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Peter Fenzel and Matthew Wrather embark on one of their storied two-handers, overthinking the role reference and quotations play in our lives, jumping off from the phenomenon of films that are more quoted than actually seen and not stopping until they have arrived at a close reading of all of ABC’s “TGIF” programming block.
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“I’m gonna need a hacksaw.”
For me, the movie it feels like everybody has seen, whether or not they’ve actually watched it is The Princess Bride. I love the movie, but even the first time I watched it, every scene felt so familiar that I’m still not sure I didn’t see it in theaters. I know a few people who felt the same way. The Dark Crystal is sort of the opposite where, I watched it not too long ago, and couldn’t really remember what happened or how many times I might have tried to watch it before.
I’m still pretty traumatized by the Benson cancellation, though, with the final episode being one of the best-staged cliffhangers (counting votes with the two leads competing for the governor’s office) I can remember. My family followed the character over from Soap, and since I’ve watched a lot of ill-advised stuff because Guillaume was in it; Rene Auberjonois, too, relevant since he passed away recently and I know him originally from Benson. Both were far more interesting than the majority of the scripts they were given…
I’m definitely all for remakes that have a reason to exist, like correcting terrible racism and sexism; it’s the remakes that feel like they only exist to keep the trademark that are annoying. I read a lot of old adventure fiction, and so many of them almost seem to go out of their way to add bigoted passages. There was a sort of economic thriller novel whose name I forget that’s fine, until the author just decides to spend the last chapter spouting anti-Semitic canards. There’s also a fun science-fiction story (“A Spaceship Named McGuire,” findable on Project Gutenberg) that has a decent plot and fun characters, but abruptly ends the story with the assertion that ships are crashing because an otherwise-great character’s girl-brain is confusing the computers too much. I can almost understand (even if I can’t tolerate) books like Trilby, which are pretty much bigoted from beginning to end, but the stories that seem to have their bigotry tacked on are incomprehensible and should probably all get remade.
Considering the relative popularity of the two shows, I find the idea of invoking Farscape to explain Dinosaurs pretty funny. Also, am I mis-remembering or was “I’m the baby. Gotta love me!” meant to be an ironically insipid catchphrase along the lines of “I’d buy that for a dollar!”?
I just grokked while listening to this that Youtube has finally pushed us to regularly experience movies in the same way we used to only be able to experience the stories in books and comics: at our own pace and often in self-curated snippets.
I’ve found that there’s an immature anti-shibboleth phase that a lot of cynical nerds go through (and which some never escape from). I was recently thinking about this while checking back in, for the first time in years, with old-school Youtube reviewer Yahtzee Croshaw. Specifically, his thoughts on the Resident Evil 2 remake. Predictably, he was banging on about nostalgia ruining everything. Which led me to actually look up the sale numbers for these games, which were in the under-six million territory. I found it funny that someone would be so concerned that the first remake of a story from almost thirty years ago — that was only ever experienced by a group of people so small that, relative to the population of the planet, they might as well be a rounding error — would truck in some amount of fan service. I mean, geez, what a crime against culture.
My guess is that this attitude arises from a group of people who are so insular that they don’t realize that they’re not, and have never been, even close to the dominant culture. It’s adorable to think of all of these strange, tiny fan communities fighting battles against the “normies” within their in-groups (made up of a few hundred thousand die-hard weirdos). Meanwhile, literally almost half the population of the Earth doesn’t even know that they exist and is watching the World Cup instead.
By the way, while I’ve never seen Different Strokes, from your anecdote I caught a reference to the famous Chitling Test, which would have been a hot topic around that time. I had my own experience with this phenomenon when I went back to school in my early-thirties (roughly four years ago). I had to take a reading comprehension test which demanded my knowledge of what a carnival barker is and had me read a passage about, I kid you not, this new-fangled device (being rolled out in a select few corporations) called “electronic mail”.
I want to point out that I live in a heavily hispanic part of the country. How in the hell is a Mexican nineteen-year-old supposed to react to that?
As far as the political correctness discussion goes, it’s a tough one to talk about because while I do believe that language moderation is an inescapable facet of language existence, and that doing so in a progressive direction can be a great tool for generating empathy, it’s sort of rich that we all agree on being more polite to First Peoples cultures while we’re also literally arresting them right now, in both the US and Canada, for protesting our continued and illegal destruction of their lands.
Well, that’s been a bunch of random thoughts.
I always like how the anti-shibboleth mindset also almost invariably grows from the very personal (“social signifiers, like expensive clothes, are dumb”) to the hilariously abstract (“correct spelling is how the Man keeps us all down!”), as if people not understanding someone’s writing is equivalent to school bullying…