Episode Date: October 8, 2019
Transcribed by: William Lett
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Trevor Strunk: Welcome to No Cartridge Audio. This is actually, I guess, Four Colors Red Audio – the very first of its kind. We are starting our production of the audio version, or the audio portion while we’re still working on the text portion, of our comics imprint here at No Cartridge. And as our first guest, we have the illustrious Pete. Pete, I don’t know, I can’t recall: do you go by Podside Pete on Podside Picnic, or as Pete Johansen?
Podside Pete: Uh, well, I haven’t hidden my name. So yeah, I’m definitely Pete Johansen but I do call myself Podside Pete most of the time.
Trevor: Yeah, I couldn’t remember. I’m bad with introduction parts, I zone those out. But although on a recent After Dark, Olivia and I both said that yours was one of the only recent pod- Well, that’s not true. I listen to a lot of podcasts, but Liv was saying that yours was the podcast she listened to and was the only one we had in common. That and Comedy Bang Bang, so I’m looking forward to your rise to Earwolf fame soon.
Pete: All right, well we need to do is start finding a mattress company that will sponsor us and we’ll be good to go.
Trevor: I know several. So Pete, you’re here as part of a backer reward system but I would have had you on anyway. You have a great, let’s just get this out of the way at first because I’d like to, you have a great podcast of your own called Podside Picnic. What’s that about?
Pete: Sure. Well, um, I have a co host, Connor Southard, also a friend of the show. And the-
Trevor: Is it Southard [pronounced “sow-thurd”]?
Pete: You know, it is Southard [pronounced “suh-thurd”]. But I always do Southard [pronounced “sow-thurd”], and he hasn’t called me out on it.
Trevor: No, see, I always thought it was- yeah, I was surprised by that. I was like, “Oh, no. Have I been getting it wrong?”
Pete: No, you did it right. And the only way I figured it out was like a week ago, I called his voicemail.
Trevor: Oh. Yeah, there you go,
Pete: Which I should have done earlier, apparently. Anyway, conceit of the show is I’m a guy who’s spent decades and decades reading science fiction. And Connor’s someone who’s trying to come to grips with science fiction as a writer. And so we’re sort of working together through the canon, discussing the books, trying to figure out what he likes and doesn’t like, and arguing a lot. And so far, it’s been a big success, I think.
Trevor: Yeah, no, totally. And you’re already on Dune Month which, I mean honestly, if there’s any sort of indication that the podcast has staying power, it’s that you’ve got to and then read Dune.
Pete: Yes! Yes. And it’s amazing how interested people are in there. You know, we should mention: you’ve been on the show. You’ve-
Trevor: Oh. Yeah, I have been on the show. [Laughs] I was on a premium episode. I tend to bury the lede when it comes to me being on things, but yes, I was on an episode talking about Adorno with Connor.
Pete: Right. Right. And I wasn’t there because if I talked about Adorno, I would expose myself for the fraud that I am so…
Trevor: [Laughs] You know what? We’re all frauds, it’s just that you don’t want to expose yourself.
Pete: Exactly. Cause I’d be arrested.
Trevor: [Laughs] But yeah, no, it’s going very well I think, and you’re keying in to some of the texts that I think are some of my favorite in sci-fi now. And it started off with a little bit more obscure, although I think you started with a Le Guin or a Butler. But now that you’re getting into Dune, I am right there with you.
Pete: Awesome. Yeah, it’s… it’s sort of amazing watching it grow because I did a podcast before that was sort of based on Victorian authors. And that just-
Trevor: Yeah it was a cool podcast.
Pete: Yeah, yeah! And it was a lot of fun, but it’s… people don’t engage with Victorian authors like they do with Frank Herbert, you know? And so getting that sort of-
Trevor: You know what? You’re right. They don’t. [Laughs]
Pete: [Sighs] Yeah… Well, I mean, you know, you do a games podcasts. You totally get it.
Trevor: Yeah, I mean- well… I did stuff that people didn’t engage with before a games podcast, so I totally get it.
Trevor: But yeah, no, it’s good stuff. People should listen to it and we’re proud friends of Podside
Nation Picnic here at No Cartridge. But today we’re actually- Oh, go ahead.
Pete: Really quickly, do you know what claim we have frequently made on-the-air about you?
Trevor: Oh, that in fact the podcast would not exist were it not for me.
Pete: Correct. We were introduced by you, and honestly we wouldn’t have ever become friends, so the podcast wouldn’t have happened. So thank you.
Trevor: Oh, hey, you’re welcome.
Pete: It’s us and Street Fight that you’ve started so far.
Trevor: [Laughs] Well, I didn’t start Street Fight. I just started Street Fight on their road to riches!
Pete: There you go.
Trevor: Just kidding. Bryan and Brett are the humblest of humblest of souls. No, I’m very proud of both, and in fact, I was able to tell that story live at a Street Fight thing. Bryan had me up and was, like, talked about how I convinced him not to go to grad school. One of my proudest moments. I saved a fellow traveler. But today we’re talking about, well, I guess it’s sci-fi in a sense. It’s that bridge, right, between sci-fi and fantasy – which is why they get all the money. We’re going to be talking about comic books. And specifically, we’re going to be talking about adaptations of comic books.
Now this is fascinating, what you told me to do. And I’m going to tell everyone else to do this too. Google, just for the sake of this episode and you can clickthrough while we talk, you know, “television series based on comics.” And you’ll find a Wikipedia article, and then you’ll find a number of… basically a number of pages where they’re talking about all the listings. It’s like a version of that “list of famous ducks” that you can look up. The Wikipedia for the list of famous ducks, which is a great Wikipedia, but it’s for these things that actually existed. And Pete, you were saying that they tell you a story. And I find your explanation very compelling. So I’m gonna have you give it
Pete: Okay! Great! Oh, well, let’s just I’ll… uh, let’s see… I will click on Marvel. So-
Trevor: Okay, great.
Pete: When you click on the Marvel set of comics that have turned into television shows, the first thing you see is a series of… well I was there for them, so I could say this, crappy live-action TV shows from the 70s.
Trevor: Now come on, The Incredible Hulk had that walking away moment.
Pete: Yeah, “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” Yeah. Well… I mean, I loved them as a kid. They had Lou Ferrigno and how awesome was that? But the point was there was no, like, they literally had to use two guys and stop the film and put the other guy there and paint him green. There was no good special effects basically. And so all of these were the most human heroes you can find, and most of what you watch is them and human moments. So all the Spider-Man television shows were basically about Peter Parker, with maybe a quick scene of somebody climbing a wall where you can clearly see the strings attached.
Trevor: I mean, that’s what the comics were about too. I feel like at their core most of the comics, especially through the 90s, were about Peter Parker. There were incidental Spider-Man moments but, especially Marvel comics, that live-action stuff kind of worked. I mean, worked as much as they can.
Pete: That’s a good argument actually. So I guess maybe the child in me, what I remember is him flipping around and fighting the Green Goblin. You know what I mean? But yeah, most of the comics were about personal angst.
