Lewis: so is everyone ready for suggestcast 2.0: suggestchat: episode 2: the second episode
Matt: I've only seen that west wing episode
Diane: I need to finish reading that TWOP thing, but otherwise yes.
Lewis: you don't need to read the whole thing, but I think you'll know when you've gotten the gist
Diane: Supplemental material for the West Wing suggestion.
I think it's optional.
Matt: I don't see a link to the supplemental material for West Wing
And I don't have time to watch Turbo Kid, I meant to watch it in bed yesterday but I stayed up too late making that fucking death comic
Is there anything else besides Turbo Kid, West Wing, or Fanfic in play?
Diane: Just those.
Lewis: i am sad we will be sans sara, since she had to watch turbo kid and doesn't even get to complain about it
Sara: I'm here!
Diane: If only she would show up.
Sara: For like 2 minutes
Vincent: Well, I don't think I'm going to be done with things in order to be able to participate
what happened to the good old days
when your job didn't distract you from important work like synod
Vincent: well, maybe just get started and I'll see what I can do
I'm sure it won't affect my discovery review to be suggestchatting at the same time
Lewis: welcome to suggestchat
are we live?
Diane: Episode two! Three suggestions! Five suggesters!
This is some prime content.
Matt: I was interested to watch Turbo Kid, I've only read or seen good things about it, I'd be interested to hear the dissenting opinion
Lewis: did you watch it?
Matt: I didn't have a chance
Matt: Well, okay, I had plenty of chances
Lewis: well, this is not a spoiler free zone
so, be forewarned
Matt: Spoilers don't bother me
Lewis: Let's start with Turbo Kid, actually
Lewis: Sara, say your opinion on it before you go
Diane: So, this is a movie Vincent suggested.
Lewis: Matt say why it appealed to you
Matt: I'll make like a fanfic and *sits quietly in the corner*
Lewis: It is an intentionally campy pastiche of 80s post-apocalyptic movies
Diane: It reminded me a lot of It Hurts. But not the parts of It Hurts that I like.
Sara: I actually really enjoyed it
Especially the soundtrack
And the French-Canadianness of it
Vincent: If you can guys can talk about this for about an hour, or else for about four days straight, I should be able to segue seamlessly into my part
Lewis: I think we might be able to talk about it for an hour
Diane: I'll type real slow.
Matt: That's most of a movie! If I skip the second act I should be able to squeeze it in
Lewis: So, I did not love it
Sara: Just watch the mini version Vince posted the other day
It is pretty much the same experience
Lewis: I opposite of loved it
Diane: What did you hate about it?
Lewis: Well, sara brings up a good point, relevant to diane's question
I might not have hated it as much
if I had watched an abridged version
so it is not the same experience
because one is loooooonger
Diane: I've long been a proponent of the theory that the main problem with movies is that they're too long.
Lewis: all movies?
Diane: No, that would be ridiculous. But over 99% of movies.
umm, so, Susan Sontag observed in notes on Camp that the reason Ed Wood's bad movies resonate with people in a way that Birdemic doesn't is that Plan 9 from outer space is earnest, while Birdemic is cynical
Sara: My guess about why Vince suggested it is that he is trying to establish the reliability of Half in the Bag reviews or something
Diane: You didn't like how this movie was trying to be aggressively bad on purpose?
Lewis: What I disliked about this movie is that it fell on the birdemic end of the spectrum
the parts that were bad and crummy were like, winking at the audience
Lewis: "we're making a bad movie on purpose, so its okay for the acting to be garbage and the plot to be lazy"
birdemic is a bad movie that a studio made to market to people who like bad movies
unlike Plan 9, which Ed Wood made because he wanted to craft a masterpiece
(sharknado would also work here)
Sara: I disagree, I thought this movie was made with real love and care
Lewis: And unlike, say, the times when Rick and Morty does something interesting with the concept of intentional aggressive badness (the really good moments of the alternate dimension tv channel episode), this movie didn't give me anything to appreciate about its exploration of poor narrative and character development
Diane: There are a lot of over-the-top bits that seem like they were thrown in just because they could.
I don't just mean the violence, I mean like having someone turn out to have laser breath for no reason.
Lewis: laser breath is a form of violence
Diane: Or the little Soylent Green subplot where their water is actually people.
