Episode 183: A Prize Anyone Can Edit

The Overthinkers tackle 2012 New Year’s resolutions and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Matthew Wrather hosts with Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, Josh McNeil, John Perich, and Jordan Stokes to overthink their resolutions for 2012, your personal Wikipedia vectors (and the strong Wikanthropic Principle), the difference between “eponymous” and “titular,” and Naruto vs. The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo, and the male gaze. That’s G-A-Z-E.


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Further Reading

The Anthropic Principle

The Gaze and Laura Mulvey

Christopher Plummer’s filmography

Humpty Dance Resources at Looptid.com

A Hypervortex of Ezra Pound’s Canto LXXXI at the University of North Carolina Greensboro

“Cut You Up with a Linoleum Knife,” by Mastodon

More on the Recent Magnitude 7.0 Earthquake in Tokyo

This Week’s Relevant Sentimetal Anime Fan Video, by LeandroShoiti

34 Comments on “Episode 183: A Prize Anyone Can Edit”

  1. cat #

    Thank you for continuing your unbroken streak of weekly podcast recordings. I was actually reminiscing by going over old podcast episodes. I think I listened to more than 5 and less than 10. I ran into the one where Fenzel referenced the thing about it being difficult to film an anti-war movie. I probably find that more amusing than anyone else does.

    I don’t really have much to say about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as I haven’t read the books or seen any adaptation. The closest I’ve gotten is reading magazine interviews with Rooney Mara. And while you would assume that women want strong, female characters I question the presentation of this character. Is this really something that’s meant to appeal to women? Do you have to move away from more stereotypically female genres to find strong female characters and almost earn them by sitting through the violence and the harshness of the depiction. If she is a strong female character, why is it necessary for her to overcome something to be believable as a strong female character? Also, I’ve heard and read a lot about the depiction of Rooney Mara. She’s been made to look “alien”, harsh, and generally not feminine and less sexualized. Does this detract from her being a strong, female character if she almost reads as not female but more androgynous or masculine?


    • fenzel OTI Staff #

      The criticism flows from all sides. There is no way to make a female character who, in isolation, is not going to attract negative attention for her role in gender politics. This is because the issue is really more systemic than it is about any one work. If the work is diverse in how it portrays women, then certainly we can forgive individual works a wide variety of individual venal sins. Movies certainly don’t show the best side of any segment of humanity on a regular basis.

      My suspicion is Rooney Mara is deliberately made to look unfeminine as an attempt to step outside the systematic tunnel-vision with which female movie characters are not just created, but understood. The reader/watcher has a role in all this as well.

      I would say that if they made her overly mannish, this would attract derision as claiming only men can be superhackers or whatever. But she’s not mannish – at least from the pictures. They tried really hard to make her still look less sexualized and less feminine without removing her XXcrhomoness entirely – so that she looks like an alien, badass female human being. Ideally people would not be so stuck in their interpretations and habits that this would be necessary – but it is, and people have to go to extreme measures.

      It is not necessary really for any character to “overcome” something to be believable – but the well-made melodramas that are antecedents to modern screenwriting professed it was necessary, so it follows through in the dogma of the craft. In this case, woman-ness doesn’t really enter into it – the idea is that any character at all needs this to be believable, and the fact that women so rarely seem to get their share of it when depicted in fiction shows writers don’t take them seriously as characters.

      Of course, I’m a fan of presentational performance, puppetry, improv, alternative comedy and performance art, so my perspective on the matter is a bit skewed against the well-made play.


      • Chip #

        Along the presentational/representational line, the movie had naturalistic representational acting and production design contrasted against a self-conscious camera and editing style that gave the movie feel like a relentless pitiless machine where inside humans fought and loved.

        As far as how Lisbeth is presented, I just read a couple chapters of “The Uses of Enchantment” before seeing the movie so maybe it’s a bit crazy, but I felt the punk look was a stand in the for the dirty feeling of the oedipal conflict, dirt earned by the character doing menial tasks like cleaning the fireplace like Cinderella, but since Lisbeth works with computers that has to be represented some other way like died hair. I think the punk look captures a truer version as the resentment or feelings of corruptness aren’t wholly projected onto step-sister figures while the protagonist remains 100% pure. But that alienating effect is necessary to make unwanted emotions processable.

