snarks on a plane

Five years of a blog that runs about 70% snark and grump, maybe more. I complain too much on the Internet, and it’s bad for my writing. Occasionally I catch myself and write a happy piece about kittens or Chinese dumplings or a really stellar masturbation session. But a gloomy Andy Rooney/James Lileks atmosphere threatens. It’s a flaw, and I’m surprised that’s not pointed out more.

Most of the time, though, my small and friendly readership either agrees, suggests a different yet sympathetic angle, or clears the buffer and moves on. I don’t get a lot of “oh hell no” or “you bastard, you pissed on my dream” reactions.

And then there was that time I dissed the Snakes on a Plane astroturf ad campaign, and found out there are still people who care enough to stand up for Jesus calculated viral marketing!

23 thoughts on “snarks on a plane

  1. There’s a lot of bogus feel good ’empowerment’ around SoaP. “Hey, Teh Intarnetz told Hollywood what we want!!” And you peed on the parade. Such is life, eh, my man. ;P

  2. I don’t think this flaw is evident in your writing significantly more often than anyone else I read. And I read a lot of people.
    The snakes thing, I understand why it’s posed such a problem in so many venues of discussion. Even when the commentator is careful to be nuanced and civil, no one wants to think they’re foolish for being momentarily amused by something fleeting, that they’ve been had and the joke’s on them, that their passing amusement is a tacit endorsement of certain manipulative and immoral social forces. Even if it’s true.
    A possible solution is to conclude such posts with “…I’ll probably end up seeing it anyway, though.” Then the joke is on all of us together!

    1. I would if it was true. But I won’t! And it’s not because I’m just too good to see that movie. It’s because I see maybe one movie in a theater every five years, and a total of seven or eight a year on DVD or cable. I am just not a film person.

      1. I know you won’t, but it’s okay to lie in that case because it makes everyone feel like we’re all in this together instead of feeling scolded. Just like it’s okay to enjoy Snakes on a Plane because it’s just two hours and 10 bucks after all.

      2. You know, it’s really weird about this phenomenon. I don’t think I’d like the movie, but I really don’t care one way or another about it, or whether the movie is a “guilty pleasure” or should or shouldn’t be enjoyed like it was Triumph of the Will. The movie is a commodity, an inexpensive schlock-horror flick with a marketing hook.
        The thing that pissed me off, and the thing I talked about, was the hook itself, which a huge number of people happily embedded in themselves and then went around showing off to their friends, like: hey, check me out! I got the Nike logo tattooed on my ass, because it’s a viral internet meme catchphrase like all the cool kids have! And that part is still just kinda typical, because just about everyone wears logo t-shirts or some shit like that.
        The awesomely horrible part is that these people believed they MADE this thing, and that they were cool members of the special kids club because they were part of the magic.
        Best unpaid street team ever!

      3. I’m not sure there’s a way to sugarcoat that pill. The marketing for Snakes was a big shuck, and everyone who got sucked into it got rooked. It’s a consumer 419 scam, except it only cost the victims ten bucks and the opportunity cost of serving as an unpaid ad slave for a multinational. It should be embarrassing.
        The only slightly-less-offputting way to lay out the damage would be to shift the blame to the marketing people at New Line, who were, as they say, motherfucking smart. Smart at lying.

      4. Or maybe we were just anticipating the prospect of such a self-indulgently silly movie.
        It’s OK for people to like crap.

      5. one more time…
        It’s odd; I keep saying this and people keep not seeing or reading it. It’s not a question of whether the movie is crap, or whether people should or shouldn’t like crap. There is no taste police, and there is especially no taste police in popular film.
        My target is astroturf “viral” marketing. The target is not inexpensive, cheesy horror movies. Thank you for reading.

      6. Re: one more time…
        I’ve been reading you a while now, and this happens often enough I almost expect you to snark about it, and for that in turn to be misheard and countered.

