10th Annual MST Club Xmas Marathon! December 22, 2023 5:29 AM   Subscribe

This year we are holding our tenth annual (yikes) Christmas Video Marathon, at https://cytu.be/r/Metafilter_MST3KClub. The enormity of that number is not lost of us. From the noon (Eastern time) of December 22nd, and all through December 23, 24 and 25, that's 84 straight hours of irreverent Christmas comedy and specials, along with other fun things, all produced with the intent of giving you something to unwind to during stressful times. More information inside....

Here's how it works: it doesn't, or rather it isn't meant to.

Our motto is "no stress." Come by for as little or as much of it as you want. If you need some place to be that's not around family, or cooking dinner, or wrapping presents, or even putting up with people celebrating a religious holiday for a religion that's not your own. Of course, our material is mostly with a Christmas theme, but it's a *snarky* theme. Our focus is more entertainment than religion or reverence.

You can just float around using our show as background. Or alternatively, alongside the video is our chat room, where you can talk with other people watching along. We have some people who aren't Metafilter members who come in too. There is no wrong way to watch along, and along those lines, you shouldn't feel any guilt if you can't make it. As it's said in the Book of Joel: It's just a show, and we should all really just relax.

Here is the itinerary. On December 22nd, at noon US Eastern time (9 AM Pacific), we'll start showing things. What we show is determined largely at whim, but we will at least *try* to adhere to specific themes. This may end up varying though depending on who's in chat and what people want to see. We try to be flexible, so if someone at 3 AM has a mad yen to see the Ice Cream Bunny, if the rest of the viewers are accommodating, we might be able to indulge you. By the same token, if we're watching things you're not interested in, if you hang out for a bit we *might* (no promises) be able to steer the show in your direction.

Dec 22 Afternoon & Evening: Random riffing and fun videos
Dec 22 Overnight: Extremely Bad Movies
Dec 23 Morning: Saturday Morning Cartoons
Dec 23 Afternoon & Evening: Christmas Riffing
Dec 23 Overnight: Host's Choice
Dec 24 Morning: Christmas Specials
Dec 24 Afternoon & Evening: MST3K Christmas episodes, and Cinematic Titanic's version of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
Dec 25 Morning: Specials & Quiet Time
Dec 25 Afternoon & Evening: Star Wars Holiday Special, Santa's Village of Madness, Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny, other Christmas riffs
Dec 25 Overnight: Wind-down

I'll elaborate a bit on some of these categories:

Extremely Bad Movies is for ludicrously terrible and weird films. Mostly these are not riffed, so don't expect any voices talking over the movies to shield you from the madness. Any mocking of them is saved for chat.

Saturday Morning Cartoons is a block of television from a Saturday Morning of Christmas Past: ABC television from 1983, which happened to be on Christmas Eve that year.

What is riffing? It's people and/or puppets talking over the show, making humorous and sometimes snide comments about what's being shown. There are now *four* Christmas episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000, and we'll try to show them all at one time or other. There's also a Cinematic Titanic riff of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians that we have to get around to at some time, probably Christmas Eve, as it is the last item left over from MST Club's tour of Cinematic Titanic.

Host's Choice is a special time we set aside for things that whatever host is online and awake at that time might want to show. No warranties or guarantees, either express or implied.

The wind-down tends to be non-Christmas things.

Previous years: 2022 - 2021 - 2020 - 2019 - 2018 - 2017 - 2016 - 2015 - 2014
posted by JHarris to MetaFilter-Related at 5:29 AM (46 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

Hooray!! It's a dull Christmas for me this year so I imagine I'll be dropping by now and then.
posted by JanetLand at 6:47 AM on December 22, 2023 [1 favorite]

Mod note: This post has been added to the Best Of blog!
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 7:05 AM on December 22, 2023

We'll be glad to have you, JanetLand!
posted by JHarris at 8:16 AM on December 22, 2023

This is not relevant, but a short about the preparation of turkey came up, and the remark was "Google 'what are giblets'"

Giblets was the BEST EVER blog character, on Fafblog! And of everything rotten Google has done lately, their benign neglect of Blogspot means Fafblog is still online, preserved in amber from the days of Occupy Wall Street. I hope wherever you are, Fafnir, Giblets and the Medium Lobster, you are well.
posted by JHarris at 9:36 AM on December 22, 2023 [6 favorites]

Oh, lovely! I'll drop in! Thank you!
posted by mochapickle at 10:04 AM on December 22, 2023

I always swing by at least for a quick hello and a few minutes of watching. It's always worth it, and there's always some bit of levity and ridiculousness on display, be it in chat or in the video stream. Always appreciate that this space exists.