Lewis: yeah, like, very little in this was treated with the gravity appropriate to the plot developments, which is, to me, a thing that makes me think they were going for "wouldn't it be cool if"
Diane: The water thing didn't really make sense, and it didn't go anywhere.
Lewis: I suspect, by the way, that the suggestion has something to do with the shift from technology being stuck at the 80s level (early in the movie) to the super advanced technology that exists later in the movie (lifelike robots, laser breath, power gloves, etc.)
Diane: The reveal that Apple's a robot got a bit more gravity, I thought.
Sara: They needed the help of the cave miners for the water problem
Lewis: like it opens with him taping hammers together
and playing a walkman and using a viewfinder
Diane: And reading comics about Turbo Man, who at that point seems to be a fictional character.
Lewis: but apparently also there are robots that are indistinguishable from humans until you shoot them
Sara: That was hilarious... The disconnect between the levels of technology
Matt: I watched the "T is for Turbo" youtube video and I gotta say, I see what Lewis is saying about it being intentionally bad, but I think that's the creators of the film working with what they have, rather than what they want. They're limited by the acting and craftmanship skill of the people they're paying practically no money to be in their movie, and trying to play it off as best they can. The violence is pretty gross and hilarious.
Sara: I agree with what Matt just said
Lewis: I'm not one for over the top violence and gore, but that was not one of my problems with the movie
Diane: Maybe the problem is that you don't see buckets of fake blood as a positive.
I think their target audience does.
Lewis: I mean, it might have helped, but I think I'd still rather have watched a random 70s high gore kung fu movie than this one
those tended to be (at least the ones I've seen) by the numbers on the plot points, and reasonably competent
Matt: I will admit that Turbo Kid, from the little I've seen, does not bring anything new to the table
Diane: The big fight scene where they kill an army of bad guys who keep running up at them in small groups got pretty boring, even though they kept trying to find goofier and goofier ways of showing people being killed.
Lewis: did the one guy ever find his brother? I can't remember but that was his primary motivation right?
Diane: I was writing down notes as I watched, and the first thing I wrote down was "Apple is a terrifying villain."
Apple in the pre-robot section of the movie was a pretty strong depiction of a particular type of person.
That particular character portrait is my guess for why this was suggested.
Sara: His brother got killed
Diane: That or Vincent was upset that we didn't all love It Hurts and he wanted to give "post-apocalyptic exaggerated violence with a character who turns out to be a robot" another try.
Lewis: So basically the movie's shlocky aesthetic lost me early
and then it was a tedious slog to get through
that was my experience of it
Diane: OK, but remember...
Suggestions are not recommendations. We're not trying to find things that are enjoyable, we're trying to find things that are worth being familiar with as reference points.
Lewis: Right. Well, I've seen more tedious movies
Diane: So, you disliked this movie. Aside from that, what's your take on it?
Lewis: IMDB says many reviews claim this movie is "mad max with BMX bikes"
that strikes me as too generous, and obviously overly distracted by the post apocalyptic setting
I think it could have had something interesting about it (not good, necessarily, but interesting) if it had juxtaposed the schlock and goofiness with something heavily grounded
but even the scene where the protagonist's parents are murdered (in the flashback) feels a bit played-for-laughs
Diane: What did you guys think of Apple as a character?
Like, when she's doing the creepily intense attempts to be the kid's friend.
Maybe I'm the only one that stood out for.
Lewis: well, I am trying to separate my feelings about her performance
I thought it was better when she was being creepy than when she was just his friendly robot buddy
Sara: Did she remind you of somebody, Diane?
Diane: I did like the robot twist, because it was unexpected, but she was a more interesting character before.
Yeah, I've known people who have a similar disturbing intensity that they turn on sometimes, out of a belief that it'll come across as cute and endearing.
Not to the same extent. She's an exaggerated version of a real type.
Lewis: i was really annoyed that duct tape was sufficient to repair literally every mechanical problem
that is also part of the aggressive badness
Diane: I think I'd characterize the type of person I have in mind as someone who's self-consciously trying for the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope for some reason, and failing.
It seems like the discussion's stalling out a bit.
Should we move on to voting?
Vincent: I didn't get to keep up with the conversation, let me know when to dump in pre-written text
Lewis: yeah, dump it now
Diane: Go ahead, we've got dead air to fill.
Man, so much to discuss here, and so much of it more interesting that the reasons for suggesting this movie. I guess I can't really get to it all.
