Jewish World Review December 27, 2012/ 14 Teves, 5773
The black market for movie raves
By Barry Koltnow
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) There are times when I feel sorry for people who can read.
If you can read, you are likely to be terribly confused by movie ads.
Despite its nearly three-hour length and non-stop singing, many movie critics, some more respectable than others, have been calling "Les Miserables" the best picture of the year.
For instance, when Ben Affleck's "Argo" was shown in Toronto, it was hailed as the best picture of the year in newspaper ads and television commercials. That is, until the musical "Les Miserables" was shown early to critics, who immediately declared it to be the best picture of the year.
No sooner had movie-goers settled on that film when "Zero Dark Thirty" was named the best picture of the year when it was screened for critics, just after "Lincoln" was called the best picture of the year. And close on Honest Abe's heels were "Django Unchained" and "Amour" both cited in numerous ads and commercials as the best picture of the year.
Oh, we forgot to mention "Silver Linings Playbook," which has been proclaimed the best picture of the year, and "Anna Karenina," another film promoted in ads as the best picture of the year. Wasn't "Life of Pi" the best picture of the year for a while?
Just about the only recent film not named by anyone as best picture of the year was the dreadful Gerard Butler soccer film "Playing for Keeps," although a Miami TV reporter is quoted in ads insisting that the film "will warm your heart and make you fall in love again and again."
And that is my point. The movie studios don't have to make up quotes for their ads. They can always find someone to say it for them. Unfortunately, with the growing popularity of social media, the field of quote hacks has grown exponentially.
OK, they're not all hacks. There are a few legitimate movie critics quoted in ads for quality films. These are sincere professionals who believe these movies are worthy of the testimonials. But real critics don't supply quotes to the studios. Instead, studio ad reps extract quotes from published reviews.
The same can't be said for the magazine, TV, radio and online critics who either are fanboys who like everything, or leeches who want to ingratiate themselves with the studios so they can continue to be invited to free junkets and screenings. Some of these people just like seeing their names in ads. Others think of themselves as unpaid employees of the studios, part of the marketing team. They don't care that their gushing quotes might mislead the public.
And these hacks are not satisfied with just sending favorable quotes to the studios. Some will even go so far as to alter their online reviews to accommodate the studios.
Let me show you how it might work in a conversation between two fictional studio executives. I'm sure these executives don't exist in the real studio system, and no conversation like this has ever taken place. I'm making the whole thing up.
Ad Guy: I need a quote.
Blogger Wrangler: Give me liberty or give me death?
Ad Guy: Be serious for a minute. I don't need just any quote. I need a quote for our new Christmas movie.
Blogger Wrangler: Why didn't you say so? I can get you "Rollercoaster Ride of the Summer!" with one phone call.
Ad Guy: Really? For a Christmas movie?
Blogger Wrangler: How about "Perfect for the holidays"?
Ad Guy: I love it. Do you have a quote like that?
Blogger Wrangler: Not yet. Let me make a call. I've got a dozen bloggers who will gladly change their reviews to include any quote we need.
Ad Guy: That's so unethical.
Blogger Wrangler: What's your point?
Ad Guy: I was just pulling your leg. Can we get a respected critic that people have heard of?
Blogger Wrangler: Don't be ridiculous. Respected critics won't feed us quotes. We've got to go to these bloggers who nobody reads.
Ad Guy: But people will see right through that ruse.
Blogger Wrangler: That's why we do the attribution line so small in the television commercials that you need a magnifying glass to read the names. And in newspapers, nobody really cares about who said it. People only care about the quote. If you put an exclamation mark at the end, it looks like someone important said it.
Ad Guy: Do you have favorite quote hacks that you trust?
Blogger Wrangler: Of course. I've got a couple of guys who don't even see the movies. They always supply us with the most positive quotes.
Ad Guy: Don't they ever write a negative review?
Blogger Wrangler: They know that if they write a negative review, they don't get in the ad.
Ad Guy: Why do they do it?
Blogger Wrangler: It gets them free publicity for their blogs.
Ad Guy: Don't you feel guilty using these hacks?
Blogger Wrangler: Why? I'm not a journalist.
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