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Goodbye Sci-Fi

Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett reflect on MST3K's final broadcast.

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Weekend Discussion Thread: Introducing the Show to Millenials

Alert regular Jaybird suggests:

What about a discussion of everyone’s experiences trying to introduce younger people to MST3K. I had a mortifying experience along those lines recently, and it made me realize just how hard it is for the average millennial to relate to a show like MST3K. Most of these people have grown up being able to pick and choose exactly what they want to watch, and the methods of delivery they usually use (Netflix and other online streaming, Red Box rentals, etc) all heavily favor more recent shows and movies. With a few notable exceptions, most of these people have never seen a complete movie that is more than about ten years old, so the experience of sitting down in front of a creature feature show and watching a bad old movie with your wisecracking friends (which is what MST3K is meant to remind you of) is about as foreign to them as putting a quarter in a Kinetoscope machine. As a result, the genius of MST3K’s humor is almost completely lost on them, not to mention the now-dated references, and the whole experience leaves them completely cold. I’m just curious to know if anyone else has similar stories to share.

I would add what Kevin Murphy has noted a few times: that it seems as if when millennials are presented with a black and white movie, it’s like they’re simply unable to see anything on the screen at all.

Of course there are exceptions, and I would assume that any millennial who visits this site is a good example of one. But have you noticed this kind of attitude in your cohorts?

92 Replies to “Weekend Discussion Thread: Introducing the Show to Millenials”

  1. EricJ says:

    @47 – Just last week I was watching a movie I had never seen except in reading chapters of the Medveds “50 Worst Films”, and was struck about how lazily and almost contemptuously the early pre-MST3K proto-roots of the bad film culture were slopped together back in the day. There didn’t seem to be any focus to one outstanding reason WHY the movie in question was bad, the authors were just struck with the joke of how funny the movie looked or how dumb they thought the premise was, or how badly it’d flopped in theaters, and picked any fault they could find from there. Basically “It’s bad because we say it’s bad!” (and what online riffing entrepreneurs does that eerily sound like?) , which comes off somewhat pissy, bullyingly elitist, and a bit g-a-i, especially when put alongside the Razzie Awards. The viewer was pretty much left at sea, he could either join with the author in throwing rocks at anything he could find just for the crazy cult experience of throwing, or he could be out of the joke entirely. It was a new concept in the 70’s, since before then, a “bad movie” was just a dull movie you wasted ticket money on, we just ignored or sneered at any B-trash, and the idea of actually laughing at a bad movie didn’t really come along until Siskel & Ebert’s “Dog of the Week” segment on Sneak Previews.
    Before MST3K, Robot Monster was one of the more heavily marketed “bad movies” in the Golden Turkeys days; I remember seeing the unriffed movie at a college-town screening and thinking “Um, okay…”, but it wasn’t until watching the whole J&tB riffing that the jokes started to shine out between the riffers and the audience.

    You can’t really sit down on Netflix or YouTube and watch a bad movie alone, since like the old days, you’re left out of the joke, and can run the risk of maybe liking the darn thing. I’ve seen both the live and studio versions of CT and RT, and it’s the live shows that seem to capture the rhythm of the early show days–If you’ve been in an audience where the entire audience, not those screening it, have found out it’s a bad movie, there’s that unified feeling of the audience working together to riff the movie, and that can’t happen unless there’s a joke they can all pick up on at the same time. The new episodes, and especially RT, with their constant desperation to ATTACH a joke to anything and everything they can find, leaves the audience out of that interactive feeling, and just leaves us watching a bunch of desperate slob-manchild comics–Which is not exactly going to be anything novel to the new kids who grew up on the current Comedy Central.

       1 likes

  2. Richard the Lion-Footed says:

    “Ah, kids these days. With their transistor radios and rock n’roll and TV. They just don’t understand good entertainment.”

    Are we REALLY sinking to the same argument we heard our parent’s and grand parents use when WE were growing up?
    Come on guys.

    For those of us who grew up watching these movies on Saturday afternoon on a UHF station somewhere, we have to remember that to US these were “old movies,” made way way back in the 1950s and such. In reality they were only 10-15 years old if we saw them in the 1960s. That made these movies younger to us then any episode of MST3k would be now. Of course millennials would not be familiar with them any more than a child of the 1970s would be familiar with films of the 1940s or 1930s. Even by 1990s “kids” viewed “black & white” like we viewed silent movies and nickelodeons.

    Before AMC ( the old one) and TCM how many films prior to 1950 were even shown n TV? Casablanca, sure. The Marx brothers and on Saturday mornings you might get Tom Mix and Hop-a-long Cassidy, Flash Gordon and some two-reelers, private stations would have summer runs of Sherlock Holmes and Charlie Chan, but that was pretty much our “education” into the world of “classic” cinema.

    Face it Mistiees, times change. I used MST3K to introduce my kids to the world of Roger Corman and Earth Vs. The Spider. Saturday Morning breakfast was a way of me deviously showing them that black and white still meant good movies. My daughter went to a drama class in school taught by a teacher who had never heard of Vincent Price, but my daughter had. Of course some of the humor in MST3K is dated. That is inevitable. But like listening to old time radio shows, most of the humor is universal. Nobody gets ALL the jokes anyway, right?

