January 11, 2010

(Movie) News You Need to Know: Suburban Stereotypes & Na'vi Nerds

An entertaining and interactive New York Times data map has been circulating around the internet like wildfire over the weekend (thanks, Kathie, for the tip). Everybody who cares about movies and the movie industry has had a lot of fun playing with it, including me - now it's your turn. It's simply a color coded map of 12 metro areas showing which films were rented by Netflix subscribers in each zip code. On the micro level you can see the top 10 most popular films in your neighborhood, for example, and on the macro level (where the picture really changes), you can see how different the viewing habits are between, for example, city-dwellers and suburbanites and between the West Coast and the East Coast. Being a proud city-dweller myself, I have to take a minute to poke some fun at the suburbanites, at least in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

- Most popular rental across the board: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. A nationwide trend, no doubt spurned on by a huge number of Oscar nominations last year and the star power of Brad Pitt. Not a bad pick by the suburbanites, actually.

- Body of Lies. Well I'm obviously disappointed this got as much rental action as it did, but if there is one thing suburbanites love it's a story of an American playing a ruthless hero over there in one of those Middle Eastern countries. This was the 36th most popular title in my neighborhood (55408), but the 3rd most popular up near Rogers and St. Cloud - the heart of Michelle Bachmann's district.

- Milk. No real shocker here - Minneapolis is pure red while some of the outlying suburbs don't have it in their top 50 most rented titles.

- Paul Blart: Mall Cop - Sigh. I tried, hopelessly, to steer Minnesotans away from this movie. It looks like Star Tribune subscribers got the message (the entire city is completely white, meaning it was not in the top 50), whereas the sophisticated residents of Blaine couldn't get enough of this mindless comedy. #1 in Blaine was Seven Pounds, #3 was Blart and #4 was Changeling. A trifecta of terrible (and terribly reviewed) movies arriving in mailboxes up there in 55434.

- Virtually nobody outside of the inner ring rented either W. or Religulous. Makes perfect sense. Virtually nobody inside the inner ring rented New in Town, set in New Ulm, MN. Also makes sense.

- Apparently nobody in the cities or suburbs rented Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys, Not Easily Broken, or Cadillac Records (the least rented title in the metro area, despite the fact that I personally rented it via Netflix); the maps are completely white, and I mean that figuratively, not in the context of movie rentals..


"Audiences Experience Avatar Blues"

Last year I created a meme about favorite movie periods and places in an attempt to see which film settings enraptured fellow movie fans. It was for fun of course, since we're all cognizant of reality and we understand that movies are movies and we cannot actually enter them. It seems this harsh truth is creating a major problem for fans of James Cameron's Avatar, however. So much did they fall in love with Pandora, the planet that he breathtakingly created from thin air, that they've become severely depressed that they can't go there. Online movie forums have been flooded with fans trying to help each other cope about life here on boring ol' Earth. Here's one distrubing comment from someone named Mike:

""Ever since I went to see Avatar I have been depressed. Watching the wonderful world of Pandora and all the Na'vi made me want to be one of them. I can't stop thinking about all the things that happened in the film and all of the tears and shivers I got from it," Mike posted. "I even contemplate suicide thinking that if I do it I will be rebirthed in a world similar to Pandora and the everything is the same as in Avatar.""

People have been crazy since the beginning of time, but a detail at the end of the article begs a new question for me about our current culture. Apparently one of the recommended coping mechanisms for depressed fans is playing the Avatar video game. But to what extent, I wonder, have the advancement of video games and dazzling virtual fantasy worlds created these problems in the first place?

I remember reading another article last year (here it is) about Japanese gamers falling in love with video game characters and online avatars - even marrying them in real life. People are losing touch with reality in a big way, and every new development in technology and graphics helps blend fantasy with reality even further. So we should we at some point begin to be concerned about movies like Avatar, or The Dark Knight, or Watchmen, wherein rabid fans can lose sight of the real world around them?

1 comment:

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