Trevor: Yeah, no, I think that’s right. The kid remembers the fights between the villains, but I think if you actually read the comics now it’s just like “Peter’s dealing with his girlfriend,” or “Peter’s dealing with a friend who’s in trouble,” or “Peter’s dealing with his job.” And then there’ll be, you know, eight or nine pages of Spider-Man action, and then you’ll go back to the cliffhanger which is you know, “Will Peter keep his job?” And they’re great comics, but yeah, that’s what it is.
Pete: So just out of curiosity, did you ever read Marvel Zombies?
Trevor: Did I read Marvel Zombies… Man, I’m having a memory of reading it, and like I’m picturing it, but I don’t- I can’t call any of the content to mind.
Pete: Well, I mean, yeah. I don’t recommend it to anyone, but one of the things- [Laughs]
Trevor: Maybe that’s why I can’t remember it.
Pete: Probably. But Peter Parker as a zombie was hilarious because he was an undead killing machine until he got enough to eat, and then he started angsting about what he was doing.
Trevor: Oh, yeah, sure.
Pete: So they were just sort of doing a whole send-up of what he was. Well, the whole thing was a series of send-ups but that really hit me. Oh, going-
Trevor: No, absolutely.
Pete: Going back to my point, sorry. So from the from the 70s, you have a large skip to the 2000s, and there’s just a little bit there. It’s, like, Blade. It’s things where you could use practical special effects.
Trevor: Yeah. Mutant X… which I don’t remember at all…
Pete: Yeah, like, when did that happen? [Laughs]
Trevor: It w- had three series! …Wow.
Pete: Yeah. I had no idea.
Trevor: Yeah, and I guess in the DC one there’s, you know, your Smallvilles… There’s actually- I found the DC one to actually be also quite interesting. Wow, there was a Malibu Comics one. Night Man had a series?!
Pete: That’s incredible.
Pete: Yeah, so-
Trevor: Powers had a series?!
Pete: I’ll pop over to DC and take a look…
Trevor: Did you realize this? Did you know Powers had a series? Did you ever read that?
Pete: No, I didn’t.
Trevor: Well, that’s an early… Who wrote that one? That’s an early Bendis comic. One of his best. It’s about… it’s basically about… well, here.
“In a world where [humans and] superheroes called ‘Powers‘ co-exist, a former Power, [Christian Walker,] has reinvented himself as a homicide detective after his own powers were taken from him.”
So basically, it’s just a police procedural about superheroes. Wow! I’m very surprised they had a series [garbled].
Pete: Yeah, that’s really-
Trevor: Oh, it was very bad apparently. That’s why.
Pete: Well fair enough. Well-
Trevor: The comic’s good, go read that. But-
Pete: Well that’s one of the things, like, a lot of these… I mean… DC. Like, I’m that guy, DC and Marvel has never really been the center of the wheel for me. But there’s some great stuff there.
Trevor: Oh yeah, for sure.
Pete: Well somewhere around 2012, 2014, something happens. And I’m not really sure what that something is, but I’ve got some theories about it.
Trevor: [Laughs] I was like “Are you being coy?”
Pete: [Laughs] Yeah. Well I think it has something to do with the combination of cheap special effects and effective CGI. But it might just be marketing execs our age got to the point where they could make decisions? But suddenly, they started picking up all of the comic franchises they could and just rushing them to production. I mean, like, I’m looking at DC right now, and I see Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Black Lightning, Krypton, DC Daily, Titans, Doom Patrol. It’s crazy!
Trevor: Well, and also, I think the real thing that happened was you got the movie boom. I mean, that’s just post-Avengers. And I think people just all of a sudden realize, like, “Hey, we can actually make money off of this.” They probably had it in mind when they were thinking about Smallville. And you see a couple of early stabs at it, right, like Birds of- well, Birds of Prey is actually that’s weird early stab. But then Human Target is the one I remember coming on. And I was thinking, “Oh, I like the Human Target character. That’s cool.” And it flopped, because it wasn’t ready. But then by 2014, when Gotham comes out, well, there you go. Or Arrow, or Flash, or whatever. Like, the Arrowverse is 2012. I mean, it’s just… I think it’s the movies. I think it’s like, honestly, people got superhero fever.
Pete: That makes sense. And I mean, though, as I think about this stuff historically, comics were in this weird, isolated island all by themselves, because they weren’t considered books. But they couldn’t really be effectively transferred to any other medium, because you could do things in a comic that you couldn’t do anywhere else.
Trevor: Yeah, I remember when I was growing up, you could read the back pages of a Marvel comic, and it would be like the- and this would be like the… I was probably reading comics that had this in the mid-to-late 90s? And they would have little blurbs in the back that would be like, “Update on the Spider-Man movie,” or update on this, and things would be in production. But they’d be like these sort of like veiled, hidden ideas or whatever. And whenever it actually happened, it would be a flop.
Like the Punisher movie or the Captain America movie; they just didn’t work. But you’d get these things – I remember once the Spider-Man movie, the first Sam Raimi one, came out – I was like, midnight showing. I was super amped about that; I bought pre-order tickets. I think before that was, like, well, I guess it was post-Matrix so it wasn’t. But you know, I was really into it and in part because that was finally- they were coming through on that promise that they’d made of “there’s going to be a movie someday, there’s going to be a movie someday.” Felt like finally someone made like the super console that I had been hoping for when I was a kid.
Pete: Right! Yeah, you know, and I always have this mixed thing. Like, do you remember when you were younger? And you were like the first person to see a song on MTV, or hear it on the radio or something? And then everybody else caught up to you?
Trevor: Yes,I was definitely… I was really into punk and hardcore. And so I was kind of like a scene kid in that way, where I would constantly be searching up bands no one had heard of. And the fewer people that had heard the band, the better for me. Like I would be happier about that. It took a long time to break that but yeah, I absolutely. I felt very, very protective of my interests.
Pete: Well I was supergluing my hair Industrial, so I know what you’re talking about. You know, Skinny Puppy, that sort of thing. So…
Trevor: I can’t believe it. It’s amazing to think about.
Pete: What, me with super glue? [Laughs]
Trevor: Well yeah, no, you… Yeah, you looking fully Industrial’d out.
Pete: Yeah, I mean, I was… Absolutely dropped me in the “poser” category. But I believed, you know?
Trevor: No, I mean, you had the- you put super glue in your hair. That’s serious. That’s like… I remember the real punks used to put glue or toothpaste in their hair to make liberty spikes. My hair was always curly so I just grew it out. But yeah, no, the liberty spikes with toothpaste… I remember that being a thing. When people did that, I was like, wow. I mean, you can’t call them that much of a poser.
Pete: Yeah that’s mud – you’re rubbing mud on your skull.
Trevor: Yeah, that’s right… Crazy… It’s not good for it.
Trevor: I hope you know that. [Laughs]
Pete: It’s like health tips, folks. [Laughs]
Trevor: “Don’t put mud on your skull!”
Pete: Okay, so anyway… One of the thing- Like on the one hand, I don’t trust my biases when we talk about this stuff, because on one level, all of this comic lore, and all of this stuff that I’ve collected. Like I’m within 15 feet of a shelf full of comics. And-
Trevor: Okay, yeah.
