I made the mistake of arriving 15 minutes early to Saturday's screening of Lincoln. Aside from some surprising historical inaccuracies in the film (i.e. Radical Reconstructionist Thaddeus Stevens depicted as a hero?; Lincoln portrayed as physically enfeebled?; etc.), my issues weren't with the movie but, rather, with the interminable, 38-minute-long advertising assault on my senses PRIOR to the flick's showing.
It began with non-stop ads for such upcoming TV swill as 'Cougartown'. That was followed by scores and score of 15- to 30-second TV spots for everything from video game headphones to breakfast cereal.
My wife was appalled, and grew increasingly agitated with each successive sales pitch. 'I can't believe this!' she said. I could. I told her the movie theatre is one of advertising's few, remaining refuges.
Unlike television, which affords us the gleeful (Glee was yet another bogus TV show that was hyped in the pre-movie assault, btw), option to TIVO or DVR our way past mindless commercials, movie aficionados are a captive audience.
And, after we were done being pummeled by a full 20-minutes of TV spots, the packed theatre was next assaulted with trailers from no fewer than 12 or 13 upcoming films. These ranged from a series of uber violent Westerns that would make Sam Peckinpaugh blush to three successive upcoming Disney rehashings of time worn material (i.e. The Wizard of Oz, etc.).
I checked my watch. A full 38-minutes had passed since we'd first settled into our comfy seats. That's nearly three-quarters of an hour that advertisers had stolen from my life. That may not seem like much to you, but it's precious to me.
Movie theaters are one of the few remaining refuges for advertising. Billboards, airports and the space above urinals are three others. And, the only reason these remain effective is because we, consumers, are a captive audience. We have no fast forward button in which to either speed past or, better yet, erase completely, the dreck in these venues.
Advertising will die. It's just a matter of when. What amazes me is the hundreds of millions of dollars marketers still pour into a medium that no one, and I mean, no one enjoys.
I'll save some of the other, glaring historical inaccuracies in Lincoln for a future blog, but here are a just a few to whet your appetite:
- The actor portraying Grant looked about 20 years older than the actual figure did in 1865.
- Despite Grant's diminutive 5'7" frame in real life, he stood eye-to-eye with the movie's Lincoln (a 6' 3" giant for his time).
- Secretary of War Edwin Stanton was relegated to a few, brief, supporting roles that did the entire movie a disservice.
- While Lincoln's assassination is depicted, the movie glosses over the horrific attack made that very same night on Secretary of State Seward (who, for some reason, is given a major role up until that seismic event).
- Finally, the average, U.S. history-challenged viewer is given the impression that Lincoln's plans for reconstructing the South were willingly implemented by a mourning, fawning administration. Try telling that to the Jim Crow South, the KKK, and legions of blacks who had to endure another 100 of oppression, etc.
Some scriptwriter clearly didn't read, 'Team of Rivals' (upon which the movie is based). I think a suitable punishment would be to force him (or her) to sit through the 38-minute barrage of ads, commercials and trailers that precede Lincoln's showing. In that case, the punishment would fit the crime.