Putney Swope Panic

"The brief, desperate vertigo one feels when watching an incoherent, obtuse, or overly complicated film, trying to piece together its various plot points, dangling storylines, and strange subtexts, while realizing that this is probably impossible. Followed immediately by the Putney Swope Surrender and the Putney Swope Acceptance."
Official definition

A term coined by Matt Sloan (of Chad Vader and so much more Blame Society Productions fame) in his Video Review Show Welcome To The Basement. The phrase first came into use in episode twenty-one, when he compares the feeling of panic that swept over him during the viewing of Tough Guys Don't Dance to that of which he felt when they had watched the Trope Namer.

Compare Makes Just as Much Sense in Context, Mind Screw, True Art Is Incomprehensible and What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?

In-show examples:

  • Well, obviously, first place goes to Putney Swope, the eponymous 1969... whatever it is...
  • Unsurprisingly, David Lynch's Lost Highway; true, while the term wasn't applied to the film orally, the movie poster was shown alongside the former and next example during Sloan's definition reading.
  • Speaking of heads, with severed human ones ending up in a marijuana cache in the woods, actions like writing numbers in shaving cream on bathroom mirrors, and lines including, but not limited to, "Just wanna tickle my stick?", "I like ya' homegrown; puts feathers on my ass", "Mr. Regency and I make out five times a night... That's why I call him 'Mr. Five'!", and "You got... no... WOOOOOOOMB!", it's no wonder the term was invented for Norman Mailer's "perfect storm of shit" (Sloan's words), Tough Guys Don't Dance.
  • The "strange, anonymous fear" Werner Herzog intended to inflict upon whoever managed to sit through the "goddamn mess" (again, a Sloan quote) that was My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done? certainly was no stranger to the basement dwellers (although, as co-host Craig Johnson points out, with the birth of the term, the fear is given an identity).
  • Both Matt and Craig consider the 2012 Cannes Film Festival entry Holy Motors to be an example of this trope, though they agree it is proof that this does not always hinder a movie.
  • Likewise, the same episode reveals they have similar sentiments about Primer; they (understandably) found it be quite an exceedingly complicated piece of cinema, though still an enjoyable watch. In the words of Craig, "It's a puzzle that's missing pieces. It is maybe the most tightly-written movie ever; there's not one word in that movie that shouldn't be there, the problem is that there should be around a thousand more in that movie."
  • Interestingly averted with Masked and Anonymous, which was co-written by and stars the David Lynch of the music industry (well... second to the man himself) Bob Dylan, as Matt believes that a film has to be at least somewhat briskly-paced to inflict it. He goes on to compare the syndrome to that of a rollercoaster, stating that "you're not gonna feel it" if there are no dips or turns, so to speak.
  • Sheldon from Big Bang Theory had this reaction to the third Matrix movie.

Outside (and non-medium exclusive) ones:

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     Fan Fics 
  • Potter fan story Thirty Hs fits this to a T, although whether this was the author's intention is debatable.
  • My Immortal: Just as Ebony "started to cry tears of blood down [her] pallid face" in chapter five, so does the entire fic bleed this trope.

  • As you've surely gathered by now, pretty much any other project that Lynch has anything to do with.
  • Lunopolis, a 2009 sci-fi Mockumentary, consists of one part standard, shaky Found Footage of guys with cameras investigating creepy things, and two parts talking heads explaining a convoluted theory of time travel, the nature of an ancient conspiracy (from the future!), and the New Age theology of a Church of Happyology that just so happens to NOT be a fraud.
  • Rubber: A story about a sentient and murderous tire, framed by characters who are constantly breaking the fourth wall by viewing the film as it happens or trying to sabotage it. In the opening scene, one of the main characters states that things happen in films for "no reason" and that this film is dedicated to that concept.
  • The Castle Of Fu Manchu will make you wonder if coherent storytelling even exists.

  • Lost: The viewers ended up even more so than the survivors.
  • Surprise, surprise, Lynch's Twin Peaks.

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