Cheers friends.
posted by Fizz at 12:10 PM on December 22, 2023 [2 favorites]

I shall bring Chex mix and a bottle of gin.

last year's shows helped me so thanks to jharris and everyone else.

I'm gonna check out what on now.
posted by clavdivs at 2:13 PM on December 22, 2023 [2 favorites]

I'm torn between "We like it very much!" and "Preeeeetty nice!".

I'll be dropping in, but I'm also expecting Baldur's Gate 3 for Christmas, so I'll probably drop off the face of the earth after that.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:26 PM on December 22, 2023 [2 favorites]

You can have us playing in the background, and watch for bits of serendipitous noise. A villain monologues at you, and over the speakers comes the Ice Cream Bunny's HURR HURR HURR
posted by JHarris at 4:06 PM on December 22, 2023 [1 favorite]

To welcome new people into this, I suggest adding a sentence or two to the OP above explaining that this is a group viewing of movies etc. At that link you'll be continuously playing various fun stuff, and there's a chat window where you can join the discussion (or not!). Explain how account is or isn't required. Put that basic info at the very top, after "here's how it works". The later paragraph starting "you can just float around" has good intro info -- move that up and add the additional preamble stuff I proposed.

Anyway, that's my thought after reading this and thinking, this sounds like fun but ... what is it? A careful re-reading and then exploring the link made it more clear, but maybe with our stress/eggnog saturated brains we'll need it spoonfed to us a little more. I'm sure you mean to welcome newbies as well as regulars ...

Carry on and thank you.
posted by intermod at 6:42 PM on December 22, 2023 [2 favorites]

Yeah, it's always been difficult to introduce to people. It's just a sequence of movies, shorts and other videos you can watch along to. You can create an account, but you don't have to.

Everyone is welcome, even non-MeFi members, so long as they're civil and friendly.
posted by JHarris at 7:09 PM on December 22, 2023 [3 favorites]

OMG, the Fafblog -- I used to looooooooove that!
posted by wenestvedt at 8:23 PM on December 22, 2023 [1 favorite]

JHarris, this is not my jam, so I shan’t attend, but I hope everyone has a rollicking time.

Also, JHarris, you are a site treasure.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:59 AM on December 23, 2023 [7 favorites]

You guys watch Joe Don Baker movies?
posted by valkane at 5:31 AM on December 23, 2023 [4 favorites]

Popped into the stream in the dark of the morning and watched Saturday morning cartoons from 1983! Felt like a fever dream in the best possible way…
posted by mochapickle at 6:10 AM on December 23, 2023 [4 favorites]

Aaaah I'm recharged a bit and am building the list for the next portion. I gather I missed a number of people, thanks for stopping by!
posted by JHarris at 10:37 AM on December 23, 2023 [1 favorite]

The next section (about 9-10 hours) is some of the less iconic riffing, but also some of the funnier/weird Christmas items and MST3K's showing of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.
posted by JHarris at 11:26 AM on December 23, 2023 [1 favorite]

Oh yay! I was hoping this would be on this year! I’m working tomorrow but will check in by late afternoon.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:05 PM on December 23, 2023 [2 favorites]

This sounds awesome. If I were home, I'd surely join.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:46 PM on December 23, 2023 [7 favorites]

I want a Christmas picture of Notre dome, it's all I ask for, that and Chex mix.

© 1999-2023 MetaFilter LLC
All posts are © their original authors.

