Very few asian films have the “ability” to attract online attention, in the West.
At first, Internet seemed like the perfect place to talk about some little-known projects that look intriguing: lack of information? Whatever! No english-subtitled trailer? Whatever! Because, there’s always something to discover, and that’s what matters. At first.
But what happened to this ‘dream of discovery’?
When an asian movie isn’t directed by the-actual-best-known-asian-filmmaker, when it’s not “weird Japan stuff”… it’s like there’s no need to mention it, anywhere.
Better to publish some PR bullshit stories about the latest Hollywood blockbuster? Give people what they want – moar Batman photo sets -, not what they need – discovering films, for example?
FEEL THE VOID
The Raid: Redemption is an interesting example. It’s an Indonesian action film, directed by Welsh filmmaker Gareth Evans (Merantau). It became an international online hit, right after its screening at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2011 – thanks to the positive feedbacks.
Since then, the web has been flooded with news articles about the film – including new trailers, video clips… All that buzz, and the film wasn’t even released yet in the West. One could say it was a little bit aggressive/frustrating. You don’t know when you will watch the film, but it feels like you’ve maybe already seen the best parts online (and next time, you won’t watch anything). Here’s your so-called “cult” film.
For many (professional) websites, the equation is simple; buzz = page views, ad impressions (business model). No need to publish actual content/to have something to say about films, noise is always better as it drives traffic with no real effort/fact checking needed.
A too narrow-minded perspective? Journalism at its worst?
Before any fanboys & opportunists came along, Twitchfilm was (one of) the main source(s) to publish news about The Raid. It must be said, the founder of Twitch is credited as an “executive producer” of the film, and, more importantly, the fact was never hidden.
For example, he wrote “Conflict of interest be damned–I’m credited as an executive producer on the film–” in this Best of 2011 article.
Even though the Twitch team is “free to write” what they want about the film…
It still does look like a conflict of interest.
A smart reader had the great idea to see how many “The Raid” articles have been posted on the site. The results… A tsunami of news? THE RAID, THE RAID everywhere! Hard to keep up?
Let’s push further! When the film was finally coming out in North American theaters, the distributor Sony Pictures had the great idea to create this amazing poster… Oh wait! What’s written on the building…?
And if you look carefully, you can see the name of Twitch founder Todd Brown at the bottom of the poster. Most reviews published online were positive (7.4 rating on RottenTomatoes), and yet… Great choice!
The website of the executive producer is praising the film! What’s next? A quote from the director himself saying that he loved working on this project? Not obvious enough? Marketing fail.
FOREVER A DUMB
This online treatment was problematic at some extent.
How can readers trust articles if there’s a conflict of interest? How can readers be informed when they’re flooded with not-always-interesting news? Why focus so much on so few films instead of trying to find/mention other intriguing projects?
Who cares about writing on movies, or raising questions, or sharing real information? Isn’t why we’re here, on the web, in the first place?
Sometimes, as a reader, I’m fed up with this lack of consideration. Consume, desire, watch 99 spoiling trailers, enjoy 150 exclusive stills.
Don’t learn anything? Fuck that.