Seeking Truth Out of Fiction
January 4, 2013 11:14 AM   Subscribe

Inspired by this post on the blue, I was wondering -- what are some examples of articles/blog posts where someone analyzed (presumably with tongue-in-cheek) a minor part of a fictional world in a serious way that treats the subject matter as truth, not fictional?

I'm having difficulty explaining what I mean, but here's some more information. In the linked example above, someone looked at the Hill Valley Telegraph from Back to the Future II and critiqued it as if it were a real paper. What are some other examples of this? A related example I can think of is this wonderful analysis of urban planning in Richard Scarry's Busytown. Busytown is treated as an actual town and given serious consideration as an actual town. The humor is that the author is analyzing a children's book, but the analysis does not treat the content as fiction.

I realize there are many ways to look at this question, but I'm looking more for pieces that offer an offbeat, witty, or humorous view but in an ironic or faux-serious manner.

[first AskMe; hopefully it makes sense]
posted by RabbleRabble to Grab Bag (28 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
 
Here's an article about how the trash compactor on the Death Star in Star Wars makes no sense.
posted by Perplexity at 11:17 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


This McSweeney's post treats the song "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" faux-seriously.
posted by homelystar at 11:18 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is there a Santa Claus? A physicist view.
posted by Melismata at 11:21 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm a fan of the Tommy Westphall Multiverse.
posted by bondcliff at 11:27 AM on January 4, 2013


I'm still mostly happy with a blog post of mine about how many starships should be in Starfleet, though it's too short.
I am somewhat ashamed of my self-promotion, but not enough to keep me from giving the link.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 11:31 AM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


You might enjoy this article about the economics of Equestria, the My Little Pony universe.
posted by KathrynT at 11:31 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


And this one about the economics of Smaug from a recent FPP.
posted by Andrhia at 11:35 AM on January 4, 2013


Larry Niven's Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex is an analysis of the reproductive capabilities of Superman. (No images, but the language is mildly NSFW.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:37 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


David Sedaris did a great skit in which a "real" theater critic reviews a kids' schoolhouse production.
posted by jbickers at 11:38 AM on January 4, 2013


Following on to homelystar, McSweeney's does this a lot. I'm personally fond of the old Pop Song Correspondences series, such as "Regarding Pete Seeger's Requests for a Hammer and His Descriptions of What He Would Do If He Had One" in the style of a puzzled bank loan officer or "A Letter Between Siblings Who Lived in the House Described in Our House by Madness" discussing the placement of said house "in the middle of our street," an issue that has always bothered me greatly.

MeFi's own Law and the Multiverse discusses legal issues posed by various superheros and comics.
posted by zachlipton at 11:40 AM on January 4, 2013


There's always that tumblr blog that speculated about which actual date was Ice Cube's "Good Day".
posted by Sara C. at 12:01 PM on January 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


And this one about the economics of Smaug from a recent FPP.

Here's the FPP, and a direct link to the New Statesman article in question.


There's always that tumblr blog that speculated about which actual date was Ice Cube's "Good Day".

And the related FPP that questioned the assumptions behind the selection of the date, with a stand-out comment by lkc.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:06 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Winnie the Pooh's psychological disorders.
posted by heatherfl at 12:12 PM on January 4, 2013


I feel sure that there must be something like this about zombies...but so far I've only found this, a 1981 study of the economics of how vampires avoid running out of human blood.
posted by homelystar at 12:13 PM on January 4, 2013


My favorite of these is this analysis of the Ghostbusters' shitty business plan.
posted by COBRA! at 12:23 PM on January 4, 2013


One of the longest-running examples of this is the Great Game, in which the Sherlock Holmes canon is treated as real. If you can run down a copy of the Baker Street Journal, you'll see it in action. Here's a PDF example: the writer is trying to explain who the heck could possibly have written the "Country of the Saints" segment of A Study in Scarlet (which, incidentally, is a really good question).
posted by thomas j wise at 12:33 PM on January 4, 2013


Saint Louis University School of Law: JAY-Z’S 99 PROBLEMS, VERSE 2: A CLOSE READING WITH FOURTH AMENDMENT GUIDANCE FOR COPS AND PERPS

From the article's abstract: "This is a line-by-line analysis of the second verse of 99 Problems by Jay-Z, from the perspective of a criminal procedure professor. It’s intended as a resource for law students and teachers, and for anyone who’s interested in what pop culture gets right about criminal justice, and what it gets wrong."
posted by mosk at 1:01 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks everyone (and keep 'em coming). These are all great examples.
posted by RabbleRabble at 1:08 PM on January 4, 2013


If you don't mind the self-linking, I made a Google+ post a while ago where I explained how the destruction of the Death Stars was clearly just cover for Vader's coup attempts.
posted by ckape at 1:42 PM on January 4, 2013


COBRA! has already linked to one of their articles, but this is the entire raison d'etre of Overthinking It.
posted by McCoy Pauley at 1:47 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I feel sure that there must be something like this about zombies

The CDC Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response provides tips on Zombie Preparedness, and the now-stalled but on-topic Discover Magazine blog Science, Not Fiction has a few good posts: how zombie biology would work, if the "undead" are alive enough to be "killed", and 7 answers to questions about biology and ethics of zombies. I'm not sure if these would be classified as "minor" aspects to the universe of zombies, but it's treating the fictional as reality.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:52 PM on January 4, 2013


If you like the Diagnosing Pooh article that heatherfl mentioned, you may also enjoy two books of literary analysis by Frederick Crews, The Pooh Perplex and Postmodern Pooh.
posted by aphorist at 2:17 PM on January 4, 2013


XKCD's What If feature did a post about how much Force power Yoda can output.
posted by inging at 3:38 PM on January 4, 2013


A geophysical survey of the World of Warcraft.
posted by Hogshead at 4:30 PM on January 4, 2013


Coyote v Acme is a classic in the genre.
posted by MsMolly at 6:16 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


The British Medical Journal regularly "diagnoses" a fictional character. I can't recall any of the others they've done in the past, but in 2004, they found that Gollum most likely suffers from schizoid personality disorder.
posted by lesli212 at 6:50 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


The naval historian C. Northcote Parkinson wrote a straight-faced fake biography of the fictional character Capt. Horatio Hornblower; I've found this book in the ordinary Biography section of libraries instead of Fiction.
posted by Rain Man at 8:02 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality has lots of little asides that will get you thinking about aspects of the Harry Potter universe in new ways. Young Harry's brief analysis of the wizarding economy is spot on.
posted by town of cats at 9:53 PM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


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