still haven’t read/seen it, though I probably will; I first heard about it on Kingdom of Loathing) and seeing a publicity still of Michael Cera in a Smashing Pumpkins t-shirt. I remember thinking “hey, I had that same shirt when I was sixteen. When is this thing set?” So that clears that up. After listening to this podcast it’s moved up a bit on my reading list.
Also: listened to a clip of “So What” from the Kind of Bloop project. Hilarious! And strangely appropriate…
There was mention made about how in the early 90s, nobody went out of their way to make video game music for popular consumption, that it was crafted more with the purpose of putting it into a video game, doing the best you could with the technical limits of the hardware. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, so I’m just going to toss out a somewhat lengthy comment on the subject.
When I was rather young (in that kind of 8 to 10 range), the music I heard the most was video game music, and the big hair rock/metal that was in fashion until grunge came along. That imprint has defined most of the music I listen to in my adulthood: analogue-laden electronica (e.g., Aphex Twin, and the genre of psytrance and goa trance), and really fast classic and contemporary metal (e.g., European power metal like Sonata Arctica, and Metallica’s first three albums).
It just so happens that the composers of early video game music were often influenced by the metal of its day. I wish I knew enough about music and music theory to be precise here, but my best argument I can come up with is, “Listen to some Iron Maiden, and then listen to the music of Mega Man 2, and you will probably hear some similarities.”
One of the things I find fascinating about all of this is that, whether or not it was something done being consciously aware of these historical influences, classic video game music is starting to influence modern rock and metal. You have chiptune artists covering rock songs, and rock bands covering video game music. The band DragonForce has explicitly stated that their music is influenced by video games, in addition to being influenced by great guitarists like Steve Vai and Joe Satriani.
And, completing this feedback loop of influences, someone made an 8-bit cover of “Through the Fire and Flames.” If you are wondering whether it is worth listening to, the answer is “yes.”
Careful, Tim – another couple hours of research and 1,000 words of text and you’ve got an OTI guest article pitch!
When it came to your “ironic video game band names” either the use of the word “ironic” was incorrect or for the most part it went unconsidered. It seemed to be more of a “semi-clever video game based pun band name” segment.
I will preface this next statement by saying that I haven’t seen the film, and after listening to this podcast I am rather glad I didn’t, but it seems to me the problem with this film and what gives it limited appeal, and what definitely is the problem with a lot of entertainment entities, is not “post modernism” but the lazy crutch that are pop culture references. By that, I mean pop culture references that simply exist in and of themselves. When they are just there to be recognized and that is the entirety of their value, it creates inherent limited appeal.
This is because, of course, you have to be able to recognize the reference to enjoy it. If you make a genuinely good joke with a pop culture reference even those who didn’t get it can laugh or enjoy it. However, there’s also the simple fact that many people don’t like lazy writing. If I recognize a pop culture reference but there is nothing more to it, I’m usually not going to enjoy it. If it becomes the sole crux of the comedy (and I say comedy since dramas usually don’t have much, if any, use for pop culture references) then I actively despise it, such as Family Guy or any of those “X Movie” films.
However, the most important thing is the fight against determinism and/or fatalism.
This isn’t a movie of “guess the pop culture” reference. It’s a movie (and I assume series of books) that uses pop culture to define its world and its characters because the characters themselves are young enough to have grown up in a world that is all references. So, that is how they see the world.
Since Scott Pilgrim sees his world as a video game, therefore the movie plays out with video game references. The movie does succeed in giving pop culture references without alienating the audience. You don’t need to know what video games are being referenced. It’s enough that you as the audience know that it’s got some video game influence.
This is probably why Edgar Wright was chosen to direct this movie. His first work Spaced with Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson is a TV show with characters who relate their own lives via pop culture references. But the show, and this movie, are still about the people. That’s why it does allow its audience to emotionally connect.
It’s arguable that we’ve come to a point as a society and as a generation where pop culture reflects life and life reflects pop culture in such a circle that it’s no longer quite clear where either begin.
