Ever been around a group of people and feel like you're missing something because you're not in on a joke? For some, that can be an everyday part of life, but for others there are certain times when you just don't understand what the hell is going on. Well, I've been feeling the latter in the last few weeks mainly because of Snakes on a Plane.
From what I gather, people my age are attracted to the ludicrous nature of a film about snakes getting loose on a plane. There's something really funny about this concept, but they won't admit to why they think this is so funny. New Line Cinema has been led into thinking that people actually really want to enjoy this movie while people my age want something to laugh at. In other words, the same mindset that goes for "reality" shows wants to see Snakes on a Plane.
There is an odd sense of enjoyment in watching failure and embarrassment as long as it's not us looking at our own failures and embarrassing moments. We say sincere stuff along with cynical and ironic things every day in verbal conversations. But when we put just the cynicism and irony in print (be it a blog, message board post, e-mail, etc.) the subtleties and tone get thrown out the window. That said, I'm convinced that people started blogging about Snakes on a Plane mainly to laugh it. New Line thought these bloggers were sincerely excited, thus allowing extra days of filming and a rating upgrade to an R-rating. The studio knows that this isn't Citizen Kane, but I think they've been easily led into thinking that people really want to see this film for sincere reasons.
Remember when The Blair Witch Project came out? People were buzzing about it because it was a much different horror movie that was pretty scary. People wanted to be scared and had a genuine interest in the film. With Snakes on a Plane, I sense there is no genuine interest. I sense the worst in all of us putting stock in a cinematic equivalent of our parents singing along to "Don't Stop Believin'" in the shower. Are we so desperate in trying to take our minds off our own faults?
Last night, I talked with some friends of mine who are interested in seeing the film and I wanted to hear their thoughts about why they want to see it. They see this as an event and know this is not going to be a really dense film. I'm sure I'm going to hear more thoughts like these tonight when I meet up some other friends. Yet in a case like this, trying to get real answers feels like dental surgery without sedation. This is just like having someone explain to you an in-joke that isn't really funny in the first place. The joke itself gets one of those "You had to be there to understand" kind of explanations. I grumble at this.
The closest answers I've read online so far are from some of my favorite writers. Chuck Klosterman did a great piece for Esquire a while back and Peter Travers' review appeared online today. Travers hit the nail on the head with his write-up, including the fantastic final line of: "SoaP is a movie of its time, best remembered not for its content but for its motherfuckin' marketing campaign." A part of me wishes others would write the multi-pronged truth instead of a "hee-hee/haa-haa" cynical idea of truth.
Sure, Snakes on a Plane is set to make a lot of money for New Line and theater owners. I get the feeling that like the pile of forgettable spooky thrillers that came out following The Sixth Sense, we're in for a bumpy ride for what's coming out post-SoaP. I'm hoping somebody will eventually fess up and say "it was all a joke."