When Stupid Sells

I’ve seen this damn thing forty times todayI’ve seen this damn thing forty times today I must declare a bias as to me an expensive night seeing a Rod Stewart tribute act empowered with tired Ben Elton copy is less appealing to me than an evening showing of a documentary on foot fungus in modern culture. Nonetheless, these things sell and stick around like flatulence in a train carriage. I once wondered if I could reckon my own mortality by the longevity of the blockbusters: I might be ready to retire when Billy Elliot becomes a bad memory but will probably be surfing the dirt before Chicago runs out of shop worn starlets. A trip on London transport however, reveals saturation coverage for these things. A company called Dewynters has cornered the market for it all and gets all the cream – there are a couple of others but their markets seem to be restricted to the even more embarrassing world of Footloose and Bucks Fizz reunions. Now back in the neon 80s, they had some guy who came up with the sadly iconic imagery for Le Mis etc – the kind of logos on the stained sweatshirts of wannabe drama queens in the better schools. He died or something and so for a very long time this admittedly very successful company has been packing them in with the aid of things that look like they were snapped together by some Care in the Community chancer armed with a pirated copy of Office 97 and an old ‘royalty free clip art’ cover disc from a circa 1995 issue of MacUser. Combined with superlative quotes from the papers (I have lost track of the number of times Private Eye has revealed that “Enough energy to light up the West End” omits the second “is not enough to save this vapid tripe” bit of a sentence) and puns bad enough to make children cry.

It really is that godawful and completely stupid. Yet it seems to work. Or does the work itself not work at all – but the saturation use of media instead does the job? Would Ducktastic have pulled more box office if they got a work experience kid to play around with Photoshop a bit longer?

It’s quite a puzzle for me as these things are expensive entertainments with serious budget behind them and all aesthetics aside, such things usually command some kind of production values in their bumf.

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