Short Circuit, Twister and Marvel’s Civil War – May 6-12


Johnny 5 springs to life in 1986 cinemas, while in 1996 the scourge of the Midwest lays waste to the box office. In 2006, Marvel’s Civil War series sets the stage for a new status quo that lasts well into the 2010s. A busy week in any decade!

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20 thoughts on “Short Circuit, Twister and Marvel’s Civil War – May 6-12

  1. XD i love love LOOOOVE listening to Chris try to hold on TIGHT to his racist old movies and tv shows. no man. that shit is just OFFENSIVE there’s very little funny that can eclipse it. maybe YOU weren’t sensitive to it, but tons of people ARE even as kids at the time these movies and tv shows come out. you can see it, feel it, something’s just not right. I love Short Circuit and even SC2 but even Apu and his accent has made me frown as a kid because I had friends who were West Asian and one who was Hindu, fun was not had all around for all of us.
    beh! we’re making a lot of strides forward to a better more tolerant world across the board, this stuff will be forgotten eventually or at least it won’t be made anymore. y’all are in and around our thirties and early forties nearly, you have to remember our portion of the generation is only one generation removed from the last generation to live through America’s segregated era, my mom and dad grew up in that shit and so growing up you become sensitive to certain shit because you heard horror stories. as an adult I can separate from the past and realize that our generation is a step forward in a better direction my parents are scarred and always hold a little animosity but I know none of the non brown kids or non minorities that I grew up with were a part of that and that’s why we were all friends. It feels like you just don’t want something to be soured by the reality that it as hollywood being wrong in their portrayal of the character and that’s fine that’s you but don’t try and defend it like it was some coi innocent or harmless act. their was malice behind that. it’s an act to tear down one group, one culture in order to entertain another.
    i love that this show got me to type this much.

    1. As a fan of classic movies, I run into this issue *a lot* – there are so many great movies from, say, the ’30s that have something offensive in them, a lot of times out of nowhere. Like – “This movie’s about pirates – why is there a scene about a black guy who’s sleepy? How was this a thing?!”

      It was the style of the time. It was accepted until enough people complained so much it couldn’t be ignored.

      I think Asians are the last minority it’s “OK” to make fun of, and I think it’s because of fear – first the Japanese in the ’80s, then the Chinese and the Indians kicking our economic asses. It feels less like punching down. It’s still stupid and wrong. But it’s mild compared to what it used to be.

      The point is we’re getting there. I wonder what in our entertainment now will be “problematic” in 50 years.

    2. You gotta point, there. It was not my intention to defend the character of Benjamin as “not racist” or even harmless. But I still love him. And although I can see how others can detest Ben immediately, I think he’s a genuinely funny character here. He was going to be some kind of nerd stereotype either way, and back then he just seemed a lot more fun. Yeah, some of the race based humor wouldn’t fly today, but Ben’s got some legit funny moments, second only to Johnny in the first film. And trying to imagine the second film without him makes me want to cry.

      And as much as I love being lectured by someone less than 10 years younger than me about history, empathy and orientalism as if it’s something that’s never occurred to me, yeah , I’ll admit it: I probably love Benjamin EVEN MORE THAN THAT. That’s probably not something appropriate to say out loud anymore, but somebody’s gotta have something come out of their mouths other than “THIS IS SO NAUGHTY!” during the conversation, don’t they? So I did a bunch of research. It was not my intention to condone or excuse anything. Yeah, it bums me out future generations can’t really appreciate a movie so beloved to me and my friends, but and understanding as to why is a HUGE part of the reason.

      I seriously apologize if I offended you, Smars, or anyone else, and you’re probably way more right than I am about all this, no matter how condescending you are to “my generation.” So in that spirit, allow me to do the same to yours! Is Ben racist. YES! Is it the same level of racism you see from, say, a Trump supporter in a camouflage hat on the news demanding brown people be booted out of the country? Not really. But your generation doesn’t seem to make any distinction between the ugliest forms of modern intolerance and prevailing ignorance from three decades ago. (They’re both bad, and honestly, all of my issues here could be settled with separate descriptive terms!) Is Ben a racially insensitive stereotype? ABSOLUTELY. Can such stereotypes be both hurtful and broadly harmful? TOTALLY! Did this family-friendly movie about a catchphrase-spewing robot maliciously act “to tear down one group or culture in order to entertain another?” Let’s… just get a hold of ourselves, shall we? That’s a helluva lot to project on this minor character, one of many in a parade of stereotypes, which is also highly also of many beloved 80s films. Even the progressive ones!

