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"Let us assume you're in the target audience for 'Snakes on a Plane.'"
July 28, 2006 6:09 PM   Subscribe

The "Snakes on a Plane" Problem. "The tragedy of the best titled movie in the history of film."
posted by kirkaracha (126 comments total)

 
True story: My friend Jenny is in law school, and one of her classmates went to a movie in April. When the coming attractions started, the first image was of dozens of unsuspecting plane passengers sitting in the cabin of an airborne 757. The moment he saw this, the mischievous law student yelled, "Snakes on a plane!" presumably to amuse and unify the other patrons. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a trailer for United 93, which significantly reduced the hilarity of his outburst.

If by "reduced" you mean "increased," yes!
posted by chrominance at 6:15 PM on July 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


If it is a hit, then I wonder what they'll title the porn knock offs.
posted by TwelveTwo at 6:19 PM on July 28, 2006


122: I think we devoted an entire thread to that very topic at one point.
posted by WetherMan at 6:26 PM on July 28, 2006


"...the mischievous law student yelled, "Snakes on a plane!" presumably to amuse and unify the other patrons. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a trailer for United 93, which significantly reduced the hilarity of his outburst."

So it was Sheiks on a Plane, then?

Yeah - going to Hell for that one. Too.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:27 PM on July 28, 2006


Is Chuck Klosterman's stuff always like that?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 6:28 PM on July 28, 2006


The presumption that greedy-eyed mainstream Hollywood summer blockbuster filmmaking has room to fall is the presumption that cripples this article.

Hollywood makes terrible, shitty, focusgrouped movies already.

I went to a theater recently, and the first preview they showed was Snakes on a Plane. There was a lot of laughter, and it seemed to be mixed between people who were and were not aware of the film and the internet groundswell related to it—something in the varying tones of disbelief and knowing appreciation made the distinction obvious.

After that preview came, as happens, others—and they were also bad. After the second one (for Pathfinder, I think), someone yelled "Snakes on a Plane!" Laughter. Same thing after the third preview.

And in that callback was a sort of acknowledged truth: Snakes on a Plane is going to suck, but there's an honesty to it's suckiness that is genuinely refreshing. This article supposes that we're headed downhill if this audience-directed thing catches on, but we're already sitting firmly in the creek: Hollywood is already stumbling cluelessly through a fog of suppositions about What People Want.
posted by cortex at 6:29 PM on July 28, 2006 [5 favorites]


Is Chuck Klosterman's stuff always like that?

Yes, unfortunately. Easily the stupidest culture writer working today.
posted by ed at 6:31 PM on July 28, 2006


WetherMan - Aw, I missed out then.
posted by TwelveTwo at 6:31 PM on July 28, 2006


The only purpose of Snakes on a Plane is to make its audience feel smarter than what it's seeing.


Sadly, this is untrue. Has this guy ever been to multiplex in, say, Paramus NJ.. or in Philadelphia-- or to the DMV -- or a mid-scale shopping mall?

Like an Adam Sandler film (pick one), this is a movie targeted at stupid people-- who wear baseball caps indoors with the price tag still on them, $150 sneakers-- and they will watch this film earnestly expecting to be entertained.
posted by wfc123 at 6:34 PM on July 28, 2006


"Long after the film had wrapped, the cast and crew went back and shot five additional days of footage, ostensibly to make the snake action more violent and to include a scene in which Jackson says, 'I've had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane!'"

How are we supposed to pay attention to someone who can't even get the fucking signature line right?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:35 PM on July 28, 2006


"All my guilty pleasures are starting to look like simple bad taste."
posted by Space Coyote at 6:39 PM on July 28, 2006 [2 favorites]


It's a bit ironic: Just like Klosterman's comments about what readers wanted from newspapers, this article says nothing. He dances around the notion that the audience's presumable response to the movie is a feeling of elitism, but doesn't really say what that means about our culture or moviegoing or anything. That might have been an interesting read, had he chosen to explore it.

But if Snakes on a Plane is a commercial success (which seems wholly plausible), this brand of participatory, choose-your-own-adventure filmmaking is going to become a model.

That's hogwash. While the film will certainly churn out imitators once it's successful (almost assured, at this point), it's foolish to think that studio executives are going to run every decision by the blogosphere or whatever self-appointed group of tastemakers is in fashion at the time.

I think the fact that the studio and filmmakers reached out to the audience and paid attention to what people were expecting about it is a great thing. Is that reliably scalable? Of course not.

