Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Perils of Mismarketing

The marketing of films is very important to their eventual success... or failure. Everyone loves seeing movie trailers to find out what's going to land in the multiplex in the near future, and film trailer editors have gotten very good at creating slick mini-previews to build anticipation. But what happens when they get it wrong?

Conventional wisdom states that there are 5 major genres (Drama, Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, and Action/Adventure) and various combinations and sub-genres within those (ex. Thriller and Romantic Comedy). Most films fit neatly into one of these common genres and crafting the trailer and marketing campaign then becomes a simple matter of playing on the standard conventions of that particular category. When we're at the theater and see the trailer for Horsemen (2009) we can instantly tell it's going to be a Horror/Mystery film because of the creepy text that drips on the screen and the ominously creepy music that gradually increases in intensity.

The film studios want this to happen. They want the audience to see the trailer and instantly associate it with a specific genre that they already identify with and, if possible, with a similar film from the past that they already like. Films are marketed this way all the time. "From the director of The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up comes the new film Funny People by Judd Apatow." It happens so often that we don't even realize that it's happening, but the idea is, "If you liked that you'll like this too."

But there are certain films that don't fit so neatly into any specific genre. What then? Unfortunately, the answer the studios come up with most of the time in this situation is to try to market these films as if they do fit into a common genre anyway, which almost always leads to audience disappointment.

One of the most recent victims of mismarketing is Adventureland (2009) starring Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg. It was marketed as if it were the next Superbad (2007), an outright comedy about teens going to parties and getting drunk. The first weekend it came out a sizable audience came out to see the next side-splitting laugh-fest, and a lot of people left disappointed, or at least confused. Adventureland, in truth, is a slow paced drama with comedic elements about a teen who has had the rug pulled out from under him, trying to find his place in the world and make sense of life while falling in love with a co-worker. It's perhaps the best film of 2009 so far and because of mismarketing grossed only $16 Million in the US.

What this phenomenon demonstrates is the complete lack of trust the studios have in the viewer. They are afraid that if they advertise a film like Adverntureland for what it really is then people won't be interested. They think, "We have this film here that's kind of a comedy but mostly a drama. It has teens in it, but it's not exactly a Teen Film. What do we do?" But what inevitably ends up happening as a result of mismarketing is confusion and disappointment, so why does it keep happening?

Perhaps the studios should learn their lesson and stop marketing films based on genre conventions, instead focusing on each film's individual merits. Doing so would allow the audience to more accurately choose the films they want to see, and ultimately learn to appreciate different kinds of films that don't necessarily fit into a neat little box.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

It's not TV. It's Entourage.

The hit series Entourage recently began its 6th season on HBO. For most any other television network it would be amazing to have a series with an extended run like this, but for HBO it's old hat. Rattling off the hits, as well as critical acclaim and Emmy nominations, has become commonplace for the network as they have developed a strategy for success.

And not surprisingly, HBO's philosophy is almost the polar opposite of the other major TV network's. They wisely allow a show to develop, with or without amazing ratings on the pilot episode. When Entourage first started it was a pretty shallow show. It was just a voyeuristic look into the world of celebrity. There was really no plot and no character development, and it didn't light the world on fire in the ratings department in the way that Sex and the City did. But HBO believed the show could be something special, and they allowed it the time and freedom to be creative.

That's the major difference; time and freedom. On a regular broadcast network if a show doesn't perform well immediately, no matter how good it is, the axe can fall very quickly. There's little reasonable analysis that says, "we really have some thing good here, so let's try to cultivate an audience." Instead they say, "Well, after 6 episodes we haven't broken this certain arbitrary number within this certain arbitrary age group, so we'll get rid of the show (and the 8 other shows that aren't working either) and try something new next season." Great shows like Sports Night and Arrested Development get cancelled after only a couple seasons, despite acclaim, because the networks haven't figured out how to get people to watch. The traditional networks just throw things at the wall until something sticks.

So, why is it that HBO has the luxury other networks don't? Well, the most obvious reason is that it's a paid subscription based network. What this means is that they don't care about ratings in the same sense as everyone else. They just care about the total number of subscribers, and as long as that number stays high, they can focus on creating quality television with interesting characters and bold subject matter. This system also means they are free from censorship, which can add a level of realism to their programming.

But even without this benefit, the traditional networks could still learn something from HBO. They could still take a bite out of their philosophy and simply try to make a better product. Personally, I can predict what shows will become hits and which will get cancelled after 13 episodes just by watching the first promo. So many of the new shows that come out are just horrible ideas with bad actors and terrible writing. It's no wonder they can't get viewers by trying to sell sell them bad ideas.