    You want to introduce millennials to our world you do it the same way you introduce any other newbie. Stater with a modern color classic like Werewolf or Hobgoblins and move out from there. Nobody ever said education was easy.

       11 likes

  3. goalieboy82 says:

    EricJ: That’s not Mr. Natural!Where’s his note-spangled suit and perky Peter Pan cap?

    tom said, hay mr natural i remember him from zap comix.

       3 likes

  4. JC says:

    I’m a Millennial (though, I prefer calling myself a Gen Y’er due to the negative connotations of Millennial) as I was born in 1985. I agree with many of my fellow MSTies on this thread that liking vs. not liking MST3K is not restricted to a particular generation. There’s an overall uniqueness to the show that goes beyond the movie riffing which lends itself to people either “getting it” or “not getting it.” It might be the low budget effects/sets, the hidden charm of the films being riffed, the family-like closeness of the human hosts and their robot puppet pals, and/or the irreverent offbeat humor (OK, so it’s probably more of the last one that plays the largest role…!) I’ve met people of many different age groups who either love or are completely indifferent to MST3K — It’s interesting to me to hear the range of how the show was “totally weird” or “absolutely toobular!” to them. And it’s a pretty equal mix across the lifespan, at least, from what I’ve seen.

    On a side note: Tumblr and YouTube have become great platforms for Millennials & Gen Z’ers in discovering or rediscovering MST3K, however. I think that largely has to do with MST3K episodes being easily accessible online and RiffTrax connecting with younger people through social media (Mike, Kevin, and Bill have active accounts on Twitter, Tumblr, and FB). Also, as #28 mentioned, I have seen younger people on Tumblr excited to learn that Joel plays Mayor Dewey on Steven Universe. So a Hi-keeba high-five for that!

       5 likes

  5. Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy says:

    What’s the name of the social generation that started last February? The Blue Toothers? The Wi-Fiers? Tablet Kids?

    Whatever their label, that’s the guys I hate.

    No core values. They do nothing but eat, sleep, and pass judgment on society from their stupid little cribs.

       8 likes

  6. EAG46 says:

    I was born in 1971, so that makes me Gen X. Not everything has to be for every generation. It’s okay if some people don’t “get” MST3K. I don’t get how people can get famous from YouTube or Vine.

       3 likes

  7. Mattfire64 says:

    Since not many younger “milenials” have posted here, and since I haven’t really tried to introduce the show to others in my age group, I guess I will give some of you long time fans the story of how a young milenial (and first time poster) managed to discover the series. Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale…

    I was born in 1994, and I first became aware of MST3K in the fall of 2011 by random chance searching around on the internet. The first MST3K clip I watched on YouTube was A Case of Spring Fever, and shortly afterwards I started to watch the few episodes that had been uploaded to Hulu. I decided to watch them in chronological order, meaning that my first full episode was The Giant Gila Monster.

    Before I get to the experience I had watching that episode, here’s a little background about myself. I have always been a fan of movies, music and television that most of my generation preceives to be “old”, therefore I already met the first four requirements Watch-Out-For-Snakes gave in #22. Some of the shows I watched (and still watch) on a regular basis growing up included Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, Lost In Space, The Andy Griffith Show and The Brady Bunch. One show that is an integral part of the story is Dark Shadows, one of my all-time favorite shows which I first started watching in the summer of 2003 on SciFi (sadly right before they pulled it at the end of the year because it didn’t “fit” the channel’s direction, sound familiar?).

    Fast forward back to 2011 and watching episode The Giant Gila Monster on Hulu. Right after the movie starts, the narrator says something generically about something being shrouded in dark shadows, to which Joel gives a puzzled “Barnabas Collins?” in response. BANG! It was with that riff that I was immediately sold on the show. Looking back now I find it freaky how coincidental that one the first riffs on my first episode happened to be about Dark Shadows, it felt like the writers somehow crawled inside my head…

    Anyways, from there I began to watch the show in order and I just finished the last season about a month ago. In that time I have got myself hooked on watching many more older TV series, primarily thanks to all the classic tv subchannels like Me-TV that have sprouted up over the past few years. Even though it’s been a few years since I’ve seen the episodes, I can tell that a lot of the references made in the earlier years that went over my head (Gypsy’s Richard Basehart obsession, The Mad’s William Conrad fridge alert and Peter Graves to name a few) will make a heck of a lot more sense this time around.

    So there, now there you have my full story, hopefully it proved that not all of us “young’uns” are completely hopeless when it comes to attention span and black & white television. What do you think Sirs?

       9 likes

  8. JCC says:

    Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy:
    What’s the name of the social generation that started last February? The Blue Toothers? The Wi-Fiers? Tablet Kids?

    Whatever their label, that’s the guys I hate.

    No core values. They do nothing but eat, sleep, and pass judgment on society from their stupid little cribs.

    “Wah wah I’m an infant, give me everything…”

    I also have to LOL that people get all bent out of shape when they perceive the Sci-Fi episodes to be more popular than the CC ones.

