2wenty minutes of goo

Went to see the latest Harry Potter flick last night and got —
no, I won’t say “assaulted”, I’ll say “oozed on” by the infomercials
Regal Cinemas started running earlier this year, some sludge called
“The 2wenty” that tries to be trendy and hip and cool and attractive
and fails miserably on all four counts.

I deduce from the existence of this thing that either (a) ad
executives have the brains of planaria, or (b) they’re engaged in a
conspiracy to waste their clients’ money. The 2wenty isn’t even the
kind of in-your-face bad that leaves an impression — it’s just
unbelievably lame-ass bland, a kind of elevator music dressed up
in video effects.

It’s all the more unbelievable that this thing got produced
because, presumably, it was done by people who get paid to be current
with popular culture. I’m just a 47-year-old white computer geek but
it is dead clear that even I have way more street cool than
whatever “creatives” they found to put the 2wenty
together, fo’shizzle. How did that happen? On the
production values alone they have to be sinking at least $300K a pop
into these, and they can’t out-hip one single aging baby-boomer?
Geez…I think I’m offended as much by their incompetence as by
its results.

Neil Postman and Naomi Klein and their ilk have made a growth
industry out of running around whining about consumer culture, how
it’s all a spectacle designed to distract people from what’s really
important. Never mind that their definition of “what’s really
important” is tired Marxist bullshit…if this is
representative of what the merchants of spectacle are pumping out,
they have no worries. The 2wenty couldn’t do an effective job of
distracting a hyperactive three-year-old. It’d be more likely
to put the tyke to sleep.

Ah well. I look on the bright side. When Big Media wastes money
and putative talent on this scale, it’s good news for the rest of us.
It’s resources they’re not spending on screwing up our culture or our
legal/political system in more effective ways.

UPDATE: After some discussion, my wife and I think we may have identified the 2wenty’s target demographic — early-teenage girls of the mall-rat persuasion.

Categorized as Culture


  1. I don’t know what 2wenty is, but I saw the stupidest film I’ve ever seen today.

    It was a documentary. It was at a tax-subsidized* IMAX theater. It was supposed to be about the moonshots.

    * I think; it’s the one at OMSI in Portland.

    I cannot put the awfulness to words. It was boring, completely content-free, and narrated by Tom Hanks. Now, most documentaries are content-free in that they only tell you trivia and leave out the juicy details. This was content-free in that it didn’t even have any trivia. The audience was promised the majesty of the universe and of human accomplishment and given cuteness and empty cello-and-trumpet duets.

    It was also disorganized and discontinuous.

    But the worst part was something I haven’t yet found the right word for. It was filled with a kind of contempt for Science. The producers handled the mighty topic of space exploration with carelessness, focusing on the trivial and making korny jokes about anything of gravity. The last thing we need is the 10-year-olds that the filmed seemed to be aimed at thinking that science is some kind of vast and venerable jest.

    It’s the kind of thing they’d do in church, or on the Cartoon Network.

    In a science museum.

  2. “Eric. You remember the name “2wenty”, don’t you? That’s all they’re after.”

    If you’re right, and the company’s right, and Eric’s right, then God help us all. :-)

  3. Eric,

    Don’t ever use “fo’shizzle” again. The thought of you doing it makes me cringe, and I’m white.

  4. Thank god we don’t have this in the UK. I had to look up (most articles that come up on google are slating it) what two-wenty was, The thought makes me cringe. I’m assuming it is aimed at people who watch shopping channels and other infomercial broardcasts.

  5. Eric, history is full of failed media ideas, many of which cost immense sums. Whether it’s advertising, or visual entertainment, or book publishing, the same rule applies that William Goldman defined for Hollywood: Nobody Knows Anything.

    Sometimes they spend a lot of money, and the result is magnificent. Sometimes they spend a lot of money and the result is worthless. Sometimes someone spends a little money and hits a jackpot. Most of the time, someone spends a little money and gets nothing.

    Goldman’s rule is a little too strong. There are some areas where people have at least some idea of what to do, and there are some models that work most of the time.

    Infomercials for movie intros are a niche that no one really knows what to do with. And even $1M apiece for a segment isn’t a very big budget. It’s unlikely that anyone genuinely clever worked on this. It’s not big enough to be an important failure.

  6. Eric,

    As parent of teen daughters, one of whom works at the mall,
    I can say with some authority that we don’t get 2wenty because
    we are 4rty. You know.

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