Pete: You know, the idea that all of these things have- are completely in the public eye right now. Like there’s a police procedural based upon Lucifer. Like, The Walking Dead comics have now turned into a 300 year epic. Like, all of these things happening… I’m glad. And I’m really pissed off.
Trevor: Yeah, I can understand that. I mean, this is a similar thing that happened with video games where like you got… What’s his name? The guy who did Vanilla WoW [World of Warcraft] who- Mark Kern. Saying “We were bullied and now we’re cool all of a sudden. And you think you can be part of this now that you bullied us in high school?” And you know, I made fun of him, and I believe he was right to be made of, but like-
Pete: Oh yeah, please continue!
Trevor: It’s- yeah, no, of course. It is also a ridiculous thing to say. Like, it’s absurd to be like, “Hey look, like… this thing’s popular now and people like it. You can’t just get mad at them for that.” It happens in sports too, like people get mad at bandwagon fans. Like, if you start liking a team, probably you start liking them because they’re doing good at that time. It’s not going to help if someone yells at you and asks, like, you know, if you started liking the Golden Knights Pete.
Pete: That is a great analogy right there man because they’ve been around, what? Two years? And I know people with tattoos of the Golden Knights.
Trevor: Yeah. Yeah. And you’d probably find people who got super angry with them. With people who got those tattoos because they’re like, “Well, you never liked hockey before. You weren’t there for like- You don’t know anything about real hockey.” And on a certain level, yes. Like, Golden Knights fans are, in a lot of ways, very new to the whole scene. In another way, who cares? Like, why… it’s just all hockey? Just let them enjoy the game. You enjoy it. Like, just… You know, let it go.
Pete: Well, god forbid people get excited about an exciting team, right?
Trevor: Right. And I think, ultimately, the secret is people just want you to have to suffer like they have. Like, the suffering is part of the buy-in. So like, if some kid is born now and they have, you know… Or some kid comes of age now and they have 60 Marvel movies to watch, when I had a VHS of the bad movies that I just didn’t want to watch but kind of did because I had to. Like, that feels wrong. It feels like “Well you didn’t suffer for this,” like “You didn’t have to deal with all this garbage before you got your good stuff.” But then again why should that matter?
Pete: Yeah. Well, and I mean, I think it’s okay to have those feelings, like so many feelings that are questionable, because it has to be okay. Like we have those feelings. It’s what you do at that point. Like, people who are enjoying… I don’t know, Jessica Jones on Netflix. That’s awesome! I mean, like, think of the exposure, and maybe that makes money go into some writer’s pocket. Even better. [Laughs]
Trevor: I mean, yeah, maybe?
Pete: [Laughs] But not hugely likely, granted, but you can dream.
Trevor: You can dream.
Pete: Yeah. So I-
Trevor: But no, I mean, you’re right. There’s benefits to it, right? Like, there are things that… And I mean, more likely than not you’re just saying, “Okay, maybe a writer doesn’t get paid, but. Some kid is gonna get into comics because of this. And then it would be cool for them.” It’s the same thing about getting mad because girls are reading comics. It’s like, you know, it’s fine. Like, let them read comics, and let them enjoy it. I don’t know it… There’s a lot that goes wrong when people try to legislate fandom. And I think, you know, I’m guilty of it too. And I try not to be and I think I’m guilty of it, especially with these movies, because it’s like, man, I don’t care what you see in these movies. I remember Thanos not being a cool villain.
Pete: Right. Well, he’s a dork. He’s got a chin full of thumbs. It’s disgusting.
Trevor: Yeah, who cares? And now he’s real cool. But you know, that’s how it goes. That’s just the progression of time.
Pete: So having disclosed my biases and explored them with you, can I talked to you-
Trevor: I’m glad you did.
Pete: Can I talk to you about what I’m scared about?
Trevor: Yeah, sure.
Pete: Okay. So let me think of a good example. Have you ever read King City?
Pete: Shit. Okay. Let me think of another good example then.
Pete: Oh, no, that’s fine. That’s fine.
Trevor: I’m usually good for these things, but that was one I just did not know.
Pete: Uh, shoot…
Trevor: Yes, I’ve read
Pete: Okay, so imagine that as
Prometheus Promethea was being written, Alan Moore knew for certain there was a very good chance it would be picked up by Netflix as a primetime show.
Pete: Do you think he might have made different decisions about the way the story went? Well, okay… Maybe Alan Moore’s a bad example! [Laughs]
Trevor: He probably- I think the question with him would be, would he intentionally tank the series?
Pete: [Laughs] Okay.
Trevor: I think that’s probably more- but. I understand what you’re saying. And I have this inkling that this is already happening. Where people are basically writing – or being asked to write – stories with movies and TV in mind.
Trevor: Right. Like, the idea is “Okay, you you will write this arc, and it’s going to be about this thing that we think is gonna be viable for a movie like that down the line.” I think that’s absolutely happening. And it bums me out.
Pete: Yeah, I mean, I think it’s doing real… Well… I think it could – I’m talking out of my ass, of course – but, I think it’s doing damage to the genre. Like, some of my favorite stories, and for example I mentioned King City. I love that story with all my heart. And I know Graham is problematic as hell. But I don’t know what to do with that; maybe that’s a discussion for another time? But King City, or The Filth, or The Invisibles, they’re all of these comic series that would be completely bizarre on TV. And I-
Trevor: Well, and might not get made because of TV.
Trevor: Like there are instances where you’re thinking about a comic series and you’re like, “Would you get those weird experimental Kirby‘s if TV was the thing?” Well, probably not. Because you’re not gonna… greenlight Devil Dinosaur. You’re going to greenlight… Like, no. Of course you’re not. Or you’re gonna… It’s not as if… I think the thing is, it’s not about hugging the old comics and saying, “I want my old comics back and I don’t like the way comics are going.” It’s worrying about what doesn’t get made in a world that is strictly concerned with putting something up on the small or big screen.
Pete: Yes. Yes! I totally agree with that. Ooh, ooh! I’ve got another good example. “Ooh ooh.” Listen to me… Um, have you been watching The Boys?
Trevor: You know, I haven’t. I’ve been- people kept telling me to watch The Boys. I am not a Garth Ennis fan. I don’t like Garth Ennis very much.
Trevor: I read all of Preacher.
Trevor: I liked Preacher just fine. At the time. I don’t know how I’d like it now…
Pete: I don’t feel it holds up. But what do I know?
Trevor: Yeah I buy that. I found it’s- I remember when Stan Lee got in a lot of trouble because he said that Ennis’s Fury wasn’t good)). Like, it wasn’t how he wanted Marvel Comics to be because it had vulgarity and curses and violence and stuff.
Trevor: And I read it and I was like, yeah I have to agree with Stan Lee. This- Just it- And it’s not even about the vulgarity, like, I love Deadwood. And, like, you know, I love The Wire. I listened to all sorts of incredibly vulgar and in poor taste music through my childhood and teen years. It’s not as if- like, my favorite movie, one of my favorite movies, maybe my favorite comedy of all-time is Blazing Saddles. I don’t care about language. But… that book was just totally inelegant. And that’s kind of how I started thinking about Ennis; I have read bits of his Punisher that I’ve liked, but I don’t know… Most of Ennis just totally doesn’t do it for me. So I was worried about The Boys, but people really seem to like it.
