Movie trailers: too much of a good thing?

When you go see a movie, sitting through about 20 minutes of trailers before the movie is the norm, according to a May 30 article from NPR.

But in response to many moviegoers’ complaints about trailer lengths, the National Association of Theater Owners is calling for change, according to a May 28 article from The Hollywood Reporter.

Under the proposed restrictions, movie studios would have to limit their trailers to two minutes, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Theater owners are unhappy with the delays from trailers and subsequent complaints from patrons, according to NPR.

Movie Theater

Movie Theater (Photo credit: roeyahram)

Movie studios currently follow voluntary MPAA guidelines which limit trailers to 2.5 minutes and allow one exception per year. (This year, Warner Bros.’ trailer for “Man of Steel” is three minutes long.)

Like the current regulations, the new guidelines would be voluntary. Individual theaters could choose whether to uphold the restrictions, and individual studios could choose whether to abide by them.

Some Hollywood studios argue against the guidelines, citing that they need 2.5 minutes to convey the movie’s story and intrigue, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

If NATO decides to endorse the restrictions, moviegoers may notice changes at theaters. Some theaters could potentially choose to show only shorter trailers, while others would continue to show longer ones. The ones with shorter trailers may choose to simply show more trailers, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

This could create a new form of competition for theaters. Some patrons may choose to go to theaters which show fewer trailers; others may choose the ones that show shorter trailers.

In general, trailers and movie theaters frustrate me. I cringe every time I play $7.50 to go to a night show, and then I feel cheated into watching so many long trailers, many of which don’t even show the film’s release date. And more often then not in the case of comedies and chick flicks, the trailers reveal the all the movie’s funniest jokes, and if I ever go to see that movie (which I rarely do), the element of surprise is gone.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not opposed to all movie trailers. They’ve become a quintessential part of the moviegoing experience as well as a very effective marketing tool. However, there can be too much of a good thing, and my primary reason for going to a theater is to watch a movie, not a bunch of drawn-out, melodramatic commercials.

In our capitalistic society, businesses should be able to compete. If a theater receives complaints about the wait before a movie, they should be allowed to take steps to take control what they show to deal with those complaints. If they make more money than other theaters for pleasing their customers, they deserve it.

 

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Vine: giving the artistic inch

Give ’em and inch, and they’ll take a mile. This could be a good thing or a bad thing.

In January Twitter released the Vine app, which allows users to shoot and edit six-second video loops with only a few taps of their fingers.

Iphone-picture

Apple iPhone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In March Marvel used it to produce a trailer for this summer’s “The Wolverine.” The app reached the top of the overall best free app list two months ago and currently holds the number four spot.

It’s like the Twitter of the video world. The artistic challenge is to cram as much content, impact and creativity into a tiny space. On the other hand, this concept could also be an artistic downfall.

Making the video-making process that easy reduces the value of good craftsmanship. Anyone–artists and non-artists alike–can now piece videos together, so we can expect to see Vines of all types. Unfortunately, there’s no quality control.

Like Twitter, you’ll find well-constructed, clever videos. And you’ll also find pointless ones (like those “Here’s what I had for lunch!” tweets) as well as stupid or even downright embarrassing ones. (Luckily, Seenive has collected some examples of this latter category.)

As Vine continues to grow in popularity, it may take more searching to find the better ones. But rest assured; they do exist. People are using Vine to make bite-sized bits of video art, employing rapid storytelling and stop-motion techniques.

Following in Twitter’s footsteps, Vine is yet another example of the Internet’s sped-up and short-attention sense of humor. The quality of the content depends on who you follow. I recommend subscribing to FunnyVines on Youtube or following them on Twitter. Follow individual users at your own risk!

You are who you are on the Internet

You are who your social media profiles say you are. One veteran anchorman with St. Louis’ KMOV-TV has recently brought that fact to light.

Larry Connors, longtime anchorman with “News 4 St. Louis,” posted on his Facebook page May 13 claiming that the IRS had been targeting him following his April 2012 interview with President Barak Obama.

In the post, now removed from the page and quoted in an article on stltoday.com, Connors stated, “I don’t accept ‘conspiracy theories,’ but I do know that almost immediately after the interview, the IRS started hammering me…What I don’t like to even consider … is that because of the Obama interview … the IRS put a target on me.

Can I prove it? At this time, no. But it is a fact that since that April 2012 interview … the IRS has been pressuring me.”

On Tuesday Connors backed off the comment during KMOV’s evening newscast, saying, “To be fair, I should disclose that my issues with the IRS preceded that interview (with Obama) by several years.”

And now Connors is facing the consequences. He is off the air until further notice and was scheduled to meet with KMOV executives today to discuss his future.

He is a reporter using a Facebook page with his name on it to report the news. His speculations, which Connors himself later admitted were inaccurate, hint at paranoia and bias against the Obama administration and the IRS. They have no place on that page or anywhere in Connors’ reporting. He should have kept them private instead of broadcasting them to his followers who rely on him for news coverage.