       7 likes

  9. ready4sumfootball says:

    In addition to my comment above, I want to say something about the black and white movies. I like black and white movies, especially when the image is really clear. I’m not big however on when MST3K would do a movie in black and white and they’d tint the movie blue so you could see the silhouettes better. I think it makes the movies look very washed out. I don’t think it was that necessary either, since the darkness of the shadowrama was almost always a blacker black than the black you see in the movies they did anyway. I like it better in later episodes when they simply didn’t bother with it. In fact Devil Doll is one of my favorites and the shadowrama was one of the bigger parts of that episode towards the end.

    I will say though that although I like black and white just fine, I don’t really like sepia tone all that much. I just think standard grayscale looks cleaner.

       0 likes

  10. ready4sumfootball says:

    @24: I seem to have noticed too that whether you like The Three Stooges is more split on gender than on age, although I’m a guy and I don’t really like The Three Stooges either. It’s just too low-brow for my tastes. I prefer the fast-paced wit of The Marx Brothers, especially in Duck Soup. So maybe it has something to do with the intelligence you require in your humor as well? Maybe age really isn’t that big of a factor in liking MST3K at all.

       2 likes

  11. FordPrefect says:

    A couple things:

    My parents have told me at various times over the past 20 years that MST3K and movie riffing in general is more for my generation than it is for theirs. I always point out to them that the people who worked on MST3K are considerably closer to their age than they are to mine. If riffing is truly a young man’s game, I assume the show and variations on it will continue to thrive with people who “get it”.

    Millenials didn’t invent the dislike some people have for black and white films and TV shows. I was just reading up about the missing Doctor Who episodes. Apparently one of the reasons the people in charge at the BBC didn’t put much effort into archiving the 1960’s episodes is that they didn’t think there would be much of an after market for the black and white episodes. This was during the 1970’s.

       3 likes

  12. Jay says:

    Frank Conniff:
    I find that in general the crazy kids today with their hula hoops and fax machines are smart and cool and they “get it.” Don’t forget, this is the generation that’s embraced marriage equality and rejected the Confederate Flag.Millennials are a-okay with me.

    Aw, C’mon Frank! Our parent’s had their Lawrence Welk Show and their Elk’s Club meetings. Why can’t we just have our Mystery Science Theater 3000 to ourselves? Huh? Huh? — Getting Older Every Day Jay

    PS – Happy Birthday, Frank!

       3 likes

  13. G. Powell, Assistant to T. McClure says:

    I am a uber millenial (not yet in college.) My parents showed me Mitchell when I was 10, and very few shows have since equaled it. Funniest. Thing. Ever. Fan for “5 years” but feels like more. In my opinion it’s like what BBI has sort of said over the years: ‘the right people will get this,” so the right millenials, xers, Yers and boomers will find it. This show can trancend generations, we know that. You miss it, your loss, its been that way for 20 years.
    P.S. I will admit, black and white is a bit of a challenge for me, but so is any other boring, soul sucking horrible movie!

       4 likes

  14. Smirkboy says:

    Try introducing Millennials to Ernie Kovax’s Nairobi Trio then work up to MST3K. TV’s Frank has a point; The kids are rejecting their parents’ sensibilities.

    And as Pete Townshend says: “The Kids Are All Right.”

       2 likes

  15. Prime Minister Jm J. Bullock (pondoscp) says:

    Mattfire64:
    Since not many younger “milenials” have posted here, and since I haven’t really tried to introduce the show to others in my age group, I guess I will give some of you long time fans the story of how a young milenial (and first time poster) managed to discover the series. Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale…

    I was born in 1994, and I first became aware of MST3K in the fall of 2011 by random chance searching around on the internet. The first MST3K clip I watched on YouTube was A Case of Spring Fever, and shortly afterwards I started to watch the few episodes that had been uploaded to Hulu. I decided to watch them in chronological order, meaning that my first full episode was The Giant Gila Monster.

    Before I get to the experience I had watching that episode, here’s a little background about myself. I have always been a fan of movies, music and television that most of my generation preceives to be “old”, therefore I already met the first four requirements Watch-Out-For-Snakes gave in #22. Some of the shows I watched (and still watch) on a regular basis growing up included Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, Lost In Space, The Andy Griffith Show and The Brady Bunch. One show that is an integral part of the story is Dark Shadows, one of my all-time favorite shows which I first started watching in the summer of 2003 on SciFi (sadly right before they pulled it at the end of the year because it didn’t “fit” the channel’s direction, sound familiar?).

    Fast forward back to 2011 and watching episode The Giant Gila Monster on Hulu. Right after the movie starts, the narrator says something generically about something being shrouded in dark shadows, to which Joel gives a puzzled “Barnabas Collins?” in response. BANG! It was with that riff that I was immediately sold on the show. Looking back now I find it freaky how coincidental that one the first riffs on my first episode happened to be about Dark Shadows, it felt like the writers somehow crawled inside my head…

    Anyways, from there I began to watch the show in order and I just finished the last season about a month ago. In that time I have got myself hooked on watching many more older TV series, primarily thanks to all the classic tv subchannels like Me-TV that have sprouted up over the past few years. Even though it’s been a few years since I’ve seen the episodes, I can tell that a lot of the references made in the earlier years that went over my head (Gypsy’s Richard Basehart obsession, The Mad’s William Conrad fridge alert and Peter Graves to name a few) will make a heck of a lot more sense this time around.