Ultimately, people want shows like Entourage. People want to see a show where over time the characters change and develop, and where the plot gets more compelling and complicated over time. In only the first 3 episodes of season 6 we can already see Entourage heading in a new direction again. All the characters are starting to get tired of being propped up by Vince and want to make something of themselves. Turtle is going to go back to school to learn business, Eric is developing his management group, and Drama is enjoying success on his fictional TV show Five Towns after years of working in obscurity. How easy would it have been for them to just stick with what works and parade the characters through an endless line of parties?
If Entourage were on a traditional TV network some executive would be calling up the producer in a panic saying "Don't mess with the formula! Why change what's working?" But on HBO they celebrate change and embrace the chance to try something new. The Showtime network has recently figured this out as well and has developed great shows like The Tudors and Weeds. Now if only the rest of TV could take a page from HBO's script and start respecting the audience, maybe they wouldn't have to cancel so many shows before they have the chance to become great.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Rethinking the Novel: House of Leaves

I have never been an avid reader, mostly because I spend so much of my time occupied by film and music, but I do appreciate a good book every now and then. When I was in high school a friend of mine was reading a book that seemed very interesting. It looked very long and when I asked him to tell me what it was about he had a very difficult time explaining the plot. He opened the book and showed me the pages, and I was surprised to find words written in every direction, some words in color, some text struck out with red lines, and filled with footnotes. What kind of book was this?

Fast forward to 2009. I had long forgotten the name of the book, but somewhere in the back of my mind I really wanted to find out what that crazy book was and get my hands on a copy. One day I was hanging out online on my favorite website and I was reading posts on the Film General forum, when suddenly I found someone talking about the book. It was called House of Leaves by author Mark Z. Danielewski, released by Pantheon Books in 2000.

Over the next month every time I was near a bookstore I went in and looked for it, but it wasn't until I was in the Barnes and Noble in Ellicott City, Maryland that I actually found a copy. I took it home and started reading that day. I'll do my best explain the general concept of the novel.

House of leaves begins with an Introduction from the point of view of the character Johnny Truant in which he explains that he and his best friend entered the apartment of a recently deceased old blind man named Zampano and discovered a trunk he had left behind. Inside the trunk are scraps of paper that when pieced together and put in the right order make up a manuscript. The manuscript is an academic critique of a documentary film called "The Navidson Record." Still with me?

Johnny takes the trunk back to his apartment and begins the difficult task of reconstructing the manuscript. This manuscript is what makes up the bulk of the story. The novel is formatted so that Zampano's critique of the "The Navidson Record" is the main body of text, and then throughout this there are footnotes written by Zampano citing many other sources. But there are also footnotes that have been added in by Johnny Truant in which he tells his own story detailing his struggle to complete the reconstruction of Zampano's work and how it begins to affect his personal life.

While that sounds pretty confusing, once you start reading it's actually not too difficult to follow most of the time. There are certain chapters where the text formatting gets complicated and following the footnotes becomes an adventure in and of itself, but in some ways the difficulty becomes a rewarding aspect of reading this unique novel.

"The Navidson Record," the documentary film that Zampano is analyzing, is about a family that moves to a home in the suburbs of Virginia and soon discover strange things happening in the house. Eventually they realize the interior of the house measures longer than the exterior, which should be physically impossible. Later, new doorways appear out of nowhere revealing a massive, dark, cave-like labyrinth. Will Navidson recruits some people to help him explore this discovery before they go public with the find. But here's the kicker, (and I can tell you this only because it's made clear in the Introduction and doesn't spoil the story in any way) the film appears to be entirely fake and doesn't exist at all. Zampano, the blind old man, seems to have made up the documentary in his imagination and wrote an academic critique of a film which doesn't really exist, and as you read the novel that knowledge adds an unexplainable feeling of terror and tension.

Classifying Danielewski's groundbreaking novel is near impossible. It's Mystery, Drama, Horror and a parody of academic criticism all rolled into one, and I feel confident that there's never been anything quite like it before. While the format and structure are certainly unique, there's one thing about this amazing work of literary art that should be made clear. It's not a gimmick. House of Leaves is extremely well written and the text formatting devices that Danielewski uses only heighten the experience.

