Everyone is a cord cutter anymore. Being more selective about what you watch and how, or even paying a premium, means one can avoid television advertising a lot easier than before. Commercials, once a ubiquitous fixture for most people and likely the closest modern society got to a shared popular culture, are now skippable before they can even hook you or entirely absent if you’ve got a few dollars (or a generous friend) for subscriptions. A few avenues of media still remain on the failing model (it’s proven catastrophic for journalism in regards to papers and magazines) but if you want to watch sports or most news, you’ll be subjected to commercials trying to capture your attention.
Just as the collective labor of enduring through commercial breaks and the shared experience of watching all of the same marketing firms meticulously craft spots built a kind of pop culture in the age of audio/visual mass media, it also lends insight into what the firms have determined is most grabbing: an algorithm that’s determined where and what the largest portion of its target population is experiencing in the given epoch in an effort to meet that population’s “needs,” consumerist whims, or fleeting, impulsive desires with a more-than-likely ephemeral product. This kind of glimpse is something that’s lost when you’ve atomized and alienated yourself from the sales specters into a curated cycle of King of the Hill reruns and HBO releases, until you’re wolfing down half of a DiGiorno’s Rising Crust™ pizza 45 minutes before work, boot up the YouTube TV app you got from a colleague’s family plan for sports and the brain hemlock of cable news, and turn on Jumanji on AMC to avoid silence in your living room like I did yesterday evening. The lost art of settling during channel surfing uncovered in the unkempt jungle beard of the late Robin Williams while freeze-dried pepperoni burns the roof of your mouth.
Somewhere between the introduction of David Alan Grier’s policeman character and the small boy viewer-surrogate character gaining ape features, during the ad breaks I noticed a phenomenon that’s been remarked upon enough towards my age bracket. No less than three spots aired advertising premium dog food in a single flight of commercials. One even flaunted that it was food “tested on humans” as it featured a small boxer leaping in ecstatic joy as its “dog dad” carried a full dish of honestly delicious looking food to its designated spot on the kitchen floor.
Living in a city, I’ve observed far too many people and their dogs. Even under quarantine, they lap past my house while I smoke on the porch and shit in my little patch of grass before scooping it into a specialized, dog-shit-sized bag. I’m no monster: I say hello to the dogs and greet the people. I don’t see a lot of strollers, just as on the television, I didn’t see any diaper commercials or Gerber food advertisements. Ostensibly, Jumanji is a movie that was marketed to children like me when it came out, and the advertising could reflect that maybe it’s shared viewing between millennial parents and their offspring. Instead, there were ads seemingly targeted to my age group, but whose main concerns regarding any dependents were geared towards dogs. Continue reading →
Navigating the intricacies of blogger law can be tricky. Just as having any kind of opinion on movies means you have to write a post about the Oscars, at the end of every year, it’s required of you to write a series of lists of media you liked over the course of the preceding twelve months. This is non-negotiable, nobody likes it or really cares, but it serves as a clearinghouse to broadcast your tastes to whatever niche audience you’ve cultivated and it looks good as a sample when applying for freelance positions if you can avoid swearing.
Usually, you start the article with some kind of whimsical, oh-what-a-year-it’s-been statement while still lamenting the inevitable passage of time, perhaps remarking on how your tastes are changing as you get older, or how becoming a new parent has colored your film or music lists as “more for those of us with little ones.” It’s all irritating. It’s long, drawn out, and we’re all judging you for it.
But here’s mine! Film, music, television, video games, but not books because I didn’t read anything that came out this year. Some stuff, particularly in the video game column, is definitely me catching up, and I don’t really care. This is stuff I consumed this year, maybe it is leftovers from the back of the fridge. We’re going to do like, five each, probably. Today is film! It’s all spoiler free, don’t worry. Continue reading →
In case you’re not aware, you can follow me on Twitter. Recently, work has really slowed down for the summer, and so I’ve been a little more purposeful in what I’m watching on my phone. Over a period of three weekends, I watched the entire Lethal Weapon film series and live tweeted three of them. Sometimes it was funny, other times I put some serious thought into it. Here are the threads:
Things I learned: the plots of each movie were a lot more politically progressive than I anticipated them to be, and I’ve seen all four movies before but never registered it. Danny Glover should have been a dead giveaway, but Mel Gibson you would figure outweighs some of that with his batshittieness. Enjoy!
A movie with this level of hand-craftsmanship doesn’t come along very often, and even if you aren’t a fan of Wes Anderson’s quirky aesthetic or brand of characters and dialogue, I would encourage anyone who likes movies or animation as a whole to go see this movie. Thematically, I think it introduces some interesting characters and ideas that are generally pretty underrepresented. We aren’t allowed to have movies anymore without some kind of controversy, and I’ll delve into that, along with some spoilers, after the jump.
Isle of Dogs is about a squad of dogs dumped on a trash island after the mayor of a nearby megatropolis declares all dogs a public health hazard. A young boy crash lands, searching for his own dog that was also his bodyguard. A quest across a drably intricate and gorgeous industrial decay ensues with snappy dialogue from vocal talent like Bryan Cranston, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, Scarlett Johansson, and Greta Gerwig. I thought it was delightful, 4.5/5.
MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD!
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Two days late, I received an automated message purporting to be a “friendly reminder” from an international content generating conglomerate that stated if I was hedging political opinions and relationships with other human beings based on strongly held beliefs I got from movies, I’m supposed to comment on the outcome of the Academy Awards.
It doesn’t matter that a former Donald Trump campaign aide that he originally met as a five year-old boy at Wrestlemania got shitfaced on television last night, vowing to resist a grand jury subpoena.
I saw Get Out a year ago and I’ve got a few things I want to get off my chest about it and the time for that is 59 hours after the last time any of it will be relevant. I might even watch that movie Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell both won for before I write the rest of this. The fish guy movie? I didn’t see it, but in twelve hours after I shape up a couple of defense issues in my present Rimworld save, I might have a couple of strong opinions about it if I can keep myself away from my rewatch of the third season of Oz.
The Oscars are pretty irrelevant to me in the sense that the best film of 2017 was cut up into hour-long segments from 18 hours and aired on Sundays on Showtime in the form of Twin Peaks: The Return. I’m upset I wasn’t “here for it” because I have a lot of things to say about it, but I’m planning a rewatch in the summer and will probably have a lot of dumb insight other people did a year ago.
One film I did see featured predominantly in the Oscar nominations list was Ladybird, which I hated. That’s a strong word. I felt pandered to, and in “quirky” movies initially critically lauded, I’ve recognized this as a trait in films that don’t age well. Garden State comes to mind as does Juno. A good soundtrack and a couple of “it kids” is not everything a movie makes. As someone who on no level of demographic surprise enjoys the films of Noah Baumbach, I was really excited about the directorial debut of Greta Gerwig and it was just underwhelming to me. I say that as someone who can very much relate to the source material. Continue reading →