Episode 214: Gritty Anti-Pigeon

The Overthinkers tackle the remake of Total Recall and grittiness in movies.

Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, John Perich, and Matthew Wrather overthink the remake of Total Recall, remakes in general, gritty remakes in particular, the enduring appeal of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the issue of representation vs. expression in art.


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20 Comments on “Episode 214: Gritty Anti-Pigeon”

  1. Chris #

    I am not completely certain of this, but I do believe you meant Jeri Ryan, not Jeri Taylor. That is a name I don’t RECALL ever hearing, regardless of how one spells Jeri.


    • John Perich OTI Staff #

      That sounds more like it! The fault was mine; thanks for the catch.


      • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

        Actually probably my fault, since I was the one who suggested her to you.

        The reason I made the mistake is that this year I have rewatched TNG (not voyager) and Jeri Taylor is a writer/producer for that and subsequent Star Treks, not an actress.


      • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

        And I’ve just put together that I’ve gone 0 for 2 in the “remembering names” event this week.

        As @endelnurk points out, “Lindsay” Ennis is probably grounds for deportation.


    • fenzel #

      Yeah, when I heard “Taylor” I assumed she’d gotten married or something.


  2. Pasteur #

    Great show, though Wrather’s Colin Firth might be the most-inaccurate accent/impression so far in the history of the podcast.

    Is there a good biography of Philip K. Dick out there?


  3. cat #

    OK, so Total Recall just came out so clearly this is a new episode of the podcast. But when you mentioned Abduction and Crystal Skull I had the strangest feeling I had already listened to this episode…


    • fenzel #

      Did that feeling come from your own memories, or from a corporation implanting those memories in your mind?

      And if the latter, was it the first, surrealistic time they did it, or the second, gritty, naturalistic and less interesting time?


      • cat #

        I don’t know anymore… Though since I don’t seem to be in any immediate danger I’ll just go back to living my life again.


  4. Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

    What if every sport was photographed like beach volleyball? (via kottke.org)

    I’ve been away from television for over a month and hadn’t seen some of these volleyball images, or really understood how pervasive they’ve been. Still, though I hadn’t seen them before, I object to them for the same reason I gave in the podcast: Not merely objectification, but exploitation — i.e., manipulative.


  5. Peter Tupper #

    Geoff Klock’s book “How to Read Superhero Comics and Why” uses Harold Bloom’s theory of strong and weak misreadings to explore superhero genre conventions. So, Moore and Gibbons’ “Watchmen” and Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” were strong misreadings of Silver Age superhero comics. Likewise, early ’90s Image Comics were weak misreadings of “Watchmen” and “DKR”.

    The idea that superheroes swing back and forth between the poles of “grim and gritty” and “camp and silly” is too simplistic. Some comics considered grim and gritty were just as absurd as the 1968 Batman TV series, but not in a fun way.

    Grant Morrison, in his book “Supergods”, makes a good case the the earliest Batman stories were strongly influenced by the works of the Surrealists and Decadents, not realist crime dramas at all, and that Batman stories always should have at least a touch of the supernatural and the Gothic. Twenty years from now, we’ll probably be complaining about the lack of imagination in the Christopher Nolan movies.


  6. LeighH #

    I’d like to know what is so terrible about Verhoeven’s body of work. The Total Recall remake is just the beginning – there’s also Starship Troopers and RoboCop remakes coming up. I guess they think he wasn’t serious enough in his adaptations? I think that’s what makes his movies so great. As Fenzel said, he spoofs the genre while totally committing to the genre.


  7. Redem #

    I though just crossed me

    Now we are talking about how the body become less Olympian and we now prefer more scrawny and more technological heroes

    Now what does that say about objectification? because if the body is brought to the level of an object and tools are now now more important the body.


    • fenzel #

      I personally think concerns over objectification are overblown, and that it hasn’t been demonstrated persuasively that looking at people’s bodies for pleasure contributes to undesirable political outcomes independently of circumstances.

      I don’t understand how somebody can call it objectification if looking at the body is only one of many aspects of regard for a person — how it is necessarily reductive if adequate effort is made to shore up the other areas as well.


      • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

        We also need to broaden our definition of objectification — it’s not just sexual objectification, and not just looking at people’s bodies for various kinds of pleasure (whether or not such looking has politically undesirable outcomes).

        Those examples are on a much larger continuum of behaviors that have to do with not always acknowledging an other’s full humanity — treating him or her as a means, as Kant might say. If you don’t really want the life story of the waiter bringing you a burger — if you view him as a sort of dehumanized burger-delivery machine — you have engaged in the general kind of behavior I’m describing. (On the continuum from benign to reprehensible objectification, it’s probably on the milder end.)

        Seen in this light, objectification makes the world go round. It’s impossible for a society to function without it — it’d be a never-ending encounter group.

        Actually, the Wikipedia article on Objectification is not bad — Martha Nussbaum’s criteria are very interesting to consider.


  8. AlexBref #

    Jewel of a podcast guys. WHEN, O WHEN will you do a marathonian episode wherein I won’t have to hear the dreaded words of “…but this podcast is nearing to a close” or something of the sort? I’m pretty sure there is demand for a “so-long-it’s-a-descent-into-madness” OverthinkingIt Podcast. The “Apocalypse Now” of podcasts, if you will.

    For a short and innocuous “Well, actually”: Philip K. Dick’s experience with the dissociation of reality probably had to do with his amphetamine abuse, but there is quite a bit of speculation that he had Temporal Lobe Epilepsy, which would have been precipitated and made more severe by the same. The experiences and feelings he describes are congruous with the dissociative states TLE induces.

    As for grittiness: how long until we get a gritty reboot of the Olympics? Has it already happened via rampant commercialization, inhuman training regimen and performance-enhancing drugs/match “fixing”? Or can we expect a Hunger Games-style reboot of, say, competitive shooting? Or, indeed, alligators on the steeplechase course?


  9. Rob Northrup #

    Batman’s voice in the films from 1990 to current is another example of attempted gritty realism applied to a plausibility problem that is not a problem. In comics, the long-standing trope is that wearing a mask (or taking off your glasses) will hide your identity perfectly from everyone.

    In real life, some secretary at Wayne Industries would hear a film clip of Batman on the news and recognize her boss. If he had a normal social life, lots of people might recognize his mannerisms or voice. I want to blame Nolan or Christian Bale for the ridiculous disguised voice, but Michael Keaton might have started it. Maybe Clooney or Kilmer did it too, but I’ve thankfully forgotten almost all details of those movies.

    It’s not realistic, but it’s not something that people are going to complain about. If they can suspend disbelief to think that a guy can build an armored rubber suit to fight crime, they’ll suspend disbelief that no one would ever recognize his voice. I have a harder time suspending disbelief that villains or civilians would take Batman seriously when they hear his obviously put-on gravelly voice.


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