FAQ | Contact | ☃ 👈

☃ I gotta know who coded in this little Festivus egg.
posted by clavdivs at 12:44 AM on December 24, 2023 [1 favorite]

Ah, I don't see it? Where is it?
posted by JHarris at 3:28 AM on December 24, 2023

Morning of the 24th, and the chosen content of the hour is Christmas episodes of TV shows! Most of them are cartoons, but there are some others mixed in....
posted by JHarris at 3:28 AM on December 24, 2023 [2 favorites]

The little snowman that clavdivs mentioned is at the bottom right of the page, below the search box. I seem to remember it was used during some server update to be able to see which users had been migrated to the new server or something like that (I do remember something about some users seeing it while others didn't) and I guess it just stuck around.
posted by rjs at 3:55 AM on December 24, 2023

Didn't realize how low my tolerance for ALF was. Hunh.

(That's a very cool group-streaming platform!)
posted by wenestvedt at 7:29 AM on December 24, 2023 [1 favorite]

Paris pictures in.

you rule sir.
posted by clavdivs at 12:54 PM on December 24, 2023 [1 favorite]

We're up to riffing tonight! We'll be watching the Cinematic Titanic version of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians in a bit!
posted by JHarris at 2:55 PM on December 24, 2023

Glad to see you checking in and not-buttoned, DirtyOldTown!
posted by kensington314 at 10:06 PM on December 24, 2023 [5 favorites]

We're very shortly moving in to a double feature of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians and Santa Claus, both Mystery Science Theater 3000 versions! These are as broadcast versions, found on Youtube, so their pace is kind of lazy, but that gives you more chance to drop by!

After that we're planning for Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny, and then, the Star Wars Holiday Special, both Rifftrax versions. And after that, a period of extremely cheesy movies!
posted by JHarris at 12:17 PM on December 25, 2023

Totally forgot that everything was starting early. So sorry to be so late and Happy Anniversary!
posted by Bella Donna at 12:24 PM on December 25, 2023 [1 favorite]

We're on Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny now, and around 9 PM Eastern time, the Star Wars Holiday Special
posted by JHarris at 5:00 PM on December 25, 2023 [1 favorite]

After a couple of problems starting it (the SWHS always seems a bit cursed for us) it's underway. Happy Lumpy and Itchy day everyone!
posted by JHarris at 6:30 PM on December 25, 2023 [1 favorite]

I had a good time watching some of this -- thanks again for making it happen!
posted by JanetLand at 6:03 AM on December 26, 2023 [1 favorite]

Thanks for JHarris for hosting, as well as the cheerful chat crew. I popped in quite a bit this year and it's been a bright spot for me.
posted by Monzz at 6:10 AM on December 26, 2023 [1 favorite]

Ah, one of the biggest problems with the marathon, one that we've always struggled with, is the need to be all things for all people, when experiences, preferences and expectations vary so widely between viewers, and time is merely linear.

For example, the entire marathon we had Letters From Satan Claus ready to go, a ridiculous horror movie where a young girl makes a mistake in addressing a letter to Santa and so many years later caused The Devil to wreak supernatural havoc on her friends. It's of a style of gory movie that's completely valid, and some people really enjoy... but, not everyone does.

Every year we have so many things we really want to watch, and specific things that some people really want to see. And every year I have tried to be accommodating of requests, so it's become a kind of checklist: have we shown A Wish for Wings that Work yet? How about that new video that came up in that one thread? I have tried, very hard, to cover as many bases as I can within the limits of the event, and yet even so some have slipped away. Like, we never did end up showing Olive the Other Reindeer this time, despite the fact that many of us love it, not the least of which being myself.

Letters From Satan Claus became one of those things. And at the end I made a decision to try to squeeze it in at the very end, forgetting that horror movies aren't everyone's cup of tea, which pushed a couple of people away I fear. These people would never say that's what happened, they're too nice, and really it's possible that they just fell asleep anyway, it was the end of course.

