Friday, March 9, 2007

An Open Letter to Everyone Who Has Complained About Commercials Being at the Beginning of Movies

Dear Everyone Who Has Complained About Commercials Being at the Beginning of Movies,

You actually have it pretty good, so shut up.1

Andrew Schnorr

1. There has been seeming upsurge of advertisements in-theatre when going to movies. Many times it's for Coca Cola or the like. And then I hear people complaining, "Oh, how horrible. I hate that there are commercials before the movie now. I pay the price for my ticket, and they're still making us watch commercials like it's television." Even nationally-watched Andy Rooney has complained about such things (truth be told, though, the only time Andy Rooney won't be complaining is when he's dead).

People are funny in that they have a strict aversion in being advertised to. I once watched a brilliantly made in-theatre ad. It was cinematic; it was beautiful. The person I was with said, "Wow, this looks awesome." Then, at the very end, the product logo came up (I honestly can't remember what it was for). My associate then changed their tune, saying, "Oh, it's just a commercial. Lame." The content didn't change; only my associate's perspective. They realized that the ultimate purpose of this production was to take your money, and thus, they hated it.

My question is, who cares? As long as a commercial is entertaining, I couldn't care less if I was trying to be bought or not. The fact of the matter is, every single piece of entertainment is made for the purpose of making money. Maybe the director is making it to fulfill his artistic vision, but that ain't going to cut it when proposing for money. People aren't adverse to seeing trailers in theatres. Why not? They're just ads. ...Oh, I see, it's because of the product they're hawking. We want to see those commercials, because they're for something entertaining. Well, what if I thought that vacuum is damn appealing? Maybe I wouldn't be so adverse to watching a commercial for it.

For those who say that they shouldn't have to watch commercials because they already paid for a ticket, consider the economics behind it: the theatre needs money. They can either get this money through advertising or through increased ticket prices. Let's say that for a single 1-minute ad, Coca Cola pays a theatre a monthly amount roughly equivalent to $1 per person in the theatre that month (I'm simplifying here). If the theatre wanted to get that profit without advertising, they'd have to raise ticket prices by that same amount. Now ask yourself a question: would you be willing to put their money where their mouth is and pay an extra dollar for a movie ticket just so you can avoid 2 minutes of commercials?

...I didn't think so.

So, until you're willing to pay the price, don't complain. I have absolutely no sympathy for the RIAA and the MPAA when they complain about pirated movies. I saw this British pseudo-ad and thought it to be completely apt.

On the other hand, I do have a deal of sympathy for movie theatres. People complain about movie prices, but the fact is, movie theatres as we know them are suffering. The right to distribute a movie has jumped astronomically because of piracy and greedy studios. When you tack on the costs of employing popcorn-shovelers, their profits...well, let's just say they haven't been there. Enter advertisers. With this, the theatres can afford to stay in business in the long run.

So, summing up that point: do you like watching movies on the big screen? Thank commercial advertising.

Finally, we don't know how lucky we have it. Not only are the commercials we have short, they're also (for the most part), entertaining. Personally, my favorite commercials from the past year or so have been the deliciously creepy and downright absurd Sub-Lymon-al Advertising from Sprite. For those who don't recall them, here's the "montage" piece:

Yes, it's an advertisement, but it's trippy and fun. Plus, it's only a minute long. However, back in the 50's, advertisements would be upwards of 20 minutes long in the theatre. The fact that these were short films is not the problem, but the problem was the quality. I'd rather watch an excellent ad for a crappy product than a crappy ad for an excellent product any day.

Now, since getting Netflix, I have become well-acquainted with the genius show Mystery Science Theater 3000, which for those who don't know, was a show based around a guy and two robot puppets making fun of some of the worst movies ever made. But they don't limit themselves to just feature films; they've done plenty of shorts, as well. Many of these pieces of theatrical phlegm have been advertisements from various companies and organizations, including the organization we all know and love: the government. Of course, all the government's shorts were propaganda thinly veiled as public service announcements. Here's an example of one of these short PSA's called Cheating (the heckling is there to make it watchable):

So, the next time you complain about having to sit through two minutes of advertisements, think back to a "simpler" time when you would have to drag through this mess. Thend.2

2. "Thend" is a word I use to mean "The End" as I feel it's more stylized and fun.3

3. Did you forget that these are just footnotes for a letter? For shame.4

4. Please refer to Footnote 3.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

1. You misunderstood. or, more than likely, they can't get there point across. they don't mind commericals or advertisements. there has always been commericals and advertisments:
"Let's all go to the lobby! Let's all go to the lobby! Let's all go to the lobby! to get us something to eat!" that they dont mind. its when it just a bunch of run-of-the-mill TV commericals. the same ones I watch during survivor. those get on their nerves. they dont want that made-for-television crap.
they want a bunch of run-of-the-mill theater commericals. they want that made-for-theater crap. makes them feel good. looks like someone out there took the effort to make a commerical solely for them, the theater audience member.
they could have easily got a bootleg. but they didn't they stuck by the theater. because they knew they won't be feed crap. and how are they repayed for the loyalty? watching that same old shit they were watching just before they left.

There are two no-nos about dealing with the audience:
A.the audience hates being tricked.
B.the audience loves making fun, but hates being made fun of.

he probably thought it was going to be a movie, with more plot, charcters he'll know and love. Hope that there will be more to it. a preview to something more wonderful.
But no!
its just a one-shot commerical.
then they realize there's no more plot, no more charatcers, no more hope, no more wonder.

that is all it is...
all it ever has been...
and all it will ever be...
a complete downer...
whose only rational response is hatred.

hey! my brother's a popcorn-shoveler!