Spaceballs: The Value of (Re)Viewing

I owe much to the comedians of my childhood and their influence on me.  Robin Williams as “Mork from Ork” in Mork and Mindy; Leslie Nielsen in Police Squad and Naked Gun; John Candy as Uncle Buck; and Mel Brooks’ comedic masterpiece (at least in my 10 year old eyes), Spaceballs.  Given my proclivity towards Star Wars, Spaceballs was 90 minutes of supreme hilarity that I watched incessantly to the point that I memorized large chunks of the script and was also drastically disappointed with the novelization which replaced the “Asshole” scene with Moron (or idiot or some other downgraded dirty word).  Like the Star Wars trilogy that I had on video cassette, I went through at least one copy of Spaceballs in my childhood. 

I say all this, not just to explain my weird and displaced sense of pride about my childhood obsessions but to lay the foundation so that it’s clear; I knew Spaceballs.  A while back, I sat down to watch Spaceballs in the first time in probably a decade.  It was purely a nostalgic craving for that film that so easily made me smile with its visual puns (“You’ve been jammed”), post-modern humor (“You’ve captured their stunt doubles!”—and no, I had no clue at the time that’s what was so funny), and of course, the cheap gags (“Come back, you fat-bearded bitch!”).  But I had no idea this trip down memory lane would prove to me how powerful the act of “re-viewing” material is.

Here is the clip that knocked me off my chair with laughter and astonishment.

Learning From Spaceballs...after the 100th View

Now, I thought I know everything there was to know about Spaceballs.  I didn’t expect a curveball in re-watching it for easily the 100th time (and that is a conservative number; there were days I watched this 2 times in a row).  But there it was; smack down in the middle of Spaceballs, a joke about Franz Kafka, author of the short story, Metamorphosis.  Quite simply, I lost my shit.   

It is so random, and unexpected.  I had watched the scene many times before and here I was dumbstruck by a new joke that reminded me of how much I loved Mel Brooks.    Instantly, this reminded me of the Greek philosopher, Heraclitus (don’t worry, I’m not much caught up on my Greek philosophers either) and his famous quote:     

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.”

It now struck me why my instructors and even myself by habit had encouraged revisiting previously-processed material.  On occasion in a given class, we find that the instructor has chosen material we are already familiar with whether it’s a book, a film, or some other piece of knowledge.  So many of us assume that since we already did it, we don’t need to again, but the value of re-viewing something cannot be understated.  As the quote indicates, the world and we by extension are in a constant state of flux.  When we sit down to read that book we’ve read before or watch that movie we’ve seen a dozen times, we’re always bringing new eyes to it.  Of course, we may know the larger pieces such as plot, but with reviewing we pick up on new elements of the piece.  That is, new things are revealed to us in the reviewing process.

The other part is that the “Lance” that sat down to watch Spaceballs now and the one that watched it some 20 years ago are not the same person.  As Heraclitus indicates, humans are like rivers always changing in innumerable obvious and subtle ways.  Between the earlier and the present viewing, I have indeed learned a great deal about the world; including about Franz Kafka and his writings.  Indeed, the very nature of throwing in such an intellectual and random joke works well with the themes of absurdity in Kafka’s pieces.  But the beauty of the joke is lost on the earlier “Lance.”  Thus, re-viewing can bring more pleasure and better understanding of a piece because we’re already know some things about it and can keep our eyes out for new things; we also have grown since that first viewing.   

What moments from re-reading and re-viewing (relevant to the course in question) have you found that this has happened?

Did you enjoy this read? Let me know your thoughts down below or feel free to browse around and check out some of my other posts!. You might also want to keep up to date with my blog by signing up for them via email.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


  1. Re-reading is something that we always have to do. Even in reading the chapter and answering the questions. For instance like anyone I can go read the chapter in the book, but, when it comes time to answer the questions I'll have no clue what the question means so obviously I would have to go back and see. This goes with anything, if you don't understand a joke the someone said, You have to think about it and maybe hear it again. This goes for movies or anything else. Most of the time you do need to re-view, re-read something in order to understand.