    So there, now there you have my full story, hopefully it proved that not all of us “young’uns” are completely hopeless when it comes to attention span and black & white television. What do you think Sirs?

    Hey, look at that! Psychic lawn darts! Beautiful!

       2 likes

  16. EricJ says:

    ready4sumfootball: Stooges is more split on gender than on age, although I’m a guy and I don’t really like The Three Stooges either. It’s just too low-brow for my tastes. I prefer the fast-paced wit of The Marx Brothers, especially in Duck Soup. So maybe it has something to do with the intelligence you require in your humor as well? Maybe age really isn’t that big of a factor in liking MST3K at all.

    It’s an established scientific fact that women don’t understand why the Stooges are funny (“They’re hitting each other, what’s funny about that??”)–and there’s some evidence that M&tB don’t quite get it either, because it’s “someone else’s comedy”–but think it goes back to that old gender distinction of social vs. mechanical.
    No one complains when Abbott b*tch-slaps Costello every other punchline, because we take it in the context of burlesque…The Stooges could still do the Niagara Falls sketch, they just made the Minsky’s slapstick more elaborately choreographed, is all.
    (Also, most of us grew up with the Shemp shorts on local stations, and while I’ve learned to appreciate Shemp’s individual style, yeah, those were pretty dopey.)

    Smirkboy:
    Try introducing Millennials to Ernie Kovax’s Nairobi Trio then work up to MST3K. TV’s Frank has a point; The kids are rejecting their parents’ sensibilities.

    If you’ve seen the “Kids react to…” shorts on YouTube–like the classic “Floppy disk computer” one, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PF7EpEnglgk –there’s a general sense that anything invented before the Internet or silicon chip is a blight on our culture that technology has since cured. When one kid was told that the Internet wasn’t around in the days of 80’s computers, and you had to go to the Library to look something up for homework, “…Why would you do that??”

    Unfortunately, that idea has also spread to the idea of broadcast TV:
    Yes, it’s nice not to have to tune into a show at exactly 8pm on one day every week, when you can select it from Netflix or Hulu, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you HAVE to lock your door, chain yourself to your chair and “binge-watch” any and every series you take an interest in, three episodes at a time. As a result, every cable and network series is now a soap-opera serial, made for watching the Next One right after it, and unable to tell a story in a single episode.
    The same is true for encountering reruns or old movies on local stations–Now that we can find any movie on streaming or DVD, “why would anyone want” to have random movies showing up on the local station’s Million Dollar Movie (badda-badda-bum-bum, bum-bum!), interrupted by ads, and with all the good parts cut out? Well, for starters, you might run into a movie you’ve never seen or heard of before, that’s always fun.

    By giving us more technical access, and with corporate parent companies wanting to guard over their studio properties like Smaug’s hoard, we’re able to get more access to movies and shows, but we’re not actually GETTING it. Seeing only the movies and shows we know and knowing only the movies and shows we see is slowly sapping our cultural-IQ, but nothing can penetrate that Internet-enabled Millennial brick wall of “Eww, it’s got commercials! I’ll tablet it later!”

       1 likes

  17. Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy says:

    Btw, I do agree with Batheaded God. If you want to try to lure in potential converts, no matter the age or gender, use “The Movie” as a test strip.

    I’ve got an annoying habit of telling non-Mysterons about such and such riff or explaining a funny real time coincidence or spooky synchronicity that aligned with a random episode I recently watched.

    Millennial or not, they just look at me like I am a lost little soul who doesn’t understand how the real world works.

    Then they go spend $30+ with a date to see the latest CGI infested monstrosity.

    I have to bite my tongue to keep from preaching, “Do you realize, that with the money you spent on that single date night, to see a questionable movie, you could have purchased Volume XXXIII?”

    My God, when I think about all the money flushed down the toilet to go see the non-riffably bad Jupiter Ascending.

    So sad.

    koo koo ka choo, Mrs. Robinson,
    The Wachowskis laid another wooden egg
    Pulling my leg…

    God help you, please, Mrs. Robinson,
    CGI has become just another crutch
    Used too much…

    Much too much

    The black and white stigma is tough for me to process. I love black and white films as much as I love the color in The Wizard of Oz.

    I have a friend in her 60s who refuses to watch Casablanca or Citizen Kane because of the lack of color.

    I just don’t understand her.

    I of course believe I am the one right about all this, and that my friends lack the superior palate I possess.

    They are lucky to have me as a friend, because I bring a lot IQ points to the mesa and can fix their computers.

    But they WILL, on occasion, have to listen to me talk about MST3K.

    It’s part of the fiber of my being.

    P.S.
    My friends also hate The Prisoner.

       1 likes

  18. MSTie says:

    Wandering far afield from the MST3K discussion, how many of you or people you know absolutely refused to see The Artist because it was both black & white and — quelle horreur! — SILENT with intertitles? Yet it’s one of my favorite films of the past few years. (OK, I admit a crush on Jean Dujardin, but still…)

    I honestly don’t notice much nor care if a movie is in color or in b&w. If it’s b&w I imagine the colors.

       2 likes

  19. trickymutha says:

    I have three kids born in 1984, 1987 and 1991. From 1997 on, they were subjected to all 198 experiments and the movie on more than a regular basis. They get it, and, love the show. They weren’t introduced, rather, inducted.

