prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

Archive for July, 2012

Dark Knight Falls Short

Posted by prof e on July 29, 2012

The latest in the Dark Knight series is struggling to bounce back from the tragic shooting in Aurora that appears to be having a greater impact on attendance than initially projected. It may appear callous to be talking about box office receipts and financial success when so many lives were lost and others were changed forever. But that is the nature of the business of big media. The studio, Warner Brothers, took steps to try to appear sensitive to the tragic shooting. They delayed reports of box office receipts that first weekend and cancelled premiere events in Paris, Mexico City and Tokyo. According to the WSJ, a spokesperson for the studio said, “We just felt it would be disrespectful and not the right thing to do to go forward.” Warner Bros also pulled trailers for Gangster Squad from theaters because of a scene that includes shooting up a movie theater. Meanwhile, security has been beefed-up and theater chains are implementing new rules about patrons showing up in outfits and masks.

Christian Bales’ surprise visit to patients in Aurora hospitals was certainly well-received by both the patients and the media. The visit may have been inspired by a Facebook viral campaign calling for the star to make a visit to the victims. And while I sincerely hope that the visit was made for all the right reasons, we’re sure to hear criticism from skeptics and cynics who question motives whenever fame and fortune is at stake.

Public Relations experts have been weighting in on the difficult position facing Warner Bros. Some had advised that all screenings of Dark Knight Rises be pulled for a short time. Others have argued for business as usual. According to a report by Fox News, Daniel Keeney, President of DPK Public Relations and PR crisis expert, believes that the best response is to acknowledge and move forward.

“There realistically is no way in the foreseeable future to extricate the Batman brand from this horrific tragedy,” he said. “So instead of hoping to get beyond this, the studio needs to accept that this event is a part of this movie from this point forward. A simple way to acknowledge this and recognize as well as honor the victims is to add a slide to the beginning of the movie along with a moment of silence prior to the start of the film.”

According to a report filed by LA radio station WKZO,

Ronn Torossian, chief executive of New York-based 5W Public Relations, agreed that the public “has a very short-term memory” of news events and said the Aurora shooting would not leave a long-term impact on film promotion. “Reality shows have had tragic suicides and other incidents, yet reality shows continue,” he said.

Of course it is entirely possible that Word-Of-Mouth and film critic reviews are responsible for the lackluster performance. But it is also possible that potential movie-goers are not in the mood for a film that will remind them of senseless killing by a deranged “Joker” from Aurora.


Posted in film, media effects, media industry, PR | 22 Comments »

Another Mass Shooting in Colorado: A Dark Night Indeed

Posted by prof e on July 20, 2012

Yesterday I posted a short entry and link to the Media & Society facebook page about the heated debate on Rotten Tomatoes about The Dark Knight Rises. The essence of the story, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, is that the comment section of the latest Batman film was out of control with trash talk and threat of physical violence because of a couple of unflattering reviews of the newest movie in the Batman franchise. Apparently fans of the series were not taking kindly to the negative reviews and, as often is the case with online discussions, the anonymity and deindividuation (I know it’s a big word…look it up) led to brutish behavior on the part of some.

This morning I woke up to horrible news that a gunman had opened fire in an Aurora (suburb of Denver, CO) theater where movie goers had gone to see the newest Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises. Dressed in a bullet-proof vest and gas mask, and with his hair colored red, the shooter opened canisters of gas and then opened fire with multiple weapons in the crowded theater. Some 71 persons were shot and 12 are reported killed. Taken into custody, the gunman–recently a PhD student at CU’s medical school–claimed to be the Joker, the villain portrayed by the late Heath Ledger in  the previous Batman film.

All of this will no doubt raise questions, and even political posturing, about the shooter’s motives and the state of our society. Some of these questions may be genuine attempts to deal with the loss by looking for explanations. Others may be asking questions in an effort to direct public dialog to topics in which they have political axes to grind. Some of the questions will look to the media. Was the shooter in any way influenced by the Batman movies? Are villainous portrayals on the big screen capable of triggering desperate acts by deranged individuals?

I began this blog with reference to the uncivil behavior in an online forum. Some might argue that this online incident is indicative of a greater social illness that found its final outlet in a horrific act of carnage. While causal links are incapable of providing explanations for the behavior of psychotic and deranged individuals, it won’t stop people from trying to connect the dots. There may well be connections to be made, but those will have to wait for now.

Posted in film, media effects, politics | 76 Comments »

American Idol Tryouts or Presidential Campaign?

Posted by prof e on July 17, 2012

Colorado is a swing state which means we’re going to be seeing a lot of political ads between now and November. Two that just hit the web, and the airwaves, feature our presidential hopefuls breaking out into song. Both are attack ads, which means the ad for Obama features Romney’s singing and the ad for Romney features the crooning of the President.

Here’s the Obama ad for your viewing, and listening, enjoyment…

I wanted to include the Romney ad, featuring Obama singing Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together, but a copyright claim by BMG Music resulted in the clip being pulled from YouTube. According to the Washington Post,

Romney’s campaign plans to fight the decision. “Our use was 100 percent proper, under fair use, and we plan to defend ourselves,” a spokesperson said. Other videos featuring the same clip of Obama remain on YouTube. (It’s not clear why the company has not challenged those videos.)

Now no one would seriously claim that vocal ability is a prerequisite for the highest office in the land, but the like-ability of the candidate is an important component and these ads may strike a chord with the electorate.

July 29 Update: According to Variety magazine, the Romney campaign came back with a new version of their ad featuring the singing of President Obama. You can see it on the Romney website.

Posted in advertising, politics, tv | 2 Comments »