The most important thing to remember about Hollywood bigshots is that they sell their products based on their own experience as tastemakers and trendwatchers. In the music world, this can be seen in spades by watching a program like American Idol, which basically tells kids "you may be a good singer, but unless you get our professional advice about how to package yourself, you'll never make it."

The fact that internet users have more information and means of information distribution doesn't change the entire game...it just augments it a bit. Snakes on a Plane is the first big film to openly take advantage of this, and that's it. The sky is not falling, Chuck.
posted by dhammond at 6:40 PM on July 28, 2006


Like an Adam Sandler film (pick one), this is a movie targeted at stupid people-- who wear baseball caps indoors with the price tag still on them, $150 sneakers-- and they will watch this film earnestly expecting to be entertained.

Not to get all jonmc on your ass or anything, but being entertained by stupid things does not devalue a person, and having low or naive expecations of film isn't a fucking failing.
posted by cortex at 6:40 PM on July 28, 2006


A look at Klosterman.
posted by spork at 6:47 PM on July 28, 2006


In every Klosterman piece I've read, he either states what's obvious to everyone or misses the point entirely.

Here, he does the latter. Snakes on a Plane will make money because it's doing something new and different, it's crowdsourcing. There will probably a few other films that try this, but I don't think the trend will take off. People go to the movies to see something new, to be surprised. It may be cool when SLJ delivers the line that the people petitioned for, but that thrill will get old pretty quick.

And even if it doesn't, so what? Like cortex said, it's not like Hollywood movies are that great now.
posted by Kronoss at 6:48 PM on July 28, 2006


but being entertained by stupid things does not devalue a person, and having low or naive expecations of film isn't a fucking failing.

Hear hear! In life Linda and I were big Woody Allen fans. To be 100% honest some of his movies were stupid silly comedies with long drawn out gags (having sex with a sheep.) I see Linda is going to see Scoop with lowered expectations. I dont see anything wrong with that.
posted by the ghost of Ken Lay at 6:52 PM on July 28, 2006 [4 favorites]


Pardon the derail, but I'll believe in American Idol as a serious venue when somebody comes on there and wins singing incredible renditions of opera arias. It's the same old pop-music shtik.

Snakes on a Plane just might be enlightened self-parody, the way I thought Twisted Sister's video for "We're Not Gonna Take It" seemed to be, back in the day, but I'm looking so hard for cheerful self-deprecation, as opposed to heavy-handed hip emo indie irony, anymore that I'm predisposed to reading into this kind of schlock the positive attributes it likely lacks.
posted by pax digita at 6:52 PM on July 28, 2006


I'll probably still download it.
posted by jeffmik at 6:56 PM on July 28, 2006 [2 favorites]


It totally makes me laugh that the ghost of Ken Lay posts in character.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:58 PM on July 28, 2006


SOAP is one of those movies that seems destined to attract an audience of idiots intent on "talking back" to the screen, like they're all comic geniuses. I might actually pay to see it (I watch all kinds of movies, if I can take 'em on their own terms), but no chance I'm going during theatrical release. I absolutely hate screen hollering louts in movie theatres, and I live in a town where this kind of crap happens pretty regularly, now, in every theatre I've tried.

(If anybody's got suggestions short of assault with a deadly weapon that can stop screen hollering cretins, I'd love to hear them. I got nuthin'.)
posted by paulsc at 6:59 PM on July 28, 2006


...being entertained by stupid things does not devalue a person, and having low or naive expecations of film isn't a fucking failing.

Loser.
posted by jalexei at 7:00 PM on July 28, 2006


This movie is Ishtar prior to release. Actually, it makes Ishtar look pretty fucking awesome, if that is even possible.
posted by caddis at 7:13 PM on July 28, 2006


This kind of appreciation is based on the premise that the bad movie aspired to be good. If a film never takes itself seriously and originates as satire, everything is different; its badness means something else entirely.

I think that's true, but what exactly it does end up meaning depends on the choices made. Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter is the first movie I can think of that's badly-made, knows it, and doesn't make any real effort to take itself seriously. Yet it ends up being sort of stylistically interesting some of the time. That's like what I imagine the best possible outcome for SOAP would have been, if they hadn't gone back to re-shoot and try to apply all their enormous big-studio skills and money to making it as bad a movie as possible. I imagine they probably succeeded at that. It's still got a great title, but it doesn't sound like there's going to be more than about half a minute worth of entertainment in the actual movie. I expect I'll catch a few minutes of it when it hits cable TV in a year or two, and that will be more than enough.