        With the harshness of the depiction it goes for both genders, I first noticed this after watching Hellraiser where the Catholic crucifix is used to get over resentment towards males, the Dragon Tattoo movie even poses the revenge scene like a crucifix and 5 minutes later a different scene ends with the line “don’t be so hard on the Catholics.” In the podcast Perich mentioned movies and women in sexualized pain, there was an interesting shower scene where Blomkvist is huddled scared in a tub after being shot at and this is when Lisbeth decides to have sex with him, so I don’t think it’s something that happens to only women in movies, though it is typically nursing a wound type scene.


  2. babybiceps #

    Recommendations for Stokes: The Vaccines, The Joy Formidable and if you’re not familiar with them already The Black Keys. Rock on!


  3. Timothy J Swann #

    For Stokes, I recommend Pure Reason Revolution – the first album if you like Prog/Space Rock, the second if you like electronica and the third if you like pure rock. Also for excitement, I love Maserati.

    Re: Hypervortex – I tried to do something similar, eternally recursive and inspired by wikipedia/tvtropes http://marvintheparanoid.deviantart.com/gallery/27500261


  4. Emil #

    Thanks, Emil!

    Too Close to Miss will be auto-delivered wirelessly to your Kindle via Amazon Whispernet. You can go to your Kindle to start reading.

    Pete made me do it.


    • fenzel OTI Staff #

      Awesome! I enjoyed it; let me know what you think.

      It’s also a very detailed description of a lot of the areas around where I live, so it’s a bit of an insight into this neck of the woods.


  5. John Perich OTI Staff #

    For Stokes: My indie discovery of the last 4 weeks has been Walk The Moon. Ignore the hipster-ish-ness of the video and check out “Anna Sun,” which I can’t stop jamming out to.


    Atomic Tom got a huge viral hit when they played their single “Take Me Out” (no relation to Franz Ferdinand’s single of the same name) on their iPhones on the NYC subway. The song’s just as good in its studio version, but the subway video is sweet too.



  6. Leigh #

    Stokes, have you considered the possibility that you’re too old to get excited by a rock band? Most of modern music is aimed at a very juvenile audience. They haven’t heard it all before, so even the most derivative stuff seems new and exciting to them. Meanwhile, the people who used to be teenagers come down with Old Geezer Syndrome – no matter how close this band gets to sounding like the Pixies, they’re never going to be as good as the Pixies, so why bother? I mention this because 6 years (since 2005) is like an eternity in pop music. You may have to accept that new music just doesn’t mean as much to you anymore as it used to.


  7. Leigh #

    Earlier this week there was a discussion at I Love Charts about the “friend zone”, and how it was a symbol of male entitlement/rape culture, and there was mention of Laura Mulvey and The Gaze. Which sounds much less far-fetched if you really deconstruct what the friend zone is – a passive-aggressive rationalization that victimizes a spurned suitor.

    Anyway, I ended up at the Wikipedia page, with its warning not to confuse ‘gaze’ with ‘gays’ before I heard this podcast. Was that all just coincidence? Are you monitoring my browser history? (God help you if you are.) Or do you guys do some sort of research into what’s been going on around the internet when preparing for a show?


    • John Perich OTI Staff #

      Probably just cosmic coincidence. Maybe someone at “I Love Charts” had just seen The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which got them thinking about women and victimization, which got them thinking about the “friend zone,” and so forth.


    • fenzel OTI Staff #

      Ugh, don’t get me started on the friend zone. I yell about that enough on reddit already.

      By the way, between general rage, bad attitudes and lack of sleep, reddit probably has contributed more to my general unhappiness in the past year than pretty much anything else, including major bad things. So maybe staying away from it would be a good resolution.

      Although I did have a conversation recently with a female comic up here who made the good point that it sounds like it should be a really great place to be. A whole zone full of friends! That’s great!

      But yeah, I’ve never been to I Love Charts. On top of the dragon tattoo stuff, it makes sense for friend zone stuff to come up this time of year. The holidays, and New Year’s Eve in particular, can be frustrating times to be single.

      Also, there are dozens if not hundreds of websites that talk about this stuff literally every day, so it’s not a big surprise to see it discussed.

      But yeah, friend zone as rape culture? Having not read the article (and not really wanting to at this point), I will ill-informedly and categorically call that ridiculous – that it shows the same tunnel vision and lack of respect for the gaps of perspective between people and paralyzing fear of people taking risks and doing stuff in the real world as the friend zone does in the first place.

