First of all, hello to all the new people who discovered us at the Calgary Comic Expo! Or, if you’re a regular reader and would like to visit us this weekend, we’re in booth 4540 in the Big Four building. We hope to see you stop by! Okay, article time. So, I just got home from seeing The Fate of the Furious. This isn’t a review of that – if you liked the last seven of them you’ll like the eighth one, that’s all there is to that. What I want to talk about instead is one of the positives of the writing of the, uh, “and Furious” franchise. To a lot of people those are pretty few and far between, so I think it’s only fair to point out when they do something really really correct.
As far as I know there isn’t really a concrete term for what I’m describing, so for the purposes of this article we’re going to talk about this in terms of thematic resonance, or how strongly you relate to the subtext presented in a work. This ties very strongly into my previous article, “On Subjectivity.” (Funnily enough, after writing that article, Greg said it was one of the best articles I’d ever written, while I think that some of my earlier stuff is a little better.) The short definition is this: You’re gonna like stuff that hits you in the feelings more than stuff that doesn’t. This is not surprising. If that’s surprising to you, it’s possible that you’ve never actually seen a movie before. But it does explain a lot of stuff. I have an excellent case study for exactly this topic:
From the opposite side of the equation this is called “knowing your audience.” Knowing your audience doesn’t guarantee a good movie, but it does typically guarantee a profitable movie. The Fast and the Furious movies know their audience perhaps better than everyone except one filmmaker on the planet: Michael Bay.
There are a lot of people, myself included, who shit on Michael Bay pretty relentlessly. For one thing, he wrecked the Transformers franchise for me, and while they were better than that, he also fucked with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which gives him two strikes in my nerd culture book.
Yet the Transformers films have grossed almost $3.8 billion over the course of their lifetime. Despite having an 18% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the oft-forgotten Age of Extinction grossed over a billion dollars on its own. Handily. Why? Because Michael Bay knows his audience.
The man is your go-to summer blockbuster guy. Michael Bay isn’t winning any Oscars because he’s not going for Oscars – he’s going for the kind of popcorn flicks that get butts in seats when kids are off school in July. It doesn’t matter how poorly his films are received for being trite and explosion-y because his target audience is looking for a trite movie that’s full of explosions.
It’s easy to dismiss Michael Bay as someone who doesn’t know how to make movies. It’s an extremely tempting notion because it lets us disregard him without having to think too hard. But the man knows what he’s doing, both as a marketer and as a student of the craft of film. His shots are well crafted, and on the occasional time that he’s delved into something slightly deeper than a rain puddle (The Rock, for instance) he’s shown he has a strong understanding of visual storytelling. That means that he’s making lowest-common-denominator action films on purpose. Why? Say it with me now. Because the man knows his audience.
Fate of the Furious does something similar, both in terms of plot and in terms of what I was alluding to earlier—theme. The series plays on extremely universal and wide-reaching thematic beats: Fraternity, loyalty, self-determination, etc. These things synergize very naturally with the hyper-machismo aesthetic of the films to make them extremely appealing to a large male audience.
Hoo boy. Okay.
So, if you’re one of those people who’s only following wrestling by checking out all of the awesome content that I put out (and really, I assume that’s all of you) then you know nothing about all of the black magic fuckery that’s been going on in the last two weeks. It all began with this wacky thing called the Superstar Shakeup. We talked about it a bit on the last Title Hunt podcast.
So, a couple weeks ago Billy posted an article about why everyone calls Adam “Beast” in Beauty and the Beast. It got a couple people thinking, myself included, but in the end we all kind of just giggled to ourselves and moved on with life.BUT THEN.
After browsing the internet for a while the answer was brought to my attention. I’d like all of our viewers to consider the following scenario:
Scott Watmough has many strong opinions about many things that he knows very little about. They're usually about video games.