Another thing that not everyone enjoyed was the riffing. That talking-over-the-movie gimmick is necessarily subcultural. Usually that is no problem for MST Club shows, but this is the one time where we really reach out to a wider number of people. But the thing is, movie riffing really became popular in the early 90s, and there's a specific kind of edgy humor that was popular then. Mystery Science Theater 3000 falls prey to it far less than you'd expect, because it's ultimately made by a bunch of affable mid-westerners, and not a cadre of hungry young tryhards desperately trying to build careers. The show's Minnesota roots are a large part of its success, IMO, riffing-like productions made before, like Mad Movies and What's Up Tiger Lily?, never built a fanbase anywhere close to Mystery Science Theater 3000's, in size or fervor, because they lack that genial and inclusive base. But once a while a joke does gets through that's aged poorly, and I wonder if that has pushed someone away who might have otherwise enjoyed it.

Then, Rifftrax has formed a larger portion of the marathon's library over time. Made by some of the original cast of MST3K, its style of comedy is similar, but still noticeably different. It doesn't have the robots, it doesn't have host segments, and it doesn't have much of a backstory. But it is a little less inclusive than MST3K. You're slightly, not much but very slightly, more likely to get a homophobic or transphobic joke from Rifftrax. Writing comedy is hard, and one with the density of jokes that MST3K and Rifftrax demands is much harder than that. As a Monty Python alum once said, comedy is extremely fragile and dependent on context, and the effect of a joke that doesn't land well can be much worse than the cumulative effect of a hundred good jokes that surround it.

I've thought about posting a notice on the chat warning about that, but then, it could become a case where mentioning it draws attention to it, and results in a case where a slight element becomes the forefront. It's become a whole lot for what's really just one person to think about, and as is manifestly evident by now, I've been overthinking this a lot.

An idea I had to solve this was to actually have two rooms: one for riffing and one for specials and other christmas things, so people could go to the room that's more to their liking. But that multiplies the effort and energy required, and I'm still only one person. I do have cohosts, but this year they were much less in evident. Why? Because it's Christmas dammit! They have lives, much more of one than I obviously have, and its unfair to pull them away from that. But I don't have many other people to ask, and because of the holiday the few people from among those who might could help have their own limits on time. On top of it all: I have to sleep. There were some times in the early morning this year that there were several people in chat, but of which I was only dimly aware, because my brain had checked out. Conversation between chat members helps a lot for that sense of community that makes the best moments of the marathon so great, and I regret not being awake enough to facilitate that. I hope the people who were on that early had a good time anyway.

After all of this, overall we still had much fewer people than past shows, pretty much entirely throughout. Interestingly, our biggest turnout was on the Friday the 22nd, on a day that we don't even usually show things. The highest simultaneous viewers was 13 this year, on that day. We did get up to 10-12 more often than usual.

While some of it is probably been the novelty wearing off, and the fact that we largely show the same things every year, another factor is probably Metafilter's declining userbase. Last year we had one person show up who enjoyed the show, but then buttoned, for unrelated reasons, literally days after the marathon concluded. It's always seemed weird to me that people are so apt to just leave Metafilter, enough so that even have our own community word for doing so, buttoning. (Meanwhile, some people still stick to Twitter like they were glued to it.) Even at Metafilter's heights, it's never been what I'd call a really big thing, and even back in the early "boy's club" days, it's was pretty small. The site has expended tremendous effort in becoming more inclusive, and in the process most of those boy's clubbers left. But now, it feels like a case where lapses in attention or effort are punished greatly, but the day-to-day good faith efforts of management to be inclusive are generally overlooked. It can't be easy running a community site like this one, but at least that's one thing I don't have to worry about.

Really this is a digression, what matters is the result, and that's that there's been fewer people around to watch the marathon over time. And in some ways that's good: people (others, people who aren't me) have families to spend time with! That's really so much more important than our silly annual media consumption event.

There's been so much to say, and yet the longer a comment gets the less likely that people will engage with it, especially if they only have something to say about one small part. tl;dr, after all.

So, that's the end of the 10th annual holiday marathon. All of this together is mostly to explain--it's probably our last year.

