Tuesday, August 10, 2010

More Eyesores

The two images above are unsettling side by side, I know, but I wanted to toss in my two cents about the 'Yogi Bear poster thing' and, while I suppose I could have done so without using any graphics, shock value cuts both ways and we're not exactly dealing with the most subtle subject matter here, so if you want to blame someone, blame Anchor Bay and Warner Bros., not me.

Poster on the left is the original one sheet for 'I Spit on Your Grave'. It was at the center of a riot of commentary online. Both mainstream and horror bloggers couldn't stand it. There were clamorous complaints: 'Too obvious', 'too direct', 'gross', 'simple-minded in its implications'. I thought the poster was so on-the-nose the movie might as well be called 'I Cut With a Pair of Garden Shears'. 

After a while we got another poster. This one was equally hated, but for more emotional and political reasons. 'Sexist!', 'glorifies rape', 'sexualizes violence' was the outcry.

A few days later distributor Anchor Bay announced 'I Spit on Your Grave' would be released unrated and would include the most graphic and repulsive depictions the MPAA demanded be cut in order that the movie secure an R-rating.

There was a third wave of negative comments: 'pure exploitation cinema' bloggers wailed. That was three in a row for Anchor Bay. 'I Spit on Your Grave' had gotten tons of free press thanks to marketing that was controversial and offensive, but in a contrived and obvious way. I dubbed it the 'I Spit on Your Rating System' approach to marketing, or I-SOYRS, aka: Eyesores Marketing. (Yes, I'm quite proud).

I-SOYRS utilizes promotional materials that are so overtly odious they inspire, as a reflex, highly energetic commentary by industry observers, which amounts to free advertising for the movie. It worked for Anchor Bay with 'I Spit on Your Grave', and now it looks like Warner Bros. may be trying the same approach for 'Yogi Bear'.

The poster on the (top) right is a vertical banner for 'Yogi Bear', a kids romp with Dan Aykroyd as Yogi and Justin Timberlake as Boo Boo. Both the position of the bears and the less than subtle tagline are sexual double entendres and a fairly unified protest has erupted (no sexual double entendre intended) on the web. Almost every movie site and blog has posted commentary, most of which runs along the lines of 'too obvious', 'too direct', 'gross', and 'simple-minded in its implications'. Whether the tone is jokey or serious, most everybody has had something to say about this poster since its release (no sexual double entendre intended). And all this press cost Warner Bros. nothing.

The technique might work quite well for a remake of a notoriously violent and gruesome horror movie. Marketing for 'I Spit on Your Grave' is supposed to be edgy. Even offensive. I can see horror fans reacting positively: "It's so gross the producers decided they had to release an unrated cut to maintain artistic integrity? I'm there."

But you have to wonder how the I-SOYRS method, using such a plodding and obvious tagline as 'Great things come in bears' with a smiling Yogi directly behind an innocent Boo Boo, can work for a kids movie like 'Yogi Bear'. What are parents supposed to think? 'I have to take my kid(s) to see this movie! The little brat(s) will shut up for 90 minutes and watch a stupid story that they'll love while me and the missus snicker at all the cool sexual double entendres'. That the double entendre in question may be about intercourse with children and/or young animals won't be part of the decision process, I suppose.

Is that really what Warner Bros. was going for?

So then, the target demographic group here is kids who happen to have childish idiotic parents who guffaw at childish idiotic sexual innuendo. I see... Way to go Warner Bros.

'Great things come in bears' has no meaning. It doesn't, literally, mean 'bears are great'. (Well, it might, but 'bears are great' is a much better way to say that). It could mean 'In bears you find great things', but that doesn't make much sense. As a sexual allusion, this tagline is a crippled effort. Really, it's a painfully simple and direct play on words -- a juvenile use of taboo sexual slang made all the more titillating by the fact that the line goes under Boo Boo's nose with Yogi looking over his shoulder (yes, from behind).

I can see the boys at Warner Marketing giggling, hands covering mouths.

If the point was to create a tagline as dumb as it is creepy so movie bloggers would have a field day, Warner Bros. succeeded. Negative commentary has spewed (no sexual double entendre intended) forth from nearly every movie site.

I wonder what eyesore Warner Marketing will come (no sexual double entendre intended) up with next to promote Yogi and Boo Boo. Whatever it is I'm sure it'll be as obvious as it is childish.

Of course, if it works, if the marketing for 'Yogi Bear' makes the movie a hit, then we'll be in for repeated volleys of sophomoric sexual humor, no matter how inappropriate to the subject matter of the movie at hand (no sexual double entendre intended), to promote Hollywood releases (no sexual double entendre intended).

Bad puns, childish use of risque sexual slang, and obvious graphics on movie posters will come, again and again, right in our faces, as we engage ourselves in intimate intercourse and/or congress with our favorite movie blogs.

William Hanna and Joseph Barbera would be proud.

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