Anyway, I hope it's a collosal failure in every way. How else could it live up to the name? Snakes On A Plane!
posted by sfenders at 7:15 PM on July 28, 2006


Maybe I missed part of the history of SOAP, but did the studio have anything to do with spreading the meme? The fact that they tried to change the name would imply not.

The Internet can spread memes phenomenally, but it appears to do so almost at random. How old was Zero Wing when "all your base are belong to us" spread? How many people had ever played it? When "Bananaphone" showed up, I hadn't heard the name of Raffi in at least 12 years. I couldn't even find a record of the origin of "in ur base killing ur d00dz."

The idea that this is something more than a freak occurrence, that there's some power here that can be harnessed for commercial exploitation, is simply asinine. Not that that's ever stopped anybody in the film industry before. I expected more from Esquire, though.
posted by bjrubble at 7:15 PM on July 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Not to get all jonmc on your ass or anything

I think I might just have completed an Elton John-ish circle of something right there.
posted by Cyrano at 7:16 PM on July 28, 2006


Regarding a look at Klosterman...the article has the unintended effect of making me like him a bit more, given that it was written by Mark Ames, a low-life douchebag among scribes if there ever was one.
posted by dhammond at 7:18 PM on July 28, 2006


When "Bananaphone" showed up ...

Oh yeah, I can't wait to see "Bananaphone, The Movie!" That one is totally going to rock, dude.
posted by sfenders at 7:27 PM on July 28, 2006


If it is a hit, then I wonder what they'll title the porn knock offs.
posted by TwelveTwo at 6:19 PM PST on July 28 [+fave] [!]


Trouser Snakes on a Plane of course.
posted by kosher_jenny at 7:28 PM on July 28, 2006


>...being entertained by stupid things does not devalue a person, and having low or naive expecations of film isn't a fucking failing.

Loser.


See, is that a dry faux-detached joke? Or are you actually trying to argue the point without providing anything of substance? Help me out here.
posted by cortex at 7:32 PM on July 28, 2006


I don't buy the claim that the whole Snakes on a Plane phenomenon is all that far out of the pale from what has been done in the past. Blatant fan service has been the staple of many horror and science fiction franchises. The creators of the later Friday the 13th movies openly admit this. The "Golden age of Hollywood" was funded by movies written to get popular music performed on the stage. The whole notion of pandering to the audience with insider humor goes back to the beginning of film.

The reason why we have such a myopic view of how everything was better back then is because the worst formula films and star vehicles (much less, the low-budget serials) never get shown on AMC or TCM. They just get repackaged with new actors and brought back to the screen, usually missing the point entirely. (The Long, Long, Trailer is not about a dysfunctional family in an RV, it's about Luci and Desi on the big screen.)

I don't know about self-parody but what ever happened to the good-old fun horror movie that played at midnight or as the last feature at the drive-in after the family folks put the kids to bed? Guys in monster-suits smashing cardboard tanks? Vincent Price vamping for the camera? Jamie Lee Curtis screaming at a rubber hand? What ever happened to the gimicks like shutting off all the lights in the theatre at a key moment or 3D? The BLOBULENT SUIT! That's right! The BLOBULENT SUIT! It's made of rubber, it has an air hose...
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:41 PM on July 28, 2006


I've had it with these motherfucking posts on this motherfucking board.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:45 PM on July 28, 2006


Seriously, though. I just saw Deathstalker II for the first time a couple of weeks ago.

Now, I've been a movie buff for most of my life. And I've seen better acted movies that ended with a cumshot. There's no way anyone involved with that could have thought they were making anything more than Up All Night dreck.

It was also a total blast to watch. Like watching a KISS video right after they took the makeup off and Vinnie Vincent was still on lead guitar. So much effort put into something that you knew couldn't possibly not suck, but, damn, it was hard to turn away (the first thing I ever bought off of ebay was a VHS of "KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park," which fits in nicely with this whole theme.)

And I'm not saying this in an ironic, trucker hat sort of way (although we're kinda past the trucker hats at this point, aren't we? Are we focusing on the folks with ipods and the retro headphones now? Someone clue me in.)

I'm really going to like Snakes on a Plane. There are some things you just know in your "Holy shit! That chick from The Delta Knights that MST3K parodied is totally Wesley's girlfriend in Angel!" nerd soul that you can't deny.
posted by Cyrano at 7:48 PM on July 28, 2006


the ghost of Ken Lay : "I see Linda is going to see Scoop with lowered expectations. I dont see anything wrong with that."

Well, I was pleasantly surprised.
posted by graventy at 7:48 PM on July 28, 2006


Wish I was stupider, I could use the money.