Sylvia, you are exactly right. The movie does make a lot of specific video game references, but it’s much more interested in… I dunno, the aesthetic system of the late 20th century video game, writ large? You don’t need to have played River City Ransom (which I feel is actually Scott Pilgrim’s most direct precursor text) to understand the “beat up the bosses to get the girl” model that the film is built on and/or built on critiquing. Tracking the specific references can be fun, but the movie would work just fine without them. (Which means they are not a crutch — maybe an awesome pogo stick or something, but not a crutch.)
Well, at the very least I’m glad to hear that the movie didn’t live up to my worst fears. I certainly never thought it was possibly at the level of a “Date Movie” and that was noticeable even from the trailers. The discussion in the podcast did seem to indicate it may have been an issue at times, however, and then there was the brief talk of post modernism and I felt it served as a reasonable jumping off point for such a topic.
Regardless, it still seems like far too hyper-stylized movie for my tastes, and it deviates too far from reality for my tastes.
Also, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter would be a good name for a heavy metal band.
Ha! Possibly the best name for a heavy metal band.
I haven’t heard the podcast (any chance of a transcript?) but i LOVED the movie. i’m exactly in the target audience though – 25, hang out with hipsters, love retrogaming, play in a band. i had a great feeling of LOVE – like this is how being a teenager SHOULD be, all exaggerated emotions and the POWER OF ROCK. and even the silly stuff maps to my experiences – i once got an e-mail saying, pretty much, ‘we’re going to date. you need to watch out for my Evil Ex’.
there’s alot to Overthink, from the misogyny of the end of the movie (check here: http://wrongquestions.blogspot.com/2010/08/scott-pilgrim-vs-world.html) to the way it’s dividing the geek world. i see a bunch of snarky references to Scott from the more ‘traditional’, analytical geeks, which is fair enough. Is Scott one of them or is he just another hipster/music guy borrowing videogame iconography (which is really common)? And does it matter?
in other words, i loved the movie, and my friends loved the movie. but i’m not sure someone with my specific life would relate as strongly
er, my specific life
and as the guy above said, it interprets the world through the lens of games, instead of say film or comics. it works
and it did remind me of Speed Racer, but i LOVE Speed Racer. it was one of the best videogame style movies around
Oooh, how about “Octorock?”
Really, though, I should just name my band “Waluigi.”
Or maybe “Wavanna.” We all dress in plaid shirts and beat-up jeans, paint our nails, yell a lot about childhood trauma, have unkempt hair and sport black squiggly moustaches.
Do you really think that this wasn’t at all targeted at teenagers, I saw it with a couple friends and we are all around 17 and loved the heck out of it.
I don’t share the opinion of several of the Overthinkers that Scott Pilgrim is so deliberately dated. The video game references aren’t really all retro. The clothing seems retro because it takes place in Canada in the winter, and heavier clothes were fasionable then (and are coming back in style now anyway).
Yeah, he wears retro T-shirts, but he also wears t-shirts that are more contemporary, referencing recent webcomics and bands and stuff.
The skateboarding scene is pretty clearly Tony-Hawk focused, and that’s at least early aughts. Veganism’s cultural resonance is much greater now than it was in the 90s. So is the resonance of young women going through bisexual phases. There’s a lot in this movie that is new or newish — that refers to the last 10 years or so.
The comic books are pretty solidly rooted around 2005-2006. I think the movie is similar.
The movie skews a little younger than the comic — I think they even make Scott Pilgrim a year or two younger, to make it less sketchy for him to be dating a high-schooler (yay, Hollywood cowardice!). In the comic book, they go to bars a lot more – they even buy Knives booze. In the movie, they play Ninja Ninja Revolution or whatever in the video arcade.
So, yeah, I don’t think this is targeted specifically at 20 or 30-somethings, but the books were written by somebody of that generation, so it makes sense the iconography spans that person’s experience and vocabulary.
