Episode 348: They Are Not The Hell Your Whales

The Overthinkers tackle the passing of Leonard Nimoy, the philosophical implications of #TheDress, and whether Leslie Knope lives in the Frank Underworld.

otip-logo-podcastonePeter Fenzel, Mark Lee, and Matthew Wrather overthink #TheDress, subjectivity, the passing of Leonard Nimoy, and whether Leslie Knope lives in a Frank Underworld.

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


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11 Comments on “Episode 348: They Are Not The Hell Your Whales”

  1. Jesse #

    Regarding the white / gold versus blue / black dress debate, the Overthinkers missed a key element of human psychology that deserves attention on this topic: acceptance of models being offered.

    When my girlfriend first asked me what color the dress is, my response was blue and brown. This was before I was introduced to the binary model of discussion over the topic, and I stand by what color I see despite the popular alternatives.

    To wit, while changing one’s perceptions to fit those of the other is a very useful tool, we should also remember that not every choice or perception is binary, and in fact truly binary choices are rare. This despite the tendency in people to see only binary choices.

    I was amused when I heard Matt (?) talk about Cap’n Picard being abducted by Kardashian aliens. If my perception was inaccurate there then I do not want to fix it.


  2. Peter Tupper #

    The hypothesis about odd/even Star Trek movies sounds good, but it doesn’t really hold up. I think every movie was made both as an attempt to wrap up the franchise and to extend it. Nearly every movie ends with the crew gathered aboard the Enterprise bridge, and the ship boldly going. In the even movies, there are elements of continuation, not closure; such as TWOK’s introduction of Saavik, as a replacement for Spock, and Carol and David Marcus.


    • fenzel OTI Staff #

      This is a good point – and I came up with the hypothesis on the fly, so I’m sure it has room to be fleshed out. But I do feel like there’s something there – that just because the Star Trek franchise is continuing, that doesn’t mean there aren’t parts of it that are beginning and others that are endings.

      It’s characteristic of Westerns to have a bound-up relationship between closure and continuation. The cowboy riding off into the sunset might be simultaneously riding off to a new life, riding off to a new adventure, or riding off into a happy death — Star Trek (The Original Series at least) is a Western, so it also has this element – The Final Frontier, The Undiscovered Country, Manifest Destiny – it’s all about expansion, but it’s also an optimistic-ish way to look at dying. And Star Trek needs to retain its optimism.

      Of course the movies all have parts in them to suggest the series will keep going. But at the same time the individual stories do seem to arrive at things that seem like ending points. In particular the character arcs from time to time seem to reach natural conclusions, even if they start up again in a new episode (also characteristic of a Western).

      Maybe the whole idea of “beginning movies” versus “ending movies” has less to do with the franchise as a whole and more to do with James T. Kirk specifically. Kirk is a tricky character – he’s the white hat, the head “good cowboy,” but as the “leading man” in the old sense, he can come off as pretty neutral, especially next to the more colorful characters in the story. The whole idea that he was a huge risk-taker maverick dude rarely feels like it fills that space for me of a driving force for a character – because in space adventure shows everybody has to be an absurd risk-taker or nothing happens.

      The very easiest thing to do in all of Creation is to have nothing happen to you in outer space. So to make things happen you have to chase after them pretty hard.

      Of course, Shatner brings this immense peculiarity to Kirk, something that sort of had to be more or less discarded when Chris Pine took over the role – with Chris Pine they went back and made more of an effort to make “risk taker” and “natural leader” and “problems with authority” make sense (and they also had the luxury of having already seen Top Gun so they could crib from it). Shatner’s kirk is more about the will within the physical body, and about watching him express externally his hurricane-force interiority.

      So in this sense, maybe the idea of “beginning movies” versus “ending movies” is about whether James T. Kirk faces up to the idea that he is not going to always be able to either experience his interiority or express it externally – confronting the limits of his vitality.

      It’s not about Star Trek dying, it’s about James Kirk dying. Coming full circle. Stopping. Watching him confront that adds a ton of depth and texture to the character that is otherwise missing a lot of the time, and also makes the times when he does his trademark thing and express his vitality all the more meaningful. If you can just expand for free forever and ever and no light will ever dull, no color will ever fade, then the Western never matures, and you don’t get the really beautiful sunsets.

      This is the old Stagecoach vs. True Grit, or maybe True Lies vs. Breaking Bad. “Honey, I have a secret masculine life, and I am more awesome than you may have thought,” versus the same thing, plus, “and someday, it will ruin me, though not today.”

      Not just the threat of death, but the acceptance of its eventuality, while retaining optimism.

      I do feel like this latter sense, of the sweetness of the final horizon, is more present in some Star Trek movies than in others, and looking at it, it seems at least on the surface that the movies that are lacking it – to the extent that they remain in the spirit of TOS movies, Westerns, or to the extent that James T. Kirk is in them – they are made more or less excellent by its presence or absence.

      This is of course also predicated on how talky the TOS movies are and how they are never really aiming to be satisfying action movies just on those merits. So the reboot movies aren’t going to be good or bad in the same ways. But it is interesting to think about.


  3. Chimalpahin #

    Well actually Fenzel, it’s Fluttershy and Twilight Sparkle, omg hey you were close! It’s been a while since we had an MLP article on OT

    … also were you becoming a borg around 16:00? Ripozu pace Leonard Nimoy :(

    On the whole different viewpoints with the dress, relating also to the check your privilege line, my college English professor in ELAC mentioned to us that a person with privilege wouldn’t necessarily be aware of it, they are after all products of their upbringing and perceptions, and unless it’s revealed to them somehow they wouldn’t really consider it. Like most able-bodied folk don’t consider what it’s like to not be able to walk or men don’t necessarily know what it’s like to be a woman, we can empathize and do the magic-if but we just can’t know.


  4. Chimalpahin #

    Also of course there is a CLC Latin fandom on twitter.


    Lana and Memea Interretialia and eheu among the more promimnent Latin users on there :) OTIS est in horto.


  5. Emil #

    I was trying very hard to come up with some series that have “Polish” in name. The only thing that came close was an Polskie Drogi from 1976. But here “Polish” is used as adjective. The title is also a wordplay because “drogi” means both “roads” but also “ways”. So it’s both “how we do it here” and “how we got here”.


    • Chimalpahin #

      How do you mean? I’m a little confused…. maybe I should learn Polish.


      • fenzel OTI Staff #

        Imagine a show called “The Broad Way” about American musical theater actresses in the 1920s.

        “Way” here refers to the actual road.

        It also refers to a manner of living or way of doing things.

        So “The Polish Ways” means both “The Polish Roads” and “The Polish Customs, Manners, Behaviors, etc.”

        I think that’s it, anyway.


  6. MEGR #

    Yeah it autocompletes to The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins.


  7. Chimalpahin #

    Well in a way George Washington the Town Destroyer is the most noble of men. Let’s not forget the the other original sin of the US, the land theft and series of genocides my friends.



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