In this episode, Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, and Matthew Wrather give some business advice to the Walt Disney company, save The Jungle Book from its own bad headline puns, and talk character, camp, viewer education, and, yes, donkey effing while considering Season 2 of Tina Fey’s The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, now out on Netflix.
→ Download the Overthinking It Podcast (MP3)
Become a Member of Overthinking It
Support the site you love and get cool stuff in return, including free access to the latest editions of The Overview, on Tim Burton’s Batman and the Christopher Reeve Superman.
Subscribe to the Overthinking It Podcast
Want new episodes of the Overthinking It Podcast to download automatically?
Subscribe in iTunes
Subscribe with RSS
Tell us what you think!
(203) 285-6401 call/text
- “Can a video game company tame toxic behaviour?” in nature
- “‘Jungle Book’ roars to rule box office with a wild $103.6 million” on USA Today
- DeanMoriarty on Multi-Camera Sitcoms on Overthinking It
- Overthinking It on YouTube
- “Jackie Chan: How to do Action Comedy” on Every Frame a Painting
I saw this on Twitter and it made me think of this episode:
“The Jungle Book” as a work of art is a piece of nostalgia for a time when literature could be more openly classist.
I have to “Well, actually…” Pete on one item. Dong is not a vegan. The date Kimmy is eating with is a vegan but she is having a hallucination about Dong which is broken when the Vegan-Bro complains about the food at Sliders. This is actually telegraphing that Kimmy is stall obsessed with Dong. And frankly, a restaurant with adult-sized slides would be much cooler than one that just specializes in miniature burgers.
I just had a conversation with my friend about Breaking Bad and Fight Club– both media properties that inspire strong misreading in a large section of the audience. It’s an interesting question: how high a percentage of your audience needs to misread your work before you take some of the blame?
With BB, did Vince Gilligan not realize that he was tapping into this stream of frustrated men who were desperate to assert their power? Perhaps not, him being a powerful, presumably well adjusted producer/writer/showrunner. I disliked Walt pretty fast and could immediately tell he wasn’t doing it for his family, but I tend to distrust male characters and immediately sympathize with female characters. Walt is the picture of manpain (urban dictionary has a great definition http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Manpain). A lot of guys on TV act like this. So the question becomes where do you draw the line with media creators not recognizing their own cultural biases? I remember the OTIs talking about this in regards to Christopher Nolan but I can’t remember if it was a podcast or post or even how recent it was. Do media creators have a responsibility to actively work to rid themselves of biases so they can help push society towards progress or is that too much to ask?
As a full time novelist, I have a hard time answering. I am cognizant of the issues that matter to me but I’m sure I’m missing out on issues that matter to other people.
With Fight Club, everything just looks so cool and Brad Pitt is so charismatic. It’s hard for a young person to watch that movie and not walk away thinking that Tyler Durden is a bad ass.
“What percent has to misread your work be you’re to blame?”
If I had to put a number on it I’d say a little over half, so about 55%-60%. I think every work of art is read wrong, or at least hijacked from its creator at some point. I think it happens more these days as “The Author is Dead”, but the difficult messages are always going to lead to misunderstanding. Both Breaking Bad and Fight Club tell a complicated story about the allure and consequences of seeking power through violence. That’s a hard lesson to communicate and for some people a controversial idea. After all, there are drug cartels and terrorist organization in the real world. A realistic interpretation needs to show the consequences but also the allure of violent power. An audience that already receptive to that message should be able read it correctly, but an audience unfamiliar or unwilling to hear the message could miss the point. If even half the audience gets the message, that’s a win, but if over half the audience is missing the point its time for the author to go back to the drawing board.
As the chief overthinkers say, it’s impossible to make an anti-war movie. Similarly, all anti-heroes are a real hero to someone. The popularity of Al Pacino’s Scarface is an enormous case study for this. The movie is supposed to be a cautionary tale but has become a pop cultural touchstone. The Sopranos explicitly explores this by making all the modern day Jersey gangsters big fans of The Godfather and all other mob movies. It frequently toyed with how much of their mannerisms were cases of life imitating art.
I think we underestimate how much pop culture shapes our choices. It’s a tough line to ride– interesting characters make a lot of bad decisions. I don’t want to live in a world without Nurse Jackie or Jessica Jones or Breaking Bad for that matter (though I could do without all the BB callbacks on Better Call Saul).
I don’t fault anyone for missing the point of Breaking Bad given the series ends– Walt goes out in a blaze of glory killing Nazis (the ultimate representation of evil) and saving his ex-partner. Doesn’t get much cooler than that. Of course, there’s a big difference between sympathizing with Walt and thinking Skylar is a bitch. There are tons of shows (often cops vs. criminals) where the audience gets to watch two opposing forces butt heads without having to declare one evil.
I remember reading an interview with Stephen Chbosky, the author/writer/director of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, where he said he took out smoking in the book to movie transition, because he took up smoking very much because of how cool it looked on screen.