Precious Cargo

Refreshingly Bitter And Twisted Observations On Life's Passing Parade.

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Location: Valley Village, California, United States

Friday, August 18, 2006

I'm Sick of Motherf***ing Snakes On a Plane!

"Another sign the apocalypse is near

Yup, this says it all. A movie that everyone knows is stupid, that advertises itself as stupid, that internet geeks have endorsed by adding to its stupidity, and that a previous poster celebrates as so stupid that his invite-only showing has a one-hundred person waiting list, is set to become one of the hits of the summer.

Does anyone remember that far-off time when stupidity was a quality that you DIDN'T want to partake of, let alone celebrate? And please don't talk to me about parody. Good parody requires wit and cleverness of its own, not just slight variations on scenes from schlock films which were already (wait for it...) stupid. SoaP is the perfect representation of the zeitgeist: a piece of crap that's going to make millions of dollars because we've created a "civilization" (using the word loosely) that values distraction above all else.

This wouldn't be so bad, except for the corollaries. Rush Limbaugh is dumb as a bag of hammers, and he rules the radio waves. Ann Coulter is so butt ignorant she's barely coherent, and her book sits atop the best seller list. And of course, going right to the top, the current Preznit wouldn't recognize a complex idea even if one managed to sneak in between Bible readings. Each of them is (in their own way, and sorry about the repetition) stupid, but that's no longer even a small barrier to success.

So here we are. Everybody chant all together now--Snakes on a plane! Snakes on a plane! That's as good a mantra for a bankrupt culture as I can think of, and it's all our own.

Congratulations."

-- rnemesva

That's a letter reacting to Salon's review of Snakes On a Plane.

My first impulse is to agree with this writer, but my vast and ueless knowledge of the history of movies and pop culture slams on the brakes.

The kind of carpet bombing hype campaign rolled out for SOaP is really nothing new. Joseph E. Levine invented a technique called "four walling" when he took a cheap, Italian film about Hercules starring unknown American muscleman Steve Reeves, dubbed it, and saturated newspapers and TV with ads for the film. He rented the theaters that exhibited the film and split the profits with their owners. Hercules was in and out of theaters quickly, before the impact of bad reviews and word of mouth could hurt it.

The kind of crass, elemental exploitation tactics used by carnival sideshows have often been employed by merchants who think they are respectable and above all that. SoAP just proves that it can be done more efficiently and cheaply today using the internet.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Lynne W. Scanlon said...

Snakes! Eek, Eek. I hate 'em. Dead or alive!

But then I went to see "Heading South," ostensibly a fine film, and was revolted.

Perhaps I'll stay home and read a good book.

4:52 PM  
Anonymous Andrew O'Hara said...

It sells. Movies that are blatantly stupid, books that are vacuous and "music" with nothing but bass and obscenities (these adjectives are interchangable among all three media). They obviously have a handle on the consumer mentality, so maybe we holdouts are really the idiots.

10:52 PM  
Blogger Peter L. Winkler said...

Dear Lynne:

"Heading South" sounds so generic that I wasn't sure whether I'd heard about it or not, so I went to Metacritic.com, which is a great site where you can read reviews of films (also books, cs, videos) from major periodicals. The reviews are numerically scored with an aggregate score.

The film scored pretty well, but I read the lowest scored review on the page to refresh my recollection about what the film wa about. It turns out I had heard of it before.

Take heart. I often feel out of step with what the critics love and what seems culturally fashionable.

9:03 AM  
Blogger Peter L. Winkler said...

Dear Andrew:

Well, this time it didn't sell so well. SOaP only made about $15 million in its opening weekend.

9:06 AM  
Blogger Melo Sanderson said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:50 AM  

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