      I see that you appreciate Diana’s facts, and while I don’t really care whether you appreciate mine, I did go out of my way to give you as much CONTEXT as to why this all happened, since its undoubtedly an albatross hanging from the neck of an otherwise pleasant film. If I sound cranky, it’s only because I’m getting a little tired of this criticism from “your generation,” as you seem to condescendingly distinguish it (which is not to overlook that you have some clear cut and highly understandable personal issues on the matter), as if I’m somehow some old racist or pushing some kind of agenda on people. This is not the case, nor do I give Shit One about being “right” about liking a movie thirty fucking years ago. If you’re operating on “your generation’s” (again, using your distinction) assumption that anything, made by anybody, anywhere, at anytime is made specifically for you, and exactly how you feel in 2016, then yeah, it’s evil and we should only talk about it as a racist indignity perpetrated on the populace. I was merely presenting CONTEXT on why I liked it, still do, and how it happened in the first place. Yes, yes I sit atop comfortable bean bag chair of Old White Male Privilege, but for some further, more personally interesting CONTEXT for that millennial ass: I watched Short Circuit (or Short Circuit 2, can’t remember) for the first through fourth time in an all Indian household (Shout out to Sahir!) long before the truth about FisherGate would frame those evenings as barbaric and irresponsible.

      1. You do a great job Chris. A really great job. I think you represent the mindset of most non-Californiain liberals. Though you might take that as an insult. I’m as liberal as liberal can be, and I agree that these depictions are now racist from a modern lens. But god damn are we not alow to enjoy anything anymore?

        I’m only halfway through the first segment and EVERY single story has had some side note about how white people suck. I’m a little tired of listening about this in every single podcast where Henry is present. It helps that Chris is there to balance out Henry because he has gone way over the deepend with his sensitive side. I love him (but I’m sure he hates me), but I can’t take all that white guilt all the damn time. Diana and Dave are pretty balanced as they are.

        But I mean, you are a podcast where every person is white, and you spend so much time talking about how racist everything is. Maybe if you feel that strongly about it, find a more diverse voice to be on the podcast and bring that extra perspective, because honestly, you guys are all saying the same thing over and over again about racism from what seems like a vary narrow view based only on your interaction and depictions with race in fiction.

        Lastly, I’m sure you have seen this, but I think it applies to the overall sentiment of what I’ve listened to so far on the show:

        1. Gad damn it I mean Brett, not Dave. I fucked up his name on his own show. Such a dick I am.

          30-20-10 is seriously an awesome awesome podcast. It might be my favorite podcast out of anything I listen to during the week and that includes a bunch of NPR shows, and WTF. I really hope you keep up with this, you have something really unique here.

        2. I agree about Henry, it’s good that Chris is finally trying to rein him in a little on always pushing his agendas. If he weren’t gay, I don’t know what he’d do, he’d just be a whiny straight white guy. And if none of the shows are going to try to force diversity on themselves, they really should pipe down about how terrible white people are, and accept the incredibly slight amount of things that white people have managed to not be so terribly awful about.

  2. Great episode all around. I know you didn’t have time for in-depth looks at everything this week, but Dangerously Close deserves someone knowing something about it. As was hinted at, Dangerously Close was a quickie-production designed to scoop a TV movie (Brotherhood of Justice, which had a huge 80’s cast of young stars), and both were attempts by filmmakers to put a crazy real-life story on-screen. A group of preppy rich students in Fort Worth, Texas, started calling themselves “The Legion of Doom” to deal with petty vandalism and weed dealers, but quickly escalated into serious crazy felony intimidation stuff like firebombing people’s houses and destroying cars. The national media picked up the story and the idea of a teenage vigilante group turning evil (especially when the gang was entirely college-bound white kids) was irresistible to Hollywood.

  3. I’m not proud of this, but I really like the Goo Goo Dolls song off of the Twister soundtrack. I draw the line at anything past Iris, though.

  4. I just want to defend Ed Hillary here. He was always very humble about his achievement, never ever denied Tenzing his due, and dedicated decades of his life to helping the Sherpas. He was as far from the pith-helmeted British colonialist as you could get, and it’s really shitty to ignorantly smear a legitimately great man like that.

  5. Really dug this episode!
    I never considered the puppetry that went into Short Circuit, but hearing about it gave me a newfound appreciation for the movie (though I still think it’s total 80s cheese).
    Tim Blaney (aka Johnny 5) also worked on ABC’s recent Muppets series (which just got cancelled today, unfortunately).

    Here’s some underground-ish music that’s worth mentioning for this week:
    (dates taken from rateyourmusic, Wikipedia, etc.)
    * Dr. Octagon – “Dr. Octagonecologyst”.
    Weirdo-rap icon Kool Keith recorded this psychedelic masterpiece as his alter-ego, “Dr. Octagon”, a twisted alien surgeon.
    Think of it as Gorillaz meets Rick & Morty; if that description doesn’t entice you, I dunno what will.
    Start with “Blue Flowers” (
    * TV on the Radio – “Province” (digital single)
    A soaring, beautiful piece of art-rock that just happens to feature David fuckin’ Bowie.
    * Girl Talk – “Night Ripper”.
    This album got mentioned in the episode, but deserves a convo of its own in my opinion.
    Girl Talk’s frenetic mash-ups predicted the content overload and genre-blurring that would define 2010s online life.
    Compared to most mash-up records, there’s a lot of obvious effort and songcraft put into it.
    Stereogum wrote an excellent piece on it this week (
    * Hot Chip – “Boy from School” (CD single)
    Wistful British indie-dance from a group still going strong today.
    This track also got used in a Simpsons ep a couple years ago, so you might know it from that.