By the time you get to the end of the book you can only marvel at how someone could have possibly dreamed up such an idea and executed it so well with such a level of depth and detail. The novel is a tried and true format that doesn't get messed with too often, and it takes a bold idea like this to come along and totally change all the rules, using the medium to its maximum potential. Danielewski thought outside the box and created a true work of art, and such a rare gift should be celebrated.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Out-Smart Advertising

I was an Advertising major in college, not because I wanted to learn about advertising but because I wanted to be a film maker. At the time, it was trendy in Hollywood to pluck young directors from the advertising world and give them the keys to the fancy sports car on a big budget film. Needless to say, I haven't become a film maker yet, but I am glad I learned about advertising anyway.

The average person sees anywhere from 300 to 3000 advertisements or commercial messages per day, depending on where you get your information, but while the estimates vary, what isn't debatable is... it's a lot. Our society is becoming more saturated with commercial ads all the time, and even though we may not always realize it, this does have an effect on the way we think and the way we spend our hard earned money.

Now that we have access to so much more media than in the past companies are coming up with new and creative ways to sneak their ads into all aspects of our lives. They're on TV, radio, print media, internet, billboards, and the most annoying of all... the sponsorship of stadiums and events. The idea is that even if we're not consciously aware of an ad's presence we're still getting the message on an almost sub-conscious level.

And this does have an impact on our society and our communities. For example, over the last 50 years the concept of the local business has been fading away. It's all about name recognition. The larger companies are the ones who can afford to advertise, the public sees the ads and spend their money in the places they've heard of before, and as a result we're left with chain restaurants like Outback Steakhouse and Olive Garden dominating the market rather than local businesses. What ends up happening is the loss of local identity as the entire nation gradually gets taken over by the same massive corporations, selling everyone the same products.

And while that may sound grim, there is something we can do. Learn how advertising works. Learn the techniques that companies use to influence your mind and convince you to buy their products. Knowledge truly is power, and the more you know about how advertising appeals to your sub-conscious the less power it has over you. Learn to see an ad, evaluate what it's saying and how it's saying it, and think to yourself about how they make their product look appealing. Often it's not even the product they're trying to sell you, it's a certain lifestyle, an idealized image of how your life can be if only you owned a BMW or a Gucci handbag.

Advertising is, on some levels, essential to our economy. It fosters competition among businesses and alerts the public to the availability of products they may need. The problem is that it has become so ubiquitous that it can be difficult to sort through the hype and find the quality. So do your own research, learn about how advertising effects your mind, and every time you buy something with your money think about what you're supporting. Remember, every time you spend your money you're voting, and our society would benefit greatly if more people made the act of consumption a conscious act rather than a sub-conscious impulse.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Who Watched Watchmen?

Watchmen (2009), the film directed by Zack Snyder based on the groundbreaking and critically acclaimed graphic novel of the same name, will be released on DVD and Blu-ray tomorrow, July 21, but will anyone buy it?
Upon its theatrical release the film was a hit, but only barely. It grossed $107 million at the US box office, which considering the pre-existing fan base, the size of the marketing campaign, and the success of Snyder's previous film 300 (2006) could only be considered disappointing at best. Everything seemed to be in the film's favor, so why did it fail to connect with the public? Let's take a closer look.

Watchmen was released on March 6, 2009, and it initially did very well, taking in a solid $55 million during its opening weekend. The next week it pulled in a respectable $30 million, but after that the people stopped coming. During its third week in release it made only $13 million and only $5 million the week after. What this says to me is that Watchmen didn't have a strong "word of mouth" effect. In other words, the first wave of people who saw the film didn't tell their friends to go see it, and thus the sharp decline in the numbers. But what didn't people like about the film that would cause this to happen? There are several possibilities.

For one, it was long, with the running time clocking in at 2 hours and 42 minutes, and American audiences have always had a hard time sitting through anything over 2 hours. Secondly, despite the fact that it's about superheroes it was not a pure action film, and those who were unfamiliar with the source material were probably disappointed by the lack of fight scenes. And lastly, (this is where I get to the point) it's a cerebral film, a satire of American culture. It's about our obsession with superheroes, the struggle between safety and civil rights, and whether or not the ends justify the means. The film examines what might take place in the psyche of a superhero if one were to really exist. These are not things people expect to have to think about when they go see a movie with a big blue man that can blow things up by pointing at them. People expect simple, fun, action. Ultimately, that's why a movie that appeals to our base sensibilities, like Synder's previous film, 300, made $210 million, nearly twice as much as Watchmen.