I'm going to have to lay down points very quickly without an opportunity to really respond to whatever everyone is saying or trying to be very persuasive about my points.
It's interesting how much of the reason for my suggestion came through in this conversation, in rather unexpected ways. Matt mentioned hearing a lot of good things about Turbo Kid from a lot of sources, but never having seen it. I was in the the same boat, though I kept hearing it mentioned in certain ways that led me to suggest it was just a deliberately silly retro action movie. It would get mentioned alongside Kung Fury sometimes, and I assumed that it was something along those lines. I started watching it briefly some time ago and when there was nothing funny in the first few minutes I figured it was a waste of time. Even Kung Fury was a little bit of a waste of time, and that was only 30 minutes.
Sara mentioned the Red Letter Media review, and that was indeed what led me to watch the movie, where they asserted that Turbo Kid was in some ways the opposite of Kung Fury, at least in its treatment of nostalgic film elements. Whereas Kung Fury is making fun of older action films (nominally 80s kung fu movies, but it freely drifts into elements of other time periods, and sometimes abandons the premise entirely), Turbo Kid is not. Turbo Kid is not meant to be bad at all, and I'm not even sure it's meant to campy, but whether you want to call it campy or not doesn't matter too much. Calling anything campy is mostly just a way of identifying yourself as an asshole.
The filmmakers here just love a bygone style of filmmaking, and they made a film in that style. If I had more time I would stress this point more, but all I can say is that I basically agree with Red Letter Media. I suppose I would add that this is not like a reference-fest; and I don't even believe that film depends on nostalgia for older action movies. (I don't really even believe that Turbo Kid, or Kung Fury, is really as connected to the 1980s as we are signalled to believe, and that if we weren't being told to associate with the 80s we would just associate it with low-budget action/sci-fi films from about the 60s onward. There are obviously specific elements that relate to the 80s, but the movies are not as mired in 80s-ness as is generally accepted.)
And so, Sara and Lewis disagreeing about whether this movie was made with love and care, or whether it's about making a shitty movie for the sake of making a shitty movie, that fits right in with what's interesting to me about Turbo Kid, because I think that's what's being widely misunderstood about it, even by some of its proponents.
So, I suggested Turbo Kid for a reason that is, perhaps, a little bit circular. Turbo Kid is a movie that I am seeing used as a reference point frequently; I think it's something that you will see used as a reference point in the future. In a sense, I'm saying people should have it available as a reference because people are going to use it as a reference.
But it's not completely circular, even described that way. But more to the point: A Wikipedia summary, or a vague description, or even a detailed description by the film proponents, may not suffice to give you an accurate view of what this movie was like, and how its tone and treatment on retro qualities differs from Kung Fury. Maybe I should have suggested Kung Fury at the same time, but I suppose everyone has seen that. But Kung Fury and Turbo are two important reference points to use in describing other sorts of nostalgic/retro works
All that said, if you did not enjoy the movie, if most people did not enjoy the movie, then I'm not sure it really serves any purpose as a separate reference. If your reaction to Turbo Kid is that you think it is not only bad, but intentionally bad, then its main distinction from Kung Fury is probably that it's just longer and less funny. And if someone compares a future work to Turbo Kid, even if you are able to intellectually acknowledge that they're referring to a certain kind of childish reverence for obsolete style, you will probably actually take away from that comparison that the work they're talking about is stupid.
So, I still give it a thumbs up, I still thinks it's valuable, I still think it's something you're going to see referenced, and I think it's something that it's helpful to reference. But the strength of this suggestion is maybe more inherently democratic than most, because if the majority of people just see this movie as new shit made to look like old shit, then I don't think it's really a good example of what I'm holding it up for.
Matt: "I'll lay down points very quickly" pastes three giant reams of text too big to go into the hangouts chatbox
Vincent: Really? It's displaying ok for me
oh, I see
I thought you meant it actually wasn't displaying, but you're joking about how much I said
in a sense you and sara are meaner to the creators of this movie than I am
because you think this is the product of an attempt to make something good
so you are effectively accusing them of gross incompetence
Diane: I think he's accusing them of liking a style of filmmaking that would make you conclude they have bad taste.
Rather than the difference being your opinions on how well executed it was.
Lewis: i wish he had articulated something about the style
so that I knew something about it other than "seems bad"
Diane: Like, what sort of style it is?
I'm not sure what you mean.