Pete: And one of the things- a lot… they put a lot of effort into it clearly. But one of the things I noticed, if you’re reading the comic while you’re watching the show, and God help us all, I have done this…
Trevor: [Laughs] Pete, love yourself. Don’t do this to yourself.
Pete: But it was… it’s very clear that there are people from the studio in the room making decisions. Like, this is too rape-y, we need a cutscene. That kind of thing.
Trevor: Okay, yeah.
Pete: And, like, that’s not necessarily like… Do I want to see a bunch of Garth Ennis rapeiness? Well, no, not personally. But the fact is the choices are being made are different ones. And the reason they’re different is because the capital is talking.
Trevor: Yeah, not because- I see what you’re saying. Like it’s not a matter of making a choice based on a moral or ethical position. Like if you were making the choice and saying, “I really don’t want to depict this. I don’t think it’s worth depicting on the screen. I think it adds nothing. I think it was frivolous.” All that, like, I mean, that’s defensible. That’s adaptation. That’s like, you know, one of the reasons that I think this is resonating more with people is because it takes out some of that stuff.
And if you’re arguing that from an aesthetic point of view, or even a cultural point of view, any kind of point of view, that isn’t just, “Well, this won’t put butts in the seats.” Like that’s not… that seems very, very… Well, put it another way, like, that can be flipped very, very easily. In a way of saying, “Okay, yeah, we’re going to take that out. And we’re also going to, like, we’re going to do…” I’m trying to think of a good adaptation, the version of this… Oh! “You don’t like- we’ll do an adaptation of Bone.
Trevor: But all of-
Trevor: Which I would like. I know, I know.
Pete: Yeah, I would watch the crap out of that.
Trevor: I would very much like that. But, you know, any of the people smoking pipes in the village? We have to take that out because tobacco’s not good. Like, little things like that. And maybe that wouldn’t- maybe the cigar the dragon’s smoking, like, you know, maybe that wouldn’t affect things. But then you start getting further in and you’re like, “Well, you know, we’re going to reboot Heroes for Hire on TV. But we’re going to take out the racial politics. Or like, you know, there’s stuff that’s like, that’s very- or if they did Jessica Jones without any of the race stuff.
Pete: Oh, yeah.
Trevor: You could see that happening. They didn’t, but like, maybe if they made it now, they would. And so like, it’s not so much the stuff they take out of The Boys. Like I think that’s good not to have rapey stuff on TV.
Pete: Oh sure.
Trevor: But it’s also… for not a good reason. Like it’s not the reason of, yeah cause you shouldn’t have it. It’s just the reason of well, what’s the Q score on this? What are people gonna think?
Pete: Right. Well, another example of something in The Boys in the comics. Well, uh… Can I do a spoiler? God. I don’t know.
Trevor: Yeah, no, spoiler alert. People have been asking me this a lot. And not that you’re bad for asking me this. It is ok. But the- I will say my policy on spoilers is you can always spoil me on something, I don’t mind. And then I’ll just say there’s a brief spoiler, so skip ahead two minutes or what?
Pete: Okay, so the reason in The Boys that anybody has superpowers is the Nazis developed a super drug and started injecting people with it. Babies, specifically. And so in the comics, The Boys – sort of this black ops bag squad – get a hold of this substance and start shooting it themselves to give them a certain level of parity with these evil heroes to take them out.
Trevor: Okay, got it. Makes sense.
Pete: In the show, at least in the first season, they don’t take it at all. So they’re basically trying to outsmart the heroes and they aren’t… Well, you know, they aren’t interacting with the drug in any way. Except, “Hey, we could use this to expose them. The public will hate that they’re drug addicts.” And, like, is that-
Trevor: Was that a plot line in the series at all? Was that something that the series dealt with? Like, they kind of thought about ways not to use the drug at first? Or is this totally out of whole cloth?
Pete: Well, it’s kind of whole cloth, outta- I don’t own the whole series. At some point, they might have done that, but certainly 10, 20 comics in that’s not the vibe. In fact, the main – and I use the word “hero” loosely – the main hero, sort of injects one of the other guys with this stuff on the sly when he refuses to do it.
Trevor: Right. Oh, wow. Okay. So it really is like- It really is a very, very much a… That’s interesting. So that is something that’s taken out- in- I mean, plausibly, because they don’t want to deal with issues around drugs, drug use. Or being accused of glorifying it. Or-
Pete: Oh yeah. Like, are we gonna have a bunch of heroes who are junkies? How’s that gonna look?
Trevor: Yeah, right. That’s really- You know it’s funny, I can’t decide whether I think that’s more of a problem for adaptation, or whether it’s more of a problem to say something like, “Well, you know, do we want a bunch of heroes who are junkies” is one thing, but is it worse even… And maybe it’s not, but maybe it is worse even to say, “You know, we’re gonna have to deal with a lot of stuff from the FCC if we show them taking drugs, and it’s gonna force a higher rating, and we’re not going to be able to market it in the way we want. So we got to take that out.” It’s a weird thing.
I mean, cause TV is so… well, I guess not in the wild west of Amazon or Netflix. So it’s a little strange that they pushed that there. But TV is so… regimented. It’s so carefully pushed through a system of money and patronage and making sure that the producers are getting a say. Like, that’s just always been the way it’s been. And I think like when it’s just goofy stuff like Lois and Clark, that’s one thing.
Trevor: When it’s stuff that’s trying to do Serious Work, that’s kind of another.
Pete: Yeah, no, I absolutely agree with that. And what- and when we’re talking about this stuff, we’re talking sort of about two sets of properties. And property one is Disney. And property two is everybody else.
Trevor: Right. Yeah. That’s correct.
Pete: So… yeah… Yeah. And it’s a very weird thing to look at, because one of the things… I don’t know, I’m still conflicted on whether having Disney own the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a good thing or a bad thing. Because the fact is that the movies have gotten better as a result. I don’t know if I’d necessarily like them. But they figured out the formula to get butts in seats, and they’re doing it again and again and again.
Trevor: Yeah, that’s true. I mean… you can’t deny that they are extraordinarily profitable.
Pete: Yeah…. I just… I don’t like the idea that they can figure out a formula and treat Black Panther like a product being sold. And figure out, like- It almost seems like all of those movies are procedurally generated.
Trevor: Okay. Yeah, I can see that.
Pete: Yeah it’s like they figured out, well we need these many moments of vulnerability. We need this many times where the guy breaks bad. We’ve got to have humor at this point, this point, this point. And we’re going to have all 40 people each write 20 minute blocks, or whatever it is they do. But it feels so bloodless, like there’s no risk. Like… Avatar. Don’t get me wrong: Avatar sucked ass. But it sucked ass in a way where one creative guy went for it and lost, and I don’t feel like that’s what’s happening in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Trevor: Yeah, I think you’re right. I think the one thing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe too is it peppers in enough where, like, there’s… It’s again, like, I’m trying to unpack this thought about basically doing progressive things for the sake of making more money. I mean, that’s not a new thing to unpack; this is something that people have been thinking about a long time. But there’s this way that, you know… I’m trying to think of a good example…
Like what you were talking about with The Boys. Like that’s not a bad result, the way that The Boys is changed, and the way that T’Challa is a big member of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Probably bigger than he ever has been in the Marvel actual universe. That’s not a bad thing. The fact that there is actually sort of serious attention being paid to some of the cultures and ethnicities of the heroes themselves. Not a bad thing! The fact that you know Miles Morales made it in, or that there are more women represented in Marvel movies. Again very good… But the question just becomes- you remember in [Avengers:] Endgame where one of the producers played a quote-unquote “The first gay character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe”?
