Ask The LAMB #9

by Jason Soto · November 30, 2012 · Ask The LAMB, Featured, Periodic Features · 2 Comments

It’s a new day, time for a new Ask The LAMB!!!

Why is does Common Sense Media consider “consumerism” to be objectionable in movies?
The website commonsensemedia.org has some helpful warnings to help parents make informed decisions about what movies (and other media) they allow their children to see (or just anyone who was offended by certain content could know what they’re seeing beforehand to make an informed decision). They do a decent job of explaining how sex, violence, profanity and drugs/alcohol are portrayed in a film, and how heavy the content is.

However, as one of their warning criteria, they have “consumerism” listed. In other words, if there is a visible “Pepsi” label in a movie, this gives it a higher consumerism warning (and like the other categories, the more of this that there is, the higher the consumerism warning gets). My question is, why would this be a concern for anyone? Why would anyone not allow a child to see a movie because of consumerism? I have a hard time imagining someone saying that they wouldn’t allow their child to see a movie because they were too many Chevrolet labels in it…I’m just curious.

Adam:

Common Sense Media isn’t equating Consumerism with Sex or Drugs.  They’re just warning parents that some movies are essentially commercials that will have their idiot kids begging for more crap they don’t need. The Common Sense Media website ties consumerism to two things: Product Placement and Merchandising.

Making a movie obviously costs a lot of money, and companies are willing to shell out a lot of money to have their product advertised to a captive audience, so product placement is sort of a necessary evil in movies nowadays.  While most kids who see a Chevy logo in a movie aren’t going to beg their parents to go out and buy a new car, the same can’t be said about other products. 

I don’t have kids, nor do I watch many newer kids movies, so lets just flashback to the product placement from my childhood in the late 80′s/early 90′s.  If you saw Mac & Me, you just sat through a nearly 2 hour McDonald’s commercial.  If you went to see TMNT, you suddenly had a taste for Domino’s Pizza.  If you went to see The Wizard, you had to have Super Mario Bros. 3, which wasn’t even released in this country until two months after the movie came out. 

Then there’s merchandising.  You just spent $40 taking your two kids to see a movie just to shut them up for a few hours, and now they need a Happy Meal for the movie tie-in toy.  Or a $50 video game that will invariably suck.  Or action figures, books, clothes, bed sheets, crappy plastic cups, etc.  I won’t even start on the diabolical Toy Story franchise, where the characters in the movie are both the product placement and the merchandise.  It must suck to be a parent.

Dylan:

Objectionable is a strong term, but I can certainly understand, at the very least, people choosing to avoid particularly consumerist films, either for themselves or their children.  While marketing might not be inherently evil, it is pervasive, and one could make the argument that the inclusion (or over-inclusion) of a number of product placements within a film detracts from whatever “art” might be otherwise visible and/or has clouded the vision of the filmmaker(s).  Was the product placement a distraction for the viewer?  Was it in-your-face?  Would parents wish to avoid particularly consumerist films (particularly films aimed at children) in the hopes that their children come away with something more meaningful than “Mommy!  Daddy!  I want THAT and THAT!!”  These concerns might not belong in the same ballpark as violence, gore, or other adult issues, but I think they’re still valid ones.

Jason:

I honestly don’t see the problem with consumerism in films. I mean all these PEPSI companies need to make money somehow right? TOYOTA! Without product placement, JOE’S CRAB SHACK the economy would be in worst shape TYLENOL than it is now. And if you think the economy is bad now DOUG & SUE’S DILDO EMPORIUM just imagine what it’d be like HOMELAND ON SHOWTIME without it. People would be even more broke, there’d be more homeless people on the streets LMFAO: LIVE IN VEGAS DECEMBER 20th, 21st, AND 22nd GET YOUR TICKETS NOW and you wouldn’t want that would you?  PREPARATION H! FOR HEMORRHOIDS!

Nostalgia with Lawrence of Arabia and other older films?
Because everyone gives Lawrence of Arabia such high praise, I decided to buy the Blu-ray for $20 (I never buy Blu-rays or DVDs). I was so excited to sit down and finally watch the film; however, now I kinda wish I never bought it.

First off, Lawrence of Arabia is an incredible looking film with an iconic score (I started smiling during the bike scene); however, I can’t really find anything else worth liking about the film. Honestly, for the most part, I think the dialogue is actually quite boring and stale. I really wanted to like this film, but I just couldn’t. Listen, I’m not some action junkie who only watches movies for special effects. In fact, I’m someone who’s usually bored to death by action movies. With that said, I just can’t figure out why I’m not loving this film like everyone else.