  2. I rarely re-read comics, but of the few I have the one that sticks out is Watchmen. I first read it in 2000, after hearing for years that it was one of the best comics ever written. At the time, I really did not get it. I mean, I guess it was okay, but it was painfully long, especially since I had just read Batman: The Long Halloween with I read in one 2 hour sitting. Once when I complained that I did not get it, someone said you really had to live through the Cold War to really understand some of it. After I saw the movie in the theater, I decided that I would finally re-read it. Instead of reading my copy though, I ended up borrowing the Absolute Watchmen hardcover so I could see it bigger and recolored. In a post-9-11 world, some of the Cold War aspects of the comic made more sense to me. The idea that the US was on the verge of war was not something that I could really relate to back in 2000, but a decade later, it was an idea that I understood. And I look forward to reading it a third time to see what else I may discover about it.

  3. Re-reading is something i started doing about 2 years ago with my school textbooks. This is something i literally never did before with anything. if one of my teachers assigned reading for homework, i would just quickly skim through the material just to get it over with. i never really comprehended what i was actually reading until i started re reading the material. re-reading helps you understand what you are actually reading. reading material a second time allows you to pick up on ideas and facts that you might not have caught the first time through. Textbooks are really the only books i spend time reading and studying so this is all i really re-read personally. Papers are also good to re-read. like i previously said, re-reading simply allows you to pick up on flaws or important topics you might not have caught the first time through whether it is writing a paper or reading a textbook. it takes more than just one time for anyone to truly get to know something.people might think they undertsnad a subject however if they re read it one or two more times, i guranteee you will pick up on a lot more and the picture will be one-hundred percent clearer. it is actually amazing how much more you will undertsnad or how much clearer a particular subject is if you put the time in to read it again and really get to know the material.

  4. It’s extremely difficult for me to understand what I am reading whether it’s a textbook, novel, poem, or article. Re-reading is something I never use to take the time to do. I would only read a piece of writing once and then be done with it whether or not I understood it. I did not break this habit until this year when I was assigned readings in my college classes. In college you need to understand the readings to pass most classes and participate. This is very different from high school, because in high school you can get by without doing the assigned readings and not only pass the class but also be able to participate. This year I learned that reviewing is a great technique, because it reinforces information in a different way. In high school teachers each year or in different classes would talk about something I had already learned or was already learning, which I hated. I didn’t want to talk about or hear the same facts of information I already knew; therefore, I would zone out and not listen to what the teacher was saying. This year in college I realized that re-viewing is not as bad as I thought it was. In both my English and history classes this semester we have been re-viewing things I learned in high school, but with different teaching methods. The re-viewing has helped me actually learn the information instead of just recognizing the words and not knowing their meaning.

  5. When I was younger I was very much against revisiting titles I had already read, my thought process at the time was that I already knew how the text was going to end, so what would be the point? How could I possibly become emotionally invested in something I knew the resolution for?
    Then came Water For Elephants.
    Water for Elephants is a novel by Sarah Gruen that is so intensely layered and complex that, upon reading it a second time; you draw parallels and connections that you never had before. She had managed to write the kind of story that was so oddly profound that once you finish it, you have to take a few moments to decide how you feel about it. Then of course, you pick it up and start all over again (just to be sure)
    I had spaced my readings of Water for Elephants about six months apart, enough time for me to have a vague recollection of plot details, but not exactly remember much else. Once I read it the second time, the entire novel transformed from a state of 'that was a good story' to something that I had processed and actually RELATED to. Water for Elephants is now my favorite novel to date, and Sarah Gruen's second novel Ape House is a pretty close second. I enjoyed Water for Elephants so much, I even brought it with me to college, all the way from New Jersey, just so I could have a little piece of comfort when I started my brand new UMass life. After experiencing this sort of literary absorption I now make a point of reading things I like at least once more. You never really know how you REALLY feel about something until you've read it again and had the oppertunity to sort through everything and process it all.
    To state the obvious, I highly reccommend Water for Elephants to anyone who decides to read this post.

  6. Re-reading is something that we always have to do. Even in reading the chapter and answering the questions. For instance like anyone I can go read the chapter in the book, but, when it comes time to answer the questions I'll have no clue what the question means so obviously I would have to go back and see. This goes with anything, if you don't understand a joke the someone said, You have to think about it and maybe hear it again. This goes for movies or anything else. Most of the time you do need to re-view, re-read something in order to understand. The people that don't do this are the people who will look through the chapter five minutes before a test and probably fail that test. Re-reading something might be a pain the the ass but it is what it is, you have to do it. Most people can't just look at something and right off the bat know what it is. Watching a movie more than once you start to notice things that you havent seen before if you notice after watching something more than once you will hear different lines and you will know more about the movie that you are watching. So re-reading is the way to go if you ask me.