One thing Scott Pilgrim does nicely is cast aside some of this “everything has a decade” nonsense. There’s a lot of stuff in Scott Pilgrim that is 80s, there’s a lot that is 90s, there’s a lot that is naughts. Decades are arbitrary ways of looking at time, culture doesn’t really change in decades — it’s too easy a way of classifying things, and it’s about time it got challenged more directly.
Also, having now finished the books, I can safely say I dislike the ending of the movie even more. It’s just such a huge cop-out on the themes of the piece and what it all means. It cheapens the experience of both the male and female characters and denies Scott Pilgrim some of the personal growth that is pretty cool when it happens in the book.
Also, thinking back on the movie, there’s no reason to believe Scott Pilgrim even really likes Ramona that much. At the end of the movie, if she just walked away, it would be fine. That shows the movie has failed in a pretty huge way to get across what exactly it means to want to be with somebody so much that you fight the echoes of their exes and stuggle to overcome your mutual pasts.
It also glosses over the fact that Scott Pilgrim murders a whole bunch of people just to be with this girl — if being with the girl isn’t important in the end, because this is really about Scott doing this for himself and fulfilling his destiny and that other crap — then these murders are very difficult to justify and the whole thing just starts feeling gross and decadent to me.
Also, (t-t-t-t-t-riple post!)
I’d like to once again thank Amanda Marcotte for coming on our podcast. It’s always a real pleasure to have her join. I would have liked to have heard more and discussed more with her the property in general — her own blog’s post on it (see above) is really good. If only I’d dedicated the extra 2 or 3 hours to finish those last two books before the podcast.
One of these days, we’re going to invite Amanda to a podcast and I won’t talk over her so much out of excitement. Sorry about that.
Oh, and, quadruple post,
I want a three-piece hair metal band called Cobra Triangle.
In our video, we’ll fight sea monsters and leap over waterfalls with the power of rock.
Videogame band name?
Always more the listener than the talker, I’m hardly articulate enough to post on your website and am more than satisfied to understand all your obscure cultural references, flagrant diction and elitist mannerisms. But here goes!
I’m Nathan. I’m 21 years old. I love video games. I love indie music. Toronto is my home. The Legend of Zelda, Metric and Casa Loma are no strangers to me. No other film will ever come close to targeting the three past times in my life that mean the most to me. No other film will present such strong allegory and metaphors in such an artistic manner. This film is the keystone for indie, gaming and Toronto references. Nothing will ever surpass it. It’s such a shame that it’s a bad movie.
The film at its core is a severe failure in my eyes. The heart of the problem is that there is no substance to the film’s characters, Scott and Ramona. Fenzel has mentioned some of the reasons in his comments. It was also mentioned in the podcast the Michael Cera doesn’t do Scott justice. Once people have read the books, they will notice that the characters are on screen are mere paper dolls. Everyone knows that in the time frame of a film, one can never develop a character to match the book. However, in my eyes, our on screen characters fail to stir up even the simplest of emotions.
Why does Scott love Ramona? Why should he give two cents? Is it just because she has blue hair?
Why does Ramona put up with Scott? What is she looking for? What does she see in Scott?
These are questions that I couldn’t see answered in the film. As a result I couldn’t enjoy the wonderfully crafted scenes. I couldn’t get behind Michael Cera and root for him. I wasn’t gripping my arm rest hoping he would vanquish the next evil ex. Instead I found myself laughing at the ridiculousness of the character’s corny lines upon receiving a power up. The lines are supposed to be epic visions of the characters’ emotions. Instead they come out as childish. There’s no love between screen Scott and Ramona. There’s so much icing on this cake but there’s no heart.
O’Malley, you did it best.
Finally saw this! Thus finally listened to this! Good to have two female Overthinkers, it was as if you were actually approaching gender equality in numbers! As a generation who has just graduated, I think you underestimate the number of people who have learnt the references because of geek culture. I have played Super Nintendo on emulators, or on one some people in college bought off ebay, but never the first time round. My Final Fantasy was VII not II, but I’ve played a bit of it, and heard the music. And I watched Spaced, first to get the bits I understood, and second time with its unique and useful Homage-O-Meter to explain the references I didn’t.