Snakes on a Requiem

Snakes On A Plane was a box office dud. And this will, I promise, be my last post on the subject, now that the buzz and fun have finally worn off. But I want to push this out to its full potential, until I've successfully drawn this one event into a poorly conceived analogy about the difficulties of life and the buoyancy of the human spirit. If I play my cards right, I might even get to use "Pollyannaism" in a post again. Man, that was a good day.

Experts smarter than myself has hypothesized over why SOAP didn't work out. It had the buzz - a huger fanboy following than some comic book openings, a much lauded title, crazy stories about a blog influenced script, increasing the rating to an R during re-shoots, and the whip-smart business mind of Samuel L. Jackson. People showed up, cheered, hissed, hollered, and threw rubber snakes at the screen all throughout opening weekend. But it didn't work.

How is it that a movie so intensely hyped by excited, unpaid individuals failed to generate real interest in the movie? I'll spare you the details of my theorizing here, because it's long and boring and we're already in the third paragraph here are there haven't even been any fun visuals to spice things up, yet, so why should you read further? In fact, let's take a break.

Go get him, tiger.

Everyone back? Okay, here's the theory: buzz on the internet means a good deal less to everyone than experts actually think it does. And by everyone, I mean you. Yes, you personally.

Buzz on the internet comes mostly from blogs, which are written by everyday people in between the everyday routine of their everyday jobs, and read by their friends in their free time, though this last item is likely much less than every day. For example, if you are reading this blog, you are in all likelihood a friend of mine, and there's a reasonably good percentage that you might actually be related to me. I don't know how high this percentage actually is, and this is why I don't have a hit counter: I'm scared what it might actually show.

So you, dear reader, probably fall into that group (and if you don't, welcome! I'm glad to have you here. Buy a tee-shirt.) You know me, you like being a part of my life, and you might even enjoy some of my writing once in a while, as long as I don't get too tiresome, take too long getting to my point, or write posts that go forever without ever giving a you a single image to ease the monotony. Therefore, break time so that Michael Moore can send a very special message to "President" Bush.

Go get him, tiger.

Anyway, you read all of this, but it doesn't sway you. I've recommended 20 movies in the past year. How many of those have you seen? I'm not scolding, I'm just saying that we listen to other people's spouting off about comic books, or web programs, or their pet ferrets, or books, or video games, or strange and esoteric art. And we get interested as best we can, and we respond as best we can. But that doesn't mean it entices us to act. People assume that a positive review online means tons more than a single viewing of a trailer, but most of my movie viewing is influenced by trailers and critical buzz and what everyone else wants to see on a Friday night. And even if I am influence by my e-friends, does that mean their opinion means that much more than any other factor? Newspapermen and journalists seem to think it means a hundred times more.

In fact, let's play their game. I've got a rugged enough ego to take the hit that this next exercise will do. I'm gonna go dig up all the movies or TV shows I've ever recommended on 10-4GB. While I'm gone, think about this, because I think your opinion about this transfers out into your opinion on all web blog influence:

How many different opinions to do you hear before you go see a movie? Is just the trailer at a theatre enough? Is it the critical reviews? One or more of your friends or family members pestering you about it? Have you ever gone to a theater, or rented or borrowed a movie based entirely off a friend or random blogger's review online? Keep in mind, even if you see movies extremely rarely, these questions are still valid. I'll be right back after I find those movies.

Alright, I'm back. Here is every movie I've ever given a full recommendation to:

  1. Snakes on a Plane
  2. Half Nelson
  3. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
  4. Lost
  5. The Office (American)
  6. The Office (British)
  7. Superman Returns
  8. Thank You For Smoking
  9. V for Vendetta
  10. Nacho Libre
  11. Pirates of the Caribbean 2
  12. MI3
  13. Mirrormask
  14. X3
  15. The Break-Up
  16. Looking For Comedy In the Muslim World
  17. Walk The Line
  18. Capote
  19. The Constant Gardener
  20. Match Point
  21. The Squid and the Whale
  22. Brokeback Mountain
  23. The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe
  24. Elizabethtown
  25. Good Night and Good Luck
  26. Revenge of the Sith
  27. Phantom of the Opera
  28. Batman Begins
  29. Mr. and Mrs. Smith
  30. Kingdom of Heaven
  31. Sum of All Fears
  32. Fever Pitch
  33. Finding Neverland
And those are just those movies that I liked enough to write a full paragraph or post about them. That's not even including throwaway compliments (or negative reviews).

Now, which of those have you actually seen?

Alright, now which of those, was my opinion even the smallest factor in that viewing decision? Any? One? Maybe two?

Outside of my older brother and his wife, whom I force to watch a lot of these with me, my influence on you is probably pretty small, if even existent at all. And I'm not saying that to extract sympathy from any of you, I'm making a point here. If it makes you feel any better about this, your opinion probably doesn't influence me that much, either.

Wow, that got heavy. Let's take another break.

Heh. Heh heh. I can't even do it.

Look, I'm not saying that e-opinions, when bundled together, can't cause people to go to movies or rent movies or borrow movies or think about movies or whatever. I believe that my opinion has matter. And that's not just Pollyannaism (woo! woo!). I know that people think and consider what they read. But it's simply not a one-to-one ratio, or, as newspapers seemed to think, one-to-one hundred ratio. Just because one person is excited about a movie does not mean that every one their MySpace Friends read the review and automatically decide to go to that movie. 600 excited SOAP fans do not transfer into a $600 million box office. Sorry.

But strangely, that doesn't discourage me. I'll still review movies because: I like reviewing movies. I hope you like reading them. But it doesn't bother me if you see them or not. Just being willing to listen is more than enough for me. I hope it's enough for everyone else, too.

(I didn't mean what I said about your opinion not changing me. Your opinion means a lot to me. To prove this to you, here's a parting gift before you go. No, really, I want you to have it. It was nothing, don't worry about it. C'mon, click on it, open it up.)

Also, this:

Now go get 'em, tiger.