Thursday, 17 September 2009


Yes, it's the third installment of Hollywood Fail, and this time out I'm going to be tackling a very topical subject: product placement.

As UK readers will know, the laws in the UK have recently been relaxed so as to allow US-style product placement in TV shows. Part of me thinks the change is due to the relatively perilous financial situations of the big three commercial broadcasters (ITV, Channel 4 and Five respectively), and is seen as a quick fix solution to the plummeting advertising revenues.

Of course, this rather conveniently overlooks the fact that if you can't attract paying advertisers (due to the poor quality and thus low audience numbers of your show), then you probably won't be able to attract product placements either. Speaking personally, as a heterosexual male, I really can't think of a show on the ITV network that I can be bothered to watch, unless they have a football match or occasional movie I fancy seeing, so if I were trying to advertise a product aimed at 18-35 males, which show would I do it on? I'm stumped.

Critics of the idea believe it will lead to TV dramas becoming nothing more than one giant advert, somewhat akin to nightmarish future envisioned so capably in The Truman Show.

The best example of product placement would have to be the Bond movies, which, up until recently has done so in a fairly subtle manner, and even at their most blatant they're still a damn sight more subtle than the competition. However, there are those movies and TV shows which also get it horribly wrong, and prove the fiercest critics of product placement to be absolutely right.

For me, the award winner has to be Blade: Trinity, in which we see Jessica Biel downloading songs from her MacBook onto her iPod, as we are told that she likes to listen to her iPod while she hunts vampires.

Just take a second and allow the abject stupidity of this statement to sink in. You're going off to hunt down these deadly creatures that stealthily stalk around these dark, shadowy lairs, and you're going to do whilst negating one of your five senses which could conceivably alert you to their presence and/or location.

I'm guessing Nike passed on the opportunity to be her blindfold sponsor?

Jessica Biel is ridiculously hot, and as such I feel I could probably forgive her anything. Anything, that is, except this. It's stuff like this that Meat Loaf was going on about when he said he'd do anything for love, but he won't do that. Even her nude striptease and candlewax sequence in "Powder Blue"(totally NSFW, but totally worth it at the same time...!) seems like scant penance by comparison.

Sadly, it seems there are things that Hollywood also isn't prepared to do for love (of the artform), but there are plenty of things they are prepared to do for money, like completely violating any semblance of common sense and cinematic reality to accomodate an ill-thought out yet probably lucrative product placement.

Of course, we cannot let this topic go by without reflecting upon this scene from Wayne's World, in which they spoof product placement sellouts whilst actually being product placement sellouts themselves. In effect, Myers and Carvey are laughing with us, but at us too...and getting paid handsomely for it in the process. For me, it's the Alpha and Omega of the product placement debate.

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