Episode 187: The Sam Awards

Fenzel, Lee, Perich, and Wrather tackle heists, hustlers, and the hermeneutic circle.

Overthinking It PodcastMatthew Wrather, Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee and John Perich overthink Man on a Ledge, heists, hustlers, and the hermeneutic circle. And then take a long flight over the Pacific and watch movies on a plane.


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Further Reading

Introduction to Literary Theory, Professor Paul H. Fry, Open Yale Courses, iTunes U

The Hermeneutic Circle

An Anarchist FAQ

The ‘Do Rap Rap’ Improv Comedy Game, with Les McGeeHee: Part 1 (How to Play), Part 2 (Example)

25 Comments on “Episode 187: The Sam Awards”

  1. LeighH #

    I wouldn’t feel weird about watching a violent movie on a plane, with people in nearby rows able to see. Graphic nudity, yes, but not violence. However, it has never come up. The most offensive thing I’ve ever watched on a plane was Transformers, and it was only offensive because of how bad it was. Mostly, it’s PG family-safe fare.

    The best movie I’ve ever seen on a plane was Rough, a Japanese movie based on a manga about student athletes (mostly competitive swimmers) at a high school sports academy. It was my first ever non-Kurosawa Japanese movie, and it really opened up a whole new door for me, cinematically.

    Regarding the bad western actors in HK movies, I have a couple other possible theories to consider, of varying degrees of plausibility. First is that although many Asians can speak a little bit of English, they sometimes have a hard time understanding native speakers. (This is also true of Americans who know a little bit of Spanish.) Perhaps the lines and readings are designed to be understood by viewers whose English is not great. And second, it’s entirely possible that they’re making fun of westerners. The white guys in Once Upon a Time In China were definitely bad guys, so it’s probably considered okay to dehumanize them a little. Kinda like the Middle Easterners in True Lies. Ultimately, it’s probably a combination of all the different factors discussed.


  2. Chris #

    For the record, Ghostface Killah’s last album came out in 2010, he had a mixtape come out last year, and he’s supposed to have a new album out later this year. Plus, he’s going to be on a collaboration album with DOOM. So, in a way, maybe he is the Michael Shannon of the rap game.

    Also, in terms of heist films with down on their luck characters, The Sting should be mentioned, considering it won the Best Picture Oscar in 1973, between the first two parts of The Godfather. That’s more of a con film than a heist film, but the principle is the same.


    • John Perich OTI Staff #

      OH SHIT. Ghostface is gonna drop a hundred bars on us now. Ghostface, I owe you two packages of mint milanos.


  3. cat #

    Man on a Ledge was described on TMA as a “Pretty Good Episode of Leverage”. Everything you said during the podcast seemed to confirm this except it sounds like it would be a pretty bad episode of Leverage.

    Also, did anyone else watch Smash? NBC put it on youtube. If you thought Glee needed more dream sequences and realistic dialogue within cliched storylines…you’re welcome. Even so, I kind of like it.


    • Howard Member #

      I really liked Smash, against my expectations going into it. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it was enjoyable. I liked that they kind of set up the blonde girl as an adversary in the opening scene (and I was immediately thinking “GO BRUNETTE GIRL!”), but she turns out to be an actual human being. It’s unclear to me how they’re going to play it out, as in, will they launch the musical during this season? If they do, would subsequent seasons introduce whole other casts of characters? Or do they plan for multiple seasons and hope to get renewed?

      And on a meta level, I want NBC to do well. Despite NBC being the worst rated broadcast network, pretty much all the shows I watch air on NBC.


      • cat #

        I don’t want to judge the show completely on the pilot because they had a lot to establish but these were my initial thoughts…

        It feels a bit too realistic to the point where it seems bland and tediously paced. It does not help that a lot of the sets have a boring color palette of grays and beige. I thought Debra Messing, Christian Borle, and Brian D’Arcy James were very cute together and have good chemistry. Megan Hilty’s natural singing (especially belting) voice grates on my nerves sometimes though I think she does well when she’s being Marilyn. I thought this back when she did Wicked which had me worried for Smash. I was a big fan of Katharine McPhee but her voice isn’t as good as I remember it being. However, the last song of the episode gave me chills (aside from when Megan was ruining it) and the previews for the season have me excited.

        Based on the nymag article I read… http://nymag.com/arts/tv/features/smash-2012-1/

        “If Smash is successful and gets renewed, the Marilyn musical should reach “Broadway” next winter—much faster than a real production would. But, even stranger, if the Marilyn musical is itself successful, producers hope to crack it out of its Smash shell and move it to the actual Broadway sometime thereafter.”

        “If the series is picked up for fall, a new, completely different musical will gradually enter the story line while Marilyn is mounted and the process begins again.”

        My guess is that they’d probably keep the writers and maybe whichever girl didn’t get the part of Marilyn. You obviously couldn’t use the actors who were in the successful production because then who would take it to Broadway?


        • Howard Member #

          Hmm, I definitely got chills during Katharine McPhee’s Beautiful audition, and a little bit in the finale number. I thought Megan Hilty was fine, but not as good as McPhee. From an acting perspective, Debra Messing was my MVP.

          I think the relative drabness of the real world contrasts well with the flashy, exaggerated nature of the musical world. Musicals have always struck me as a kind of over-the-top escapism, and these characters’ lives outside the theater seem somewhat messy (in a first world kind of way). Portraying the musical as a larger than life, uplifting experience is something I can get behind, though if the musical interludes are too few and far between, the drabness could become overwhelming.