      Ugh, I feel myself wanting to go off on this yet again, but I won’t.


  8. Wade #

    I think the Wikipedia game Jon is referring to is called ‘wiki-groaning’. As I’ve heard it described, it’s more a game of how ashamed you can be at Wikipedia users for producing a longer entry about, say, the video game Half-life vs. the actual scientific phenomenon of radioactive half-life.

    The game isn’t all that fun anymore with the advent of specialized wikis like Wookiepedia. Did you know Alvin and the Chipmunks has its own wiki site? That’s enough of a groaner right there.


    • fenzel OTI Staff #

      Wikia, the service that hosts many if not most of those specialized Wikis, is a for-profit enterprise started by Jimmy Wales, the special appeal guy who started Wikipedia, along with other senior Wikipedia execs and board members.

      By forcing down the level of representation of stuff like Yu-Gi-Oh and Alvin and the Chipmunks and whatnot on Wikipedia, run by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, they channel it to the for-profit Wikia – and over the years there have been a number of other logistical, commercial and financial partnerships.

      People involved claim it’s not really that integrated or sketchy, but it definitely has the appearance of a conflict of interest.


      • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

        And it’s not just those — Star Trek (Memory Alpha) and Star Wars (Wookiepedia), for example, have their own for-profit wikia.com sites. It’s hard NOT to see it as a conflict of interest.

        But now i know what business OTI should have gone into those several years ago…


        • Joseph FM #

          There are, to be fair, other wiki platforms. TV Tropes, for example, uses PMWiki. Incidentally, that’s another site that ended up getting a lot of the displaced fandom stuff, since its basically the Wikipedia of overthinking.


    • petrlesy #

      i’ve only ever played the 4chan version “find the least steps to get to hitlers page from random wiki page” (it’s pretty easy)

      also this reminded me of interesting game played on facebook, to connect two users from around the world with a chain of “mutual” friends


      • Sylvia #

        Another variation of that game is “find the least steps to get to bacon page from random wiki page”


        • Timothy J Swann #

          By clicking on the first non-bracketed link of any wikipedia page, you will end up back at philosophy, according to xkcd. There are a couple of exceptions. The game: Trying to find them.
          (I have found one and one alone).


          • Leigh #

            About two hours after that xkcd comic came out, somebody did a mass edit so that all the links traced back to science. Everything was back to normal a day later.

          • Gab #

            I just lost the game, dude.

  9. Chris #

    Ah, talk of the male gaze. It’s like being back in film studies.

    If we are giving Stokes music suggestions for some reason, I recommend Dum Dum Girls and the song “California” by EMA but nothing else by her. Also, I recommend Pavement even though they haven’t made new music in a decade solely because they are my favorite band. Since I’m going to do that, I also suggest everybody watch The Simpsons seasons 4-9 and The Big Lebowski. I am contributing nothing!


    • Leigh #

      Pavement is great. And the newest Stephen Malkmus side project album “Mirror Traffic” was one of the best albums of 2011.

      The other best album of 2011 was “Wild Flag” by Wild Flag.


      • Chris #

        Mirror Traffic is solid, and, fittingly, both that album and Wild Flag’s album feature Janet Weiss on drums. Their only song I’ve heard is “Romance,” but I really enjoy that song and I like watching them play live because I am endlessly entertained by Carrie Brownstein high kicking when playing guitar.


  10. Lee OTI Staff #

    All of these new music recommendations are great, but seriously, we want you all to call into 203-285-6401 and deliver the “Back to the Future” Marvin Berry quote along with the recommendation.


  11. Howard #

    A lot of Japan talk this week.

    Before I went to Japan, the dominant Japanese popular culture I was exposed to was anime and manga. Once I got there, it became apparent that those forms of pop culture weren’t nearly as prevalent as I had imagined. The most ubiquitous pop culture items were these variety/game shows, much like the New Years show that Jordan talked about. There are just huge amounts of these shows that are seemingly on all the time, most of which involve a panel of seemingly minor celebrities and a studio audience that react to everything that happens. The shows often revolve around some kind of human interest story, or eating some kind of food, or a kanji game show. This is usually where those crazy Japanese clips you see on Youtube come from, like that MXC show. When they redubbed it for American TV, they kind of cut it together to make it seem like there are sides or a prize at stake. This is patently untrue. It’s just Japanese people doing crazy things.

