Geeks of the Round Table: Media Overexposure?June 5, 2015
Geeks of the Round Table is a regular feature where writers for GCE will give their opinions on a current topic or event in geek culture.
With massive blockbuster movies and AAA games comes a lot of media coverage, sometimes with paparazzi stationed at a filming location for days/weeks just to catch a glimpse of something new that they can speculate on. However, many movies/games/TV shows already have multiple official trailers (teaser and otherwise), so is all this extra media exposure too much, or do you see it as an added bonus to the official bits we get?
Does the extra media coverage of major blockbusters ruins things for me? Well, the simple answer to that is yes and no. A little taste of it can raise awareness and get us excited for the new project. Simply tease the costumes or announce the cast as this is mostly harmless. But please, please stay away from the plot as much as possible.
As somebody who pays for a ticket to watch a new and anticipated film on the big screen opening night, I’d prefer to know as little about it as I need to. I want to be surprised and impressed. If too many plot points are given away then I feel that the experience is tainted. Anything that is too predictable is usually a massive disappointment for me no matter how much I want a particular film to be successful.
Let’s face it though; we live in a world of instant gratification. I can’t help myself. We don’t want to help ourselves. We could try to ignore it in our feed and just move on but that’s simply not going to happen. If there is a link to footage or photos of something that I just am so excited to see, then you know that I am going to click it every single time. Not just when it has spoiler warnings but ESPECIALLY when it has spoiler warnings. Why would I do this? I know that it’s going to ruin it at least a little bit for me when I spend my money to see it in theaters. I tell myself that I will put that all out of my mind and just the film for its merits. The truth is that I’m kidding myself. The reason that films like The Avengers and Star Wars get so much attention is because we want to know. That’s not our fault.
With any trailer, studios have an inferred responsibility to sell their film to us only as much as is needed to get people to the theater. Certainly nothing more than that is a good thing. If it’s an action movie, sell me with some action sequences. Recently, the second trailer for Terminator Genisys gave away way too much of its plot and essentially ruined the film for me before I have seen it. If you put it out there for mass consumption, I’m going to find it. But I really don’t want to. We’re even studying Lego figure sets for any possible hint of plot. We’re sick and it’s still not our fault.
Genre material is fun, exciting and wondrous. It makes you feel like a little kid again and that’s why I love it so much. If you let me eat as many cookies as a kid as I would like than I was likely to eat each one I could find – even if I knew it would ruin my appetite. Heck, I still do that now.
There should be much better security and perimeters established by the studios. We live in the digital age and you film production in areas that are publicly accessible then there are going to be leaks. So, it’s not our fault. It’s the studios fault and you can’t help but feel that they want this to happen.
Batman v. Superman has done incredibly well with only releasing what director Zack Snyder wants to put out there. On the other side of the spectrum, that certainly does not feel like the case with Suicide Squad. It doesn’t have a title that everyone in the mainstream is familiar with and hence you can’t help but be inundated in your feed with photos from the shoot. They are doing this intentionally to raise awareness but in the long run it’s going to spoil our appetite as all of the awe will have been sucked out of it months and years before we see it.
Teasers, trailers and, not necessarily though, the occasional set picture have always made me happy enough. But you can’t be on social media and escape the extensive, excessive media coverage on upcoming blockbusters or TV series, apparently. And frankly, it’s annoyed me to the point that, currently, I’m barely excited for any DC or Marvel movies at all (let alone TV series, although that is more a matter of the sheer, vast amount of them) – despite genuinely wanting to be.
The problem for me is not only media coverage, but also the fact that everybody jumps on the bandwagon of either asking readers (in cases of online magazines) for their opinion or people letting the world know what they think anyway. Let us keep in mind that we are talking about opinions based on promo pictures with actors/actresses in costumes that might still be in the works or based on blurry, barely audible video footage recorded from miles away.
Waiting months or even years for an anticipated movie does not mean I need all this time filled with ‘leaked’ material or vague hints at the plot, because the constant hype can be truly annoying and off-putting. Just imagine someone yelling at you about what an amazing, crazy ride you’re in for every day for an extended period of time – that is precisely what the over-exposure to pictures, recordings, and opinions feels like to me, and it’s become increasingly hard to walk away from.
By the time a hyped movie or TV series is finally released, I’m likely to have lost any and all interest I might have had in the beginning, because I feel like there can’t possibly be any surprises for me anymore.
The wait is what makes it exciting for me. Not knowing what exactly is in store for me is what makes it exciting. Heck, even forgetting about the date of release completely and suddenly remembering (or being reminded of) it is what makes it exciting for me. Being drowned in information, pictures and videos, however, does exactly the opposite.