  7. It is very hard for me to read something without going back to look at it at least once, if not twice. Re-reading is something that usually has to be done to get the full meaning of a book, or movie, or anything that requires memory. When I am answering questions about a chapter that I have read I am always skimming through the chapter to find the place where the question has came from. When I find that spot in the chapter I can usually remember what it is about but it helps to go back and re-read so I am entirely sure that it is the right answer. This goes for anything; when I am watching a movie I always like to watch the movie a second time to see if I missed anything important. If I like the movie I will probably watch it ten times and be able to recite every line of the entire movie. Re-reading and re-viewing are a part of every ones daily lifestyle. Very rarely do you find someone who can read or watch something once, and remember every single thing that occurred. Ever since my freshman year in High School I have had to re-read almost everything that I do. School never came easy to me and I always had to work to really understand the meaning of what I was watching or reading.

  8. For me, reading something twice is the best way to learn. For example, taking notes in a certain class is helpful but I'll only remember it all if I go back to look at what I wrote. I think this is why reading or watching something is so interesting. The first time you read (or watch) it, you are simply getting familiar with the story. You're just building a foundation. When you go back to it, you're able to notice every little detail that you missed the first time - things that you missed when you were too focused on the story itself.

    For my medium analysis paper, I'm revisiting The Secret Window. I first saw this movie years ago, when my mom's ex boyfriend would bring over inappropriate movies so that he gained my sister's and my liking. I went through it once, now knowing about the twist at the end when you find out that Mort Rainey and John Shooter are the same person. When viewing the movie a second time, I watched it and saw all of the subtle hints in the dialogue that I previously missed. Knowing the ending made the movie more interesting to me, at least, until the "big reveal" came at the end.

  9. The biggest experience I have had this year by re-viewing something has been when I had to re-read “Frankenstein” for class.

    At first, I did not wish to re-read Frankenstein. I figured that I had read through it in school, and that I had no need to re-read the material only two years after I had already gone through it. Urged on, however, I decided to re-read it and see if I could find any new themes in the story due to the material we covered in class.

    I was shocked when I found a whole level of analysis that I had never even thought of before. It was interesting because it was a level of analysis that my teacher had not even considered, which is why he never covered that material in class. The first time I read this book was in a high school English course. The most important thing to the teachers was that we were able to read through the story, and remember plot points. We studied vocabulary connecting to the story and when we finally got into a bit of analysis, all we talked about was who was at fault for the tragedies in the story and why Frankenstein was a tragic character.

    The first time I read through it, I thought Frankenstein was a douchebag (to put it in terms), and that the creature was a tragic character who deserved a hug and a milkshake more than he deserved punishment. I even defended the creature in a mock trial, and won. It might have been the suit I wore to class to complete my lawyer look, but I like to think that much of it was the evidence I provided. The second time I read through the story, this time in making monsters, I was looking at the characters through different eyes and could see why the creature was a frightening monstrous being. Sure, he was mistreated, but allowed this to make him an evil character and turn into the monster he was created to become.

    Different classes often can use the same classic books, because there are so many themes that deserve individual analysis. Looking at the same story a hundred different ways.
    Sarah King - Making Monsters MW

  10. Re-reading and re-viewin all of my favorite books, movies, and clips is favorite past-time of mine. I have watched 'The Notebook' 10 times and could never get sick of the story because of how it resonates to all relationships. I'm an analytical person by nature and enjoy finding, viewing, and figuring out every detail of a movie or book. However, by human nature it is inevitable that I will overlook hidding meanings or details that can only be experienced and uncovered by re-reading or re-viewing the material. Teachers have always encouraged re-viewing notes and text for memorization purposes, but when re-viewing enjoyable material, one can find new components of a narrative one may have never realized during the first time.

    In a class setting, by combining a group's reactions and observations of a piece of work, it is an ideal collective uncovering of information and detail in a story. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as well as reactions to events and characters in a story. One character may seem like a hero in one person's eyes, while to another they may seem like a villain.

    Having already read Watchmen and Maus, I thought I had a good idea of what each narrative was about. By reading the works again, I realized all that I had missed whether it be symbols or themes and had a deeper appreciation of the work the author and artist put into the narrative.