       4 likes

  20. NHCrypto says:

    I have 2 sons, born in 2001 and 2005. Both really like MST3K. When I saw Cinematic Titanic, I had to get autographs for both of them. The only problem that I’ve found is deciding which episodes are most appropriate for kids their ages!

       2 likes

  21. Opoth says:

    I’d be surprised to see many millennials post here to say their piece, I think the concept of posting anywhere on the internet besides Facebook, Twitter or maybe a text would already seem to be be an outdated process to many at this point.

    I’m sure there are millennials who enjoy this show but maybe for different reasons than the original fans. The internet is a blessing and a curse, people will continue to discover the show, just because its out there in the ether, but its competing for eyeballs with the billions of hours of other random content that is available.

    I think the best way to get ongoing visibility for MST3K would be when it shows up on best of lists, those tend to end up on FB/Twitter feeds, etc. I think it’s hard to build up certain episode(s) – its probably a little like trying to get someone into the Dead. If you talk up something you love too much it could lead to disinterest when it doesn’t deliver in the exact same way to that individual as it does to you. Really you just need to point people in the general direction and let them figure it out on their own instead of advocating specific aspects of the show, whether it be certain eras/hosts/episodes. Tell them to watch bits and pieces of a couple color episodes and see if the concept sticks. You could also say for some that its an acquired taste and most people don’t have the patience for an acquired taste anymore.

       0 likes

  22. Sitting Duck says:

    This could veer things off-topic. But seeing as how War of the Colossal Beast with Mr. B Natural was the most recent episode discussion, I’ll pose this question.

    EricJ: Escaped Mental Patient or Artificial Intelligence Designed to Be the Perfect Troll?

    Impressions of William Buckley, Gore Vidal, or any McLaughlin Group regulars is not required. But should you wish to, knock yourself out.

       6 likes

  23. Into The Void says:

    Some observations…

    our teenage daughter has impeccable taste in off-the-beaten-path music and movies, but never really jumped on board with my daily MST viewing — my wife and I were both card carrying “misties” back in the ’90s, but she doesn’t pay it much mind these days. Let’s say, for instance, I have an episode on while I’m out in the kitchen preparing food, and our daughter is milling around talking with me, she’ll get a good laugh out of the occasional line/bit, but has never sat down to actually watch an entire episode with me the way she routinely watches regular movies with me.

    I’d hypothesize that part of the MST disconnect with younger people is that most of them, unlike many of us, didn’t grow up with a very limited number of outlets for media/watching movies when we were kids ourselves, and so never experienced that epiphany of discovering a Fri night wrap-around Creature Feature, Sat morning cartoons and H.R. Puffin Stuff, etc …elements tethered to a very specific era of pop culture. Which then brings me to Jim Henson, of course–many of us older (forty and older) misties were very much so culturally informed via the very progressive/liberal Sesame Street, and later the Muppet Show, and I think having that ingrained sense of nostalgia for those shows served to help many of us embrace the lo-fi puppetry of MST.

    This leads to a more difficult subject to bring up, and that is, for me, anyway, MST was/is indicative of how there used to be a type of generally liberal-minded, culturally wary, politically informed individual that was prominent within the ’60s and ’70s who represented those ideals without necessarily wearing it on its sleeve, if you follow, yet were basically cast among the leftwing intelligentsia. This was before the hard right “greed is good” mentality of the ’80s, and the illusory/pretend progressive advancements of the ’90s (mostly grounded in corp marketing) that somehow served to conceal the behind-the-scenes work of the minions of fascists, statesmen and corporatists diligently at work to transform us into a post-constitutional, totalitarian empire by the beginning of the following decade. “Mission Accomplished,” indeed. In other words, people got comfy/cozy with the false notion that those dark authoritarian strains had mostly dissipated, no longer seeking to impose its machinations upon a formerly open society.

    Well, I could ramble on re this, but to sum up, there’s now a disturbing sector of the (brainwashed) populace that is seemingly oddly at ease with the current manufacture of consent. Those aren’t people who will seek out MST because MST questions and challenges, as where the new corp ideal is, as the late George Carlin put it, “obedient workers” who are just smart enough to do the paperwork and make the system function, yet dumb enough to be utterly clueless as to what’s really happening, and dumb enough to do that work for far less pay/benefits than what should be for such positions. Some yrs ago when MST episodes began getting uploaded to youtube, I found many of those commenting at that time were among this variety of people …and it’s not a judgmental thing, or that I think they’re ‘bad’ people, just byproducts of an era that doesn’t favor people questioning (illegitimate) authority …or, at its worst, young, conservative leaning types (who fail to understand that per the views they espouse, they are conservative!) who simply recognize MST as sort of having a nerdy’esque cultural air about it, and so champion it based around that. These types are generally young, and dislike the Joel episodes (of course) since that early era of MST seemed far more informed by out-in-left-field, anti-authoritarian, pro-drug references quirkiness that many young conservative types obviously are not going to approve of.

