Episode 511: I Love Dogs

On the Overthinking It Podcast, we tackle Wes Anderson’s latest film, “Isle of Dogs.”

Peter Fenzel and Mark Lee overthink Wes Anderson’s latest film, Isle of Dogs, and how it tackles issues of cultural appropriation, translation, and masculinity.

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7 Comments on “Episode 511: I Love Dogs”

  1. Lothen #

    Picking at the idea of an “Essential Orient” or condensed, consumable culture and the general instinctual recoil by those being condensed, I want to parallel this with the Portrayal of Sikhs in another mass culture machine; Bollywood.

    To keep things short(not really), I’ll bring up their character portrayal in Bollywood rather than cultural portrayal. As a whole, Sikhs in bollywood are generally seen as either Bumbling fools or, on the other end of the spectrum, as Hyper-macho, stubborn men’s men and warriors. This doesn’t even touch on the idea that Sikh women only exist as main characters in the same way Dwarf women exist in Lord of the Rings.

    I then look at the occasional portrayal Sikhs have in hollywood. As a whole, a Sikh characters often ends up being a meta level joke; the 7/11 owner in ‘Hancock’ or the “I’m not Arab bro” in ‘Inside Man’. There is a subset of the stoic, mysterious foreigner that exists in their portrayal as well as seen in ‘Octopussy’ or ‘League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’.

    This is where my question comes in.Though the entire scope is far reduced from an entire culture to mere characters derived from that culture (so I guess it’s more Miyagi than Essential Orient). In the constant search for being woke, which of these portrayals should I be more woke about?

    The Indian portrayal of fellow Indians is probably far more disturbing, but it comes from an extension of the culture itself. It takes some aspects of Sikh culture and hones in on them and magnifies them creating those two caricatures of the fool or the warrior. The American portrayal is a throw in joke but not necessarily making comments about what makes a Sikh or what a Sikh is. At a personal level, I feel I should be more bothered by the Indian portrayal, but on a meta-social level, I feel I’m supposed to be more mad about Hollywood making Bay-esque jokes using a cultural character. I feel like my “Wokeness compass” is broken. This may be due to the fact that I spent my College years outside the US, but having since come back and living in the the Bay Area for the vast majority of my life, I feel like I am clearly missing something here.

    So that brings my second question, is the search to be woke getting in the way of the search for the human experience. Getting in the way is probably not the best way to phrase that. Let me fall back on some more Indian examples and on Podcast topic with Wes Anderson. If the ‘Darjeeling Limited’ came out today, would it survive the current woke? The use of Indian culture in Darjeeling is very similar to the use of Japanese culture in I Love Dogs, and for the many reasons touched on by Pete and Mark in the podcast, you would hope it would survive.

    Let me shift again into a third quandary. An almost universally loved movie (though I have no particular love for it) is ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. Slumdog, to me, is a far greater representation of “Essential Culture” that has been condensed for consumption than either Isle of Dogs or Darjeeling. If there is a target which I should be woke about, Slumdog is surely something that should be an easy target. Almost all the Non-Indian people I know love it, It was made by a White director for consumption In Hollywood and boy was it c o n s u m e d. As I said earlier though, I spend my college years outside the US studying in India. Every. Single. Person. I met LOVED slumdog millionaire. Yet, being here In the Bay Area, I feel like I am socially expected to dislike Slumdog Millionaire NOT because I dislike the movie itself, but rather due to who/what made the movie. Which to me feel like an intrusion upon the experience of being human.

    Basically the question here is: If Moonlight was directed by David Fincher, would it become a lesser movie?

    I’m sorry for boring you all with my existential cultural crisis.

    PS:’ I, Tonya’ is ‘Moonlight’ for white people.

    Reply

  2. Margo #

    A few years ago I saw a fan video titled something like “Wes Anderson directs an X-Man Movie.”

    What other pop culture properties would you like to see Wes Andersized? An Andersized Terminator could be adorable. Or not.

    Reply

    • Joseph Well Actually #

      Based on how impeccable the food prep scenes in this movie are, I think Anderson missed his true calling as a Food Network auteur. I would eat octopus if it looked the way he makes it look.

      Failing that, let’s continue with the appropriation controversy and say that Wes Anderson would be a perfect fit for a remake of Tampopo.

      Reply

      • Margo #

        Or the Hannibal TV show, which had all manor of Food Styling.

        Reply

        • clayschuldt #

          That could work.

          Reply

          • Margo #

            It could work since Anderson also seems to have more than a passing interest in surgery. I found the kidney transplant scene hilarious, possibly because it was bloodless.

    • clayschuldt #

      I want to see Wes Anderson’s live action “Peanuts” adaptation.

      Reply

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