Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Movie Marketing Goes Horribly Awry

Two_thousand_twelve_ver2So by now I’m sure you’ve seen the trailers and ads for Roland Emmerich’s latest disaster [of a] movie. 2012 is supposedly about the end of the Long Count in the Mayan calendar and, because of some hocus pocus bullshit you can look up on Wikipedia yourself, means the world will end that year. Under normal circumstances I’m okay with this. Not only do I have no problem with bad movies being released into theaters, I even watch them (I don’t give a shit about the critics, I liked Transformers. Part two natsamuch.) Where does the marketing team go too far?

Well I was listening to Are We Alone on my mp3 player while grabbing a nice greasy hamburger and they were discussing disaster movies [Direct mp3 here]. Apparently some people have taken the marketing for 2012 seriously. When Seth Shostak interviews astrobiologist David Morrison from NASA, Morrison reveals that he has received numerous panic-stricken emails from people, especially teens about this 2012 end of the world scenario. It gets serious when one teen writes him suggesting that suicide is a better alternative to sticking around for the end of the world.  Apparently there is a website, where if you don’t read the fine print (and what naive teen does?) it looks like a legitimate program to try and save humanity. In fact, it seems to combine the design elements of Obama and NASA’s websites. This is what Morrison had to say on it,

“…I don’t mind disaster films and I don’t mind science fiction films. What I object to here is they are marketing it as if it’s real. And they’ve even created a completely fake website for the Institute for Human Continuity that is telling people that this is a real danger and that they can join a lottery to be saved in an underground shelter and so forth. They treat it… They scare people, by making it seem like a real event.”

I say if the marketing is going to convince people this is real, then they shouldn’t worry so much about the profits and proceeds from the film, since hey, the world’s coming to an end soon anyway, right?

I’m tempted to lay this at the feet of the people who have fallen for the premise of the movie, but there is whole credulous world of websites all over the internet unconnected to the movie ready to reinforce newfound belief in this nonsense. I prefer to pity the dupes and punish the dupers.  There’s nothing really to be done about this except tell people that it’s nonsense as you find them. Nonetheless it’s frustrating to see people fall victim to such an absurd myth.

Ah well, why don’t you have fun with this 70s style trailer of the movie:

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