The Bridge: Pop Culture is having a bit of a moment – and it isn’t pretty. We’re seeing fanbases shut down entire franchises before they even take off. Are we facing a future where the media will eat itself?
The Ongoing Death of the Silver Screen
Gone are the days where audiences could walk into a movie theater with limited knowledge of the film they were about to enjoy. Today, months (or years) of pre-production, teasers, trailers, gossip columns, Twitter, and similar outlets can all but spoil the simple pleasure of watching a good flick. Drama, canceled celebrities, fanbase fights – we’ve seen it all.
Girlboss Olivia Wilde and the cast of high-profile celebrities from her latest film production have been recently embroiled in a swirl of controversy and gossip. While promoting her 2nd film as director, social media has been ablaze with some downright weirdness – from Chris Pine apparently dissociating on camera, to whether Harry Styles spit on his co star in full view of everyone in attendance.
In the case of the Don’t Worry Darling press junket, the controversy is almost certainly a good thing. The movie is evidently mediocre. But the point is that our minds were stirred into a frenzy from the strange happenings, and now everyone is talking about it. It’s gone viral, and that’s good for getting butts in seats. And no one on the cast has misbehaved – too much, anyway.
You Shall Not Pass
Not so good is the response to some recent high-budget undertakings from Disney and Amazon, released right to streaming services. She Hulk and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power both faced review bombings so brutal that in the latter case, Amazon had to step in to disable the comments and reviews entirely. No matter what critics said, audiences were not happy.
Whether either show is “good” is clearly subjective. But what the majority of potential watchers know now is that public perception is terrible.
This sort of preemptive criticism is surprisingly not new, but never has it been more easily accessible by younger audiences.
Nor has it ever been so expensive – take the case of the highly anticipated Sonic the Hedgehog movie back in 2020. The year before, a trailer was dropped that sent the internet into collective stitches – they couldn’t stop themselves from dunking on the main character, an iconic blue sneaker-wearing hedgehog, that looked laughably bad. So bad, in fact, that the studio delayed the release of the film and the director and his crew scrambled to revamp the entire film to “fix” it. This cost the studio over $5 million dollars – and some of their street cred.
Another notable example is the instant shredding of the video game The Last of Us 2, which created a vicious schism between the series’ fans and saw the studio apparently doing damage control in the years since.
The underlying point here is that it’s almost impossible to know if anything “successful” these days is an actual success, or if they just have a good PR team. Movies, TV series, video games – there are examples everywhere. Fans seem to have the power to make or break something before it ever takes flight. Where this will lead is anyone’s guess – but we’ll keep an eye out for you.