Lewis: "The filmmakers here just love a bygone style of filmmaking, and they made a film in that style."
what is that style
Matt: Toxic Avenger era Troma?
Lewis: also did we all notice that vance called me an asshole
Vincent: I was more directing that at Sontag, who isn't even right about her own made-up bullshit
Vincent: Plan 9 isn't even really a very good bad movie
Lewis: you are forgiven
Diane: Sontag's main thing isn't calling things campy, it's calling other people wrong about which things are campy.
Vincent: It's used an example of such because it's an old movie
But Plan 9 is not a fun movie to watch for most people
Lewis: sure, I would have used the Room, except I haven't seen it and imagine i wouldn't enjoy that
Bratz and Fateful Findings are better examples for me, of earnest bad vs. intentional bad of Sharknado
Diane: The scene where the alien berates some humans for how dumb they are to think that the sun bomb would be cool was fun.
(In Plan 9)
Anyone have more to say before we go to voting?
Vincent: I'm going to have to head out to the jail soon
Diane: Let's vote fast.
Lewis: I vote nay
sara votes yay, presumably
Matt: I abstain
Diane: I give it a thumbs up. Not for any reasons even slightly related to anything Vincent intended, but because I expect I'll at some point want to describe someone as acting like Apple at the beginning of Turbo Kid.
And probably follow that up by saying they don't have the excuse of being a robot.
Lewis: ok, next up
That episode I said
Diane: "The U.S. Poet Laureate."
someone give a quick summary of the subplot I specifically suggested
Diane: I liked that the poetry references were kept so accessible that I didn't feel challenged.
I even knew the line from Howl that the poet forgot.
Lewis: start with the summary, honcho
Matt: I would like to mention the suggestion sheet had this episode incorrectly listed as episode 16, whereas it's actual number is 17
Diane: So, there's this president, and he's giving a TV interview, but then after the interview the reporter asks him about some other politician, and he calls him stupid. And it turns out the camera was still recording, so that gaffe becomes a big news story.
Matt: NO DIANE
Diane: It's actually episode 16, it's just that Netflix inserts a special episode into the beginning of the season, and that messes with the numbering.
Lewis: yeah, because of 9/11
Matt: Well, that helps with dating this episode a lot
Lewis: but 9/11 doesn't happen in-universe in the west wing
Diane: You suggested this for the subplot about that guy posting on an Internet forum.
Matt: Not the nervous beard guy trying to date Laura Dern
Diane: Which was a pretty tiny subplot.
Matt: It's INCREDIBLY tiny
I would say it might even be less than 5 minutes total
I took one note about this
ANGRY WOMAN: You posted on a website!?
Diane: Right, so, back to summarizing this episode: there was a proposed land mine treaty, which in real life was started by Canada but in this TV show was started by the US, and the US is refusing to sign it.
MEANWHILE, someone gets called back from her vacation to get a promotion that she's angry about. This happens because the president needs to appear more bipartisan.
Matt: (ignoring Diane's summary) I can't really guess why Lewis suggested this, but it's a good example of a 2001 TV series trying to make a lame joke about "those crazy internet people"
Diane: This is my first time trying to summarize a West Wing episode. Please bear with me.
There's some real-world backstory that might be important here.
Matt: I'm struggling to come up with anything else to say about this subplot
Lewis: wait I want the rest of diane's summary
Diane: The president starts doing really well politically because he accidentally insulted that other guy, and his press secretary turns to him and says "Hey, this all worked out great for you. So tell me... did you do it all on purpose all along?" and he grins and winks at the camera.
Circle wipe to black, roll credits.
Matt: I'd like to say I see why people liked this show so much, particularly scenes revolving around Rob Lowe and the angry press conference woman, all the dialogue with them is very quick and snappy
That's TV gold
Diane: Yeah, the press conference woman was great.
Lewis: oh side question: was there a single worst line of dialogue that stood out to you in the episode?
Diane: The thing that's going on with the forum subplot, which I think is important to why Lewis suggested this, is that Aaron Sorkin had some incidents prior to this episode where he went on a TV forum and argued with people.
I haven't read his posts from that, but I gather he came across badly.
I think that informed a lot of the stuff here where characters talked about how forum regulars are pathetic and crazy, and how the moderators are unfair control freaks.
Sara: I love that nervous beard guy
He's one of my favourites
Matt: In my experience with celebrity appearances on Reddit almost everyone is needing over backwards to thank them for being there unless there's a hilarious reason not to, like with Woody Harrelson. I have very little normal internet forum experience.