       6 likes

  24. Torgospizza-NJ says:

    So many references are topical on the show, as well as the mindset of the hosts. But Millenials might gravitate to (or “dig”)certain movie characters that seem relevant by today’s standards; (1) Mr. B Natural-An androgynous, sexually fluid muse; (2) Valaria (Robot Holocaust)-Pro active female executive, supervising an all male staff, tortures old white guys, works under an Afro-Cuban Super Computer (“Doc Juan”); (3) Pitch (Santa Claus)- Bilingual demon seed-not tied down by traditional Judeo-Christian precepts. Works at liberating children from the crass materialism of the winter solstice.; (4)Buz Nichols (Girl in Gold Boots)-has a no job, sponges off women, superpower: teleportation.

       2 likes

  25. Goshzilla says:

    MST3K, and movie riffing in general, is arguably more popular these days than it ever was in the ’90s. I don’t think it’s appreciably harder to introduce “millennials” to the show than any other age demographic; some people appreciate the humor, some find it “mean-spirited,” and some people just don’t have the attention span to focus on a movie and a funny commentary at the same time. Also, some people are just stupid and will never grasp the concept at all. It has little to do with what year you were born.

    My brother-in-law is a textbook millennial and he’s bewildered by the show on every level. But my mom didn’t “get it” either, and she was born in 1944. “This show is weird.” (It took me at least ’til my rebellious teens to learn that weird isn’t synonymous with bad.) I was born in ’81 and at least half of the references from the Joel years went over my head for decades, and some still do. It didn’t discourage me; it made want to learn more. And nowadays I can easily look them up and learn something new from nearly every episode I rewatch. That’s added value to me; to others it’s too much work. And I’d argue that millennials are more likely to do just that, what with their smartphones already in their hands.

    Anyway, only a small percentage of millennials are going to “get it,” just as only a small population of anybody has ever “gotten it.” Remember, MST3K is a cult classic, and it should stay that way. Can you imagine if it were in constant reruns like Seinfeld? *shudder*

       3 likes

  26. Goshzilla says:

    Reading some of these posts, it sounds like some of you have never actually met a young person, at least not since you yourselves were young. Being 34 I suppose I no longer qualify, but I still feel obliged to defend an entire generation of young people from the internet version of the cranky old man from The Eye Creatures. Dang smoochers! Git off my intellectual property! You don’t appreciate it like I do!

       6 likes

  27. JCC says:

    I see digs at the Sci-Fi episodes being “low brow”. Don’t necessarily agree with that – plenty of poop and fart jokes in The Joel Era. I would say they became very streamlined though – jettisoning most of the references to things and focusing more on pure observational riffage. You still get some Anthony Zerbe riffs in The Sci-Fi years!

    I appreciate all the different MST3k Era’s – more comedy for me to enjoy!

       5 likes

  28. Flag on the Moon says:

    Okay, I was born in 89, so I’m on the older end of “millenial” but here are a few observations of mine:

    Nearly everyone I’ve shown MST3k to has loved it. My friends are mostly my peers, around the same age, basically internet-dwellers.

    I’ve found that, for whatever reason, time runs in bizarre, three-to-four-decades-long circles. I attribute this to the average age of parents, and a child coming of age and learning about their parents’ generations. In the 90s, the 60s-70s were popular, both as a source of aesthetic and artistic inspiration and as a source of comedy. I’ve found myself saying things that I’ve heard older people back in the 90s saying, about 70s fashion, only what I say now is about the 90s. Things like “Some fashion trends should have stayed in the 90s”

    Where I’m going with this, is that we’ve seen Joel, Mike and the bots ripping on the films their parents would have watched, as well as the films from their own “of age” generations (60s to 80s)

    I see a lot of us mirrored in the riffers. For any of the older set who doesn’t know what Let’s Play is, it’s a video series, done by anybody who wants to do it (more on this later), and put on YouTube. These videos feature people playing video games and adding their own commentary as they play. Sometimes multiple people will work on LPs.

    The individualist, highly customized nature of the internet lends itself to things like this. Video games are played in different ways by different players, and different players will upload different videos about different games.

    I don’t think the idea of riffing will ever change any time soon, it has just transformed, and the internet has a lot to do with it.

    I’ve found that among my generation, the people most likely to enjoy MST are creative themselves, people who absorb knowledge from every source they can possibly suck it up from and are likely to retain that knowledge, just for the sake of understanding. And nothing rewards learning more like “getting it” and laughing.

       2 likes

  29. Flag on the Moon says:

    I’d also like to add:

    It seems that everyone who enjoys MST3k enough to watch it regularly will have genres that they like watching more than others. My genre leans toward the Cold War politics, film noir, and the soul-sucking Francis films that defy genre. If you have the time one night (and I do recommend doing this at night), get some drinks and/or a bit of green, and try watching Doctor Strangelove, then Rocket Attack USA, and finally Invasion USA. It’s amazing.

    As I’ve said in my last post, laughter is the reward for learning about the culture we weren’t there to experience for ourselves. Through MST I’ve learned so much. I’ve read In Cold Blood, picked up Samuel Beckett, listened to all kinds of jazz. My life has been changed by this show, and I have to sincerely thank the Brains for it.

