The RiffTrax Blog header image 1

Rogenomics 101

September 2nd, 2008 by Kevin Murphy · 40 Comments

Folks, success in Hollywood is not as much a matter of blind luck and cult membership as some people would like to think. Regarding the seemingly mercurial nature of the box office, screenwriting legend William Goldman famously postulated, “Nobody knows anything.”

Mr. Goldman needs a primer in Rogenomics.

Simply stated, Rogenomics serves to express the apparent vicissitudes of Hollywood as a function of the interaction of certain foundational elements including and in relation to, but not limited to, Seth Rogen. These elements, interacting with – and sometimes against – each other, are subtle yet universal forces, which taken as a whole embody a system for explaining succinctly why a film as seemingly worthless as, say, Superbad is actually the monolithic model of the future. Let’s explain it in simple Rogenomic terms. First principles:

seth equals money

Essentially, that Seth Rogen is Money; as a medium of exchange and a storehouse of value, the two are interchangeable. This is the most fundamental statement of pure Rogenomics. But before we scrap the Federal Reserve and convert to a Rogen Standard, you should know that many consider Pure Rogenomics to be dangerously oversimplified; to that end I’m a student of the Aptovian School, based on this constant:

apatows constant

In which x equals anything Judd Apatow touches, not limited to the inclusion of, nor diminished by the absence of, Seth Rogen. Perhaps it’s an oversimplification, but the Apatovian School (and its Sandlerian and Ferrellian counterparts) would dispute the truth of “Rogen equals Money,” without Apatow, especially over time, expressed thusly:

seth minus

Within the Aptovian Rogenomic discipline, then, we can confidently use these elements to predict the future. Take for example the upcoming movie The Green Hornet, in which Seth Rogen is playing the shadowy limo-riding superhero. For this role, Rogen has slimmed down, muscled up and attempted to shed his elemental schlubness – patently self-contradictory, and about as likely as water shedding its “hydrogen-ness.” Here’s what happens when we formulate these components as a statement of Rogenomics:

hornet theorem 1

Absent schlubness and Apatovity, Seth will always become Robert Wuhl; therefore the movie is doomed to failure. However, put Seth back on the lard-and-donut diet, and hire on Judd Apatow, and it projects like this:

green hornet apatovian sol 1

Perhaps the Green Hornet is a belching, hapless cowardly pervert, without a single virtue, yet who is allowed to French-kiss the likes of Jessica Alba. Perhaps he’s a late-stage wino who staggers around town in his underpants. He could be a skin-popping mass murderer who dresses in Nazi drag and sings Charles Manson’s folk songs – the point is that it doesn’t matter. This solution will produce consistently positive results every time; the rest is just window dressing.

Next time we’ll discuss the exciting new developments in Rogenomics, particularly the introduction of Jonah Hill as a null integer, a Rogenomic cypher if you will, able to occupy a place in any equation without affecting the outcome. In the meantime, a quick look at the simple non-Apatovian exception that earned Rogenomics the attention of the Nobel Committee:

hobbiton exception

Tags: In the Media · Memes · Predictions · RiffTrax · Riffer Blogs · Rogenomics · Trends · movies

40 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Kyle from Maine on Sep 2, 2008 at 11:48 am

    I’m afraid I’ve found a hole in the Apatovian School of thought. Unless there’s a way to describe the failure of “Walk Hard” while staying with the formula.

  • 2 Hugh on Sep 2, 2008 at 11:49 am

    You failed to factor marijuana into any of these equations. Rogenomics is nearly impotent without it.

  • 3 Natureboy (Ken) on Sep 2, 2008 at 11:51 am

    I just read this whole post and I do believe I am now suffering from Excedrin headache number 93, thanks Kevin. ;)

  • 4 Kevin Murphy on Sep 2, 2008 at 11:52 am

    Any time, amigo.


  • 5 Katie M. on Sep 2, 2008 at 11:56 am

    You just blew my mind!!!!!

  • 6 Tim on Sep 2, 2008 at 11:57 am

    The math looks reasonable, but I just can’t countenance ‘theorum.’

  • 7 Bill Corbett on Sep 2, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    I said the same thing to Kevin about this post! …Minus the last two words.

    Why do I kid? Love.