    For example, we saw one game show where a couple were competing. The husband was running on a treadmill and the wife was answering trivia questions. The treadmill was constantly accelerating, and the challenge was to answer as many questions correctly as possible. If they reached a certain threshold, they got to compete for a prize by playing air hockey against the show’s resident champions, who came out dressed as giant ears of corn. While they were playing air hockey, the champions would pull off bits of fake popcorn off their costumes and throw them at the couple.


  12. RichardR #

    Stokes: I totally recommend “Future of the Left.” Welsh punk band. Especially if you get a chance to see them live.


    • babybiceps #

      Yes, FOTL! Why did I leave them out the first time? One of the only bands I buy blind. Of course, you should check out the Mclusky albums too.


  13. Gab #

    Stokes, I’d second Chris’s recommendation of the Dum Dum Girls. I’d also recommend any of the full albums by The Damnwells (one of which they have on their own website completely for free: http://www.thedamnwells.com/releases/olc/). They’re probably my favorite band. They have a sound that’s a mix of rock and country and lyrics that are often a mix of folk and indie rock. Now you said specifically bands, so I’m going to stick to that, but I did discover a number of great solo singers/songwriters this year. The other bands I mentioned on the Open Thread for last week, Geographer and Dragonette, are also pretty fun. Another fun band, albeit not so new, is Guster, if you haven’t heard of them.

    The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo: I read the book and saw the original movie, but I haven’t seen this one yet. I was concerned during the ad campaigns because they seemed to be hypersexualizing Lisbeth, especially the posters. I’m with Cat, somewhat- I find it difficult to inherently consider her a SFM because her “strength” is portrayed as coming from her rage and backlash at the violence she experienced. And when I was reading, I also saw the parallels between her and Batman, how she could do pretty much everything and had what appeared to be limitless resources at her hands. It just makes it hard to buy into.

    One thing to consider, though, is how she’s not just going against men in the gender sense. When Lisbeth does her personal vengeance the stuff she doesn’t tell Blomkvist (at least in the first book… does it happen later?), she’s also rebelling against the establishment and government itself (which just happens to be led by men), particularly the treatment of persons with mental illness. After all, her “caregiver” or whatever he calls her, says nobody would believe her because she had been labeled as mentally ill in her past; and the very notion that she has a caregiver in itself is highly paternalistic.

    During the whole conversation about the Male Gaze and such, I kept reverting back to a term I was recently introduced to, mansplaining. Sounds like what has you so angry (from your comments above), Fenzel. From my understanding, it’s when a man enters a conversation about a feminist topic or the female perspective (etc.), and he either presents a straw man or approaches it in a condescending way, as if those pointing out a patriarchal standard or misogynistic incident “don’t get it” or something, are inherently incapable of truly understanding the situation (implicitly because they’re too feminine/womanly, regardless of whether they’re a woman or not)*. A recent example, one that exploded on my FB page last week, is the ad campaign about men stopping rape (http://www.mencanstoprape.org/), and pictures like this (with comments along the lines of, “What about the violence women commit all the time?”) in response: http://i.imgur.com/xrwXZ.jpg. I’m not trying to start a flame war, rather pointing out something I was reminded of by the podcast.

    *I’d also argue that mansplaining is skewed to the perspective of white males, and wealthier ones at that, too. But that’s prolly an even more tangential discussion altogether, amirite?


  14. Chip #

    With Lisbeth and the SFC flowchart, I stalled on what idea she represented, “rebellion” I guess, but wanted to see what she would be on the chart, Cutesy Badass and Tsundere.

    With the mansiplaning, it’s like the Victorian thing with sex, that talking about how much you’re against it shows you’re not able to overcome it, if you could you would be talking about something else. And the danger is keeping the same dialogue going by talking about how your not talking about it or against it. I felt like that was part of the movie, was that stuck in a loop madness. As far it being a white male problem, I think The Wire makes Omar something something, it was spoiled on the TFT podcast again so it doesn’t need be repeated.


  15. paulbd #

    Stokes if you enjoyed Mastodon then you should check out Baroness. In particular their blue album. They have a similar sound to Mastodon and have toured together often.

    Another band I would suggest would be Gov’t Mule. They are 80% Allman Brothers and 20% Prog Rock.


  16. Crystal #

    I don’t care if I’m two weeks late dammit– Stop mispronouncing anime! It burns my ears…


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