Episode 347: John Fact becomes John Myth, and John Myth becomes John Legend

The Overthinkers tackle the the 87th Academy Awards Oscar ceremony.

otip-logo-podcastonePeter Fenzel, Mark Lee, and Matthew Wrather overthink the 87th Academy Awards.

This episode is sponsored by American Crime, premiering Thursday, March 5 at 10/9 central on ABC.


→ Download Episode 347 (MP3)

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13 Comments on “Episode 347: John Fact becomes John Myth, and John Myth becomes John Legend”

  1. Lavanya #

    I haven’t listened to the podcast yet — I’m about to — so I don’t know if this was brought up. (Apologies.) But did anyone else think NPH had moments where he was weirdly defensive about the Oscars and the merits of Hollywood opinion?

    There was that the one-off crack about how white the room was. Which, okay, it’s pretty standard to acknowledge an elephant in the room and then move on. That ‘Annie’ joke later on was weird, though. NPH got that (black) British dude to read off a list where the third and last point was how they’ll never remake Annie again after the latest iteration flopped. Ostensibly the joke was about how everything sounds better in a British accent, except I don’t think the joke was really about the British accent. My gut reading is that it was implicitly playing with the idea that NPH couldn’t even point out that ‘Annie’ was a flop because NPH is a white dude and that remake starred an African-American Annie. Which strikes me as a very meta commentary on the controversy of race at the Oscars this year.

    The Jack Black RENEGADE INTERRUPT of the opening song was also strange. NPH and his singing partner didn’t *refute* what Jack Black — (oh, that surname) — said when he listed the standard reasons to criticize the Oscars and Hollywood in general. NPH and his parter simply told Jack Black to shut up and sit down. It’s interesting that the singing partner was the one who yelled at Black. Yet again, NPH handed the job of delivery “rough truths” to someone who wasn’t a white guy, and used humor to do it.

    It was all very weird, at least when it wasn’t all very boring.


    • fenzel OTI Staff #

      Yep, pretty much across the board.

      The Academy needs a revised narrative about the importance and value of movies. They’ve been pitching virtually the exact same stuff as the “moving pictures” montage for the last bunch of years now, and it feels pretty tired and disconnected, especially when followed by tons of deprecating snark and jokes.

      Okay, so you have a medium that everyone loves that also everyone loves to make fun of, where there’s a huge disjuncture between what people actually like and what authorities on taste think is good – and this is a disjuncture that people generally buy into, even when they disagree with it intellectually.

      How do you frame that story? What is there about that story to be exicited about? I don’t think the answer is “Singin’ in the Rain.”

      In retrospect, I think this year’s Oscars were really good at pointing out and articulating where the culture of movies is right now, and enflaming its little pain points, contradictions and ironies. It was a smart ceremony. But the hosting was wrong, and I especially didn’t like that because I, as so many others, like NPH so much and seeing him in so much real distress was unpleasant.

      Who would have been a better Oscar host? Somebody who can reflect and comment on the ironies of the Oscars while not being threatened by them or feeling the need to constantly apologize with his eyes? Somebody more Joan Rivers-ish?

      Tina Fey and Amy Poehler of course are already spoken for – but that’s also their show at this point as far as I’m concerned, and the Oscars should be bigger than the host, not the other way around.

      I’m wondering whether now that he’s no longer in the game we’ll see Bryan Cranston host an event like this (though probably not for movies). I feel like he’d be really good at it. Or him and John Hamm hosting the Cable Ace Awards together or something.

      It’s got to be somebody who isn’t currently nominated, right? Which rules out Brad Pitt or Oprah or anybody else involved as a producer in any of these movies.

      You could probably do worse than just have Chris Pratt and Anna Farris host the whole thing, framing it as their being a married couple that goes to the movies together, and stressing the social aspect of movie-watching and how that relates to differences of opinion.

      Maybe that’s the trick – maybe it’s time to get away from single hosts and over to buddy hosts. That of course worked out very poorly for Franco/Hathaway, so people would be loathe to do it again soon, but still, it’s a lot of contradiction to put on one person.

      I thought Chis Rock was a great Oscar host, but other people didn’t like him, so whatever.