Trevor: You remember that whole kerfuffle at all? Okay, so there’s a brief scene and they said “We finally have a gay character in here.” And I think it’s Captain America after… I haven’t watched these movies, so please, you know, if I get the details wrong, someone yell at me.
Pete: It’s all good.
Trevor: It’s the only way it can feel anything. But basically, Captain America is running a support group for people whose friends or family got disappeared. This guy is talking about his partner disappearing. And it’s another man and they’re a gay couple – I forget if they’re married or not, but they’re partners, and clearly sort of like long term partners. It’s like a really, really huge loss. And it was seen as like this big deal. And then people were like, “Well, I don’t know if it’s that big a deal. Like it was just some random guy.” We don’t- there’s no indication that any of the heroes are gay. This is just some guy who shows for one scene and leaves. And then it was revealed that it was one of the two major producers of the movie making a cameo as the token gay guy. And he’s not gay himself, not that it really like, I don’t know if that really factors in it or not.
Pete: I dunno…
Trevor: For some people, I’m sure it did. For some people, it didn’t. That doesn’t really resonate for me. But the fact that it was one of the two producers, the fact that it was just this throwaway thing, and it got so much attention and so much media. Like that was a moment where I was like, they’re just selling- they realized that they can do the progressive thing and are selling it. Which is a bad feeling because you have to be like, that’s not okay. And you have to then parse it by saying “I’m not saying being progressive is not okay. I’m saying this version of it.” The results are good, the motive is bad.
Pete: Yeah, yeah. Well, and I mean, in some ways, I’m being full of it here. But I think there’s a point to be made. We’re in the middle of a culture war right now. And-
Pete: Yeah, slow down man. But suppose it became more profitable for the Marvel Cinematic Universe to promote white nationalism.
Pete: What would Disney do? And I would argue, as somebody with a finance background, that Disney would represent its shareholders.
Trevor: Yeah. Or that would be the excuse, it would say anyway.
Pete: Yes! Yes. I mean, they have been historically very good over the years at tacking with the cultural wins in a way that makes them seem very progressive. And I mean, like, good for them. Like whether they’re a real ally or not, I want more progressive things. But they are a company and they would happily scoop out my brain with a melon baller if they thought they’d make money off of doing that.
Trevor: [Laughs] They probably could if they got the right melon baller. That sounds like a winning plan.
Pete: [Laughs] Oh, good. Yes. And I’m sure one of your fans will have suggestions on how to make this happen.
Trevor: Yeah, I mean, please call in. We need that sweet, sweet Disney money.
Pete: That’s amazing. Oh…
Trevor: [Laughs] But no, you’re right. Like the… I think the problem is, I was actually talking with someone today and they were saying that they were talking to someone at Disney Park and turned out that the person at the Disney Park made no money and they learned a little bit later- And this is just like a normal person, like a person I know, like another parent from the pool. So it’s not like I was on Twitter talking to a fellow leftist, although they might be left, I don’t know. But it’s not like I was talking to Avatar of Mao or something like that. But the, you know, the…she was saying that the granddaughter of… not Walt Disney, but his brother who I guess helped run the business end of things? Tim Disney or something along those lines?
Pete: [Laughs] I don’t know why that’s so funny.
Trevor: Yeah. Just, there’s so many names that are good. And there’s, uh… Leopold Disney.
Trevor: It’s great. But the… you know, he… she rather, the granddaughter did. And grandniece of Walt Disney went undercover as an employee, because of course no one would know what she looks like. I don’t know what she looks like. And she doesn’t have any power in the company anymore, but she makes her money off of it, she’s an heiress. “””Makes””” in as many scare quotes as you could possibly imagine. But she sent a letter to Bob Iger, whoever happened to be the CEO at the time, saying “Hey this is not what my great uncle wanted. He would be disgusted by the way that you’re treating these people.”
And we both agreed, like, yeah, no, it’s fine. Like, I think it would be okay if the Disney people struck, which is funny. I think Disney World being the only place you could probably get a lot of white middle-aged suburban people to agree with you that like striking would be okay. Like, yeah, if they struck, it might be the happiest place on Earth again. Oh, wow. Okay.
Pete: I do know somebody from the… Oh my god, it must have been very early 90s, who got fired from one of the Disney properties for not smiling?
Trevor: Yeah. That’ll happen.
Pete: Yeah, it’s a requirement of the job that terrifies me. So yeah, I mean, like, somebody should organize those people.
Trevor: Yeah, apparently there’s like- that’s something that people have been talking about. Like, apparently, that’s in the news and it might happen, they might strike. So, you know, that’ll be interesting to watch. But like… what I find interesting about the the letter coming from that woman is, this has also been something that Disney has been so good at. Which is this idea of Walt Disney’s legacy and what he wanted, right? Like there’s a lot of stuff, there’s a lot of anti-union stuff with Walt Disney that is explained one way or the other.
There’s a lot of like… it’s fraught in a number of ways, but I think what comes through with Walt Disney is this image of someone who wanted – and especially now after people have been writing these books – this image of someone who wanted a park where people could go and commune with their families and really give in to imagination. Have a break from the from the world; it was supposed to be a far away from like civilization, there was supposed to be cabins and stuff.
And I don’t know how true that is. But it is something that is so so… I don’t know. “Embedded”? In the world that it’s like his granddaughter- or his grandniece can write that letter, and it can energize people because they’re like, “Yeah, that’s what Walt Disney wanted! That’s what Walt Disney wanted!” When really maybe, like, I think probably Walt Disney just wanted a lot of money. After a while, he really wanted his company to be very successful.
Pete: Well, and
Trevor: Certainly after he made all that money, I’m pretty sure he just wanted to keep making that money.
Pete: Yeah, and follow-up question: Who cares what Walt Disney wanted? Like, he’s very dead.
Trevor: Yes, that is also true. Like, it’s not… you know, maybe he is spinning in his grave about what’s going on at Disney. You know, it’s certainly plausible that customers are not going to like it. But I guarantee you, the CEO of Disney does not shed a tear over whether or not they’re representing Walt Disney’s interests.
Pete: Well, and if he is spinning, they should just hook his body up to a generator. I mean, who cares?
Trevor: Yeah, no, you’re right. I think, like- but that sort of speaks to this whole thing where you can go back and memorialize historical figures, to then justify or sort of mobilize very, very toothless critique of what’s going on in the current moment. So I think if you were to argue something about Stan- like a Marvel comic or something and be like, “Yeah, like, the thing I hate about the movies is that they take out- like they don’t take seriously Tony Stark’s alcoholism or something.” I don’t know, maybe they do; I have not watched an Iron Man past 1.