  3. I don’t think that complaining, per se, is the objectionable part; I think it’s the tone. I, for one, saw it on opening night and had a fun time. I did not enjoy it with “a detached sense of superiority”, nor do I think that I am a perpetual 12-year-old gleefully shilling for my corporate masters in a hip, post-modern, ironic fashion. We’ve known each other a long time; would you really describe me that way? That’s the kind of implication that’ll get 30+ posts on a thread.

    1. No. You also haven’t been spending the last six months blogging about the movie and making fan graphics about it and talking about how the internet made this movie happen, maaaaan, because the squares were going to ruin the magic but we made sure the true vision and beauty happened, because we’re the hip kids. And that’s the phenomenon I was talking about.
      What quite a few people chose to read was “If you see and enjoy this movie you’re an asshole,” although I didn’t say that.

  4. Hey, Isn’t Anyone Going to Encourage His Self Destruction?
    Last time I checked this was America and in America you have a right to complain about anything you want to complain about. That’s right. I know it doesn’t make you happy and you’d rather not, but that vitriol makes for good blog reading. I dig the snark, man. The more you do the less I have to, and I have the exact same monster lurking beneath my skin.
    I feel superior because I read your journal.
    The tone is fine. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a copy editor or something.

    1. Re: Hey, Isn’t Anyone Going to Encourage His Self Destruction?
      it’s still unclear how ‘calculated viral marketing’ is even a hair more offensive or annoying that plain-vanilla marketing – as I say, I find the former actually less annoying: its cards on more or less on the table
      I wasn’t targeting you in the entry I wrote though dude, your position in re: that movie is itself a viral – how many weeks has the bandwagon-of-backlash been the bloggin’ rage? several

      1. Re: Hey, Isn’t Anyone Going to Encourage His Self Destruction?
        In a sense you must be right – marketing is marketing and it’s all, as they say, about lying to people, fogging their minds and getting them to do things.
        Viral marketing, though, is pernicious in a way regular marketing is not: it’s astroturf, which is a lie on top of a lie – it seems to come from below, from the grassroots, from “the fans,” when it really doesn’t – either the grassroots aspect is wholly faked or the studio is simply using the fans as a culture medium for a marketing script that has already been written. I mean, people were under the illusion that they had some sort of effect on the way that narrative played out, that they had some sort of ‘ownership’ over the movie, but that was just a lie. Then the ‘fans’ worked on behalf of that lie, unpaid, in the apparent illusion that this was actually a product of the culture, rather than the culture industry. It’s rather sad, when you look at it that way.
        Of course, the difference between this sort of viral marketing and what we regularly refer to as ‘fandom’ – for example, my FL is full of people wailing about that Stargate TV show today – is now impossible to pin down. Which sucks for fans, because they’re selling their souls to the culture industry for an illusion of participation. I think the erosion of that distinction is the fault of viral marketing, actually – there is no longer any distinction to be made between marketing, fandom, and ‘indie cred.’ These terms all mean the same thing now. And that’s a calamity that was imposed from above.

      2. Re: Hey, Isn’t Anyone Going to Encourage His Self Destruction?
        No, my position isn’t “a viral” just because some other people agree. “A viral” means the deliberate insertion of a media campaign into Internet communities. What I have is an opinion that is not entirely unique.
        I hadn’t seen that particular blogwagon go by, since I read either the wrong or the right people depending on your view, but I’m not surprised. I bet a lot of it is reviews of the movie by people who haven’t seen it, in the fine internet tradition. That’s not my interest.
        And I also disagree with your assessment of viral versus traditional marketing. I think the opposite. “Plain vanilla” marketing is crap like “Diet Coke and Trojan Condoms are teaming up to bring you this weekend’s premiere of Garfield 2! Visit your nearest 7-11 to get free tickets and sign up for the Trojans Turgid Summer of Fun!” There it is, right in your face: marketing.
        Viral marketing is the advertising equivalent of Amway. Your friend posts his totally awesome Snakes on a Plane quiz and you do it too, because you socially identify with your friend, and then your friends do it too, and you’re all enjoying the warm bath of shared in-joke… working for someone else.
        At this point I have to admit defeat. I clearly blew it getting my point across, because loads of smart nice people heard something other than what I was communicating.