    • Hazbaz #

      My favourite Terrible Rap trope has to be the “My name is [Insert Name] and I’m here to say…”

      There’s a great example of it in the Season One finale of Community.



      • Pasteur #

        This was exactly the clip that played in my head when I listened to the podcast. You can always count on John Oliver.


  4. cat #

    If the Caucasian actors seemed awkward in comparison to the Asian actors then maybe it wasn’t a convention of the medium as a whole for everyone to perform that way but a convention for the Caucasian actors. That is, maybe audiences expect a certain degree of awkwardness from white/foreign actors the same way Hollywood movies depict characters as particularly ethnic or foreign even if the actors could speak eloquently or deliver their lines properly.


  5. Gab #

    Well, when it comes to physical states as excuses for being a jerk or racist, people use being drunk as one all the time- at least sleep is something people genuinely try to get and can’t sometimes. Oh, also, this:


    I’ve never really bought into the idea of being drunk as a free pass for assholery, but I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t at least give a little grace to someone for snapping at me when tired (since I’m MegaCrazyMeanniePoo without coffee).

    “Bad” white rappers:


    I realize yeah, it’s a parody, but they aren’t parodying the genre- rather, they’re making fun of the demographic the product at which the product is aimed by stepping outside the “normal” mode of communication. Rich white dudes don’t usually rap, but they know white guys rapping tend to rap this way. So actually, they’re adhereing to the genre quite well in order to poke at their audience.

    And the thing is, dudes like that? They’re really good at what they’re doing. It sounds bad, but they’re good at doing it. Which makes it even more interesting to think about.

    CAT: I thought Smash wasn’t premeiring until February something! Whaaaat?!


      • Gab #

        Okay, so then what the hell is the point of having the pilot on TV next week at all? I mean, okay, draw people in and get them to watch the second episode? Is that the one the companies care more about when deciding what stays and what goes? Are the hits on YouTube going to count for ratings? Isn’t the number of people viewing for a pilot a Big Deal?

        I just… I don’t know what else to say, I’m rather at a loss for words now. Which, as you, Cat, and anybody remotely familiar with my verbosity would know by now… The fact that I have nothing more to say, says a lot.


        • Howard Member #

          I think the idea is to do a cable-style promotion. Coincidentally, HBO is launching a new series too, Luck. The first episode of that was previewed back in December. NBC really needs a hit, so I can see the virtue in getting as many eyeballs as possible. Yeah, the number of viewers for the pilot is important, but retention is important too. Community got close to 8 million viewers for its pilot, and if it was still getting that many viewers, it would still be on the air.


        • cat #

          I agree that in part, they’re trying to draw in a crowd, a la the early premier of Glee back in the day. However, I feel like they’re mainly trying to lock in a certain demographic. There are still plenty of commercials for Smash on TV. I think they were during the Golden Globes because I’m usually not watching NBC, so that is an attempt to grab a certain audience. But really, if I didn’t follow theater types I wouldn’t know, and if I hadn’t told you, you wouldn’t know. They are getting the people who are fans of the people involved or part of their fan communities (e.g. theater/musicals) and people who are interested enough to be looking up the show.


      • Gab #

        Oh, and I wasn’t railing at you, Cat, sorry, that seemed kind of harsh.


  6. Sylvia #

    I’m so sorry Pete, but even though “Phonebooth” takes place in New York, it was filmed in LA.


    • Gab #

      I about died laughing reading that.


    • fenzel #

      Oh yeah? We’ll… except for the part that was filmed in _space!_

      Like when he gets the phone call and they zoom out to show the satellite transfering the call or something…

      What about THAT, huh?

      (my worldview is shattered)


      • Anthony Abatte #

        I also think I’ve heard Harvey Fierstein’s voice on OTI more than I have in his films. It still cracks me up. Maybe we can offer him some mint milanos to be a guest if the Wu-Tang are tied up fighting improv rappers.


  7. Anthony Abatte #

    I’d like to nominate Samuel L. Jackson for Lifetime Achievement at the SAM Awards.


  8. RRoper #

    This is a pedantic piece of nothingness, but you pronounced amazon.co.uk incorrectly.

    It’s ‘dot – coe – dot – U – K”


    ‘dot – C – O – dot – U – K”

    It was our language first!


    • Timothy J Swann #

      You know, at uni, for some reason we started to say it more phonetically – dot ACK dot UCK for .ac.uk, because it saved so much time or something.


  9. Ed #

    Something you discussed early on during the Man on a Ledge bit was interesting as a similar topic came up in another podcast. You had mentioned living in specialized time and relying on other people you’ve never met to do their jobs correctly for your survival.

    On the Rooster Teeth podcast (the makers of the Red Vs Blue machinima), they were discussing words such as Zeitgeist that are used in English but have only general translations, loanwords basically. They speculated that there is probably a foreign language word that essentially means, “that feeling you have that smart people somewhere are working on this problem, therefore I don’t have to think about it, because if they aren’t and I do then I wouldn’t be able to function or even get out of bed due to crippling fear and hopelessness”. This could apply to global warming, terrorism, Y2K or any number of other issues that you read or hear about in the news on a daily basis that could mean the end of human existence if not dealt with.


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