  11. If you hand me a book and say read this once, chances are if you asked me to, write something about it or to tell you about it, I would not be able to do it. I would only be able to if I re read it or took notes on the subject. Reading something once does not sink in my head and I think for the most part with other people it does not for them as well. Re reading is something that people usually do to get the full meaning of a book, textbook, short story, or newspaper anything you read. Also with, re viewing movies become more comprehendible and easy to follow the more you watch it even it is watching it one more time. Re reading and review foreshadows everything that you did pick up. And is a lifelong skill that is very handy to have. It is a fact that re reading and reviewing is apart to one’s everyday life style, and it’s clear that without re reading I would not be successful in reading anything. Especially in high school and college, reading never was quite easy to me, so I would absolutely need to re-read, re-write, and re-view everything I did.

  12. I have always had the hardest time understanding what I read ever since I was younger. For the most part, people need to read something more than once to fully understand it. When I want to completely grasp a concept on something that I read, I usually read the text and re read it. If I am reading out of a text book for a class for school, I will high light and take notes. All people do different things do get the basic concept of what the learn from what they read. I also re read and re view things that I already do understand. For example, I love listening to my favorite songs and watching my favorite movies. I enjoy listening, watching, and analyzing movies and songs. What really impresses me is the hidden messages you can get out of re reading and re viewing books, movies, jokes, and others. When it comes down to reading something for a test and then doing questions on it, chances are for me I won’t do so good. Some people thing it is a waste of time to re read but it really isn’t. At least if you skim over what you already read would help you out some, but re reading it is the best option.

  13. The idea of re-viewing would happen every night for me when I stayed over my dad's house. I would go to bed and put a different movie I've in every night, eventually watching ones I say the other day. The movie I would watch the most frequently was another Mel Brooks film actually, History of the World Part I. The fact that I can begin to recite the movie just makes it even funnier to me because I start laughing about something before it even happens in the movie. Most of the jokes that I did not understand however I started to understand during my history classes of high school. For instance, I had no clue that the Grand Inquisitor was really named Torquemada, I thought they made the name up to make it sound humorous when they said "Lets face it, you can't Torquemada anything" (meaning talk him outta). When my teacher mentioned the name in class, I almost died laughing and no one in class had any clue why.
    After reading this article, I am going to have to go watch the movie again to see if there are jokes in there I never got a few years ago that I would understand now. Mel Brooks has a knack for having jokes made for all ages, so every generation that watches his movie will always laugh at something, and in turn also makes the movie desirable to watch over and over again to try and get some of the jokes that I missed the first few times. In the end, Mel Brooks is the best all time when it comes to comedy movies.

  14. When I was a child, it was a rare occasion if my nose was not buried in the sweet comfort of a book. I nearly always had a thick, wonderful text full of quirky adventures and a smaller, backup book just in case I needed a new world to imagine for a time. As I grew older, I attained some social skills and actual human beings became my companions. I still adore reading for pleasure, and have recently taken up revisiting my old childhood friends. One of my favorite books as a child was The Giving Tree. I was drawn to this book because of the simplistic color scheme that allowed me to fill the white areas with my own world. I had always imagined myself as the boisterous young lad climbing with no fear and befriending nature. When I recently reread it, I was shocked since I could now see the deeper themes of unconditional love and the selfish nature man has towards the earth. In all honesty, this somewhat darkened the story for me, and I suddenly realized how children’s books are the beginnings of larger philosophical experiences one will have to go through. No longer was I the innocent little boy, but the self-entitled young man. This book was a sober warning to appreciate those sacrifice their all and to hold true the value of friendship. Quite deep for a 64 page children’s book.

  15. When watching a movie over again, I always find new things that make the plot more clear. When relearning something the second time around it is always helpful. In school especially for math, I always need to relearn my algebra at the beginning of they year. Even though I already learned it, I need to get myself familiar with it again.

    In class reading Gonick and Armesto, it helped clear things up. We would learn material from Armesto, then relearn it from Gonick. I found that helpful because Gonick gave the information in a new way. Having two text books really helped. For example when learning about the major religions Gonick helped back up Armesto. He did this with his funny cartoons and humor. Basically, we got the back round information from Armesto, and then relearned it from Gonick.

    I found the river quote to be interesting, and very true. It is true because every man is always changing. When a person experiences something, then they experience it later in life again, they will get something different out of the experience. As people grow up, they can get more out of an event. For example, Space Balls was just funny to watch for you, but then as you grew up, you found jokes you never picked up when you where younger.


Post a Comment