Thursday, March 18, 2010

product displacement

Many years ago I was out drinking with someone who worked in a bar. At closing time, it struck me that I'd never heard her call lasties. 'Haven't you noticed?' she asked. I shrugged and waited. Disbelieving that I was unaware, that her bar's policy really was so subliminal, she nonetheless explained.

Ten minutes before last orders, they put on the Jive Bunny CD, but quietly. No matter how drunk the clientele, the place unfailingly emptied within fifteen minutes.

I wonder if this proven idea could be extended. Indeed, I wonder if perhaps it already has. Further to the news that product placement is to be allowed on British TV, are movies still one step ahead of TV in selling opportunities for anti-product placement?

For example, if a movie shows a family getting into a car with the Volvo badge prominently displayed, it means they're about to have a crash but all survive unscathed. Could Volvo instead pay for a death crash to happen in a Nissan? Could Pepsi pay for an obese toothless nerdy diabetic character to drink Coke?

I haven't seen either of those examples in action, but what else other than this principle can explain the excruciating syrupy songs at the end of James Cameron's movies?

I suspect the cinema cleaners' unions realise he runs seven minutes of credits, so they got him to put My Heart Will Go On - a song as tragic as the needless death of 1,500 people - over Titanic's closing credits, causing everyone to run from the cinema clutching their bleeding ears.

Then comes Avatar and he bolts on Leona Lewis' I See You - a song as great an atrocity as the attempted genocide on Pandora - to the end, making all but the severely hearing impaired trample one another in their rush for the exits.

In both cases, the cleaners get in early and have the popcorn boxes gathered up and are out of there, probably before the intolerable aimless forgettable warbling's ended.

And that forgettability is a further achievement of those songs. Like And I Will Always Love You from The Bodyguard, you've heard My Heart Will Go On a squillion times yet you can't really remember how it goes. How hard it must be to write a song so prevalent yet so soluble.

Sure, you think you can remember And I Will Always Love You, but (apart from people who know the Dolly Parton original) try singing anything other than the title line. Go on, really try it.

See what I mean?

The Bodyguard. For fuck's sake. They made that piece of shit whilst the same studios were turning down Tarantino. Top tip kids: never watch a movie where you can tell everything that will happen from the fucking title alone.

My friend Caroline found that out the hard way last weekend with Snakes On A Plane. Sheesh.


Unknown said...

Oh yes. The Bodyguard.
For all it's flaws, the one that bugged me the most is the constant praising of Bodyguard as an elite close protection expert. Top scene - after yet another failed hit from mystery assassin (who's driven the same suspicious black SUV the whole time, even into a snow-covered forest, and dropped pretty much every bollock in re. tradecraft), is described by the hero as "a real professional".

Truly - knowing too much about the subject of a film can arse it up even worse than a mere shite script acted badly.

Unknown said...

to be fair Snakes on a Plane does have Samuel L Jackson uttering the phrase :Enough is ENOUGH! I have had it with these motherfuckin' snakes on this motherfuckin' plane!" which surely qualifies it as worthwhile. I had a friend who was a teacher who would hurry the kids along when queueing by dropping a silent fart as he walked up the line. Ask any teacher - as long as it's silent the kids will never blame you and always each other. Teachers are like the Queen, they can't fart according to them!

merrick said...


Samuel L Jackson's indignance is unparalleled, but that doesn't mean it can single-handedly redeem a movie.

Saying it does is a tacit declaration that Shaft and his adverts for Barclays are worth watching.