  6. I felt kind of a disconnect when you were talking about the 1953 ascent of Everest. Kinda feels like this is an american media/education thing, when you say that only Sir Edmund Hillary was mentioned in the aftermath. Over here, you cannot say Edmund Hillary without next saying Tenzing Norgay. It’s just not done. They’re always portrayed as the climbing pair that fist ascended Everest. Not this lanky kiwi and his brown man-servant, which is apparently the impression you have. This is the case in all european coverage I’ve ever seen of it. That was the way they saw it themselves as well. The pair even agreed not to disclose who’d taken the first steps on the summit. It was actually Norgay who eventually revealed that Hillary had been the first.

    1. I tried to make the same comment but apparently they didn’t like it.

      Hillary was the exact opposite of what they implied, and it’s downright offensive to me as a New Zealander to hear a great man slammed like that just because the hosts don’t know what they’re talking about. Hillary ALWAYS gave Norgay credit, to the point that when they summitted Everest, Hilary took Norgay’s photo at the summit but refused Norgay’s offer to do the same, AND Hillary always maintained that Norgay was the first one up there (even though Norgay says they did it together). When they got back down, Hillary said “WE knocked the bastard off,” and for the rest of his life he was tremendously active in helping the Sherpas, and was responsible for the building of several schools and hospitals (and he never used that fact to hype himself up either, he never tried to draw attention or credit for it). Edmund Hillary was the kind of man all men should aspire to be like, not some pith-helmeted colonialist asshole.

    2. That’s really interesting. I only heard about Hillary in school, not Tenzing. Same with Lewis and Clark – they mention Sacagawea as “helping,” not being vital. I’m glad that’s improving.
      I think we get a lot of the Great Men in History view of things in school – I don’t know if it’s just to simplify it or what. It’s easier for kids to understand “Thomas Edison invented tons of things” than “Thomas Edison invented some things, improved others, and also hired brilliant people who often worked as a team.”

  7. Near the end of the episode I was like, “Again with the damn Weather Channel music?! He’s brought this up about 19 times over the last five months!” and then the music started and i just grinned and began bobbing my head.

  8. About Twister: I’m not exactly sure when it went from a movie that was considered cool to uncool. That’s an odd phenomenon I’ve noticed lately with movies once they get a decade or so old. Batman 89 had a similar fate, and now I’ hearing more and more people take a dump on the first two Spider-Man movies. Anyway, Twister…

    It’s worth pointing out the fact that Twister had one of the greatest teaser trailers ever made. Back in 96, the internet wasn’t a thing. There was no YouTube. We didn’t know about most movies very far in advance, unlike now where we know about dozens of movies coming out in the next five years or so. When you went to see a movie, you had no idea what trailers you were going see. And most times you didn’t see very many, Maybe three or four at the most.

    When the teaser trailer for Twister showed up, no one knew what it was. And it was a mind blowing experience. No one had ever cut a trailer like that. Most of it was blacked out, the sound was deafening, and the intensity of the scene was unlike anything else out at the time. Seriously, the first time you saw this trailer in a crowded theater, it left the audience in stunned silence.

    1. >>I’m not exactly sure when it went from a movie that was considered cool to uncool

      I seem to remember lightheartedly mocking Twister with my snarky little friends shortly after it was released on home video…… the dramatic dialogue is pretty freakin’ ham-fisted!

      >>Back in 96, the internet wasn’t a thing

      hey man some of us were downloading dragonball GIFs from our 2400 baud modems in 1996 ;-]

  9. I know I’m a couple weeks behind, but I’m catching up this weekend and wanted to chime in on Twister.

    I grew up in a small town in northern Oklahoma, and my school played sports against Wakita. Even though the movie portrays it as a small town, it’s even smaller in real life. I think it had fewer than 500 residents at the time they filmed, and now it’s under 350. In fact, it got so small that the school shut down and merged with another nearby town. I heard their final graduating class in 2011 was only four students. None of that was due to tornadoes or the movie, just an old farm town slowly drying up. All that’s really left are a few farm related businesses and the Twister museum, where they have DOROTHY and a bunch of other props and memorabilia from the film.

    The movie was a huge deal here. It was the biggest movie ever to film in Oklahoma. Before this, all we had were The Outsiders, UHF, and a handful of gangster movies that only picked Oklahoma because there were so many locations here that could still pass for great depression era squalor.

    Also, it was genius from a marketing standpoint to open the film in mid May. Oklahoma averages something like 70 tornadoes a year, the majority of those in April and May, so it was all but guaranteed that there would be an actual twister near release, and sure enough, a storm system in late April dropped tornadoes all the way from Texas to Canada.

    I thought it was funny that they insisted on getting real meteorologists given the film has all the scientific accuracy you’d expect from a summer blockbuster action movie, but it was neat that they dug up archival Gary England weather reports to go with the modern ones, because they guy was a weather man in Oklahoma for over 40 years. Not to long before he retired he even made an appearance on The Colbert Report:

    Anyway, it was fun to look back on that big, stupid movie about how nature hates my home state and wants us to leave.

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