I guess original internet forum is the correct term
Diane: This was a very different time for the Internet.
Sara: I saw this episode a long time ago so I don't remember much
Does Josh get super obsessed with his followers?
Diane: It's interesting that the guy who's acting the way Sorkin did doesn't seem like a reasonable figure.
Sara: Anyway my phone is about to die and I'm neglecting my child
And my art
Lewis: okay, so, I guess I can post my pre-written thing now
I think we've got a bit more to discuss.
Diane: Matt, what did you think of Josh's reaction to the forum people?
Matt: Well, he seems like an arrogant, self-obsessed character, so it was written exactly how I'd expect it
Diane: Where he gets all worked up and makes the woman who types for him type comments.
Matt: Oh, that was kind of creepy and weird, but I was starting to think it was part of some personality quirk where he can't directly interact with people
or perhaps some law???
Diane: In my headcanon, he doesn't know how to type.
Matt: Lewis, please tell us about this suggestion!
Diane: My guess is that you suggested it as an example of someone trying to present his side of an online dispute positively and making himself look bad anyway.
Lewis: It came down to suggesting this, or Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla, because of the part where he names the dumb mayor “Ebert” as retaliation for having given some emmerich movie a negative review, but believe it or not, this seemed like the better instance of a creator taking unnecessary potshots at audience/critics of their work, within their work, and they are all over the place in Sorkin. Especially West Wing, where people who ran the forums criticized his treatment of gender, and also fact checked a lot of his political stuff (which he often got wrong in ways that are unimportant to the story of why Josh and Toby and Sam and CJ are great people, but might matter more if lots of people are assuming this show is an accurate depiction of the political process and the state of affairs of various political issues).
this scene is also great because it is hard to imagine it not being directed at his fans
Matt: Ah, I see it
Lewis: see what?
Matt: Why you suggested it
It has nothing to do with how either of us interpreted it
Lewis: well, Diane was pretty much 100% right?
Diane: About the land mine treaty?
Lewis: well, the single worst line of dialogue in the episode is something the poet says when she compromises her principles
it was about how an artist's job isn't about the truth, its just to entertain
that's a big part of the sorkin defense against people who are like "that's not what happens when someone dies mid-term as a senator" on the TWOP forums
Diane: And then she throws a land mine at an orphan!
Lewis: anyway, sorkin does this all the time in his works
Diane: So this is a strong example of Sorkin being really petty for no reason?
Lewis: like, that one websnark piece outlines every personal vendetta that he lays out in studio 60
including continuing a fight with kristen chenowith about her christian music career by writing it into the show for a character who is clearly very much modeled on her
Diane: Do you think he was trying to make Josh look like he was in the right here, and failing?
Lewis: I do
I mean, I think he may have been trying to gently lampoon josh a bit
so like, I don't think everything about josh is unintentional
but I think in his mind, josh is the sane one
or his mistake is getting dragged into it
donna is the voice of reason, and she's saying "obviously these forum people are all crazy and you shouldn't talk to them"
so like, Josh is in the wrong because he is arguing with them, not because he shouldn't have mouthed off
Diane: It sounds like in real life, Sorkin went against that reasonable stance.
Maybe she's expressing the wisdom that Sorkin learned and wished he'd known from the start?
Lewis: oh yeah, sorkin would frequent the forums and get into arguments
and then get pissy with people for taking his stories too seriously
so what's interesting about matt's observation about reddit to me
is that it really is part of a shift in internet culture to an extent
like, the accessibility of celebrities has shifted a lot of things around
and there are some AMAs that go poorly
but in general, the celebrities show up to reddit in a forum that is designed to be adulation
whereas sorkin was like "it's named after me and my show, obviously I am welcome there"
but then like, people there were not simply fans, they were also critical and were in a space where they were used to frankly discussing their concerns about the show
Diane: And they were used to people having to follow forum rules.
Like that bit where Josh gets reprimanded for using too many capital letters or whatever.
Should we wait a bit more to see if Vincent gets out of jail, or go straight to voting?
Lewis: how close is jail to his office
Diane: Not that close.
Lewis: i think we should probably move to voting, and he can add his thoughts vince post facto
Diane: I'm going to vote thumbs down on this one. I think it does work as an example of a writer taking an unnecessary and petty potshot, but that's not the sort of thing I need references for. Not that it doesn't come up, just that when it does, it's just as easy, or maybe even easier, to talk about it without referring to an example from fiction.
