Branded

G-Force is a movie about superspy guinea pigs who thwart a plan to take over the world with robots.

No part of that sentence is not cool.

Too bad the previews tend to resort to such uninspired elements as breakdancing guinea pigs and Trace Morgan doing his generic “I’m a funny black guy” act.  Robin Williams introduced the manic comic sidekick, and now it seems like most movies aimed at a younger audience have to have this.  Heck, even Transformers 2 had this going on.  And it didn’t just have one goofy comedic sidekick, but three or four.  It’s uninspired humor like this that makes me resent the “comic fantasy” label I’ve been saddled with because if this is what passes for comedy, I’d rather not be considered part of it.

The problem is that, as often as not, these bits are indeed selling points.  It’s hard to sell a film without a sound bite or two, something that you can cram into a 30 second commercial.  Maybe it’s an explosion.  Maybe it’s a dramatic tag line.  Or maybe it’s a breakdancing animated guinea pig spouting nonsensical catch phrases.

G-Force is a kids’ movie, and kids aren’t really concerned with plot development or subtle characters, and it is a movie about guinea pig spies versus robots, so it’s hard to argue that it’s high art.   (Although in a perfect universe, it should be.)  But even more “mature” movies have to use this technique or face commercial failure.

Advertising rules our decisions, and if you don’t believe it, well, you would if I spent a few million dollars running television commercials telling you so.  Even looking at my own career, MONSTER is selling well, and it doesn’t hurt that I’ve built a reputation with my previous books.  But the deciding factor is the exposure that comes from finally being put in the front of the store and from getting more prominent reviews.  The marketing department at Orbit has as much to do with my success as any other factor.

I wouldn’t say word of mouth is dead.  It’s probably more influential than ever, but so is advertising.  And while word of mouth has gained a level or two, advertising is now officially a level 80 elite, surrounded by several hundred respawning elite mobs, at the end of a 25 man raid set at heroic difficulty.  (Dig the WoW reference, gang, because I’m cool like that.)

In short, advertising makes the Lich King look like a neutered, limp-wristed wuss.  How else can we explain the existence of Van Wilder 3, Without a Paddle 2, Anacondas 3, and the endless string of Bring It On movies?  It’s not hard to figure that name recognition and a brand name are more important than anything else.  So much so that it’s had a retroactive effect.

Remember when Star Wars: Episode 4: The Empire Strikes Back was just called The Empire Strikes Back?  Remember when Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark was just called Raiders of the Lost Ark?  Remember when a sequel to a movie actually had a different title, rather than merely subtracting “The” (as in Fast and Furious) or adding “The” (as in The Final Destination).

None of these observations are particularly groundbreaking.  I’m not saying anything that hasn’t been said before, probably by people more eloquent than I.  But I’m just putting it out there because adding my voice to the boundless din of the internet makes me feel important, and I was kind of bored.

Hope you enjoyed it.

Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,

Lee

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