Thursday, July 31, 2008

Fanboys and Fatigue

Today on Newsarama, I read this op/ed piece about fighting fanboy fatigue. Apparently the author is tired of the summer movie season and is blockbuster-ed out.

The author, Michael Avila, has the opinion that when there are too many summer blockbusters, one after the other, they lose their specialness and become just one of many. The market is over saturated with comic book movies and CGI-laden monster hits. Movies such as Iron Man and The Dark Knight stand out, while the "smaller" blockbusters such as
Wanted, Prince Caspian, Speed Racer, Hellboy 2 and The Incredible Hulk suffer. They lose their gleam.

Movies from before were events that people cherished, according to Avila, and people talked about, savoring them for days and even weeks. But now, with the constant onslaught of movies, no one can savor a movie. It drops from their memory as soon as the next movie comes out.

Hellboy 2 is the film he offers as proof of this. Even though it's "deserving" of blockbuster status and wealth, because another movie came out the week after, it took a 77% percent drop in ticket sales. It would have fared better in March, Avila argues. He submits Lionsgate as a positive considering they're putting out The Spirit and Punisher: War Zone in December.

He concludes by asking the film industry to spread the wealth and make genre films go all year, considering that genre fans are genre fans all year long.

I can agree with his sentiment about Hellboy 2 and about genre fans being genre fans all year long. But the root of his argument, about way back in the day when films meant something thanks to anticipation smacks of the ultimate fanboy reliance: nostalgia. Avila sounds wistful for an era where genre movies weren't thrown at you all the time, but he offers up Aliens 2 and Terminator: Judgment Day as examples, both of which, I might add, are sequels from the sequel-saturated decade of the eighties. You must have been a teenager in the eighties, Avila, because you seem to be expressing nostalgia at its worst.

Since
Jaws, the summer season has been where the biggest summer movies go. The biggest and most effects-laden. Possibly one of the biggest exceptions was the Lord of the Rings trilogy, another example of the by-gone era that Avila mourns for.

He laments that since the geek has become the uberspokesman for the pop culture world, the geeks themselves have become desensitized, novocained against the blockbuster. But the consequence of becoming the spokesman is that the market is now made for us. Hollywood is running a business, after all. If movies weren't making this much money in the summer, they wouldn't be releasing them in the summer. Also, on the same logic, if geeks were truly over saturated with films, they wouldn't go see them.

The summer movie blockbuster is a simple case of supply and demand. Obviously geeks are demanding these movies and Hollywood is more than happy to supply it.

I can't say that I'm over saturated by movies. I haven't seen all of the big blockbusters. But I've also seen a lot of effects-laden big budget movies this summer, at home and in the theatre and I'm not tired of them yet.

Avila concludes that he wants to see some indie movies as counter programming, as if there were no indie movies circulating around in the summer time. Absolute nonsense. In Winnipeg, we have two indie theatres, one big and one little. The little one plays the really obscure stuff and the bigger one plays the medium to small movies such as Guy Maddin's My Winnipeg and Global Metal.

The movie market is huge because there's a lot of money to be had. The movie market is also huge because there's a lot of diversity in tastes and genres. If you're sick and tired of blockbusters in the summer, stop going to see them. Support your local film scene and your indie scene and you'll see more indie movies in the summer.

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