However, Warner Bros., the studio that produced Watchmen, should be commended for hiring Snyder to direct. Darren Aronofsky was also considered for the gig, but when Warner Bros. heard he wanted to update the story to be set in the present day and refer to terrorism and the Iraq War rather than Communism and Vietnam they backed out and hired Snyder who was fresh from directing 300. Warner Bros. and Synder were brave for leaving the story as is; moral, ethical, and political complexity included. But they paid the price at the box office for their bravery to produce a serious, intellectual comic book film, because right now the mainstream American audience simply isn't ready to look beyond the surface when they hit the cineplex.

Watchmen (2009) 9/10

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Harry Potter and the Importance of Pacing

The Harry Potter film franchise, with the release of its sixth installment The Half-Blood Prince (2009), just solidified itself as the best film series with more than 3 movies in film history. I understand this is a bold claim, but I stand behind it.

I can hear the Bond fans protesting already, but I would counter their arguments by saying that for every Goldfinger (1964) and Casino Royale (2006) there are 5 Bond films that are unspeakably bad. In order to qualify as the best extended film franchise you've got to consistently turn out a quality product. By this standard I also rule out two George Lucas creations, Indiana Jones (now that there's a 4th one) and Star Wars (I think the awful prequels speak for themselves).

From the start, the Potter films have been a shining example of how to do children's adventure/fantasy right. They are well written, the casting choices have been right on the nose, and the special effects always serve the narrative rather than causing a distraction. Perhaps most importantly, the Potter films are not afraid to deviate from the source material when it makes sense to do so, which is also something the Lord of the Rings series got right. Changing small details and cutting out sub-plots might anger hardcore fans, but film is a different medium than the written word. Hermione's campaign to free house elves (a sub-plot which runs through 3 of the novels) simply wouldn't translate well to the screen and would ultimately hurt the story if it were included in the films.

While there are countless factors that go into making a good film it's possible there is none more important than pacing, and this is where The Half-Blood Prince shines. It's a slow burn. The film takes its time to tell the story, focusing on what the characters are feeling with long close-ups, and yet it never feels like it's meandering or wasting our time.

Some critics have complained that Half-Blood lacks the sense of magic and wonder of the prior films, but what they aren't realizing is that the world of Potter has already been established. We already know that the staircases in the castle move and that the portraits can speak to you, so it's not necessary to dwell on those things any more. What Writer Steve Kloves, Director David Yates, and Producer David Heyman have so brilliantly done is simply treat the magical aspects of the story as totally normal, which allows the audience to focus on the story and take it seriously. This is important considering it's a story about wand carrying wizards battling for control of a magical society. If a fantasy film isn't taken seriously by the film makers it certainly won't be taken seriously by the audience, and it's obvious from the tone of the film that this is no joke, even though humor still plays a big part as it has throughout the series.

Clearly, the Potter franchise has become much more than a silly children's fantasy, becoming a full blown pop-culture phenomenon. But the reason for this is not because it's about magic or because of the cool special effects. These things might have sold the story initially, but the audience has stayed with Harry through his adventure because deep down it's a good story complete with interesting characters and a compelling drama that people identify with. The Half-Blood Prince is the best film yet from an already great series, and it masterfully sets up the final two-part installment by pacing itself perfectly to build anticipation.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) 10/10

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Michael Jackson and the Death of the Superstar

I was born in 1984, so I was too young to know about Michael Jackson as he was breaking out as a solo artist in the early 80s. I first became aware of who Michael Jackson was in 1993 when he performed the half-time show of Super Bowl XXVII. Even though I had no idea he was the most famous person on the planet at the time, something about that performance always stuck with me.

A couple years later I found an old bootleg cassette tape of Thriller that belonged to my dad. I threw it in the old tape deck and gave it a listen, and I was never really quite the same again. Right then and there I became aware of what Pop music meant, and it made me feel cool that I was an 11 year old kid listening to music that was recorded before I was born.

Even though I didn't realize it at the time, that was the beginning of my adventure into serious music listening. Before that all I really had exposure to was whatever my dad played while I was growing up and children's songs. I'm so grateful, now that he's gone, that I can honestly say I've been an MJ fan from the start of my journey into the world of music.

MJ's true impact on music and culture may never be fully understood or measured, but I feel confident in saying it's unlikely anyone will ever be able to obtain the level of fame he achieved in his own lifetime. There are no new Superstars, in the true sense of the word with a capital 'S', to replace him. Only pale imitations (See photo to the Right). The system is different now; fragmented over an infinite cyberspace. MJ made his fame by appearing on live network TV specials in the 70s when there were only 3 channels. Everyone in America knew his name by the time he was 12.

