Posts tagged “snakes on a plane”

Snakes cult

In considering the non-surprise over the non-blockbuster Snakes opening I wrote:

I guess a Rocky Horror cult particpation thing could have emerged (and still could; it’s early days, some of these films take on second and third and beyond lives), but it didn’t seem likely.

Hmm. Check out the Suspension of Disbelief Society who

have dedicated our lives to watching the worst movies possible using a combination of military-grade safety gear and near-lethal levels of intoxication to preserve our delicate brains from the horror.

and their enthusiastic Rocky Horror-esque participation in actually seeing the film.

Costumed partiers attend Snakes on a Plane

Originally uploaded by mikek.

We’ve gotta get these MF butts in the MF seats.

We saw Little Miss Sunshine on Saturday (highly recommended) in our first visit to a theater in months and months. The guy in front of us (English likely being a second language) asked for tickets to Snacks On A Plane (good luck, buddy, snack boxes are $5 now).

Anyway, at the risk of adding to a heavily crowded blog-topic, “Snakes on a Plane,” the wildly hyped high-concept movie, turned out to be a Web-only phenomenon this weekend, as that horror-comedy starring Samuel L. Jackson took in just $15.2 million at the box office in its opening days. The article runs through the history of the film and the hype and the marketing and the buzz pretty nicely, but did any of us expect it to do well? It seems like there’s some confusion between irony, post-irony, and post-post-irony…okay, that’s a lot of bullshit, but my way of saying that it can be fun to be involved with something that you know is crap, but that’s a very different sort of loyalty than, say, Harley-Davidson owners with company-logo tattoos and wardrobes that consist entirely of HOG-branded t-shirts.
Update: shortly after posting this I see on BoingBoing that a guy did indeed get a SoaP tattoo – I don’t think this changes my thesis, but it is ironic.

Studio sez: Hey, here’s a bad movie.
We say: Hey, that is a really bad movie. Ha-ha! We can’t believe how bad it is! You should, oh, I dunno, add some more cursing into it, heh heh, it’s soooo bad. It’s bad. A bad movie. Heh.
Studio sez: Yeah! It’s a BAAAAD bad movie. Here’s some more cursing. And more over-the-top bad stuff. We know you know it’s bad.
We say: Hey, they put more cursing into it! It’s pretty silly and funny and bad. It’s a bad movie.
Studio sez: You know that we know that you know it’s bad.
We say: Yeah, it’s a bad movie. Snakes on a plane, yo. Heh.
Your mom sez: Are you fellas going to see this snake movie?
We say: Hey! Bad movie! Snakes on a plane!
Studio sez: Here it is! The movie you have been talking about.

[crickets chirping]

Come on! How much appeal is there for crap, compared to the appeal of making fun of crap? Just because the studio got in on the fun, doesn’t mean anyone was really persuaded or had much intention. I guess a Rocky Horror cult particpation thing could have emerged (and still could; it’s early days, some of these films take on second and third and beyond lives), but it didn’t seem likely.

And as I posted before, the meme definitely jumped the shark. I don’t know if they talked about the movie on The View, but I wouldn’t be surprised. If being ironic is supposed to be cool, I don’t want Barbara Walters or Parade Magazine in on the joke with me.

Klosterman Rock City

I’m psyched to see Chuck Klosterman (who I’ve gently raved about before) resurface (after SPIN) at Eqsuire, where he is writing of-the-moment (and sometimes controversial) stories about (pop) culture topics, such as The “Snakes on a Plane” Problem

I worked in newspapers for eight years, right when that industry was starting to disintegrate. As such, we spent a lot of time talking with focus groups, forever trying to figure out what readers wanted. And here is what they wanted: everything. They wanted shorter stories, but also longer stories. They wanted more international news, but also more local news. And more in-depth reporting. And more playful arts coverage. And less sports. And more sports. And maybe some sports on the front page.

When it comes to mass media, it’s useless to ask people what they want; nobody knows what they want until they have it. If studios start to view the blogosphere as some kind of massive focus group, two things will happen: The first is that the movies will become idiotic and impersonal, which is probably pre¬¨dictable. But the less predictable second result will be that many of those movies will still fail commercially, even if the studios’ research was perfect. If you asked a hundred million people exactly what they wanted from a movie, and you used that data to make exactly the film they claimed to desire, it might succeed. Or it might not. Making artistic decisions by consensus doesn\’t work any better than giving one person complete autonomy; both strategies work roughly half the time.

I don’t know that Klosterman is the next Gladwell; I hope he doesn’t get managed/edited into that role. He’s more about looking again at something we’ve all been looking at than in coming up with wild connections between things we didn’t know were related. And he’s (still) focused on telling stories, often about himself. The pop culture beat is an important one, and even though it shifts near-seamlessly into implications for marketing and business (umm, hello, this blog, case-in-point?), I hope Chuck can sit that part of it out and stick to what he’s done best (rather than entering the dark waters of populism that this piece focuses on).

viral user-generated meme content goes mashup

The Chron gets on board with the whole viral-meme-user-generated-content thing. At least in their articles.

The SoaP meme began, as most great things do these days, with an individual blog entry. Screenwriter Josh Friedman recounted his adventures with doctoring a script for a movie about — why not? — snakes. Snakes on a plane. Snakes on a plane with Samuel Jackson. Could it get better? It could not, reasoned SoaP fanatic Brian Finklestein, a law student at Georgetown University who started last year as part of his quest to be invited to the movie’s world premiere. His blog has since morphed into SoaP central, gathering news, rumors and the latest spasms of SoaP-inspired creativity.

While appreciating his efforts, New Line has kept its corporate hands to itself. ‘They’re excited about what’s going on online, but they realize if they get involved directly, the organic, spontaneous feel will be gone,’ Finklestein says. ‘A lot of what’s fun about this is that people are doing everything on their own. If the studio became involved, it would lose whatever charm and cache it has. I’ve gotten phone calls from marketers asking what they can do to make this work for them. The answer is that there’s not much you can do — except not sue your audience. The music industry can learn from this.’

Very well put. For a more in-depth exploration of this type of approach, check out Rob Walker’s classic article about Alex Wipperfurth and the letting-things-be-what-they-are marketing for Pabst Blue Ribbon. Walker, by the way, who writes the Consumed column for the NYT magazine, now has a blog.

By the way, User-Generated Content is now referred to as UGC (or so I read in Media magazine), and Snakes on a Plane is now referred to as SoaP. How cool(?) is that!


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