  5. Snark is Snark is Snark, unless its THAT kind of snark.
    I think your commentary on society is usually spot on, but as you posted in another message, you have been taking some anger buildup and kind of using Snark as a way to expunge that anger out of your body. By posting that anger-riddled snark into a place where dozens of people read, you are bound to get people who are also having “off days” too. The people of the Internet, having the luxury of not having to look other people in the eye forget to bite their tongue when exposed to this. So I’m not surprised in the least that there was a mixed response. I think the response is magnified due to the meaninglessness of the subject at hand (Snakes on a Plane.) Had the snarkiness been about Bush or the War in the Middle East or something, I doubt there’d have been much of a response.
    Either way, like I said, I usually think you’re spot on with your snarkiness, I just hope that it isn’t creating fuel to your anger fire. I hope you can let it out, let it go, and move forward.
    If nothing else, at least you aren’t trying to market your anger/snark ala those stupid fucks at Gawker that think they are journalists.

  6. You know, in this day and age, cold, merciless ridicule may be the only weapon we have left against the forces that are trying to crush the last vestiges of humanity out of us…
    Personally, I believe it was our ability to do this that allowed us to survive high school.
    I say it’s time to leave the impression that with very little provocation you will vaporize every impure thing that crosses your field of vision with the outrageous power of your contempt… leave the safety off.
    But that’s just me…
    mojo sends

  7. The good news is that one of my aspiring screenwriter/director has cast me and in a short film she’s planning to take to some festival or another (she’s got a track record of success in that regard). It’s a “wry commentary” on the nature of viral marketing. No mention of SoaP in the dialogue, but it has it does have its moments.
    Anyway, your post reminds me that I’m doing my part to mock the vapid and facile viral marketing posers, and I should absolutely start engaging in a viral self-promotion campaign to market the product.
    “Hello, my name is LEGION,” indeed.

  8. well… i read your post. i also went to a midnight showing that for $25pp included a full open bar, a private screen in a plush theater, and lots of rowdy, happy people in costumes with plastic snakes and toy planes all over the place. and yeah, the movie sucked, and i had a fantastic time.
    i understand that you weren’t addressing me in your anti-soap post. i saw that you were speaking to the months-obsessed endless-posting soap fanatics. but i have to agree here that the tone of it was rather more sweeping; personally it set off my “i don’t like this because i’m above it” attitude alarm.
    i usually agree with you; i think you reason things out well, you’re well spoken and you are familiar with what you discuss. i think you are right in saying that the tone of the post was probably brewed with your mood of late. but yeah, it was snarky… even if in point it was right.
    s’ok, though; i know what you meant. 🙂

    1. “Above it” isn’t for me to say, but I don’t like it.
      Quite a few people have instructed me that one is supposed to apologize in advance for disliking a pop culture phenomenon, or pretend to like it just like everyone else while criticizing it, which is awfully puzzling to me. It’s as though I had insulted someone’s religion or nationality. When I actually do insult religions and nationalities hardly anyone is upset!
      I don’t care for giggly blaxploitation or post-ironic “bad is good,” or viral marketing, or some other things about that whole SoaP phenomenon. I dislike those things esthetically and I also dislike what they represent.
      Maybe someone else doesn’t share my appreciation of cheesy mid 1970s folk-rock or The Great Race. Cool. I’m not going to go chasing them around the halls of the Internet telling them they’re pretentious fucks who really DO like what I do, and have no right to be so snarky about it. It’s taste.
      The most depressing thing about this whole adventure, for me, is that in a world soaked with blood, starving, ridden with disease and violent injustice, and staggering on the edge of Permanent Doom, the only way to get the people around me upset about anything is to diss the currently popular entertainment trend of the month. The motherfuckin’ snakes, it appears, have fuckin’ won.

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