I've said that in the past, because all of these issues have always been with the marathon, but it feels really definite this time, none of these issues are going away, they're all going to accumulate and compound, and my own attention and energy are going to continue to wane. I'm 50 now, soon to be 51. Solutions, if there are any to be found, will require more attention to overcome, not less, and co-hosts are getting scarcer to find. We've had a good run. If any of this changes, and I'll be on the look out for signs, maybe we'll have an 11th year, but 10 isn't a bad number to go out on.

In any case, thanks for coming by and watching along with us, this year and the nine previous. We've had some good times. Some bad ones too, but those are supposed to build character, right?

Good night everyone!
posted by JHarris at 10:52 AM on December 26, 2023 [13 favorites]

Thanks again so much for hosting. The marathons have been a bright spot in my holidays these past few years and I know it's a ton of work to set up the programming.
posted by mochapickle at 2:15 PM on December 26, 2023 [8 favorites]

Thank you again for putting this on! This is one of my favorite things, and I just love to have it on all day.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 2:27 PM on December 26, 2023 [3 favorites]

What we might try doing next time is a "hands-off" marathon. There is no reason we can't just construct a three day long playlist and let it go, only making changes as needed. It would reduce the work a little, or at least move it to ahead of time.
posted by JHarris at 2:31 PM on December 26, 2023 [8 favorites]

If you're up for it, I think that's a great option. Again, I know it's work putting this together! But personally speaking, I have zero expectation of the hosts being present all the time -- that's a long time to be glued to a monitor!

For me, I do enjoy seeing who's tuned in, but I had a really nice time on my own hanging out in the stream discovering some new things or things I'd forgotten. It was like stumbling on a weird, fun cable channel in the middle of the night.
posted by mochapickle at 2:40 PM on December 26, 2023 [6 favorites]

One sad thing about it all that I didn't mention in the big comment is that the absence of oneswellfoop really weighs me down sometimes, and especially at MST Club shows. People just disappear from Metafilter for all kinds of reasons, and sometimes they come back, but foop being gone, in the context of his health problems, seems pretty final. We all miss him more than words can say.
posted by JHarris at 2:45 PM on December 26, 2023 [12 favorites]

"Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid." I plan on being here for the 20th Anniversary.
posted by valkane at 5:36 AM on December 27, 2023 [4 favorites]

I don't always spend a lot of time with it anymore, but it warms my heart so much that two of my most influential and beloved things, MST3k and Metafilter, are joined together so tightly. The people that get one frequently got the other, and it makes me know I found my place.
posted by penduluum at 6:07 AM on December 27, 2023 [4 favorites]

Well, I hope the marathon comes back in some form, but I get that it's tremendous work and maybe not possible. I've really appreciated and enjoyed it all these years.
posted by JanetLand at 7:16 AM on December 28, 2023 [2 favorites]

At the very least I think it needs to be reconsidered. Maybe fewer than three days, or with more people helping, or something like that.
posted by JHarris at 9:52 PM on December 28, 2023

Echoing how sad it is to be missing oneswellfoop, who was a minor presence on the permanent threads but the prominent presence on Talk and the chat threads. Hope they're well and having a good time, wherever they are.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:42 AM on December 29, 2023 [5 favorites]

If I can help from Sweden, JHarris, I am ready to volunteer. Maybe a combination of more automation and more volunteers will make it possible. But it is also okay to walk away if it is just too much work for too little pay off. Ten years is a damn long time, especially when it comes to internet communities. I salute all your efforts and the efforts of those who have helped over the years. Thanksgiving was fun, too. Thanks again!
posted by Bella Donna at 12:19 PM on December 30, 2023 [3 favorites]

Thanks for volunteering everyone. I might ask for help when we get back around to the holidays again, or maybe could try a test run on some other auspicious event? I've done a show the past two Electron Nights as a tension reliever, maybe when November rolls back around? Or maybe some time earlier?

BTW--I think we're doing our usual Sunday show tonight for New Year's Eve, maybe with a break for a ball drop if we can pipe a broadcast stream into the channel somehow (we've done that in the past, but it proved difficult last year).
posted by JHarris at 5:15 AM on December 31, 2023 [2 favorites]

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