Monday, March 29, 2010

critics, e4, and the curse of trailers

"Why would you base your decision to see a film on the opinion of a critic?"

This is a question that has been asked of me more than once by several people. They point out, quite reasonably, that there is no guarantee that said critic will be correct. I might well enjoy the film anyway. Its true, I might, and if I had infinite time and money, I'm pretty sure I'd see practically every film that was on. I don't, however, and must make targeted choices. What do these people base their opinions on? Trailers. Trailers are the devil, as I shall expound later.

A good critic should not just give you their opinion for a film, they should also give their basis for it. If you understand them, and a good critic should be able to communicate effectively, then you should be able to appreciate whether you'll agree with them. This won't always work- you can see cliches as fun or awful, depending on your particular take, and two very smart people can see very different things in the same film. Still, good reviews (I should really seperate critisism and reviews, which are seperate things), should give you an idea of what someone would like or dislike about a film.

Trailers do none of these things. Trailers are DESIGNED to misleading, and, even worse, they can often mislead you in the wrong direction. Trailers are designed for a demographic, and to appeal to that demographic only, to the point where they can be actively offputting to people not in that demographic.

e4 is my favourite example. As far as I can tell, they assume their audience are half wits who find the twaddle they consider "humour" amusing, to the point where they will undersell perfectly good shows. Watch a trailer for any of e4's comedys, and find me a bit where they actually manage to indicate any of that shows merits. Quite frequently they will simply take snippets from the show and pretend that they are having a conversation. This might be fine to someone familiar with said show, but to someone new, they have utterly failed to give me a reason to watch the sodding thing.

A case in point is the Big Bang Theory. I had assumed from the trailers that it would be devoid of laughs, so imagine my surprise when the other night I decided to settle on an episode. Heaven forbid... it was really quite funny! It wasn't the greatest example of comedy ever found by any means, but it was enjoyable, and certainly a lot better than certain other imports. Thanks to e4's genius, I had been denying myself a perfectly good show.

Trailers are the devil. They will mislead, and they will not help. Avoid them at all costs.

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