Anyhow, I see SoaP as being like that slutty guy/gal you went to school with who copped to being an easy lay, and who everyone liked for their sluttiness and sorta respected for their honesty.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:54 PM on July 28, 2006


(Much like the lyrics to the 1995 song "Peaches," the title Snakes on a Plane defies deconstruction.)

Now there's a thesis that makes some sense.
posted by pokermonk at 7:57 PM on July 28, 2006


did the studio have anything to do with spreading the meme

Yes, it's been a clever campaign, ably assisted by a mostly unpaid army of willing acolytes. They commissioned All Your Snakes Are Belong To Us, for example, from HeavenSpot in LA, a company that is masterful at pimping viral spam. They used "Crofab Joe" to upload this to some of the usual media advertising websites. People have, of course, expended much effort spreading this promo even further.

'Crofab' is a popular anti-snake venom.
posted by meehawl at 7:58 PM on July 28, 2006


I don't know, the film might be great just as an audience participation communal orgy of wackiness of sorts, but the thing I can't stop thinking about is how dated and dorky the saying "Snakes on a Plane" is going to sound soon. Anyhow let's get these mother fuckin snakes on that mother fuckin plane already and get this pop cultural stitch in time over with already.
posted by Skygazer at 8:03 PM on July 28, 2006


I was very entertained by the trailer when I saw it, but that was simply because of the internet meme. I felt "in the know" and that was fun. However, I'm not sure I actually need to see the movie. I mean, it looks like a bad action/horror film with a ridiculous premise that is NOT being done as a spoof. I just don't think it'd be worth the 12 bucks.
posted by ddf at 8:04 PM on July 28, 2006


bjrububble: Maybe I missed part of the history of SOAP, but did the studio have anything to do with spreading the meme? The fact that they tried to change the name would imply not.

I think that once they realized that a fad was starting, New Line quickly started taking advantage of it. For example, they have let Jeffery Rowland market some pretty blatant tie-in merchandicing and put him on a roundtable. Which of course, got him to cartoon about it. New Line has been quite a bit more friendly to fan culture than is typical for an American studio.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:09 PM on July 28, 2006


Snakes on a plane has used the internet to gain fame even though it is most likely lame.

What a motherfucking shame.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 8:09 PM on July 28, 2006


There are a few random Chinese ideographs in the Esquire piece. Is this some sort of copyright-infringement-detection trick? Or just very odd typos?
posted by Creosote at 8:09 PM on July 28, 2006


I think the pinnacle of Snakes On A Plane comedy was the SomethingAwful Forums photoshop thread where they did pretty much every SOAP joke possible. After that the joke was pretty much done.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:15 PM on July 28, 2006


He's worried about the quality of movies declining? Has he been to a theater in the last 10 years?

Jar Jar freakin' Binks.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:17 PM on July 28, 2006


Blatant fan service has been the staple of many horror and science fiction franchises. The creators of the later Friday the 13th movies openly admit this.

Yes, I think that's an apt comparison. Except I fear that Snakes On A Plane has decided to skip making the original movie that made the franchise popular, and just gone straight to trying to do the equivalent of Friday The 13th, Part VIII.

It'd be better if the snakes would spit radioactive venom that turns people into zombies. And they're super-intelligent snakes that work out how to fly the plane and manage to crash it into the island where the enemy snake tribe lives, and then the rival snake tribes fight a war while they keep the humans alive for food. That would be okay. But if they're just ordinary snakes that go around killing people, that's already been done at least once, fully exploring the cinematic possibilities of murderous snakes going about killing people, and I just don't see how the snakes being on a plane is supposed to improve the idea.
posted by sfenders at 8:18 PM on July 28, 2006


Snakes on a plane. Apply directly to your forehead.
Snakes on a plane. Apply directly to your forehead.
Snakes on a plane. Apply directly to your forehead.
posted by HTuttle at 8:30 PM on July 28, 2006 [6 favorites]


The presumption that greedy-eyed mainstream Hollywood summer blockbuster filmmaking has room to fall is the presumption that cripples this article.

There'll be a sequel, you know...

The reason why we have such a myopic view of how everything was better back then is because the worst formula films and star vehicles (much less, the low-budget serials) never get shown on AMC or TCM.

Do they ever show Pepe on those channels? It was on FTA here a few years back; a more horrible, demeaning, and unpleasant excuse for a cavalcade of stars is hard to imagine.
posted by Pinback at 8:34 PM on July 28, 2006


This kind of appreciation is based on the premise that the bad movie aspired to be good. If a film never takes itself seriously and originates as satire, everything is different; its badness means something else entirely.