  • 8 Kevin Murphy on Sep 2, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    Aha! Exceptio probat Regulam! In this case we test the rule with the application of the Meadows Exception, a Sandlerian Rogenomic postulate, demonstrating that, “Mean Girls” notwithstanding, any movie involving Tim Meadows “will tend to fail.”


  • 9 Natureboy (Ken) on Sep 2, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    As a Rifftrax fan, you know it is spelled “marihuana”. What’s wrong with you?

    (Sorry, that’s my new migraine talking)

  • 10 Kevin Murphy on Sep 2, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    Ach. Damn foreign exchange interns. Issue resolved.


  • 11 Krud on Sep 2, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    For me, the most telling facet of the whole explanation is that Apatow is worth two bags of money more than Seth Rogen. And yet, when you plug Seth Rogen (w/ ladr) into the Apatow equation, no additional bags of money are earned. Which makes me doubt the necessity of Rogen. Either way, I really like the bags of money. Very Scrooge McDuck-like. *thumbs up*

  • 12 Krud on Sep 2, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    (Er, btw, “ladr” is a special type of lard for dyslexics. ‘:P)

  • 13 Kevin Murphy on Sep 2, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    For that, you really have to go all the way back to pre-Rogenomic Smith. Kevin Smith, I mean. Perhaps even to the Cheechian/Chongian proto-discipline. Always refer to your original text.

  • 14 Courtney on Sep 2, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    You forgot but one factor, Mssr. Murphy: Facial hair.

    As the shlubby leading man, Rogen can generally be found clean-shaven, with perhaps a slight five o’clock shadow (see Knocked Up). However, as a side character, he will have some form of more intense facial hirsuteness, perhaps a van dyke or just a mustache (see 40 Year Old Virgin and Superbad, respectively). Now if we were to put a waxen-faced Rogen in a leading role, or a grizzly prospecter styled Rogen as a sidekick, why I believe the entire universe would collapse.

  • 15 Nanobots on Sep 2, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    But wasn’t Seth also part of the wonder which was known as “Shrek 3″?

    Now, in Shrek 3 we just had the voice, while in the upcoming Green Hornet not only is Seth acting, but he’s one of the writers of the film. How does his writing enter into the equations?

  • 16 RemmieBarrow on Sep 2, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    The only reason Rogenomics would work is because he makes over 1000 movies per year, so one of them has to be a hit.

  • 17 Natureboy (Ken) on Sep 2, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    Wow, that is really brave of you considering you go to Comic-con every year and The Smith Disciples are everywhere swarming that place.

  • 18 RemmieBarrow on Sep 2, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    The same goes for Apatow.

  • 19 karen on Sep 2, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    so true! but why they are cranking out crap is any one’s biz. just b/c crank is crapped out dont mean i got to watch it. coz we all knwo the world does NOT revovle around music and media. (HA!)

  • 20 Bob on Sep 2, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    There is also the alternative Freaks & Geeks Postulate, which indicates that those who were “screwed over by Network morons” as cast members now see a substantial celebrity upturn… Apatow is, ostensibly, carried along in the neap tide that is entertainment karma.

  • 21 Erin B on Sep 2, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    Wow! Where were you when I needed you in college Kevin!?.. :o D

  • 22 Junker on Sep 2, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    Brilliant post. Loved everybit of it.

  • 23 Junker on Sep 2, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    Actually, kind of reminds me of something I wrote here a long time ago:

    Of all of the attempts to rationalize musical theater, the most famous was probably Einstein’s “Special Theory of Musicality.” Published in 1937, Einstein’s brilliant hypothesis attempted to explain the presence of musical theater here on earth using only a few simple premises. Some of the basic laws of musical theater that Einstien laid down in the famous publication were as follows:

    -All musical theater spectators, traveling at a uniform speed in a vacuum, will find the show equally distasteful.

    -No differentiation in the motion of the observer, aside from leaving the theater, will improve the dire quality of the show.

    -The relative shittiness of John Travolta is a constant.

    -Metrosexuals at the normal rate squared times gaudy show tunes plus Donny Osmond equals Musical Theater >>> m(2)G+D=M

  • 24 Amanda on Sep 2, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    Rogen is playing The Green Hornet??
    Get the f* out of here!
    Somehow, I just can’t picture that…lardless, or not.

