Taking One For The Team: Glenn Beck’s The Overton Window

[Originally posted on June 28th, 2010.]

Ed. note: Joe Mande, stand-up comedian and the creator of the popular blog Look At This Fucking Hipster (now a popular book!) is forced to do things that we don’t want to do, for our education and amusement. If you have a challenge/suggestion, submit it to [email protected].

Hi, monsters. So, I’ve done a bunch of these T14TT’s now, but I can honestly say this assignment was the first one that I almost couldn’t handle. I wanted to quit and walk away so many times. But I didn’t. I persevered! My assignment was to read Glenn Beck’s new political thriller, The Overton Window, and then write a book report about it for you guys. Surprisingly, reading the book wasn’t that hard. I mean, it is for dummies. (I can say that, right? That Glenn Beck is a dummy? And anyone who agrees with his politics and/or finds him to be an insightful person is a dummy as well? Okay, good.) I read its 300 pages in a few hours. That was easy. It was trying to describe the book’s psychotic tone that ended up giving me such a headache. At first, all I could think to write was, “The Overton Window is like if a Jason Bourne book was re-written for kids, and then that kid’s book had sex with a ‘9-11 was an Inside Job’ message board.” But that’s not enough. You all deserve much better than that.

Actually, reading The Overton Window reminded of the time I read L. Ron Hubbard’s masterpiece, Battlefield Earth, when I was in high school. That story was similarly so crazy and so terrible. And just like the Glenn Beck book, you knew MILLIONS of people had read it, and had taken it seriously, because they had to. And maybe it’s because I’ve been in LA too much recently, but I thought: What if some tea-party lunatic forced a studio to make The Overton Window into a movie, the same way John Travolta forced Warner Brothers to release Battlefield Earth ten years ago? It could totally happen. Jon Voight probably has a lot of favors he could cash in. All he needs is a screenplay to shop around.

What I’m trying to say is, I’ve spent the last week of my life adapting Glenn Beck’s book into a screenplay. For you guys. And it’s almost killed me. The screenplay might be a little bit of a commitment to read, but I hope you do it. I spent way too much time on this thing, reading and re-reading chapter after chapter of Glenn Beck’s barf-inducing writing, trying to get the tone just right. Now, obviously, I took some creative liberties with the story. Some of the scenes were shortened and some characters were removed. But, all in all, this is The Overton Window. I’d say 85-90% of the dialogue is extracted right from the book itself. And the plot is the plot. I did my very best to get everything out of The Overton Window so you don’t have to read The Overton Window. Instead, all you have to so is read my screenplay, The Overton Window!

(As you’ll see, I’ve gone ahead and cast a few of the roles in film—Jon Voigh, Steven Baldwin, Bobby Jindal, etc.—but I’d love to see your suggestions for other roles in the film. Particularly Noah Gardner and Molly Ross. Enjoy!)

Download Joe’s The Overton Window screenplay here.

[Originally posted on June 28th, 2010.]