Going to the movies these days is a really strange experience. I’m sure it hasn’t changed much and I’ve just become more aware of the strings. Still, I find it peculiar that I don’t see anyone else looking around thinking what the fuck is happening right now? Why are we subjecting ourselves to this? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the experience of being in a dark room, dwarfed by the action on screen. I love getting wrapped up in film plots, but the pre-show leaves me utterly puzzled.
First thing: You’re paying to see advertising. You’re paying for a ticket in order to go watch ads that these companies have paid the cinema to run. You give them cash for a ticket, they also get cash for having you there as a captive audience. I’d understand if this had something to do with a subsidy on ticket prices, but they keep going up. A standard film for an adult is $15.99 here in Canadia. Then you add on 3D (because it’s really difficult to find 2D showings of popular movies), which is another three dollars. Then ultra AVX. Then VIP because why the hell not. Soon enough you’re paying $25 to see a movie and you still have to sit through ads.
You think you’re smart turning up 15 minutes after showtime and only catching one trailer. Thing is, they don’t do assigned seating any more. It’s first come, first serve, so you’re incentivised to get there early or else suffer through neck pain for the next few days. The race for bums in seats has become a total arms race and instead of being fine to arrive on time, you need to arrive 15 minutes before showtime. So you get there early and wait through half an hour of paid content and you’re still out $16 at least. I don’t tend to watch many ads these days but holy shit, I’m not missing out. I’ve gone on before about how great New Zealand advertising is. It’s so often clever or celebrates the gloriously deadpan Kiwi humour. Adverts here are big and dumb and let you know it.
The advert that struck me as miraculously unnecessary was the Benylin cough syrup ad. Some personified cough/flu bug is flying around a box of Benylin, but fortunately their blue mascot man rises from the box and comes to the rescue. He’s like a blue fucking porn star. Head to toe muscle complete with an Adonis belt. This dude has fucking cum gutters. He grabs the cough bug and throws it into oblivion. Why the hell is this guy so ripped? It feels gratuitous to the extreme. What’s next? The Wendy’s girl with back dimples and a thigh gap? Did I need cough mixture to make me feel physically inadequate? I’m no prude, but this kind of over-sexualisation stinks of rushed creative and a lack of imagination.
Doesn’t it also seem strange that they play cellphone games in a theatre, when you’re supposed to come in and turn off your phone? I mean, let’s not kid ourselves here. It’s just another avenue for them to slip in paid content. While we were spared the multiple choice question of Popeye’s chicken is a) slow roasted for 12 hours, b) warm and juicy, c) delicious or d) just fucking buy our chicken, it was one big Star Wars ad. Then the winner in the theatre gets something like 50 scene points, which equate to earning 5% of a free movie. Why are people buying into this? How is this industry still running? Why can’t I decide if I want drink Benylin to soothe my throat or just fuck it?
Seeing a movie is supposed to be fun, so why do I leave exhausted?