Matt: I guess there were supplemental materials for this suggestion that weren't linked in the document? Like Sorkin's forum posts?
Lewis: just the television without pity recap of the episode where they explain that it is clearly a potshot at them
Matt: I feel like it might be essential to understanding what's going on with this subplot
Lewis: but I think this discussion worked better given that only one of you read it
Matt: Even when Diane said "My guess is that you suggested it as an example of someone trying to present his side of an online dispute positively and making himself look bad anyway." I thought she was speaking about people entirely within the show, not the writer of the show using it as a tool to insult their audience
I think it is interesting here how a little knowledge of the sorkin background can really alter how the episode reads
like, someone who has no idea about any of it is like, "how goofy were people about the internet back in the day"
someone who knows that sorkin likes to work out his petty resentments in his show starts to view each plotline as "I wonder who this is about"
Matt: Also that the Sorkin mouthpiece character is immediately recognized as a horrible asshole
Diane: What's your vote?
Matt: Oh, right, unfortunately going to have to go with a nay because I just couldn't get it without knowing Sorkin's history. But having two differing opinions on a subject based on an artistic work based on a creator's history is interesting, perhaps that could be referenced
Diane: As usual, the real suggestion was this conversation itself.
Lewis: i will vote thumbs up, as a futile gesture that because you diane got exactly what I was going for, that counts for something
Diane: Next up, we have my suggestion. The My Little Pony fanfic "Ponies Learn Calculus." Specifically, chapter one: "Speed Limit."
Who here read it?
Matt: Why specifically this chapter?
Lewis: i read it
Diane: It's OK if you read more of it, I just think the opening chapter is enough for this as a suggestion.
Matt: Is this an elaborate set up to force us to admit in public record as having read MLP fanfic?
Lewis: i think we read another MLP fanfic for suggestcast once
Diane: Matt, before I answer that, I'm going to need you to state clearly whether or not you read this.
Matt: I have read the first chapter as required by the suggestcast order of operations
Diane: There's an actual reason for suggesting it.
Lewis: it's technically not required
you can opt out of any suggestion
I read it.
I don't think I'm the target audience
Diane: Can you summarize it?
Matt: So we try to guess why Diane suggested this now, right?
Diane: First I'd like to hear your takes on the work.
Lewis: Rainbow Dash is excited about an upcoming competition
but it turns out the competition isn't for speed of flight, but aerial maneuvering
so, Rainbow Dash needs to find out if the routine she has cooked up will stay below the contest's speed maximum of 20 ponylengths per second
she enlists twilight sparkle's help
but it turns out most people can't just visually determine speeds
including twilight sparkle
someone else shows up
umm, not fluttershy
and not applejack
Diane: Pinkie Pie.
Lewis: pinkie pie
and...breaks the fourth wall, I think
explaining that they are on film
and that they can use the film of the stunt to try to gauge the speed
there is a flash widget that you can load which contains the stunt, a reference for a ponylength, and can be advanced frame by frame
you are also given the information that the film is 30 frames per second
can you figure out how fast rainbow dash is going during her aerial stunt?
i assume the suggestion has to do with the 4th wall breaking
I think this is an interesting update on math blaster, for the modern era
Matt: I think the suggestion is about making who I assume is the most annoying pony, Pinkie Pie, even more annoying by having them both break the 4th wall and force you to solve a math problem at the same time
Diane: I'm going to jump in here just to say that I agree with Matt's assertion that Pinkie Pie is annoying and Rarity is the best pony.
Lewis: i mean, rainbow dash
is obviously the best pony
i thought you liked fluttershy
Diane: As a reminder, suggestions aren't meant to be about which pony is best.
Matt: It's about which pony is the sexiest
Diane: Oh, then I should have suggested a completely different fanfic.
Matt: That's a cheap shot at the MLP fandom and I apologize
so, it seems like this is a reasonably well done educational text in the form of an MLP fanfic
Diane: What did you think of it as a way of presenting calculus?
Lewis: the 4th wall breaking is an odd decision, but it does introduce the mechanism where you can do some math
i didn't get far enough to get to calculus
Matt: Are we to believe calculus is not possible inside the MLP universe without breaking the 4th wall?
