Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Can I Have a Bucket of Ads, With a Small Side of Entertainment, Please?

Let me ask you a question.

When you sit down to watch a movie, what do you want from it?

Probably entertainment, a little escapism or maybe you want to be given something to make you think, make you laugh or cry.

Chances are, you’re not tuning into a movie to get cooking tips, or makeup hints, or to learn how to play poker.

This is something that I first encountered only after moving to the USA.

You see, some bright spark decided that what people certainly did not want from a movie is to watch it from start to finish, uninterrupted. That’s why they came up with ‘Dinner and a Movie’, ‘Movie and a Makeover” or ‘Casino TV’.

Now for the Brits in the audience, I’ll explain. Let’s start with ‘Dinner and a Movie’.

Well, they show the movie. They also interrupt the movie for the standard ad breaks.

However, and here’s the twist, after every ad break, you get accosted with a ten minute segment where about 3 nobodies show you a little cookery, usually tenuously linked to the movie.

“Well, we’re showing ‘Silence of the Lambs’ on Dinner and a Movie, so today we’re going to be making rack of lamb!”

“Today on Dinner and a Movie, we’re showing the Old Classic ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’, so we’re making, you guessed it, fried green tomatoes!”

Just whose bright idea was this?

It’s not bad enough that we have to spend three and a half hours to watch a two hour movie, we now have to spend four and a half hours, while getting tips on how to cook fried green tomatoes (Basically, you flour them and deep fry them…not rocket science or worth an hour of TV).

The worst thing is the people hosting those segments. They’re you standard complete nobodies, who you can tell, think of themselves as ‘celebrities’. You know, the ‘Hey! Aren’t we really cool and stylin’, we can’t get jobs as real actors or presenters, but we’re gonna rock this 10 minute cookery segment!’

Believe it of not, ‘Dinner and a Movie’, is one of the lowest offenders. Yes, the presenters are ‘punch yourself in balls’ annoying, yes, you don’t want your movie interrupted with their inane and pointless chatter…but at least they actually give you some, albeit unwanted, information. I don’t want to learn to make venison cutlets when I’m watching ‘The Deer Hunter’, but it may come in handy!

No, the worst offender is Spike TV’s ‘Casino TV’ (Or ‘Casino Theatre’, I’m not sure, my brain has blocked the trauma out).

What do they interrupt the movie with?


Whether it’s related to the movie or not.

Now I’m not actually against gambling. I’ve been known to have the occasional flutter myself, but interrupting my movie?

For some reason, ten minutes of watching a fat guy play blackjack, is not what I look forward to. “Damn, I wish this very good classic movie would hurry up, because when it goes off, I get to watch a fat guy and a z-list celebrity playing roulette!”

The presenters on ‘Casino TV’ make the ‘Dinner and a Movie’ presenters look like A-List stars. You have a good-looking blonde, who can do a passable job of reading the auto-cue (usually while the other presenter talks over her trying to be cool and ‘wacky’), another guy who attempts ‘New-York Cool’, and a special guest.

Special Guest, my hairy white British ass!

Yesterday, during an aborted attempt to watch the Bond Classic ‘From Russia With Love’, the special guest was a comedian I’d never heard of.

I knew he was funny, because the two presenters didn’t say one word about him that didn’t include ‘The very funny’, ‘The incredibly funny’ or even ‘Hey, you’re funny.’

He wasn’t funny, he was loud. Apparently if you’re really obnoxious and shout a lot, you’re funny.

He was terrible! Remember the kid at school that no one really liked because he was a bit strange? The kind of kid who would suddenly shout ‘Fruit Loops!” three times in a quiet classroom, then laugh at himself, like his freaky outburst was comic gold? The kind of kid who thought running around the room, making airplane noises while shouting ‘testicle’ was hilarious. The kind of kid who would suddenly start rubbing himself on the swings while shouting “I’m getting my jollies!”

Well imagine that kid on speed.

You get the feeling that all three of them were just pulled in off the street. They didn’t even have the technical skills on how to be on TV. Little things like: don’t talk while another presenter is introducing something, know what camera to look at, keep track of the time so you don’t have to read an entire paragraph of the autocue in a single breath in 15 second.

