Rant of the day: Nerdwriter and intertextuality

I love Nerdwriter.

I actually love any and all video essays, as they call them these days. Anything by WisecrackNow you see itEvery Frame a Painting…You name it, I love it.

I hope you’ve seen Thug Notes. If not, you must.

Honestly, these essays are probably the only kind of entertainment that tops Quora. I literally spend my days on Youtube. And god knows, the bare mention of contouring makes me want to implode.

What’s funny is that I don’t just like these videos. I actually always agree with them. I guess I’m often so impressed by how they delve deep into all sorts of random topics, that I am thinking “there is no way they’re wrong”.

Until. THIS happened:

This time, I am not convinced. This video, so far, is the only one where I was like ” What are you doing Nerdwriter?”. I could have, like the rest of the world, written a comment and moved on with my day, but no. I had to rant about it.

And that’s because I think that intertextuality is God’s gift to Earth. I think that any good piece of art, movie, song, video, what have you, is only good because of intertextuality.

Would Forrest Gump be the movie it is, if it didn’t refer to so many little things that we know from here and there?  No it wouldn’t.

Would movies convey any kind of feeling, in just an hour and a half, if they didn’t rely on intertextuality and transtextuality in general to touch on hundreds of themes and references.

Intertextuality is what makes anything great because it achieves 3 things:

It helps the viewer understand the meaning:

Wikipedia says it better: intertextuality shapes the meaning.
Let’s say you watch a scary movie, and in one particular scene, you see… idk.. a fridge. Well, if you had seen Requiem for a Dream, you would have a completely different experience watching the scene than someone who hasn’t. Watch this and tell me you are not irrevocably traumatized by fridges.

In my opinion, the Sopranos is the best intertextuality exercise. Half of the themes are conveyed by either the soundtrack or the movies that Corrado and Tony watch on TV. Not surprisingly, it’s always, either an Italian movie or a Western, the classics that shape the life of a New Jersey mobster. My personal favorite Sopranos western is Rio Bravo, which of course, had the Italian element with Dean Martin.

Intertextuality is crucial part of the viewing experience, not just in “quality TV”. For example, I was watching the intern not too long ago. One of those uplifting chill movies. It’s not lynch, the plot is pretty simple, but the whole time I was really focused because I kept spotting some of De Niro’s previous works all over the place:


It creates new meanings:

Intertextuality is amazing because, depending on what you have seen, your experience is completely unique.

That’s why I enjoy watching many shows simultaneously. It creates beautiful parallels between the most unlikely shows.  I remember in Season 1 of Mr Robot, I was still watching the Sopranos. And I caught this:


There was a talking fish in both shows. And somehow Tony’s guilt over Puss’ death somehow resonated with Elliot’s drug problem. It was a good day.

Whether the meaning I came to is what the creators intended or not is actually irrelevant. What matters is that I participated in creating something beautiful.
The viewer and the movie become accomplices. Intertextuality is basically the mother of inside jokes.

It makes you proud:

I personally feel so great anytime I put 2+2 together and see a link between any 2 movies. In Mr Robot, my current G.O.A.T, when Tyrell’s character reminded me of American Psycho, I was like:


Obviously this is just an example, but the gratitude and the fulfillment from getting a reference is pretty awesome. Why do you think I spend my life in front of a screen?

It’s one of the most intense feelings ever. It’s actually only second to the humiliation of finding out that there was a reference right under your nose and you didn’t catch it.

Like the one time I watched the Red Shoes in film class. And the whole movie, I was completely taken aback, because I was thinking of how Black Swan is definitely not the movie I thought I saw.


More on it here

In any case, intertextuality is great. Not even Nerdwriter could convince me otherwise.

If anyone wants to see someone rave over intertextuality, check this out:

If anyone is looking for a better analysis of what’s wrong with postmodern thought, Check out this video:



  1. I was thinking the *exact same thing* when I was watching that video. And I’m *obsessed* with video-essays because even when they make a point I don’t agree with, they usualy present their argument in a way that makes me understand where it’s coming from. Here, the video didn’t even accomplish that. Maybe I’m being to picky (because I’m starting to think that the “depth” and “coolness” of Nerdwriter’s videos has slightly gone down once he started following a regular upload schedule), or maybe I’m in your boat—I just don’t agree with this one particular video.
    In the future, have you thought of compiling a playlist/blog post of your favorite video-essays and favorite video-essay-makers?


    1. Hi ffsanton! Thanks for your comment. It’s funny you should mention a post about my favorite videos because that is literally the draft I am working on right now. Just checked out your blog. It looks so sophisticated. I think I will enjoy it a lot.


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