The fiasco is not only embarrassing for Connors and KMOV, but it provides keen insight into the ambiguity of the use of social media.

If Connors wasn’t a reporter, he could post those comments on the page without jeopardizing his professional reputation. But reporters take on the responsibility of being fair, unbiassed and accurate; therefore, as a reporter, Connors has forfeited the privilege of writing whatever he wants on social media.

Because our personal profiles are supposed to represent who we are to anyone viewing them, social media makes it easy for anyone, not just reporters, to embarrass or even incriminate themselves.

For instance, it would be unwise for a corrections officer to post photos of themselves participating in illegal activities online.  That officer would gain the reputation as an unprofessional representative of his profession, just as Larry Connors’ statement has led many to believe him an unprofessional journalist.

Our roles and responsibilities in society determine our roles and responsibilities on social media. Some professionals must forfeit certain privileges and keep certain aspects of their life private to preserve their professional reputations.

Fitzgerald’s legacy: more than the movie

An artist’s legacy leads not only to devotion, but to more art.

F. Scott Fitzgerald* died over 70 years ago, but fans still pour over his writing and other artists still build and create off of his ideas. This is Fitzgerald’s legacy, and it’s still alive and kicking.

Since the release of Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of The Great Gatsby, more and more fans have made the pilgrimage to Rockville, Md. to visit the grave Fitzgerald shares with his wife Zelda. In fact, according Rev. Monsignor Robert Amey of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, the number of visitors to the site has nearly tripled in the last couple of weeks.

St. Mary’s Cemetary, the couple’s final resting place, is surrounded by strip malls and busy streets, and it’s easy to pass up, according to the Washington Post article.

English: Black-and-white photographic portrait...

English: Black-and-white photographic portrait of writer F. Scott Fitzgerald and wife Zelda at Dellwood, one month before daughter Scottie’s birth. Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But visitors still come to pay their respects and read the inscription on the large stone, the famous last line of The Great Gatsby: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Some leave notes or even liquor, which I’m sure Fitzgerald appreciates. 

And many artists still incorporate Fitzgerald’s work into their own. One of my favorite examples is Benjamin Gibbard’s song “Bigger than Love,” based on selections from a collection of love letters written by Fitzgerald and Zelda.

Featured on his 2012 album “Former Lives,” the song covers different phases of the couple’s marriage while subtly hinting at its troubled undertones. Gibbard did not add his own commentary to bring the relationship to life. He needed only to let the bits of the letters speak for themselves.

Now a new generation of readers is discovering the story. It sits atop a permanent pedestal in the American literature canon and currently holds the second-highest spot on Amazon’s Best Sellers. 

We can expect to see this generation go on to carry out Fitzgerald’s legacy–to let his writing affect them, thrill them and rouse them to create more works for future generations.

*Note: My review of the movie is the last Fitzgerald post I’ll write. (Probably.)

Why are we laughing?

The man who helped three women escape from their captor’s home in Cleveland Monday has already found Internet fame. In under 48 hours, Charles Ramsey has been gif’d, autotuned and made the subject of countless tweets, NPR’s Code Switch reported yesterday.

While many of the tweets and postings identify Ramsey as a hero, many more poke fun at his interview with WEWSTV. One of his final statements is the most common subject of the jokes. When describing the moment he freed Amanda Berry, he said, “Bro, I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms. Something is wrong here. Dead giveaway.”

I understand what the internet finds funny about Ramsey. He was quirky and candid, and at the time of the interview he looked like he might have just woken up from a nap. But that down-to-earth comment signals a deeper truth in the situation that the internet might be overlooking.

According to a report from the Business Insider and cited by NPR, Cleveland is one of the most segregated cities in the U.S. So Ramsey undoubtedly found it bizarre to have such an encounter with a young white woman, since he lives in an environment where the two races rarely mingle, let alone trust one another with their lives. And that fact isn’t so funny.

Similar internet “stars” that have come to light recently reveal similar social truths, NPR’s Code Switch reports today. We still snicker at Antoine Dodson, who advised the World Wide Web to hide its family members two years ago. His candid interview hints that he was not unused to or shocked about violent crime in his neighborhood in the projects.

Today’s Code Switch made spurred me to examine my own reactions to these internet fads. Where does their fame come from? Why do we laugh and “songify” these people’s stories? Is it because we’re uncomfortable? Because we’re glad we’re not in their shoes? Because we’re seeing new stereotypes constructed before our eyes? Because their stories are so unfamiliar to us?

I admit that I, too, am guilty of laughing in these situations, and I admit that I don’t know why. Ramsey, Dodson and others confront what could become life-changing events in the face of adversity, and responding with carelessness is far from appropriate.

When the next songified, meme-ified internet sensation turns up, I hope I (as well as the rest of the Web) take a step outside of myself to consider the humanity present in these stories. We all like to laugh, and there’s nothing wrong with laughing, but sometimes we need to see beyond the humor to discover the soul of the situation.

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