People get paid for this crap?

I don’t know what it is, but within the last year or two, the synopses on the Apple movie trailers site have just become abysmal. Not so much in content — though a few of them are irritatingly content-free, leaving me with no sense of what the film is about — but style. A sentence from the synopsis for Lovely, Still: “What begins as an odd and awkward encounter quickly blossoms into what appears to be a romantic late life love affair that takes us on a heartfelt and wonderful journey which takes an unexpected turn.”

Okay, seriously? The first thing that caught me was the repetition of “takes,” which made me notice they had this whole daisy-chain of subordinate clauses, plus you’ve got that “appears to be” (what, is it actually a CIA plot? a behavioral experiment by a psych student? a dream in the head of an old man in a nursing home, that he’ll wake up from at the end?) cluttering up your sentence, and gahhhhhhhhh. Not to mention the tendency in these things to tell me how heartfelt and moving or thrilling or hilarious or whatever the film will be, which really makes me want to hit the writer with a raw fish, because if you tell me that, I automatically disbelieve you. And don’t get me started on the hideous cliches that get deployed in some of these things.

I don’t know where they get them from, but I hope to god it isn’t the marketing department for the films themselves. It would be appalling to think the people who pour months or years of their lives into making a movie would pay somebody to promote it so badly.

0 Responses to “People get paid for this crap?”

  1. moonandserpent

    It usually is some low-level but highly paid PR flack with the studio. The goal is to keep it vague but while punching up any aspects that the studio wants to emphasize and maintaining a Fifth/Sixth-grade level readability. When writing copy like this, you WANT to tell the audience if it’s quirky or romantic or heartfelt or thrilling because the conventional wisdom is that the bulk of the people reading your add will want to know how it’s going to make them feel ahead of time.

    (And there is some evidence to indicate that pre-loading expectations like that actually does influence reception a bit. If someone has been told its hilarious, they’re more likely to laugh.)

    It’s all somewhere on my list of Reasons Why I Hate Everything.

    • Anonymous

      You said not to tell you that it’s someone from marketing. So I won’t.

      It is, instead, worse: It’s someone who hasn’t seen the film — not even a rough cut, and possibly not even trailers. At most, he/she has seen a few publicity stills, many of which (in a typical pre-release publicity package) are of scenes that do not appear in the film; they’re outtakes, or posed publicity shots, or even photoshopped nonsense.

      If this sounds a lot like how catalog copy gets written in the publishing industry, you’re absolutely right… only there’s less guidance in the film industry, and even less opportunity for sanity-checking with someone who does know what’s in the work.

      What, me cynical about blurbs? After the Beardstown Ladies fiasco? After the nonexistent review fiasco? Never!

      • Marie Brennan

        I wish I were surprised by that, but I’m not. Instead I just wish these people could string together a decent sentence, even if it’s about something they’ve never seen.

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