       3 likes

  30. Charles Solution says:

    As I recall, the Brains had similar issues with picking a movie for The Movie, and they decided on This Island Earth because it was watchable, goofy (as opposed to bleak/depressing/dull/etc.), and in color. While the generation gap was less of an issue*, the idea of marketing a niche show to the masses is at the core of both issues. I assume the fact that TIE was one of the best-known films they’ve done was also a factor, though how much of the decision was the Brains’ and how much was the studio’s and how much was the fact that they did it as a live show, I have no idea.

    *I maintain that the generation gap was always at least minor issue for those who were younger or even older than the Brains and thus had a different pop-cultural ‘lens.’ Then again, none of them were old enough to have seen first-run Marx Brothers movies, so I am just wildly winging it here. (And even that kind of assumes a monolithic overculture, which the Midwestern US-ness of the show shoots down mightily.)

    So, um, yeah, to get back down to Earth (the very birthplace of my birth), shorts are great; color experiments are good; I think it would help to have recognizable actors, too. The mix of dated and older pop culture riffs to timelessness (accents are great) should also be considered.

    Anyway, I guess my question is, “Are Millenials sufficiently different from non-Millenials that their Millienial-ness is or should be a factor?” I mean, “properly” introducing this show to someone who hasn’t seen it (or worse, already has a negative opinion on it) is always kind of a crapshoot.

       1 likes

  31. Satoris says:

    My kids are all millenials so I introduced them to Mst by going to a familiar subject. They’ve all seen the recent Godzilla fiascos so I put in episode #212- Godzilla vs. Megalon. They liked it so much they’ve moved on to Gamera now. Of course, they do wonder why those odd little characters on the bottom of the screen won’t shut up.

       1 likes

  32. Flag on the Moon says:

    Charles Solution:
    As I recall, the Brains had similar issues with picking a movie for The Movie, and they decided on This Island Earth because it was watchable, goofy (as opposed to bleak/depressing/dull/etc.), and in color.While the generation gap was less of an issue*, the idea of marketing a niche show to the masses is at the core of both issues.I assume the fact that TIE was one of the best-known films they’ve done was also a factor, though how much of the decision was the Brains’ and how much was the studio’s and how much was the fact that they did it as a live show, I have no idea.

    *I maintain that the generation gap was always at least minor issue for those who were younger or even older than the Brains and thus had a different pop-cultural ‘lens.’ Then again, none of them were old enough to have seen first-run Marx Brothers movies, so I am just wildly winging it here.(And even that kind of assumes a monolithic overculture, which the Midwestern US-ness of the show shoots down mightily.)

    So, um, yeah, to get back down to Earth (the very birthplace of my birth), shorts are great; color experiments are good; I think it would help to have recognizable actors, too.The mix of dated and older pop culture riffs to timelessness (accents are great) should also be considered.

    Anyway, I guess my question is, “Are Millenials sufficiently different from non-Millenials that their Millienial-ness is or should be a factor?”I mean, “properly”introducing this show to someone who hasn’t seen it (or worse, already has a negative opinion on it) is always kind of a crapshoot.

    I agree. I’d like to think I have a knack for picking first episodes/shorts to watch with friends. It helps to know your friends and choose something they would specifically enjoy, but not something that’s too good and steals focus from the riffs. There are some people who don’t dig the concept, have trouble with following the film and listening to the riffs, don’t care for the host segments, have speech processing issues, or hate the idea of making fun of movies.

    People interested in history and preservation tend to like the show more.

       1 likes

  33. EricJ says:

    Charles Solution:
    As I recall, the Brains had similar issues with picking a movie for The Movie, and they decided on This Island Earth because it was watchable, goofy (as opposed to bleak/depressing/dull/etc.), and in color.While the generation gap was less of an issue*, the idea of marketing a niche show to the masses is at the core of both issues.I assume the fact that TIE was one of the best-known films they’ve done was also a factor, though how much of the decision was the Brains’ and how much was the studio’s and how much was the fact that they did it as a live show, I have no idea.

    Although conventional wisdom is that TIE was picked
    A) like Season 8, Universal was calling the shots, and insisted that they use something from Uni’s own library for free,
    B) the Movie had to be widescreen, which not too many 50’s sci-fi B-movies sprang for the budget to be,
    C) it had to be in color, because theater audiences think B/W is icky,
    D) the movie had to have “flying saucers in it”, to sell the concept of Cheesy Old Sci-Fi Movies, and
    E) for new audiences, the jokes had to be generically enough about the movie, which pretty much kept them to a movie goofy enough to joke about, with the jokes more about the “hero”, plot and setting than any mean-Mike jokes about the actors or director.

    Which, again, makes it the ideal movie to show to first timers.
    It’s worked on at least three first-timer friends and relations that I know of, for all the above generic reasons, and it’ll go on doing the job.

    Satoris: Of course, they do wonder why those odd little characters on the bottom of the screen won’t shut up.

    I’ve found the biggest obstacle are new fans who get too caught up in the movie, and think the riffing is a “distraction”.

    The Jam/Castle educational shorts help focus back on the riffing, because they’re so straight, and NOBODY ever pays attention to them. :)

       1 likes

  34. While we’re on the “black and white” discussion, here’s something I’ve never quite understood:

    A person who will refuse to watch an old movie because it’s in black and white….. but will turn around and watch “Young Frankenstein”.

