Episode 528: You’re Only Making People Illegal

On the Overthinking It Podcast, we tackle a classic: 1993’s “Demolition Man” starring Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes.

Peter Fenzel is Sylvester Stallone to Matthew Wrather’s Wesley Snipes in this analysis of the classic 90s action movie Demolition Man. We talk about order, fascism, race, crime, and the best artisanal rat burger in San Angeles.

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12 Comments on “Episode 528: You’re Only Making People Illegal”

  1. Margo #

    An Overthink of Demolition Man was the podcast I didn’t know I needed. Thank you! This film was so prescient in the banning of swear words. I can alarms going off for any racist. homophobic or sexist terms as well. It a creepily benevolent version of George Orwell’s thought Police.
    Even today Social Media is doing a lot of this work, resulting in penalizing people who tweet stupid things by means of social shunning or loss of employment.

    My favorite part of the film (that I remember) is the way the folks of the future have sex-wearing headsets and listening to the Love Boat theme. What other TV theme songs are approved by the state for lovemaking? Any ideas?

    I demand to know how the three spheres work.

    One well actually: you cannot learn martial arts skills by watching Martial Arts movies, any more then you can learn how to swim by watching people swim, or ride a bike by watching cyclists, or many other things. If the cops of that era don’t carry guns (which is a really nice idea I’m totally down with) then your own body becomes your weapon. So I can see how even the most pacifist state would still allow martial arts training.


  2. Cimmerius #

    But how do the three seashells work?


  3. Three Act Destructure #

    From the screenwriter of “Heathers” and “Batman Returns” and the installation artist who once directed a music video for Kanye West… this summer… Warner Bros. proudly presents… the plagiarization of a Hungarian science fiction novel…


    [Overly used portion of Alan Silvestri’s Judge Dredd soundtrack probably plays here… no, wait, I checked: it’s a repurposed section from the soundtrack to Coppola’s Dracula for some reason]


  4. Jesse #

    Amid the discussion of the prophetic nature of this film, you missed the reference to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s political career. In the Demolition Man timeline, Schwarzenegger becomes president, a feat that Mr. Spartan treats with some incredulity. However, Schwarzenegger’s rise to the high office was something that was seriously discussed in the not so distant past of our own timeline. Sen. Hatch, in 2003, purposed an amendment that would have permitted Mr. Schwarzenegger to run for president.


    • MikeO #

      You wouldn’t have to go so far as an amendment. Just reinterpret what’s there. John McCain was born in Panama after all.. although he dropped out of the race, so we’ll never really know if that could have been challenged. Or if the land was claimed as US territory which I think was McCains case, just claim Arnolds birth place as American territory… Austria is under NATO right? Probably much easier than an amendment.


      • Jesse #

        The Constitution mandates that the president must be a “natural born” citizen. Schwarzenegger obviously is not a natural born citizen as he was naturalized. John McCain was born a citizen by dint of his American parentage. It is literally an undecided legal question as to whether someone who inherits citizenship at birth from his or parents is a “natural born” citizen as described in the Constitution. However, most scholars and the weight of non-binding legal opinions suggests someone who inherits citizenship at birth, as with McCain, is a “natural born” citizen and could hold the office of president.


    • Mark Lee OTI Staff #

      That’s probably my fault…I was trapped in cryo-prison and missed this podcast, hence the lack of Arnold commentary. Since you brought him up, another thing: Demolition Man is clearly Stallone’s response to, you guessed it, Terminator 2, which came out 2 years prior. In DM, Stallone “time travels” to the future, while naked. In T2, Arnie time travels to the past, while naked. Both have on-the-nose social commentary. Both have a female action partner. Both have a scene where the villain is prominently frozen and shattered.

      Also worth noting the fierce rivalry between Arnie and Stallone back then. In 1992, one year before Demolition Man, Arnie effectively tricked Stallone into taking the part for “Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot” after spreading a rumor that he was interested in the part:



  5. Joseph Member #

    In response to your response to comments from the previous episode(?), Bob’s Burgers does something akin to a live performance fairly regularly. Every “Bob’s Burgers Live” event features most of the cast taking turns doing 10-15 minutes of standup, but each show ends with the whole cast doing a live reading of an upcoming episode.

    It’s basically just a table read in front of a live audience, but it probably wouldn’t take too much effort for them to turn that into a BB stage production.


  6. Lee Davis #

    The reason that the white/!white dichotomy doesn’t scan exactly is that while “whiteness” was always an artificial construct (try speaking German to a Dutchman to see just how artificial), in the modern context, whiteness exists as a fluid, confessional identity imposed from the outside. Depending on a given interlocutor’s needs, Jews, Arabs, high-yellow northern Africans or Indians and occasionally some East Asians can be considered white and thus saddled with all the baggage they claim that implies. As an aside, the academic insistence on shackling people to such a malignant identity based on their skin color is what allowed the modern White Nationalist meme to gain adherents and become the poisonous influence it is today. Left to their own devices, many of these people would probably have adopted ur-culture instead.


    • Three Act Destructure #

      I’m curious if you can expound on your final point a little. Mostly, I’m wondering two things:

      1. How is an “ur-culture” defined? If it’s based on ethnic background then how is a person who is from multiple backgrounds (very likely in immigrant families) coded? Speaking of immigration, what identity is, for example, someone two or more generations removed from their country of origin meant to flow into naturally? Are there options? Is it even possible for, say, someone from contemporary Ireland and a sixth-generation Irish-American immigrant to identify as being part of the same culture?

      2. Who are the proponents of the “academic insistence” that you’re referring to and what do you believe that their intentions are?


    • John C #

      Isn’t the latter point precisely the opposite? The “malignant identity” has been assigned by the racists. The “academic insistence” acknowledges that you can’t fix a problem (racism) without acknowledging and measuring it. Interestingly, the white supremacists love to swap cause and effect around this way, because it lets them deny their personal advantages as normal and cast themselves as protecting the world against “unfair advantages” to minority groups.


      • Three Act Destructure #

        That poor, poor nail. Got it right on the head.


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