I’m not trying to put Lawrence of Arabia down in any way, but do you think it could be some form of nostalgia? Lawrence of Arabia is groundbreaking for the time (it even holds up well), but I can’t help but think that nostalgia is the reason why some people love it so much. I didn’t grow up in the 60′s, so that could be the reason why I have such an under-appreciative reaction towards the film. But I don’t that’s entirely it. Although I didn’t love the ending to 2001, I still really enjoyed it. However, I can’t really say the same for LoA.

Quite frankly, I’d much rather watch a marathon of There Will Be Blood, The Master, and No Country for Old Men any day of the week than watch LoA again. In my opinion, those are FAR better films anyway.

What do you think?

Simon:

In the first instance, its entirely possible that you simply dislike Lawrence of Arabia. That’s ok. There are always films that, despite their ridiculous success and cultural status simply don’t create the same rush of emotions that a personal favourite does. Indeed, film critic Armond White argues that Paul W.S. Anderson (Resident Evil: Extinction) is a far more competent director in comparison to Paul Thomas Anderson – director of There will be Blood and The Master
 
But I think, as an film-critic, it is neccessary to research the issue. or most film-bloggers, we have rarely been born before 1977 - many bloggers born in the 1990′s! So, those film-bloggers (myself included) who adore Lawrence of Arabia have a completely different appreciation than mere nostalgia. I believe it is an initial sense of awe that, as you rightly stated, is established via the score and epic-scale David Lean managed to create. But there are other factors which will justify the status of Lawrence of Arabia. David Lean, as a director, moved to the US to direct films after an exceptional run in Britain with incredible small-scale films Brief Encounter and Great Expectations. In the US, alongside Lawrence of Arabia, he directed The Bridge on the River Kwai and Doctoer Zhivago. Consequently, these films – and specifically Lawrence of Arabiabecame a huge influence to filmmakers in the 70′s and onwards. Indeed, Spielberg states how this film is his favourite – and you can see it’s influence in Indiana Jones. Other films that owe a huge debt to Lawrence of Arabia include Kingdom of Heaven and, strangely, The Spy Who Loved Me. I would find a book that analyses the cultural impact of Lawrence of Arabia, and I’m sure you will find more to appreciate about it.
 
I don’t believe you are an ‘action junkie’ but criticising the film as “boring and stale” is weak - it requires more to defend your point. How do you define boring? It’s four-hours long, so is that the problem? Because, I doubt David Lean had a problem with that – clearly his intention was a film that is all-encompassing and epic in scale and length. Though not entirely accurate, it is based on a true story – so that couldn’t be changed. To defend your argument that the film is not worth the acclaim it is given, I would advise you to read more critics who take contrary stances against films. Bosley Crowther and Andrew Sarris criticised Lawrence of Arabia for lacking depth and portraying an indefinate portrayal of Lawrence – hunt these reviews out, maybe they support your opinion! Roger Ebert famously disliked Bonnie and Clyde … in fact, many critics have an achilles heel, but what is crucial is that they support their stance through informed, intelligent writing. “Boring” is the type of criticism a 10-year-old would give.

Nolahn:

Damn, I want to live in the world where you live. In your world, everyone loves Lawrence of Arabia. In my world, everyone thinks the Transformer movies are fantastic and people circle opening weekend for the next Resident Evil movie on their calendars. So anyway, here’s a thought: Maybe you just didn’t like Lawrence of Arabia.
You’re allowed. It’s okay. Here, I’ll show you with some actual opinions I have on highly regarded films:
  • Home Alone and There’s Something About Mary are not just unfunny, they’re unenjoyably cruel
  • The Dark Knight is vastly overrated, and dull whenever Heath Ledger’s Joker isn’t onscreen
  • Oldboy is a frustrating mess, all build up and absolutely zero pay-off
  • The Godfather is better than The Godfather Part II
  • 2001 is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship, and a pretentious bore
  • Kick Ass is obnoxiously schizophrenic
  • Disney’s Cinderella is awful and teaches young girls all the wrong things
  • The Deer Hunter is twice as long as it should be
  • I have yet to make it through the first 30 minutes of Dr. Strangelove without completely losing interest
See? That wasn’t so bad.
Now that I’ve offended every other reader, let’s talk about that “nostalgia”… Maybe? I know I can get nostalgic for a number of mediocre-at-best ’80s movies, so why not? Maybe when you’re old and crusty like me, you’ll get all nostalgic for all those superhero films they used to make and the early works of four-time Academy Award winner Seth Rogan.
Look at it this way: there’s this main list of films that EVERY film connoisseur says are THE BEST films of all time – films that you, as a conscientious film-watcher, have to watch before you can call yourself a film fan.  High on that list are, indeed, films such as “2001″, “Citizen Kane”, and “Lawrence Of Arabia”.  But even though a film is groundbreaking and takes chances when it is first released, many of those groundbreaking innovations are in service of a film that otherwise would not have been given a second glance.  Many times it’s because we’ve seen wide shots, proportional differences, dialogue flourishes par excellence and magic with shadowing so many hundreds of thousands of times before?
But not being overly-enthralled with a film considered “important” does not make you a “non-fan” of a film, as it were.  Different people have different tastes for movie and when it comes to the big ones that everybody watches on their AFI list, we’re not gonna all like the same things.  In essence, for every Siskel there’s an Ebert.
And by the way, I LOVE “Lawrence Of Arabia” because of all the intricacy of details in visual and aural moments.  But I didn’t like “There Will Be Blood”.  Go figure.

Looking for a romanict/humor movie?
i really want to watch a movie with a teen girl like 13 or so… And she is shy/funny/wired not many friends but she falls in love with a popual guy, something like that please!! i don’t like movie with love trangles but i’m ok with them olny when it’s a mean girl after the guy and the main girl gets him in the end i’m only ok with it when it’s like that.

Jason:

You didn’t say but I’m hoping you’re within the ages of 12-15. Sixteen might be pushing it but I dunno what the sex laws are in your state. I live in Indiana, where it’s OK to marry your 16-year-old cousin but it’s NOT OK to buy booze on Sundays. Anyway, I don’t really watch romantic movies BUT I do live with a female and I will ask her what she thinks.

According to her you need to “SHUT UP AND LEAVE ME ALONE YOU FUCKING MORON!!” I dunno if that’s sound advice but it’s from a woman, so why not? If all else fails, watch something like “The Notebook” or “Titanic” or “Drive”. People seem to like that Ryan Gosling guy. So try that.

Heather:

For a romantic comedy I’d recommend not watching them usually, but a few manage to be tolerable.  The wedding singer is good and so is crazy stupid Love.

Matt:

Dear rapist,

I’m not sure what you’re really asking for with this magnificent question. In fact, the only thing I got out of your inquiry is that you’re looking for an awkward 13-year-old girl to have a love triangle with, but only if the other girl is mean. Anyway, I think that… actually, you probably don’t even know what any of this says since it’s not in your native language.

Please, allow me to start over:

dear rapist. i not sure what you asking for this magnificent question… In fact only thing out your inquiry is that you’re looking for awkward/13/yeaold/girl/love triangle with but olny if the other girl is mean. Anyway I think shes all taht/mean girls/cruel intentions work for what looking for in your rape date wiht 13 years old.

Good luck.

Should I let my pet fork watch PG 13 movies?
I feel like my pet fork is getting to the age where he can watch PG 13 movies but I don’t know if I should.

The Great White Dope:

The average age for a fork to watch a PG-13 is at least 15 years, so as long as your pet fork is THAT old, there’s no problem.
I know, I know: “PG-13″ should be “13″… but who wants an emotionally-damaged fork? 
Heather:
The truth is a fork should never see a PG13 movie….only once they become a spork they are ready.
Simon:
You need to see a doctor before you watch another film.
 
IF YOU HAVE A QUESTION OR PROBLEM THAT YOU’D LIKE US TO SOLVE OR ANSWER FOR YOU, SEND IT TO invasionofthebmovies@gmail.com. YOU CAN BE ANONYMOUS OR YOU CAN INCLUDE YOUR NAME AND WEBSITE! IT’S UP TO YOU!!
 
Thanks for reading!
-Jason

2 Responses to Ask The LAMB #9

  1. simoncolumb says:

    God. my typos are awful. Mental note: re-read answers before hitting send

  2. Dylan Dylan says:

    This was indeed fantastic. Well done, Jason, and other Answerers.

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