Lewis: but from the first chapter, I would expect it to be a reasonably good exposition of the math
note I didn't do the math, so I could be wrong about that
Diane: Well, the MLP universe doesn't normally have video cameras, I assume.
Lewis: this felt less stilted than the scene in anathem where they explain configuration space
but that follows from a more general principle
Lewis: i don't have a lot to say about it though
it wasn't like, annoying to read or anything
Matt: It's not as good as that Bill Nye fanfic that assumes every Bill Nye episode is broadcast live, and requires Bill's head to be filmed rotating for a logo in the intro to the show
That's the only other fanfic I've read
Lewis: but, i can't imagine this is the best reference point for edutainment fanfic
so you must have something else in mind
but I don't know what it is
I suggested this because of the way it's trying to fulfill two roles at once: calculus tutorial and My Little Pony fanfic. The story has to go through a lot of convolutions to set this up, because MLP isn't that well equipped for the sort of math demonstration the author wants. Like, if this were a Scooby Doo fanfic, the characters could just use a regular video camera, without needing a scene to establish that they shouldn't have a camera but got one through Pinkie Pie's fourth-wall breaking. The reason the characters want a way to measure speed is fairly contrived too. The chapter's pretty much all about laying the groundwork for being able to pose math-related questions, and it's mostly groundwork that's only necessary given the combination of premises the fic is going for.
It feels awkward, but it's a particular type of awkwardness that I like the feel of. Where it's justified to the extent that it's a helpful thing to put in if you're trying to fit that square peg into a round hole, but the question of why you're trying that in the first place isn't addressed. In this case I assume it's because people like MLP and that might draw readers in, but that's just a guess.
Lewis, you were kind of getting at this when you said "the 4th wall breaking is an odd decision, but it does introduce the mechanism where you can do some math."
Lewis: yeah, I mean, Matt was right that you could do calculus without video cameras
Matt: Hmm, this seems a lot like the same kinds of setups I'd do for fulfilling multiple suggestions in my comic at once
Lewis: proof: leibniz
like, it's just about calculating the area under a curve
but having a pony race be involved is a more compelling thing to be measuring, I assume
Diane: The video camera is for one specific approach to calculus exposition, not to the principles of calculus themselves.
Matt: brb googling calculus
Diane: He's a Tintin character.
Lewis: right right
I mean, what's interesting though is that there are a lot of ways to get a videocamera into the fiction
someone could magic one up
okay, two ways
but the point is
they could make a magic video camera, or a crystal ball with playback capability or something
so, it isn't like you even need to do 4th wall breaking just to get the camera
Diane: The fourth-wall stuff is in character for Pinkie Pie, I think.
Matt: Clearly the deadpool of MLP
Diane: I could be wrong about that.
Matt: So the bottom line here is that it's supposed to be an example of a truly awkward and unnecessary setup?
Diane: That's the thing, though. It's not exactly unnecessary, it's necessitated by the decision to do a calculus tutorial within a MLP story.
Matt: I can't think of anything else that does this in the same way, or would ever need to
I can only think, "This is an example of this exact fanfic"
Diane: Matt, I'm going to start sending you links to fanfics where Pokemon trainers explain the scientific method to each other.
Lewis: So the idea is that you take on two constraints at the same time, and they make what you are doing awkward
i am glad this isn't like #rationalistfanfic
and that it is just (so far) math
it felt less condecending than HPMOR
Diane: Yeah, this is outside the rationalist fanfic community, as far as I can tell.
Matt: Okay, so it IS like taking multiple requests, and not some other, undefined awkwardness specifically involving the 4th wall?
I mean, not requests specifically, but as I mentioned before it has that quality in common with comics I've done
Lewis: Diane if someone showed up instead of pinkie pie, with a crystal ball that did playback and worked like a vcr, would this fic still have the quality you are talking about
Diane: I didn't have the fourth wall stuff in mind as a central part of this as a suggestion, no.
If it still had that feeling of being contrived but required setup for the central goal, yes.
Which I think a crystal ball VCR would.