    If I hadn’t recently seen “Knocked Up”, I probably wouldn’t have been able to follow the Rogenomic theory from its first principle. For I have not yet seen “SuperBad” or any other film that Rogen has been in.
    “Knocked Up” wasn’t terrible, but I think my biggest problem was the suspension of my disbelief that Katherine Heigl would have ever slept with Rogen in the first place. Or ever again, thereafter. Women just don’t get that drunk.
    The only other problem I had with Rogenomics 101 is that I had to google Apatow and Hill (thus leading to my ‘aha’ moment of the day, for I have seen “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and really liked it a lot).
    Now it is all clear.
    Well, I can kind of follow along.
    It shall be interesting to see how the Green Hornet Whul Solution pans out.

  • 25 Mr. Slick on Sep 2, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    It all makes sense now

  • 26 suzanne on Sep 2, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    I think I just found the missing bags of state quarters we were all looking for.

    *lunges towards rogen with a lead pipe*

  • 27 Popcorn Sonata on Sep 3, 2008 at 4:12 am

    Keep the smart coming Kevin, dumb funny is never as funny as smart funny, and you guys have always been right there at the limit pushing intelligence in humor.

  • 28 Kevin Murphy on Sep 3, 2008 at 4:41 am

    Simply apply Apatow’s Constant: R – (A/t) = ? Where “t” represents the passage of time, implying non-Aptovian sequels. There’s no absolute here, people, this is science – non -Aptovian projects, over time, remain an unknown.

    (Remember that Apatow may also be expressed as ∀, representing a universal quantifier.)

  • 29 Au$10 on Sep 3, 2008 at 8:20 am

    Phew. Yeah. Brain dripping out of my ear. Thanks, Kevin! That being said, saw Pineapple Express this weekend and felt it was overhyped. Anyone else?

  • 30 Snubs on Sep 3, 2008 at 10:48 am

    Very nice lecture Kevin!!

    However, as an Economics traditionalist, I would have insisted that you replace the Lard with Butter, and Include Guns in your Theorem and solution.

    Guns and Butter are traditional in Economics, and in certain circumstances, can also be quite fun!!!

  • 31 Kevin Murphy on Sep 3, 2008 at 10:55 am

    Snubs -

    I particularly enjoy buttered guns.


  • 32 marioking12 on Sep 4, 2008 at 10:27 am

    I am interested in hearing more about the “pre-Rogenomic Smith” era of Rogenomics, due to the fact that Rogen is starring in Kevin Smith’s “Zak and Miri Make a Porno”.

    What would the formula be to predict this?

  • 33 R.A. Roth on Sep 4, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    I liked Superbad. The “penis-drawing” montage was pretty funny. OK, I was drunk at the time, but, c’mon. Lighten up. It’s good silly irrelevant fun. Give Seth credit for reinventing the dick joke for a new generation.

    Slogan: This ain’t your daddy’s dick joke! It’s your momma’s!


  • 34 JT on Sep 15, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    Your lack of pop-cul is killing my buzz.

  • 35 Liz Raymond on Nov 12, 2008 at 7:20 pm


  • 36 ginbot on Mar 16, 2009 at 11:57 am

    much later …

    This makes me wonder about this set of movies
    movies := {movie : (x ∈ movie) and (x ∈ SNL) }
    Where x is a former or current cast member of SNL. There is also the SCTV variant, which is funnier but doesn’t make as much money. This is not to be confused by the larger Second City set which approaches Ed Asner as t approaches infinity.

    What about the set of intersection of the 2 (or hell union, like Cannonball but just as funny). Or the ask it another way

    (x ∈ movie) and (x ∈ SNL) and (x ∈ SCTV)
    ?= Canadian Bacon.

    I figured it out, but couldn’t post it in the margins of this webpage.

    Next week, the Parkey Posey coefficient.

  • 37 week on Apr 12, 2011 at 12:21 am

    I figured it out, but couldn’t post it in the margins of this webpage.

    Next week, the Parkey Posey coefficient.

  • 38 アニメ 抱き枕 on Apr 12, 2011 at 12:22 am

    What about the set of intersection of the 2 (or hell union, like Cannonball but just as funny). Or the ask it another way

  • 39 RMT on Apr 12, 2011 at 12:23 am

    I figured it out, but couldn’t post it in the margins of this webpage.

    Next week, the Parkey Posey coefficient.

  • 40 蟻力神 on Jul 4, 2011 at 1:09 am