the white asshole’s burden

New post up on Overthinking It today, in what’ll hopefully be the first post in a series overthinking Treme: The White Asshole’s Burden:

Since these are problems that affect black people, even if they’re not “black problems,” the temptation must have been strong to create a Great White Hero who would swoop in and save the situation. But Simon, Overmyer and Mills ducked that temptation. The black residents of Baltimore and New Orleans rise or fall based on what they can pull together. And the White Men who show up to help are not noble. They’re comically ignoble.

Also, if you live in the Boston area and you have yet to see my incredible cast perform Discount Shakespeare: “As You Like It” in Forty-Five Minutes, tonight is your last chance ever. Tickets still available; get them at the ImprovBoston box office or go to the website.

tiger woods and the iron law of stardom

New post on Overthinking It today that looks at the recent Tiger Woods Nike commercial in light of Louis Menand’s theory of the “Iron Law of Stardom”:

As soon as the commercial aired, the professional commentariat began debating whether or not this “penance” was “sincere.” Polls went up. Comments on YouTube exploded. Sports pundits and columnists took sides. That, to my jaded eyes, is proof positive of the incredible power of advertising as a medium — because nowhere in the ad does it say Tiger’s doing penance. You fill that in for yourself.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-check it.

and I’d as soon go to Dublin as to hell

Vegas updates continue tomorrow. I owed Overthinking It a post first: For Love or Money: The Lessons of Modern Romance.

Romantic movies are merely the latest medium in a tradition that dates back to the dawn of human civilization. From the myth of Pyramus and Thisbe, the correspondence of Abelard and Heloise, the epic poetry of the Roman de la Rose, the comedies of Shakespeare and the poetry of Lord Byron, we get the moral that love is a rare gift. If you come across love in the wild, you should drop everything you’re doing to pursue it. From this notion, we get tales of knights, peasants and adventurers who risk everything in order to be with someone they love. This gambit can end happily (Twelfth Night) or tragically (Tristan et Isolde), but the gambit’s always there.

And happy St Patrick’s Day.

why weak male characters are bad for women

New Overthinking It post on why weak male characters are bad for women:

On the surface, [She’s Out of My League is] a forgettable sex comedy. Adorable schlub lands major-league hottie; usual series of pratfalls and embarrassing incidents; he rises to the occasion and proves himself worthy of her love. No bankable stars and plenty of references (the TSA, iPhones) that will hopefully seem dated in ten years. The tone’s a little more crass than usual, but no worse than anything we’d see in the Eighties. Or Nineties. Or Aughts.

Of course, I liked it much better the first time I saw it, when it was called (500) Days of Summer.

but thou must

New article up on Overthinking It today about video games and the categorical imperative. Excerpt:

You don’t need to question if killing everyone you see, stockpiling on shuriken and climbing cliff faces while birds fling themselves at you like meteorites (these damn BIRDS) is getting you closer to your end. You never stop and wonder, “Is any of this bringing me closure on my father’s death?” You just keep going. So long as you kill everything you see and keep your life bar full, you’re doing the right thing.

You’re on the path. And so long as you stay on the path all the time, you’ll get to the end. You’re following the categorical imperative.


I’m a hustler, homey; you a customer, crony

New post on Overthinking It today about how gangsta rap and Seinfeld validated each other. Check it out.

it is not dying; it is not dying

Returned to the Overthinking It podcast this week, talking about the two-year anniversary of the site, Conan O’Brien’s tumultuous departure from The Tonight Show and the SAG awards.

I highly recommend downloading the podcast. But, if you can’t, my thoughts on late night: I feel nothing so much as a profound pity for Conan O’Brien, who’s put in twenty years climbing to the top of a pyramid that is just now being buried by sand. Late night talk shows have never been less essential. They’re a dying venue in a dying medium. From a strict economic perspective, their current function is to produce Hulu clips at tremendous expense. Show of hands: how many of you followed the Leno-v-Conan feud of the past few weeks by staying up until 12:35 EST to watch every minute of both shows (plus Letterman and Kimmel’s commentary)? and how many of you followed it by watching video clips on entertainment blogs the morning after? and how many of you haven’t followed it at all?

One of my fellow podcasters suggested that Conan ought to be hired by Google, as a flagship presence for a new Google entertainment portal. I don’t know if that idea would work; the idea of Google producing its own entertainment content (a la Yahoo!, or Howard Stern with Sirius) makes as much sense as Google providing their own webmail, or GPS software, or cell phones. But it’s a crazy century so far. And my point remains: the late night talk show is not a dying creature; it’s a dead one. We’re witnessing the throes. The sanctity with which Conan spoke of The Tonight Show, and how terrible it would be to move it past 11:35 PM, sounded like a eulogy to me.