11 August, 2010

Choo-choo! Here comes the hype train!

Apparently, I'm not the only person driven away by over-saturated marketing.

The backlash for me is my perception of somebody trying to get me to buy something. There's a large difference between a movie and a used car salesman, but my gut reaction is calibrated to recognize both of those things as the same threat. Or event. Whatever. I have an aversion to that kind of thing and I'm sure, in some way, most of you do, as well. The more desperate and bombastic a thing seems, the less likely I am to check it out. Either because I associate the movie with some annoying sales campaign or a say "Fuck it and fuck you" and not watch a movie out of spite.

If I had a friend who asked me to listen to his band every time we talked, I'd probably do the same thing. If I want to see or listen to something, I'll get around to it, but if you keep hectoring me about it, I'll make a point to avoid it out of principle. It's movies, not the Middle Eastern peace process, I can afford to be a little stubborn.

There's a lot of things like this. In almost all of these incidents it really isn't the movie's fault (or the TV show's or the book's fault) in any way. In fact, if it was a shitty work of art, I'd probably never hear about it again until I start scrolling through my Netflix recommendations. There's simply extenuating circumstances and I don't want to go into a movie-- for whatever reason-- with a loaded idea of what I'm going to get.

One of the best lessons I learned about watching movies-- and it probably carries on to anything in life-- is that the less you have it built up in your mind, the more satisfied you're going to be. That isn't to say that you expect something to be shitty and be happy you got it, because what's the point if that's the case? Instead, I try to judge a movie based on what I see, not on what an ad or a trailer wants me to think. It's probably why we typically trust the opinion of our friends over a critic (unless it's a critic we develope a rapport with), because our friend isn't trying to sell us anything (which only bad critics do, I realize).

I like to check out a trailer once or twice and just ignore the rest, because it doesn't help me as a viewer and it certainly doesn't help me mentally. Big expectations tend to allow for big letdowns. It's why I don't go to midnight showings any more (that and I'm broke), because there's no movie that is as good as waiting an hour in line and staying up 'til fuckass in the morning for. There's too much build up. If I can, I try to go into a blackout and wait for either more substantial news, or the movie itself. If a movie is good, I can wait for it.

And I suppose that's how I feel about all of the hyped up things I've made a point to avoid. Firefly, (probably) Scott Pilgrim, and more classic movies than I can name. I'll get around to those eventually, more than likely, but I want to watch them on my own terms without marketing, fans, or my own stupid prejudices buzzing in my ear and telling me how to think and feel. The thinking and feeling part comes naturally enough, it's all of the other junk I have to make an effort to avoid.

There's a reoccurring them I write and I talk about a lot, which is that you can often believe the right thing without doing the right thing. I see it in politics more often than not, because it's large, it's loud, and it's public. Even the smallest issues can get national press attention and become some kind of bludgeon. It's a natural consequence of human nature that the larger a group becomes, the more fucked up people are going to join up.

Lately the best example of this principle is the Tea Bagger movement. Lowering taxes and government spending is not an unreasonable argument, I don't think, and it's one Americans have historically been in favor of. In principle, it's fine, in practice, it's a headless chicken running around a living room, but somehow still knows how to squawk. Even the name is stupid. Tea Baggers. Really? No one consulted you on that one? I guess part of the problem is that there's no real leader of the movement/mob/ which is why it's lousy with paranoiacs and racists and people who see Hitler in their breakfast cereal. Wanting to give the government less money shouldn't be such a difficult issue to root for, but there you have it.

I guess on the left-end of the spectrum, you've got the anti-WTO protests. Now, I think we can all agree that most corporations would suck our blood dry if given the chance, so demonstrating against them is not entirely out of line. Kicking in a storefront and setting fire to city property is not a good way to get your point across. That makes you look like an asshole.

You get this all down the line, reasonable issues being undermined by the very morons that fight for it. Gun control is full of crybabies. Pro-weed people are stoners. The anti-gay movement is full of Ms. Carmodys. The pro-gay movement thinks a thong with glitter is formal wear. Joss Whedon fans are terrible. Film snobs make Ingmar Bergman far more painful than he's supposed to be. Etc. Etc. Etc.

There's some quote I'm probably stealing, but the greatest counter-argument against a moron is to let him speak. I guess a corollary of that is the surest way to make something good look bad is to never know when to shut up.