But they don’t take seriously his alcoholism or, like, you know what I don’t like about the Luke Cage show is… I actually didn’t watch Luke Cage, so I don’t know. What I don’t like about Jessica Jones is it is too glib about the ramifications of the ability to take over people’s minds. I don’t think it is, let’s say someone said that. And you know, people aren’t getting, it like it- you need more detail. And someone would probably come to you and say, “Well, Stan Lee wanted people to have fun, and think about their imaginations and you know, really live their dreams and discover new things. So maybe you should be okay with lowering the bar- the emotional bar-to-entry here.”
Like that kind of justification of the person who made this thing really cares about it in this way that you just kind of stepped all over. I think that’s used a lot in imagination-based industries to just completely keep the machine trucking along.
Pete: Yeah. I think that’s a really excellent point. It’s… you have talked a lot in your show about commodities.
Trevor: I mean, both intentionally and unintentionally I’m afraid, but yes.
Pete: Yes! Well artistic commodities, which I don’t even know if that’s a thing, but for the sake of argument…
Trevor: No. 100% it is. Absolutely.
Pete: One of the things that makes them unique is that you can sort of imbue them with the spirit of the Creator in people’s eyes. I mean, and I don’t mean Jesus Christ. I mean, you know, like-
Trevor: Not the capital-c Creator.
Pete: Right. Right. Like, I mean Stan Lee in this case. And I think it’s a really interesting concept and I wonder how long the good folks at Disney have been thinking about that very fact. Apparently a very long time, because this very bizarre line of reasoning you’re talking about is something that I’ve encountered again and again, and I don’t pay a lot of attention to Disney.
Trevor: Yeah, no, exactly. It’s interesting. I think- So art commodities are super fascinating to me, because you basically have to value them one of two ways. You can’t just value them monetarily, although that’s always in the background. You can value them as a monetary object, of course, and in that case you’re valuing it based off of scarcity, usually, or desirability as a piece of history. So of course you’d have a reason to valorize the creators. If you had Captain America #1, a Lee and Kirby, you’d say, “Okay, I really want there to become a story about how this is a super important object, and part of our history as Americans and stuff because then people are going to pay more for it.”
But then there’s also cultural value, which is like… You know, someone gave me a… what is it? It’s, oh yeah, it’s Captain America #111 – it’s one of the [Jim] Steranko covers – because they have eight lying around. It was a strange- It was a collector who I knew as, like, a friend-of-a-friend. And like, they were- I was like, “Oh wow, Steranko cover!” And he was like, “I got, like, eight of them, if you want it.” Which was cool.
Trevor: And I have it up in my, you know, my office. It’s fun. But the thing I can hope for is, well maybe pop art’s gonna hit a kind of fever pitch, and people are gonna re-recognize Steranko. And then all of a sudden, I’m going to have something that’s not just worth putting in my home, but worth framing as an example of what my discerning taste is, and how much I can lean on my leisure and ability to figure out what is good art. And that’s cultural capital Like, basically, those are the two uses: you invest it and sell it later, or you can use it as a way to show your bona fides. And both instances, I think you’re totally right. Like both instances, it’s about cashing in on the history of a thing.
Pete: Yeah. Wow, what a… You know, and I just sort of did this to myself. So I sort of built a new podcast studio in my home, because I build shit and-
Pete: One of the things I did was I wanted to go out and find a really cool desk. And, so-
Trevor: Yeah, of course.
Pete: My wife and I, we started antiquing – which is not something I recommend to the general public – but we found this old beat-up roll-top desk that we’ve been restoring. And it’s, like, there’s all sorts of little things in it. Like, I’ll open drawers and there’ll be instructions on a drawer about how to submit things to a group like AAA that doesn’t exist anymore. And there’s a billing address, which we figured out that was a courthouse in Indiana, and like there’s all this shit. And, like, at the end of the day, while I am really enjoying this and wouldn’t trade it for anything, it’s really just cultural capital.
Trevor: Right! Well, yeah, and it’s like, there’s an innocent version of it where you’re just like, “Oh, I just like discovering things.” But then you put that desk out and you’re… I mean – and this is no critique of you anyone, anyone – you’re hoping someone asks you a question about it. You’re hoping someone’s like, “Hey, cool desk, what’s that about?”
And you’re like, “Well, let me tell you.” It’s not, like, ultimately the use value of the desk doesn’t change. But the value comes into it because you’re like, “Well, this is actually a piece of history, this has all sorts of old stuff in it.” And it’s weird to start thinking about, it’s weird- I think ultimately, the thing we’re struggling with here – and struggling with is a good thing in this case, because we’re working through it productively – I think they were struggling with these shows at once devalue what we have in terms of cultural capital, while also just making new cultural capital for people to enjoy and creating profit. So it’s a lot of give-and-take with no clear, actual good outcome. Like, I don’t know what’s being created, I don’t know what’s being done. I know that the feeling of being robbed is false and should be worked against, cause what does it matter? You know, it doesn’t- Someone likes the new Avengers movies, it doesn’t change what I liked about The Avengers, you know, whatever. But I think the question of what’s being produced here? Or like, what is being repeated? And is this valuable? And is it doing good stuff or bad stuff? Is this good for comics? Is it good for movies? I think all of those are perfectly reasonable questions, and ones that more people should probably be asking.
I think this list though is very- like, these lists that you showed me are very… they’re evocative in that way. Cause it really is a… I don’t know. Like, it’s it… You’re right, it tells a story, and I think the DC ones tell an even longer story, because you get not just the 70s but you get the old Superman’s, and the old Batman’s, and the short ones. I mean, obviously, the Adam West Batman, but like the shorts of The Adventures of Superman that they showed before films and stuff. And it’s just kind of like, man, there was a long period of time where this stuff meant something totally different, and was profitable. And you keep having these ethical changes between what does this stuff mean, and who is it profitable for? And what does this stuff mean, and who is it profitable for? And it’s a little discouraging to look at it and say, like, “Oh yeah. It’s always- It’s never been about making good stories. It’s always about making money.”
Pete: Yeah. Well let me give you a good example on the DC one. So three and four in, you’ve got Shazam! and The Secrets of Isis. And these two were in something I think it was called The Power Hour. And it was like a Hanna-Barbera thing going on.
Trevor: It’s amazing that you remember The Secrets of Isis this well. I was looking at that and I was like, “Man, I don’t know anything about The Secrets of Isis.” That is intense.
Pete: Oh! Yeah, well, I mean, eventually what happened… Like mega spoilers guys. But when Isis dies? That leads to the rise of Black Adam.
Pete: So yeah, it all ties together in this vast lame web. But the point is all of this was the- around The Krofft Superpower Superstar Hour with J.R. Pufnstuf and any of that. I probably sound like a crazy person right now… But-
Trevor: No, no, we all- we’re all… I believe- I believe more people are aware of like H.R. Pufnstuf at least.
And I mean they gotta be right? Like, I mean, that’s a classic.
Yeah, okay. Well, thank you. That’s reassuring. But all of that live-action stuff was targeted at kids. And so one of the reasons these two shows were successful enough to last for more than one season, is they didn’t even bother trying to convince adults.