I used to think it was the coolest thing to see set photos from films and TV sets that I was psyched or intrigued about. But then, something very clear happened: I was watching Avengers: Age of Ultron just recently, and one of the major plot points that is supposed to elicit some big feels from the audience just didn’t do it for me. It’s because I knew, sitting in the dark theater, the characters involved would be just fine later in the film due to seeing a picture of a scene that had yet to happen. And then it was clear to me: I needed to roll back my media ingestion so I could fully enjoy the storytelling and implications to capacity.
It seems everyone on here has a similar feeling. Surprises aren’t coming as big, and I think production companies know this and try to over-compensate in some other way. Suicide Squad is still filming but I already feel bored of the movie having seen so many clips and spoilers and pictures. I don’t mind a picture here or there of a character suited up, but there comes a tipping point where it just becomes too much.
I don’t think there is much [that] production companies can do to stem the flow of curious onlookers and bystanders snapping or filming away. Having security shoo everyone away would give them a bad rep and also make some seekers go to great lengths to get the candid shots. Heck, I snuck on to a closed set of Gotham that filmed in my town late at night and I made a promise to the crew I wouldn’t take pictures, film, or talk about what I saw publicly. Just standing there and watching Robin Lord Taylor do his thing was enough for me, and I got to revel in that solitary moment.
It’s almost sinful how attached we are to getting the first look of every film and television show. Media companies have been showing little respect for those of us now trying to shield our eyes away, outright posting spoilers in the title or the picture they choose as display. I have even had friends send me links to these spoilers asking me what I think. For now, I’ll keep my nose in my comic books and try for the life of me to avoid any more spoiler material. I miss surprises and the magic a good story can impart onto me.
Avoiding spoilers has become a skill of mine. I once played the first Mass Effect when it came out in 2007, and was able to avoid any and all spoilers for the series until I played the second and third games back-to-back in 2014. I calmly wait until Monday to watch Game of Thrones and still get my fix of Facebook and Twitter in the meantime without worry. Yea, I’m humble-bragging about my ability to steer clear of spoilers.
But I wouldn’t be able to do this without the help of media outlets like Kotaku, IGN, and Polygon, who seem to have made a living of writing articles that include (or are exclusively about) spoilers.
Still, nobody is infallible, and from time to time I do accidentally catch a few key words that ruin a key plot point in a game or movie. However, even with the occasional slip-up, I don’t have a problem with the “over-exposure” of media coverage for movies, TV, and video games.
Call me a typical American if you want, but I love to consume (I’m talking about information here, but I also admit to loving a good McDonald’s binge here and again). When a new game for one of my favorite franchises is announced (say, Final Fantasy XV), I can’t wait for a new preview video or article to drop. I want to see character bios and storylines and gameplay footage. The same goes for movies and TV shows – previews are great for the consumer.
Why all the praise for increased exposure and coverage? Because it keeps me excited when things look great, but more importantly it helps me judge whether something isn’t worth my time until it’s released.
This may sound unfair to movies, games, and shows, and I’m sure many people will say “Tim, you’re judging a book by it’s cover”; however, you’re wrong. I’m not judging whether to spend my hard-earned money and valuable time on something based on the “cover”, but by my perception of the quality of the content.
If a game looks like it’s got confusing gameplay elements or is just an unimaginative rehash of an overdone concept, I’m likely going to avoid it until I hear from others about their experience (people I trust on Twitter and IRL, not necessarily review sites). If a movie looks like it’s garbage then I’m not going to spend that $12 on a ticket (and you can TOTALLY tell this by the previews – you’re not fooling anyone by putting all the “good parts” in the trailer and expecting me to believe that the whole movie is gonna be that awesome, Michael Bay!). I like to use the overexposure to my advantage, and because of this I rarely make a bad decision when it comes to my time and money.
Do I sometimes miss out on sleepers that exceed expectations? Absolutely. Plus, I already admitted to running into the occasional spoiler. However, as long as the spoilers are easy to avoid (label things SPOILER ALERT in the title/tweet/post, people!) I openly welcome all the added attention that the media gives new releases. It frees me from having to drive all the way to Vancouver to demand my money back from EA Sports because NHL 15 was a waste of $60 (seriously, what a disgrace to the franchise).
So what do you think? Are you sick and tired of every little bit of a new movie being picked apart by the media? Or can you simply not get enough news about an upcoming video game? Let us know on Twitter, on Facebook, or in the comments below.
[Images via Entertainment Weekly]