Matt: They should have done that and included several paragraphs explaining why a crystal ball would have the same kinds of visual defects and quality that a VHS tape would have
Lewis: because—this is important for me—not knowing what equestria is like at all really, the 4th wall breaking stood out in a way that flinstones style anachronism wouldn't
so for all I know, they all "watch tv" on crystal balls in the show
and so it wouldn't strike me as contrived, necessarily
depending on how it was presented
Diane: Ah. Then the fact that the fourth wall bit stood out for you is important for this.
so like, if I knew the show well (I've watched like one episode a while ago), then it would be much easier to detect which things other than the 4th wall breaking were contrived
but flintstones is a good example
because it would be weird if they had a spaceship
but it is not weird that they have record players, as long as the recordplayer is made out of old timey animals
set aside quizmodiar
or the great gazoo
Diane: They had that alien--
Lewis: what was his name
Lewis: yeah, if I was reading a fanfic about the flinstones and hadn't seen a great gazoo episode, that would seem like a contrived inclusion to me
but if it was the pterodactyl vacuum or whatever, not so much
Matt: This is making me want to listen to bedrock anthem
Lewis: fight the urge
Diane: All right. Thumbs up or thumbs down?
Matt: I don't know how to vote here guys, on one hand it's a good example of what it is, bit on the other hand I feel like there are probably better examples of it somewhere that aren't MLP related
Lewis: diane can you give me an example of a time this would have been handy to have as a reference point?
Diane: OK, suppose you're writing a story about pirates in olden times, but also, you have a latex fetish, so you need to put in a few chapters explaining how the pirates would have access to latex and why they'd bother with it.
Matt: I'd feel so bad for those pirates if they had a latex allergy
Lewis: no no, please give me a real instance that has occurred and not one where I have a latex fetish
Matt: Lewis, please
Obviously you've been commissioned to write this
Diane: Right, let's go with that. Your patron is into latex.
Lewis: no, i want a real example
my thumbs up can be yours if you can name a time this would have been useful to reference, bonus points if it isn't another fanfic
Diane: HPMOR kind of does this.
Matt: Sorkin has to write a plot about himself shitting on his online audience but ALSO has to make his character look good
Diane: I think it's going to be more common in fanfic than otherwise, because it gives you a preexisting universe you're trying to fit into.
Lewis: I mean, that also just happens on episodes of tv shows
like when they have to do a christmas episode
but also have to keep with the established stuff of the series
Diane: Or like they have to do a Titanic episode, but they're writing for a show that takes place in a modern-day radio station.
Matt: I think what makes this special is that these are two UNUSUAL goals
Lewis: i give a qualified thumbs up. I reacted very specifically to the thing you suggested on the basis of. but I don't suspect I will have much cause to use it as a reference point. if I do though, it seems like a good one
Matt: I give a thumbs up because suggesting this as a reference is so useless it couldn't possibly do any harm to humanity's culture
Lewis: vance is going to be so mad
Diane: OK, I'm going to vote thumbs up. I was leaning towards thumbs down for a while there, because it seems like this wasn't as clear an example as I'd hoped it would be. You guys are getting what it is I had in mind now, though, it just had to be pointed out.
Lewis: ok, suggestos, lets suggest some stuff for next time
Diane: All right, my suggestion is the webcomic Hitmen for Destiny. But it's 586 strips long and the thing I'm suggesting it for is a small sequence of strips near the end, so I'm going to provide links to those specific strips. Reading the whole thing is fine too.
Lewis: yay I already read it!
Diane: This isn't important to the suggestion, but I do like that webcomic and recommend reading it all if you haven't already.
Matt: I suggest Space Patrol Luluco Episode 10
It's very short, and crunchyroll loads enough ads in this short time that they rival the actual length of the show. I know I said I was morally opposed to flash player, but there's no other source that has a translation I like.
Lewis: okay I suggest the extreme restraints ad from the candlenights episode of My Brother My Brother and Me. Salient information: Extreme Restraints is a sex toy superstore, and their block of advertising one year overlapped with the family friendly holiday episode of My Brother, My Brother, and Me
Diane: You can read Hitmen for Destiny from the beginning at http://hitmen.thecomicseries.com/
Or if you're short on time, just read these strips:
Ideally in that order.
Sara: Can I suggest songs? The music is mostly irrelevant to why I would suggest them
Listen to these songs (in order):
Plea From a Cat Named Virtute
Virtute The Cat Explains Her Departure
Or if you hate the music and your hatred is too distracting, just read the lyrics
i am pretty sure Josh has Donna type not because it makes him seem creepy
but because it is better telvision to have someone say the posts out loud
than to watch someone type silently
Diane: He could read it out loud to her as he's typing.
Lewis: i like your headcanon
Diane: That's all the time we have for today. We've been the SuggestChatters.