Trevor: [Laughs] Right, exactly. Yeah, it’s like Scooby-Doo. It’s like, what would it be if Scooby-Doo tried to be like prestige television?
Pete: Oh my god. So-
Trevor: It would be deeply confusing.
Pete: Can I make a point about that?
Trevor: Yeah, sure.
Pete: Okay. Fundamentally, this show is about how everything has a rational explanation. And-
Pete: Except you have a talking dog solving crimes! And nobody remarks on that shit at all!
Trevor: That’s the only thing that doesn’t have a rational explanation. That’s why the Mystery Machine is out there chasing down leads. Because they have to figure out what’s going on with Scooby. It’s too terrifying to leave up to a mystery.
Pete: In one episode of The Venture Brothers, they had the Mystery Machine and everybody there, and the reason the dog talked was that Shaggy was a schizophrenic.
Trevor: Oh, yeah, that makes sense.
Pete: Yeah. So it was like, “You must kill Shaggy.” And he’s like, “No!” You know, and, like, that I buy, but…
Trevor: [Laughs] Yeah, it’s a weird thing. Like, all these shows work on kid logic. All of these shows exists because of kids wanting to watch them. Like, it’s a strange… I think this is ultimately what it is, like, it’s weird to have…. It’s weird to have the stuff that we know is too young for us valorized and said, like, “No, no, no, you could totally watch this stuff. Go watch this stuff again!” And it’s like, I don’t know man. I think it’s okay to sort of be a little shady about watching stuff like this. Like, maybe there’s a healthy element to being, like, “Yeah… I’m probably too old to watch this. Like, I probably should- probably should try something else.” [Laughs] Not that you have to watch something else. But, like… it might be time to try something else. Like, just give it a shot! Maybe watch a hard movie.
Pete: This happened to me last night. I started watching Invader Zim, and I got about five minutes in an episode, and I’m like. Look, okay, this is still a perfectly good show, and I’d love for kids to watch it. I’m done. I just can’t do it anymore.
Trevor: Yeah, this isn’t for me.
Trevor: And I think that’s the thing, especially with the extremely strident defenses of “Well, I can watch these movies. These movies are for me.” Like, people are very serious about what is for them and what is not for them. Right? People are just super, super convinced that like, “Okay, yeah. This Marvel movie is not just okay for me to watch, but in fact made for me. Like, don’t bring your kids to this Marvel movie, guys, I don’t want to see any kids here.” That’s like, man… But people really believe it. And that’s just kinda how it is for them. And that is very strange to me, and I think the fact that studios have seen this and they’re like, “Oh we can profit off of these idiots” is troubling to say the least.
Pete: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Well, and we always police each other. I don’t know whether that’s as a species, or as a culture, or what, but any time you see somebody in a situation that is not the expected, we immediately go into this very creepy mode in interacting with people. Next time you’re in an elevator, turn your back to the door and stare at people, and see how they react.
Trevor: I don’t think I’m gonna do that. But I get- I take your point. [Laughs]
Trevor: Have you done that?
Pete: Oh yeah. Yeah. There’s this whole… If you’re bored sometime, google “Garfinkeling”, and there’s a whole list of things you can do like that, where there’s a set of unspoken rules, where if you violate them people react like you shit on their dog. Like they get really creeped out about it.
Trevor: Yeah, I can imagine. I think if you were in the elevator with me, and you turned around to stare, I would leave at the next floor.
Pete: Yes. And I think good gender decisions are important. Would you have this behavior? Because…
Trevor: Uh, yes. Don’t- yeah. Don’t make any women feel uncomfortable.
Pete: Yeah, not okay.
Trevor: But it is kind of a crazy thing to think about… Like how much that is something that, you know, for instance, I count on in being in an elevator; that no one’s going to turn around and look at me.
Pete: Oh, yeah!
Trevor: And it’s not like I’m doing anything that I need to not be looked at. But, like, I want people to look at me in the elevator. I don’t want to explain why – I don’t have an explanation. And I will not be furnishing one.
Pete: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Well, I-
Trevor: But I would hate for them to do it.
Pete: Most of these unspoken rules have a value. I mean, I’m not trying to imply they’re bad. I’m just saying that we don’t examine them at all.
Trevor: Well, yeah. And if we have the value, we don’t really know what the value is. And maybe the unexam- maybe the lack of examination is one of the problems here in that, you know, if you want to make an argument that we should stop getting so bent out of shape about what’s for kids and what’s for adults and whatever… Okay, fine, but make a case for it. There is actually a case to be made that you should go ahead and try and watch a
Tartakovsky Tarkovsky film, or watch a Samira Makhmalbaf movie or something.
There are serious movies out there that will challenge you and be very hard to deal with, and there are movies that will make you very happy. And I think if you’re okay with saying, “I just want to watch stuff that makes me happy,” that’s fine. But being able to say, I watch the stuff that makes me happy, because it’s important art and everything I watch is important art… There’s something that’s being lost there in terms of distinction, like personal distinction not cultural distinction, like what is Hard and Serious and what is Easy and Candy. Just seems like something that you should care about.
Pete: And you know, this sort of conversation – and I pretty much only have it with two people right now, and that’s you and Connor.
Trevor: [Laughs] Well, that makes sense.
Pete: Yeah, well, you’re in good company there. I think.
Trevor: Ah, no, of course. Connor’s-
Pete: I’m pretty impressed with both of you.
Trevor: Well thank you. Connor’s a good sort.
Pete: Oh, yeah. Yeah. But the thing is, like, books, for example. I have read an absurd number of books and easily 99% of them are science fiction books that I’m never got to meet another person who has read.
Trevor: [Laughs] Right. Yeah, and I think that’s okay; I think it’s okay to read science fiction books that only three people have read. I think it’s, in fact, maybe even like a net good to keep those books in circulation and out there for people to read and think about. But I think it’s okay, like, I remember I listened to the audiobook of the first Parker book, the Richard Stark classic serial series. And yeah, Parker inspired a lot of really good stuff – it’s a super important book. It is a very trashy novel, and it’s not super well-written. I like Richard, I like Richard Stark a lot. I think he’s a good writer, in his own way. I don’t think he’s important to unpack.
[Laughs] I don’t think you have to sit down and write an essay on the Parker series. I don’t think you have to sit down and write an essay on a lot of things. I like The Expanse. I like listening to The Expanse, though. I don’t think I would have liked spending all my time reading The Expanse, because I would have been a little annoyed that it was not a little bit more snappily written, maybe.
Pete: Oh, sure. Well, and the-
Trevor: It’s stuff like that, you know, it’s=
Oh, that’s a good book.
Pete: The reverse is happening to me too, like, that because of what I’ve been doing with Connor, for example, like I read The Underground Railroad. And I’m-
Yeah. And I’m getting exposure- like when Connor says this is a Good book, and you can feel the capital in the G there…
Trevor: [Laughs] Capital good.
Pete: Yes! [Laughs] I’m getting a greater understanding of what he meant. And part of my problem is, historically, that the people who are determining what is a good book and what is a bad book that I would encounter regularly… I didn’t have any real respect for.
