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Hey Fly-Over States! Paramount Is Positive That You’re Dumb and Patriotic Enough to Love G.I. Joe!

August 5, 2009

The Huffington Post writes about upcoming blockbuster G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, which releases on Friday — and its calculated lack of reviews up to this point. Normally, a major studio release, by the Wednesday before its bow, would be well-documented on the web, in the news, and in advertising pushes. To this point, however, there have been only one or two variations on a major trailer for the action film (focusing on all the same scenes), very little word-of-mouth in the press, and precious few “advance reviews” on sites devoted to early buzz on films. Though the early buzz which does exist for G.I. Joe has thus far been woefully terrible.

Now, reports Christy Lemire of the HP, Paramount is “intentionally aiming the movie at the heartland, at cities and audiences outside the entertainment vortexes of New York and Los Angeles,” and “appealing to a sense of patriotism nationwide.”

Citing the massive rift which lay between the critics’ rendering of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and the gigantic numbers it reaped in ticket sales, Paramount seems to have adjusted its strategy in a surprisingly condescending way: focus on a demographic of people who don’t know enough to know they’re watching a terrible movie.

What makes things worse is that by doing so, Paramount is markedly setting metropolitan audiences in New York and Los Angeles apart from their focused campaign, as if to suggest that moviegoers in those cities are cultured and discerning enough to know awfulness when they see it. Not only that, but they’re also smart enough to see through political propoganda. Oh, what it must be like to be one of the chosen people, who happened to live in one of those cities, and by default being someone who’s so clever that nothing can fool him. Instead, I apparently continue sit around all day rebuilding tractors, watching Delta Farce and stupidly loving my country.

What Paramount’s tactics reveal is not only a dirty trick to fool audiences into seeing G.I. Joe, but an insulting one at that. By focusing their advertising efforts on cities like Kansas City, Charlotte and Columbus, the studio thinks its taking on an audience of people who they assume won’t actively search out opinions on the film before shelling out for a ticket. And why wouldn’t audiences in Kansas City, Charlotte and Columbus make informed decisions? Because they’re not part of “entertainment vortexes” like New York and Los Angeles — those Kansans will take whatever they can get, right? It’s not like they have tickets to the new Mamet show or reservations at Nobu! (Cue boardroom laughter). See you at the cineplex, dumbasses!

But backhandedly insulting midwesterners and godless, countryless urbanites isn’t enough to make the movie a hit. For a movie being held at arms reach from critics, one may also notice the film has a staggering 80% positive rating currently at critics’ collective Rotten Tomatoes. Wow! That’s great! Let’s see who loved it! There’s videogame-loving IGN, and Sci Fi Wire, and movie geek paradise HitFix. See a trend here? Chances are strong that even if the movie’s not Oscar-worthy, these particular audiences — who by and large build their audiences on a pre-disposed love of pop culture — are at least going to find a modicum of fun in the proceedings. And voila…a smattering of reviews small enough and positive enough to be able to say “the majority has been positive.” Very sneaky, Paramount.

No one I know (and no one the studios assume you know, Mr. and Mrs. Michigan) can gather what G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra will bring this weekend. But Paramount has done everything it can to make sure the deck’s stacked in the flick’s favor. If you love your country, don’t read Variety and still have an attic full of action figures, the studio is banking on your buying a ticket on blind faith alone. And if we give in to these shenanigans, Cobra has won.

Link: How Bad Is it? Paramount Won’t Show Critics “G.I. Joe” (Huffington Post)

One Comment
  1. August 5, 2009 4:06 pm

    This movie is going to vacuum up a wad of cash the size of Bolivia, but come the second weekend it will be as dead as a poinsettia in March.

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