The ‘comedian’ was the worst, though. He was awful, to the point that he was still shouting inane comments while the real presenters where trying to introduce the next portion of the movie. You know, interrupting the Product placement.

Ahhh, the product placement.

Now in England, product placement in a non-advertisment, is pretty much illegal. The FTC prosecutes if they feel product placement is too prolific in your show.

In other words, the hero can take a Pepsi from the fridge, but he’s not allowed to drink some, go “Ahhhh! Pepsi, my favourite carbonated soft beverage. Pepsi, it’s the choice of a new generation.” Then put the can somewhere where it will remain on screen for 15 minutes.

Remember that sequence in ‘Wayne’s World’, where every time the camera changed from Wayne to Garth and back, they were advertising something? Garth was suddenly dressed entirely in Nike gear, then Wayne would start eating Dorito’s, showing almost orgasmic pleasure, then Garth is drinking a Pepsi, and shows the same pleasure, followed by Pepsi’s tagline. Remember that?

Well these shows make that look like subliminal advertising.

They think they’re being clever about it to, like no one will notice. You get things like the following:

“So, supremely unfunny comedian, I hear you like music.”

“Yes. I love music.”

“Well have you tried the new Ripoffco digital entertainment media center? with 512meg storage, eight hour battery life, crystal clear sound, and compatibility with MP3, WAV, WMV, it’s the best on the market!”

“Yes it is. It’s the only one I’ll own. Available from Best Buy, Comp USA and Circuit City.”

“Yes, for the low, low price of eight thousand dollars.”

“Eight thousand dollars?!? Wow! That’s amazing!”

It’s the same on all of them, 3 minutes of inane chatter, then a 1 minute close up on a particular product, where the presenter nonchalantly talk about how great it is.

Now we reach the crux of the problem.

It’s apparent to everyone that these shows aren’t there for their entertainment value. Also no one wants cookery tips, makeup tips or to watch a fat guy play ‘war’ in the middle of a good movie.

They’re only there to sell us things.

Apparently, someone at the network decided that 8 minutes of ads for every 9 minutes of movies isn’t enough. They also had the unprecedented foresight to realize that if they have 18 minutes of ads for every 9 minutes of movie, no one would watch their network.

So they came up with the glorified, badly disguised infomercials to insert and ruin your favourite movies.

Now advertising should be subtle. Why is it the TV networks treat advertising like a bludgeon? They think if they bash you over the head with ads enough, you’ll eventually crack and buy more stuff.

How about a little honesty and finesse?

Advertising should be like a friend telling you about a product that they like, and recommending it to you. TV is like a mugger who pulls a gun on you and screams “BUY AN IPOD, YOU FUCKER!”

Why have a bunch of retards suddenly interrupt a non-related conversation, to blurt out how fantastic a product is? Why do it in the middle of a movie?

They think More Ads = More Sales = More Cash.

Instead it’s More Ads = More Pissed Off People = Less Viewers.

This has annoyed me so much, that I have honestly started to boycott everything these people advertise. If they want to smack me over the head with ads, I’m not going to pay them for the privilege.

Pretty soon, I’ll be watching only DVD’s. The rental cost is nothing next to an hour of being assaulted by a self-absorbed retard who think he deserves an Oscar for being loud.

I hope that one day, people like you an me get to be in charge. Then we could have ads like:

“This is the new MP3 player from ‘company’, it’s good…not great, but worth the money.”

“Drink Pepsi. It tastes nice.”

“Try Subway, they make good sandwiches.”


At least that way we could get through an ad break in less than an hour.


Miz S said...

I hate those things as well....I just wanna watch a movie without all the interuptions.

Ain't gonna happen tho is it?

MC Etcher said...

I'm all for subliminal product placement, throughout the program itself. Nothing brazen or in your face.

Vicarious Living said...

Don't they know the dinner usually comes before or after the movie, not during?
Although growing up there was a really cool theatre which served you concessions at your table. Everyone sat at a table or bar in the room; it was like watching a movie at home with a waitress. They were good at their job, barely interrupted the flow of the movie.

aurora said...

My favorite is when they talk about the movie while they cook as though they've never seen it before.