The release of the trailer for the revival of an exhausted franchise is not a major cultural event.
Over the last couple of days, a lot of people who really ought to know better have been getting very excited over the imminent release of a trailer for a new Matrix film. Not the film itself, you understand, but a trailer – an advertisement for the revival of a franchise that was thoroughly exhausted and ground into the dirt a couple of decades ago and is now best-known for bringing us the concept of the Red Pill – so thanks for that.
This whole thing with promoting movies for months, if not years, in advance is a hellish collision of movie studios trying desperately to build an almost explosive hype for very ordinary films in order to secure that all-important opening weekend box office success, and websites that depend on clicks and so will dutifully buy into and boost the manufactured excitement. So we get trailers, teaser trailers and teasers for the teaser, all breathlessly reported by websites with excitable names and the integrity of a politician, with ‘release date’ countdowns and frenzied articles about what to expect – for the damned trailer, not the film; we get posters, alternative posters, teaser posters and stills – stills, for Christ sake! – announced as though they were newly-discovered prints of London After Midnight; we have 00:01 screenings on opening day – because who can possibly wait until daylight hours to see the latest edition of a franchise?
Obviously, in the grand scheme of things, none of this really matters. Let people have whatever pleasures they can find in this life, I guess. But just as the relentless spread of Starbucks forces indie coffee shops off the high street, so the relentless push of bloated and empty franchises by increasingly powerful and giant corporations that see films simply as a product – and the cynical support of click-hungry websites who report each new announcement as though it matters – is ultimately bad for the future of anything that isn’t a corporate franchise movie, because, like those indie coffee shops, they find themselves increasingly squeezed out, overlooked and ignored. And let’s not even get into the remarkable irony of people being manipulated by big, faceless corporations into getting excited about a Matrix movie.
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