Today, we live in an "on-demand" society where the "audience" is no longer a group of people sharing the same experience, but rather millions of individuals who choose exactly when, where, and how they consume their personalized media. Newspapers are rapidly heading towards extinction, and with the advent of ipods and satellite radio traditional broadcast radio might be next the next to go. We may find it convenient that our DVRs allow us to watch our favorite shows whenever we want, but that convenience comes with a price; the death of the shared cultural media experience, and ultimately the death of the Superstar.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Mann, He's Good.

Michael Mann is currently on one of the great runs in cinema history. The 66 year old director from Chicago has made 7 exceptional films in a row, starting with The Last of the Mohicans (1992). Since then he has made, Heat (1995), The Insider (1999), Ali (2001), Collateral (2004), Miami Vice (2006), and the newly released Public Enemies (2009), which I saw last night.

Like Martin Scorsese, Mann has long been thought of as a "Crime" film maker, and while in both cases it's true that Crime is a theme frequently visited by these directors, both have made great films that have little or nothing to do with crime. It's a shame because neither of these great talents should ever be thought of as a one-trick-pony.

I first fell in love with Mann's work with 1995's Heat. I had seen Last of the Mohicans before that, but I was too young for it to really register with me. But Heat grabbed me. In the press it was a landmark film for bringing Al Pacino and Robert De Niro together on screen for the first time, but honestly, I didn't care or even realize that was significant at the time.

In my eyes, the great thing about Heat was how it was shot and edited. Quite the opposite of many action/drama films Heat has many long takes and scenes where the characters don't say very much, and that's where Mann first revealed himself to me as a master. He has the remarkable ability to build drama and tension without much actually happening on screen. He always knows exactly where to point the camera and exactly how to get what he wants from his actors.

Public Enemies is no exception. Mann gets great performances from Johnny Depp and Marion Cotillard, and everyone else seems to blend seamlessly into their characters. It's set in the mid-1930s during the golden age of crime. Depp plays John Dillinger, the infamous bank robber, and we follow him from his peak to his inevitable downfall.

It's interesting that this film comes now, during an economic crisis when much of America is feeling the stress of dwindling bank accounts. Surely, many of us must be tempted to lash out at the unfair nature of the economy and simply take what we want. It's that reason why Dillinger was loved by the public during the Great Depression, and it's that reason why we admire Depp's portrayal of the man now as we're teetering on the edge of another financial collapse. Despite its designation as a period piece, Public Enemies is a film for right now.

Michael Mann has never been loved by critics. Most of his films get mixed reviews at best, including Public Enemies, which is currently only registering a 65% rating on Ali (2001) was similarly doubted, though in my mind it is a masterpiece and one of the best "Bio-eps" of all time, and I think we all remember the bloodbath critics made of Miami Vice (2006). However, Miami Vice, while maybe not reaching the same level of greatness as much of Mann's work, is a very misunderstood and underrated film, but that's a topic for another post.

I think the reason for this critical skepticism towards Mann's work is that his films are often not what people are expecting them to be. Heat was marketed as an Action film, and instead he delivered a 3 hour epic drama. Ali was expected to be exciting and flashy like Muhammad himself, and instead it focused on inner struggle. Miami Vice was expected to be colorful and flashy, like the 80s TV series, and instead it was a darker, mood driven piece.

He has said that he has no idea how any other film maker works and that he only knows how to do it his way. He tells the story he wants to tell, even if it's not what's expected, and often he suffers at the box office for it. But Mann is exactly the type of film maker that America should learn to appreciate. His work isn't always flashy (even though he does gun fights better than anyone in the business) but it's always heartfelt and meaningful, and that's what should count at the end of the day.

Pubilc Enemies (2009) 9/10
Miami Vice (2006) 8/10
Collateral (2004) 9/10
Ali (2001) 10/10
The Insider (1999) 10/10
Heat (1995) 10/10
The Last of the Mohicans (1992) 9/10
Manhunter (1986) 7/10
Theif (1981) 6/10

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Use Your Brain! or, How to Avoid Robot Porn

I want to convey a simple message: Using your brain is a good thing. I know the phrase "mindless entertainment" gets used a lot, especially to justify big blockbuster films, but here's the thing... "Mindless entertainment" is really not entertainment at all.

