Anghus Houvouras on the frenzied fraud of forced fandom…
The true casualty of the current state of geek cinema is how entertainment sites have mirrored the 24 hour news cycle first introduced by CNN back in the 1980’s. The idea that there is enough happening in the world to necessitate news every minute of every day ad nauseum was a fraud perpetrated on a public too stupid to realize that most of what was being reported constituted actual news. The lack of substance in this reporting led to a revolving door of pundits giving the kind of in-depth analysis reserved for sporting events. This has given us a news media who can literally spend countless hours or even days having twenty different people offer opinions on a 140 character tweet. This isn’t news, this is idiocy at its most potent.
These same practices have leaked into entertainment news like a faulty breast implant: something that is supposed to be titillating ends up infecting everything it touches. In late 90’s and early 2000’s were a time when websites began accumulating to report on every facet of a production. Stories would be filed when a film was announced. Behind the scenes photos would be posted. If a site could get their hands on the script, there would sure as shit be a spoiler filled review. Film sites like Aint it Cool and Dark Horizons were offering up a steady stream of content and most of it was based on something concrete: a photo, a casting announcement, a screenplay that had been read, a test screening, etc. The next step in the de-evolution of entertainment reporting came when sites began to abandon the idea that something concrete was even needed.
Film and entertainment sites are in a weird space right now, one that is perfectly parodied by Red Letter Media’s Nerd Crew videos which hilariously lampoons sites like Screen Junkies & Collider who work at breakneck speed to post videos analyzing everything from a three word film title or a poster with the kind of vapid, vacuous observations that are so common in mainstream news reporting. The 24 hour news cycle forces those assembling the news to try to constantly keep viewers in a state of frenzy. Every story has to have the words BREAKING NEWS or THIS JUST IN as a prefix to make it seem relevant. Sites like Collider take the same approach by rushing videos online to analyze content no matter how innocuous it may be.
Geek cinema has spawned hundreds of sites, blogs, and countless video reactions on You Tube. If listening to people spend twenty minutes analyzing a two and a half-minute teaser trailer gets you rock hard, then YouTube could be considered pornography. Reaction videos were already an insufferable aspect of the internet. The kind of content that reminds me of my favorite Simpsons quote from the always entertaining Groundskeeper Willie:
“I love amateur video, and your show is the most amateur video I ever saw.”
This could easily apply to 99.9% of reaction videos online. An army of amateurs giving you infinite insights into the feelings produced by 150 seconds of Hollywood produced marketing. Take a few minutes and pop on over you YouTube and type in ‘The Last Jedi‘. Then marvel at the vast volumes of vapid videos from people who believe their immediate reaction to Star Wars: The Last Jedi trailer is worthy of your time. My favorite was a nearly twenty-minute video from a channel called BlindWave that is literally five dudes in a Orlando hotel room sitting on a pair of double beds making observations so obvious I have dubbed them OBVIOUS-ERVATIONS (trademark pending). Including identifying very clear musical cues “It’s the beginning of Rey’s theme, then the Jedi theme”. My favorite is the guy calling out the characters or landmarks “IT’S AN ISLAND”. Thanks guy. I never would have known that land mass surrounded by water was an island without your callouts. Not only do these kinds of videos provide zero insight, it also shows you why you never want to book less than a three star hotel when you’re in the greater Orlando area.
The internet has made everyone believe their opinion is relevant and has provided them a platform to present their thoughts. The problem being is that most of these thoughts add nothing to the narrative. There isn’t a reaction or analysis video that doesn’t provide viewers anything more entertaining than the trailer itself. These videos are just another example of a the geek echo chamber where everyone is constantly talking about the latest piece of geek media to hit the web in a state of frenzy, as if their reactions carry weight or impact. Entertainment reporting and analysis has become no different from the concert with every audience member using their phone to record the event. Rather than a shared experience, it becomes about the individual and their perspective. Instead of having a discussion about The Last Jedi, we’re assaulted with ten thousand reaction videos broadcasting meaningless observations. An attempt to capitalize on the frenzy that fans have for these properties. A deafening cacophony of clickbait, all of it feeling forced.
The reaction video is patently false because the party involved is aware of the recording. The point of the reaction is to broadcast it online. Therefore the honesty is already compromised. These real-time assessments never come across as earnest or sincere. The immediate reaction for a Star Wars related trailer is always going to skew positive because of the dynamic level of excitement for these films. So you end up with a video that is both insincere in its design and featuring almost nothing of value. Most of it feels forced. Rushed videos trying to get in line as fast as humanly possible to capitalize on the buzz around the trailer release. There are so few voices that feel genuine. It feels more like a sprint to upload content rather than a well thought dissection or analysis.
The idea of a perpetually frenzied fanbase feels so forced and the reaction videos so blatantly narcissistic. The constant excitement level being mass-produced ultimately dulls the senses and forces you into a binary state where everything has to be a masterpiece or a piece of shit. The truth is most of these films are neither, but that area has been eroded away by a chorus of creator content that never lets you forget that this movie is coming and you should be relentlessly excited about it even when it’s still months away.
Viral marketing being provided free of cost by fans who desperately want to feel relevant and part of the process. All of that would be fine if any of it was interesting.