Trevor: Yeah, and I think that’s actually the language you used there is not- it’s smart. Cause. like, and ultimately maybe this is the thing with with comics too, it’s not that idea of what’s good and what’s bad. I think good and bad are not quite right as terms, and not that you are wrong in using them because people use them all the time, but I’m looking at these – I keep looking back, and I keep seeing new ones… Like, the 1990 Swamp Thing, right? It’s not a show you need to go back to, probably. It’s funny and it definitely was enjoyable to watch; I remember catching bits and pieces of it when I was at someone’s house with a satellite dish and I could get USA. But it’s not an important show, by any means. I don’t think you have to go back and watch all 72 episodes, or even one. Like, you know, it’s fine, you’re not missing anything – there’s limited time in your life, don’t waste it on going through Swamp Thing. Unless… you get a kick out of it.
And then go ahead and just understand what you’re doing. I think the distinction has to not be like good and bad. Like, it’s not like, “That’s bad.” Whereas, you know, Oh, the Arrowverse stuff is good, you have to watch that.” It’s simply that they’re good in the same way, which is that they are very good escapism, they grip you, they are fun to watch, they provide you with entertainment, and maybe something to think about here-and-there. And that can be enough, like, that’s it, you know? And that’s okay. Whereas it’s, you know, it’s not Tolstoy, and I think the argument is starting to become that everything is Tolstoy. Like everything can be Tolstoy – everything you watch, everything you enjoy, is like this super hard, difficult, cultural object. And that is… I don’t know, maybe this outs me as some sort of elitist, but that’s troubling to.
Pete: No! Honestly, I think that that is precisely the danger of my point of view. Like, I think that there’s a lot of… I don’t know what you’d call it, “cultural detritus.” [Laughs] There’s, there’s-
Trevor: No that’s fine, that works.
Pete: There’s a lot of stuff out there that is underappreciated and has value, and I get a great deal of enjoyment about, like, sifting through and finding those things. Like, if you ever want someone to recommend you something in science fiction, I don’t know anyone better at that than me. I’ve spent my whole life training for that. But is that the be-all and end-all? By no means! I mean, sure there are science fiction books of quality, but if that’s the only pond you’re ever got to be in, you are going to miss a lot of things.
Trevor: Yeah and I think the honesty of – and I’ll let you go after after this, because I also will stop making sense in a minute or two as I get tired…
Pete: [Laughs] I love the “also” there. “Okay Pete, you’re gibbering, so we’re gonna wrap it up.”
Trevor: No, no! I think you’re, you’re, you’re doing great. I will be the one gibbering. And be just a complete mess. I could feel it coming on. But you know I think the value of people who liked comics when they weren’t popular, and there’s a lot of bad things about comic fans. I’m not saying the comic fans are any less toxic than video game fans. This is like, you know those fandoms have their problems.
Trevor: And they’re the ones you’d guess. But the one good thing about comic book fans of the past is that you’d never find them trying to make the case that they are not missing out. Right? Like, I think if you asked someone “Well why are you reading Spider-Man instead of reading a serious book? Like, why aren’t you reading, you know… why aren’t you trying to get through Wuthering Heights?”, or “Why aren’t you trying to read good contemporary fiction?” If I cornered someone and they were reading Invincible Iron Man instead of William Gaddis’s J R and be like “What do you think you’re doing? You’re wasting your time.”
Pete: “Why don’t you push-ups while you read?”
Trevor: Yeah, like I think-
Trevor: Like, I am.
Pete: [Laughs] Exactly!
Trevor: Charles Atlas taught me about this. But they would just say “Cause I don’t care.” Like, I want to read this instead. I like this stuff. I like learning- I like making Star Trek spaceships, I like drawing that on graph paper. I like playing D&D. Like, this is just the stuff I like, and it’s… yeah, well, whatever. It’s dumb or it’s not dumb. They would never make the argument that it was secretly smart.
And now you have people like MovieBob or whatever making 20 thread tweets about- or 20 tweet threads about how secretly the Marvel movies are the smartest political commentary of the last 45 years. And that shifting is what’s a bummer to me. Like, miss out if you want to miss out, I don’t care. I don’t do some stuff that would be edifying me. I don’t exercise! Like I should} exercise. I get that it’s bad… And I’m just not gonna to do it. And if you just don’t want to read… just say you don’t want to read. You don’t have to make up an excuse that the stuff you’re watching at the movies is actually secret reading. That’s the problem to me.
Pete: Yeah, it’s… I- it is a trend that I see on Twitter more and more. And I mean, it’s everywhere. Like once everyone got obsessed with the concept of gaslighting. They wanted to, like, from there everyone-
Trevor: Oh, everything became gaslighting. Yeah.
Pete: Yeah. It’s like, “Hey, let’s create our own alternate realities wherever we go.” And so there’s always someone pushing the idea that whatever thing that is considered standard is, in fact, the opposite of that. And, like, every single take. And honestly, I try and identify those people as quickly as possible and mute them. Like, I haven’t seen MovieBob in a year and it has been great man.
Trevor: That’s pretty good! It’s impressive that you were able to cut him out of your life that easily.
Pete: Oh, yeah.
Trevor: Not that he was in your life before, but…
Pete: Oh, yeah. He kept showing up to my house… [Laughs]
Trevor: “Get out of here MovieBob! I don’t wanna hear about it!” He’s like, “Pete, I have another idea about The Avengers.”
Pete: Oh god. Could you like- he, like, shows up, hands me a paper, and just starts babbling? I mean… ugh. Okay, th-
Trevor: He’d be a rough neighbor. Let’s be here.
Trevor: Let’s be honest: MovieBob counts as one of the roughest Twitterverse neighbors you could possibly have.
Pete: Yeah, yeah. I mean, quite honestly, I don’t want any of my neighbors to know I have a Twitter account. I- You know?
Trevor: Yeah, I don’t want anyone in the world to know I have a Twitter account. Are you kidding?
Pete: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. But that’s probably a good place to leave. [Laughs]
Trevor: Yeah, I think that’s good. So Pete, tell people where they can find you. I keep accidentally adding Whandall, which is no longer you’re @.
Trevor: It is… @PodsidePete, right?
Pete: Yes. PodsidePete is me. And then we have a separate Twitter account for our podcast. And that is just “Podside, the letter ‘P'”. And you’re welcome to get either one.
Trevor: And check ’em out on any good podcast app. And you have a Patreon?
Pete: Yes! Yes. PodsidePicnic on Patreon. Yeah, check it out. We’d love to have-
Trevor: And a Discord!
Pete: Yes. Wow, like-
Trevor: There’s everything!
Pete: You were so organized, man.
Trevor: Oh, no, I just, I- This is all of the top of my head. I’m just… I’m a
Podcast Podside Picnic booster.
Pete: Well, it’s appreciated man. It’s like I- like we have said jokingly, and will also sincerely, there’s no way we would have gotten this project started without you and I’m pretty grateful.
Trevor: Well, I am glad to hear it. I’m grateful that you are doing it. Pete, a pleasure as always. Let’s not wait so long next time.
Pete: Absolutely man.
Trevor: Alright, talk soon.