To quote Jackie Treehorn from The Big Lebowski (1998), "People forget that the brain is the biggest erogenous zone." And it's true. Without things like character development, believable acting, good writing, and a strong narrative you basically just end up with porn. In the case of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)... Robot Porn.

The media, through advertising, has been working very hard to make people believe that what they need to do in order to enjoy themselves is to "turn off" their brains. After all, the world is big, loud, and stressful, so sit back, take a load off for 2 hours and 50 minutes and watch some robots blast each other for fun! But ultimately, this should leave you unsatisfied. When a robot is destroyed in Transformers, it means nothing, because we are given no context, no reason to care about the fate of the characters. The action is there for prurient interest alone, which is the literal definition of porn.

So just think. Literally! Think about how great it would be if Hollywood had decided to hire a good director and screenwriter to make a Transformers film. After all, the original cartoon was great, and it was filled with messages about environmentalism and the bonds of friendship and loyalty. In the original show, when Bumblebee is trapped under rubble you care because they spent time developing the characters and the audience becomes invested in their fates. Just think about how great it would have been if the film adaptation had a fraction of the show's emotional content, or at the very least, a script that wasn't laugh-out-loud awful. Steven Spielberg should be embarrassed that his name is on that movie and Michael Bay should never be allowed to direct another film again.

On the bright side, there are several examples of action/sci-fi films that are both entertaining and good. See: Star Trek (2009) and Terminator Salvation (2009). So, all I ask is this: The next time someone says "Dude, it's mindless entertainment! What were you expecting, Casablanca?" kindly explain that the brain is required in order to really have a good time. Hell, even porn itself is better when there's a bit of a plot.

Let's Get Started

First things first... If you're reading this, thank you! I was very hesitant to start a blog because somehow I just didn't think it was my style. But my co-worker and friend Duran gave me the idea and kept bugging me to get one started, and my girlfriend Johie was also very supportive. Their logic was very simple. "Alex, you talk and write about all this stuff anyway, so why not just go for it!" Point taken, and so here we are.

So now, here's my vision for what I want this blog to be, as well as a couple things about myself, and a few other points about how I will approach certain things.

I have always been a big fan of film and music. For as long as I can remember media has been a big part of my life, all the way back from when my dad would play Depeche Mode on his stereo for me to dance to when I was about 5 years old. And now that I think about it, my dad is really a major reason for why I developed certain tastes in music and movies. From the beginning, he's always emphasized that the media we ingest should be of a certain quality. Why listen to some piece of crap on the radio just because some record executive wants to push it down our throats?

Now, this is not to say that popular music and movies can never be good. They often are. But let me be very clear... a good amount of the mainstream is total shit, and even if it's enjoyable at a certain base level, it should always be viewed from the perspective of acknowledgement of how bad it really is. Here I'm talking about things like Transformers (2007) and Britney Spears. Sure, we all like to see stuff get blown up from time to time, and Britney is fascinating from a certain sociological point of view, but make no mistake, both Transformers and Britney contribute nothing of any real value to society.
So, this leads me to the point. In this blog I want to discuss issues like WHY so much terrible media is forced on us by the powers that be, and celebrate the great movies, television, and music that DO get made. I will review the movies I see and the music I listen to, and I will try to keep an eye on the bigger picture as much as I can. The fact is, we live in a society where we are bombarded with advertising from the moment we wake up until the moment we fall asleep, and it affects us in ways we don't realize. My goal is to help people separate what some big company tells them is good from the products that actually are good. I want people to learn to think for themselves and demand a quality product.

Just remember, every time you buy a ticket to a movie or buy an album, you're voting. You don't have to go see Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) just because it's the only movie out. You don't have to go buy Lady Gaga just because you've heard that stupid Poker Face song on the radio 18 times in the last week. The more we, as a people, demand quality entertainment, and support the artists creating it, the more power gets transferred from them (the corporations) to YOU.

Just a couple other things...

-When I do reviews I will score out of a scale of 10, 10/10 being the highest possible score. I don't have an exact formula for how I arrive at my final score, but it's some combination of gut reaction and technical merit.

-When I refer to albums and movies I will include the year it was released in ( ) following the title.

-Other than that there are very few rules I will follow. I'll use this as a platform to talk about whatever I feel is worthwhile at the time in any format I deem appropriate. Most of the time I plan on writing articles or editorials that argue a certain viewpoint, but if I feel like posting a few sentences to rant about the latest thing that annoys me... so be it.