       4 likes

  35. G R Robertson says:

    In 2007-8 I worked with a woman who was about 25. Like me she went to the cinema every week. However as far as she was concerned all B&W films were crap. No exceptions. When I said what about Citizen Kane, Casablanca, Third Man she just walked away. One day she said all early horror/sci fi films were rubbish because the monster was always a man in a suit. I asked her if maybe they shouldn’t have bothered and sat around waiting for CGI to be invented. She walked away. Another time she said everything was influenced by Manga and I asked her for 5 examples and she…well you know. For someone with the same interests as me there was such a divide.

       3 likes

  36. Prime Minister Jm J. Bullock (pondoscp) says:

    I think the opening host segment of Manhunt In Space says it best…
    What color is Dr.F? Red!

       0 likes

  37. Johnny's nonchalance says:

    Parenting.

    Whatever the generation, our parents were role models of what to be, or what not to be.

    One episode will not make a MSTie. MSTies are grown, beginning at the most formative years. If your parents didn’t nurture your imagination and thinking skills, then of course you will never “get” the show.

    Parents, don’t let your babies grow up to be mushbrains. Teach ’em to be individuals when they’re young. Weird, even. Which results in creativity.

    That said, Cave Dwellers would be my go-to episode for the pre-teen set.

       4 likes

  38. Sillstaw says:

    Millennial here (born at the very end of the 80s) who loves black-and-white and practically grew up on MST3k. (And also hates the term “millennial;” why am I and my generation being defined by the times when we were born?) I actually got a friend of mine from college to go see RiffTrax Live: Starship Troopers (she’s a fan of the movie), and she quite enjoyed it. I think that may be the key: If you’re going to start somebody on this, it helps to know what they’re into so you can choose the episode or whatever that they’d enjoy best.

    For what it’s worth, I think it’d be much harder to get older people like baby boomers into the show. My dad laughed at a few lines from MST3k and RiffTrax here and there, but he never wanted to watch a full episode. Younger people are malleable enough that they might enjoy anything, but older people tend to be more set in their ways.

       4 likes

  39. Johnny's nonchalance says:

    Frank Conniff:
    Performing in comedy clubs here in NYC I meet a lot of millennials and they love MST3K. As some folks on this thread pointed out, a lot of the jokes were already dated when we did the show in the 90s. A lot of the people back then didn’t get the show either.It’s not for everyone but the fans and those of us who made the show were always at peace with that.Overall, in my experience, I find that in general the crazy kids today with their hula hoops and fax machines are smart and cool and they “get it.” Don’t forget, this is the generation that’s embraced marriage equality and rejected the Confederate Flag.Millennials are a-okay with me.

    You’re a funny man, but I wish you’d leave your politics out of entertainment.

    If anything, your examples show how detached from reality those millennials are… a measure of reality being the world events and leadership vacuum that actually have an impact on EVERYONE’S day to day life, instead of that of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction.

    So, you sip your Nehi soda and spin cylinders on your phonograph. We’ll play with our hula hoops and fax each other cat pictures and empty platitudes while Nero fiddles.

    Let me be frank. Do not bring your evil here. This site is our haven. You invaded it in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan.

       2 likes

  40. Brian says:

    Johnny's nonchalance:

    Let me be frank. Do not bring your evil here. This site is our haven. You invaded it in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan.

    He invaded “our” haven, huh? Pretty sure you speak for few if anyone else here with that kinda talk.

       10 likes

  41. Michael says:

    Although I don’t consider myself a “millennial” and more of a “Gen-Y”er (I was born in 87), I found that if I didn’t “get” one of the riffs or jokes in an episode, it would make me curious to find out what they were riffing on. I’m also a total history buff, so I get a lot of the jokes that were intended for the time period. Most of the jokes I wouldn’t get at first viewing would be riffs that reference a short-lived TV show (like Cop Rock) or some (now forgotten about) celebrity of the time.

    Long story short, I think what attracts “younger” people to the show is it’s quirky humor and unique premise. Even if we don’t “get” some of the pop culture references of the late 80s/early 90s, it doesn’t make the show less enjoyable at all.

       5 likes

  42. MissT3K says:

    G R Robertson:
    In 2007-8 I worked with a woman who was about 25.Like me she went to the cinema every week.However as far as she was concerned all B&W films were crap.No exceptions.When I said what about Citizen Kane, Casablanca, Third Man she just walked away.One day she said all early horror/sci fi films were rubbish because the monster was always a man in a suit.I asked her if maybe they shouldn’t have bothered and sat around waiting for CGI to be invented.She walked away.Another time she said everything was influenced by Manga and I asked her for 5 examples and she…well you know.For someone with the same interests as me there was such a divide.

    I have a friend who is my age (over 45) who has a similar problem. Horror movies are not scary because they are not really being killed, she doesn’t cry at movies (like the beginning of the movie “Up” or the end of any movie that has a death) because they are just actors that didn’t really die, science fiction is ridiculous because none of it could really happen…

    Maybe we MST3K fans have an ability to involve ourselves in movies mentally and emotionally, even the crappy ones, that they cannot? They are concrete thinkers and the abstract is something they cannot wrap their brains around?

    Whatareyagonnado?

       0 likes

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