      Colbert could do it, as Matt suggested, but Colbert could do anything.

      Honestly with the jokes so obviously written by committee, what’s the point of having a comedian do it? Comedians like to deliver their own jokes. Find an actor with a public personality and write for that personality – it would give the writers more of a point of focus than just writing whatever jokes the like for everybody and challenging everybody to adjust their performance to them.

      They should just have Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan do it. Jackie Chan could do a stunt, then Chris Tucker could crack wise. Oscar night could certainly use a little more “Rush” in its “Hour,” that’s for sure.


  2. Emil #

    A “real ad” on OTI? The same ad that is read on Slate’s Political Gabfest? For all Matt’s complaining about success you guys are going places.

    Ah, Matt, you caught me off guard with your excellent pronunciation of “Dywan”. A decorative carpet, bit thicker than your usual stuff, yes?


    • Tulse #

      That was the first genuine ad on the podcast(s), right? (In case my opinion matters, I am quite OK both with OTI doing ads, and with this kind of ad format. Pay those bills, boys!)


      • Emil #

        As far as I can remember: yes. They did promote their own stuff, jokingly doing it as an ad.

        The more I think about it the more doubtful I am. Maybe they did Audiable? In podcasting world everyone did Audiable. It’s weed-in-collage of ads.


      • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

        Indeed it’s our first. As I recall, I have overtly asked people not to use Audible until they sponsor us. :)


        • Josie M. #

          After all these years, I still have not used Audible.

          I’ve have signed up for Hulu Plus, Harrys.com, and Penguin-Random House Audiobooks, though. Sorry y’all.


  3. Tulse #

    Well, actually, O negative blood is the “universal donor”.

    And thanks once again for not only doing a full podcast in the wee hours after the Oscar telecast, but providing incisive critique despite the lateness.


    • fenzel OTI Staff #

      Good catch! And thanks!


  4. cat #

    First, even though I’ve broken my streak of listening to every OTI podcast, I just wanted to say that I was so happy to hear your first ad. Congratulations! It couldn’t have happened to a nicer group of pedants.

    I think the audience at the Oscars was very unforgiving this year. The crowd is mostly full of actors. I said this last night but they could have done a much better job at ACTING like they were enjoying the show. People called for a stand-up or an improv actor but I think the real problem with NPH as host is that he wants to be liked. And that made him the wrong host for that crowd. I agree with Pete’s critique of the flaws of his performance as host.


    • fenzel OTI Staff #

      Yeah, you can really see the polarizing effect of social media discourse. Everybody has their axe to grind, everybody has their world to save, everybody is on edge and defensive and scared that their narrative is going to be reframed and the won’t be in a position to stop it. Make one small perceived misstep, and literally millions of people are publishing on it constantly. So everybody was touchy, defensive and on edge.

      I tend to think the only way to beat that is to appeal to love. Do something bold and sincere that enough people will love such that the detractors will be disarmed. This is what Lady Gaga did with the Sound of Music medley. It was a silly idea that everybody was instantly suspicious of, it made little sense for it to be in the Oscars, it made less sense juxtaposed against Selma and competing for 50th anniversary mindshare — and yet it was just done so earnestly and with such love and so well that at the end of the day only the praise really matters, and the snark is just snark.

      Do something you love and do it well. NPH clearly likes magic tricks – he should have done more magic tricks, and not just the one that lasted the whole show. John Travolta shouldn’t have just apologized to Idina Menzel, NPH should have made him disappear – everybody would have gotten a kick out of that! Then he could make Samuel L. Jackson appear in his place. More costumes, more songs, more characters, more fun, more magic. Yeah, people will still be defensive and unforgiving, but it might disarm the dominant discourse quite a bit.


  5. Ben Adams OTI Staff #

    Sorry Pete, another Well Actually for you – there have been LOTS of ships called USS America, including the very first ship of the Continental Navy. They just commissioned the fourth USS AMERICA in San Francisco. There was also a USS UNITED STATES.


  6. Josie M. #

    I don’t know that I really have anything to add, except that I think Pete’s commentary was the best I’ve heard anywhere on this year’s Oscars. Kudos.


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