Episode 480: Jason is Not Trying to Scare You

On the Overthinking it Podcast, we eventually get around to talking about the film adaptation of Stephen King’s “It.”

Matthew Belinkie and Matthew Wrather haven’t been on the podcast one-on-one in a minute, and they have a lot to catch up on. The meta-theme of the podcast, winding through children’s books, TV Commercials, and the adult pursuit of Waldo, is what it means to be a child and what it means to be an adult, which makes it appropriate that the topic this week is the surprise smash-hit film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel It.

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12 Comments on “Episode 480: Jason is Not Trying to Scare You”

  1. clayschuldt #

    We are in a Stephen King revival. There is a bunch of adaptation coming out this year like “Dark Tower” “Gerald’s Game” and even “The Mist” TV show.
    Last year’s “Stranger Things” was a factor. That series borrowed from King heavily. That series is also set in the 80s and has an actor in common. Finn Wolfhard plays the main kid in Stranger Things and Richie in “It.”
    Nostalgia is a huge influence by why this film was made and why it is so successful.
    As for themes, this film is about repression. SPOILER, but once the kids grow up they forget their past. Their battle with the clown is wiped from their memory until the one character who never left town reminds them to return and to Derry to kill It for good.
    Some have argued the movie is a metaphor for the clergy abuse scandal. There are some similarities. There is a group of children prayed upon by a monster pretending to be disguised as something innocent. The parents are not doing anything to stop the abuse. Many adults refuse to believe its happening and will look the other way because confronting what It would disrupt their lives. As adults they can return to stop it and prevent further abuse of children still living in their home town, but first they need to stop repressing what happened to them as youths. Faith is also a factor. They literally call on a higher power to defeat it, so there is a kind a religious component.
    Granted the book was written in the 80s before the clergy abuse scandal became widely known, but the abuse would have been happening at these times and its not hard to imagine King experiencing or knowing people who suffered.
    Also, it should be noted the previous “It” adaptation came out in 1990 which is 27 years ago, which is the cycle at which the monster returns.


    • Matthew Belinkie OTI Staff #

      Wait a sec, I get how the BOOK is about repression. But since this movie is entirely set in the past I don’t see how the movie can be about that. Nothing is repressed.


      • clayschuldt #

        You’re right. I was getting ahead of myself. I am still thinking about the book and mini-series instead of focusing on this first chapter as its own story.


        • clayschuldt #

          Without the second half of the story this becomes a story about children being forced to overcome trauma.


  2. mezdef #

    So I was a little confused listening to the podcast and wondering why it was ‘Waldo’. Apparently the series is originally from England, and commonwealth dwellers will know the series as “Where’s Wally?” (which I personally think has a better ring to it, but whatever). The series had it’s name changed for American audiences (not super unusual), but in a cool twist, apparently there are many localizations that change the name based on country/language.

    e.g. Où est Charlie?


    Also, Odlaw is such a great whimsical character name.


    • Poindexter #

      So Waldo is actually Odlaw backwards, rather than the other way round? That’s neat, Odlaw is a great name.

      Assuming that’s why they changed the name to Waldo in the first place, of course.. I kind of like the perfectness of Odlaw being the opposite of Waldo.


      • Mark Lee OTI Staff #

        This is one of my favorite things on the internet. I forget, have we ever done a Werner Hertzog impression on the podcast? If not, I will seek to remedy that.


  3. Braintree9 #

    1) the more severe actress confusion involving Amy Adams is with Isla Fisher. There have been a few times where I have been halfway through a movie and I not sure which one I am watching. A good rule of thumb is Amy Adams is Moore likely to be in a fall prestige film, and is more likely to be doing an accent.

    2) Where’s Wlado = Modern Hieronymus Bosch?


  4. worker201 #

    Haven’t seen either It movie or read the book, but I found Belinkie’s theme of outside being for children and inside being for adults very interesting. It reminds me of my college Shakespeare classes, where we discussed the theme of daytime being for adults and order, while nighttime was for youth and chaos, in plays such as As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Since the kids are all going to be older in the next movie, I wonder if they will transpose this theme: portraying the world outside as super-threatening, compared to the safety of indoors.


  5. Ben Adams OTI Staff #

    First off, thanks for the shout-out! We’re all OK down here, though parts of my area got hit pretty hard.

    Relatedly, your discussion of the donkey f-ing conundrum and horror movies reminded me of this XKCD: https://xkcd.com/611/ and the related alt-text: “Hurricane forums are full of excited comments about central pressure and windspeed and comparisons to Camille and 1931 and 1938, with hastily tacked-on notes about how it will be tragic if anyone dies and they hope its a dud.”


  6. DeanMoriarty #

    Catching up on the podcasts, so apologies for coming in late to the discussion.
    I wanted to comment because my friends and I last year did try to have a leap year tradition in the style of 30 Rock. Mostly we all just wore blue and yellow and gathered at my friend’s house for a party. Unfortunately, last year’s Feb. 29th fell on a Monday, and most of us are adults with responsibilities, so not a lot of people were able to attend or stay very long. But we tried, and it was definitely fun.
    I also kind of wanted to speak to Wrather’s take on the “turn” of a horror movie in the Final Girl Theory of horror movies. I enjoy horror movies, but am also not an expert, and I find that turn enormously satisfying. And it’s not because I don’t want to think of myself as a bad guy, or need to “let myself off the hook.” It’s because I’ve always been rooting for the teenagers, I just understand that in a slasher movie, they’re not all going to survive. The odds are usually too stacked against them. Even the killer’s perspective doesn’t make me root for the killer. Rather it achieves the sense of tension and suspense that you referenced Hitchcock talking about. Without knowing where the killer is in relation to his victims, it’s all just jump scares. Or, even worse, it’s torture porn. And one of the reason’s I like slashers but not torture porn (other than not wanting to watch people suffer) is that in slashers the characters that aren’t the killer still have agency. The Final Girl Turn, isn’t the moment one of the characters gets agency by deciding to fight back, but rather the moment where the circumstances finally turn enough to let her succeed over the monster that is threatening her. In fact, I think the better horror movies understand this need for agency on the part of the victims. Whereas some lesser ones just treat the characters as victims waiting to be taken out, without giving them anything to do other than wait to be killed.


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