Maximum Overdrive Syndrome – setting the record straight!

Today, on Facebook, a friend posted a comment about the movie Predator:

“Watched Predator 1 last night. Man that movie doesn’t age well.”

The comment made me think about a story from the last century.  I had gone to a video rental shop with a friend, looking for a couple movies to watch that evening, and I came across a movie I’d loved as a kid, Maximum Overdrive.  Instantly, I was excited to revisit this tale from my youth of an apocalypse where machines come to life by alien influences.  My friend, who had not seen the film, had to endure my enthusiastic ranting about how amazingly awesome the movie was, how Emilio Estevez gave a rousing performance underscored by a rocking AC/DC soundtrack.

Roughly about 23 minutes into the movie, we both quickly discovered how the movie was actually a flaming pile of cinema crap.  Terrible acting, implausible plot development, and generally an awful, awful movie.  This movie, which I’d loved as a twelve year old, did not stand up a decade later when I re-watched it in my adulthood.  It was truly childhood’s end.

This revelation led me to re-watching other movies I’d loved as a child, some help up like “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, many did not, such as “Goonies” and “Deadly Friend” (as a kid, I loved horror movies).  I decided to call this revelation “Maximum Overdrive Syndrome”, named after the movie that inspired the revelation.

Cinema Sewer Magazine #6 (NSFW)

Jump forward into the early 21st century.  I was working at Sam the Record Man in Vancouver, discussing movies with a fellow employee, fantastic artist and all around nice guy, Robin Bougie.  At the time, Robin ran a self-published ‘zine called “Cinema Sewer (NSFW)” dedicated to the dregs of modern movies.  Cinema Sewer is now a popular, and professionally produced, magazine dedicated to revealing the seedy underbelly of the 20th century artform, the motion picture.  Although it no longer has the charm of the photocopied and hand stapled pages of its past, Cinema Sewer is a fun read for anyone who has the stomach for its contents.

Now, back to Maximum Overdrive Syndrome.  Robin and I were discussing the worst movies we’d ever seen and which was truly the worst (Robin won that debate…  he lent me a copy of his, which I will never speak of again).  I told Robin my tale about renting Maximum Overdrive in my adulthood, and even explained the phrase “Maximum Overdrive Syndrome” to him.  To my excitement, Robin dedicated a section of his next issue of Cinema Sewer to the term, and although I was not credited, I was happy to see someone else relate to the term.

Now, jump forward to today, and my friends Facebook post.  I wanted to see if there had been a wikipedia entry for the term “Maximum Overdrive Syndrome”, and if there wasn’t,  now would be my opportunity to create one.  In my search for the term, I discovered this shocking revelation from Robin on an audio/video forum:

“John, you might be interested to note that about 10 years ago I coined a term called “Maximum Overdrive syndrome”, which is when in a nostalgia-fueled fit, you watch a movie that you remember liking as a kid, and it does absolutely NOTHING for you. I titled an article in Cinema Sewer after the newly named complex, but so far it doesn’t seem to have taken outside my close circle of friends.”

On this forum, Robin is claiming to have “coined the term”!  Now, I understand, this conversation was over a decade ago, and I obviously don’t expect Robin to remember every nuance of those heady days at Sam the Record Man, but to declare ownership of a term that nearly 30 people use globally!  Preposterous!

If my memory serves, there was a third employee involved in that conversation, Ian, who I will track down to corroborate my claims, and the truth will come to light.  Until that time, or until Robin Bougie admits to himself and the world the truth behind “Maximum Overdrive Syndrome”, I will be scanning and posting every copy of Robin’s ‘zines from the turn of the century that I still have in my possession!

The gauntlet has been thrown down, Mr. Bougie!

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4 Responses to Maximum Overdrive Syndrome – setting the record straight!

  1. Robin Bougie says:

    Usually when such a gauntlet is tossed, I tend to conceed, as — god knows — my memory isn’t what it used to be. But as much as I would love to give you this one, I remember, very clearly, watching my childhood fave, Maximum Overdrive, in Saskatoon and really disliking it and being shocked by that — a full 4 years before working at Sam’s. Now, that may not be the same thing as remembering coining the term, but it sure is close, and in my recollection of things this many years after the fact, that *IS* when I coined the term.

    Could I be wrong? It’s possible!

  2. Robin Bougie says:

    Also: A possible explanation is that I was so very excited to meet someone who had the same experience I did, and that idea make me think this was some kind of common experience, and that is what prompted the article. And it certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibility that you coined the term, presented it to me then, and I stupidly didn’t give you credit for that when it was printed. I won’t deny that as a possibility.

  3. Keith says:

    Well, embarrassingly enough, I’ve lost my un-earned righteous indignation since I posted this, and feel I need to clarify that I too recall the excitement of the common experience (or mis-experience if that is a term) learning that I was not alone in “The Syndrome”. the fact someone, either myself, Robin, or (most likely) the both of us, coined such an accurate term to explain the phenomenon should be, and in many ways is, a satisfying entry into the english lexicon… I think now, more than ever, I should be championing the phrase to all, as opposed to greedily taking credit.

    That being said, there are still a number of issues of “Deviant” and “Mind’s Eye Presents” that I have in my possession that needs to be digitally archived for the world to enjoy, because reading them a decade later, they certainly don’t suffer from Maximum Overdrive Syndrome!

  4. Keith says:

    Also, this was merely a sneaky attempt to try a little SEO experiment to see how quickly I could get my blog on page 1 of Google for the term “Maximum Overdrive Syndrome”.. looks like it worked.

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