Oh, I dunno. We've had other movies that knew that they were a joke at one level but actually delivered the goods at another. Not great movies, mind, just braindead silly entertainment. But Jason X is a perfectly good chop-em-up movie and at the same time is a pretty good sendup of itself, especially the bit on the holodeck Camp Crystal Lake -- we love premarital sex! Doom is sort of like this as well.

That art, such as it is, of a film like that is knowing what you can treat as a joke and what you should take "seriously."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:43 PM on July 28, 2006


It'd be better if the snakes would spit radioactive venom that turns people into zombies.

What if the snakes used to be people?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:45 PM on July 28, 2006


The first time I read "Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs" I thought the book was awesome. When I came back to it more recently, Klosterman's writing style just grated on me too much.

He writes in this backwards, seemingly wise but really saying nothing statements.
posted by drezdn at 8:52 PM on July 28, 2006


I just don't see how the snakes being on a plane is supposed to improve the idea.

There isn't much snakes can do on a plane that they can't do elsewhere. Thus, it could as well have been called The Snakes. The plane is just a metaphor for our high-tech world.

Obviously then, it's intended to be a remake of The Birds.
posted by sfenders at 9:14 PM on July 28, 2006


There isn't much snakes can do on a plane that they can't do elsewhere.

Except when you're on a plane, you can't escape. Where could you go to get away from the snakes? You can't get away from the snakes. You're stuck on a plane. The snakes represent the things in pop culture we wish we could get away from, like Paris Hilton or American Idol – that is to say, the snakes are a metaphor for the very movie they're in.
posted by tepidmonkey at 9:28 PM on July 28, 2006 [6 favorites]


I have no idea how good this movie is (or isn't).

They wanted shorter stories, but also longer stories.
And less sports. And more sports.

...it might succeed. Or it might not.

I wish this movie were still called Pacific Air Flight 121. Really. That would be so much worse, but so much better.


This is brilliant writing. Or not.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:39 PM on July 28, 2006


I personally would like to see "Snakes on a Cruise Ship" with an elderly protagonist putting paid to some snakes with a shuffleboard stick or a roulette wheel or something.
posted by josher71 at 9:39 PM on July 28, 2006


Marmots on a Cruise Ship.

I want a credit.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 9:45 PM on July 28, 2006


Squamous, rugose, ineffable, eldritch, issues-laden horrors from beyond our time and space on a cracker.

I'm hungry.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:59 PM on July 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


I can't understand why people act like Hollywood is a zero sum game. Ok, so what if a million snakes on planes rip-offs are green lighted. It really does not matter.

It's not like if Spielberg or Minghella or Scorcese or Ang Lee or some big directors still want to do a film they won't be able to because of all this participatory moviemaking.

Between the IFC, Redford, and the way "buzz" from Sundance or Cannes can lift an obscure movie to something worth seeing -- that's what makes the internet truly amazing in terms of how it helps get "good" films going.

That Klosterman piece seemed like he just wanted to talk about a not so funny story about his lawyer-wife and then complain that "OMG, it's really going to suck if more Snakes on Planes are released."

Well, you know what? If it's not going to be something like Deer on Planes, it's going to be your upteenth horror flick or some movie where Ben Stiller acts too intense and Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson are really laid back.

Thanks kirkacha for reminding me that I'm not missing much when I forgo Esquire reading.
posted by narebuc at 10:14 PM on July 28, 2006


Well, I thought the essay was fairly accurate.

And MST3K did do one of the later Deathstalker movies (with the porn bits edited out, I assume).
posted by JHarris at 10:21 PM on July 28, 2006


HTuttle wins - hands down.

And from the article: "Let us assume you're in the target audience for Snakes on a Plane. Now, it's possible you inhabit that demographic because you're interested in how poisonous reptiles would react to high altitude." Well, you know...that MIGHT be a factor that none of us had considered fully -- is it remotely possible that the high-altitude and the effect of hurtling at 500 mph might have some sort of incredible effect on the snakes? Make them...more snakey? More poisonous? Longer?

Nah...prolly just regular ol' snakes, huh?
posted by davidmsc at 10:51 PM on July 28, 2006


narebuc writes "It's not like if Spielberg or Minghella or Scorcese or Ang Lee or some big directors still want to do a film they won't be able to because of all this participatory moviemaking."

Funny you should mention Spielberg. In an interview, he said that he talked to elementary school kids about what they liked and didn't like about Jurassic Park before making the sequel.

Essentially, that boils down to more dinos, earlier in the picture.

Truth be told, I like The Lost World more than the original. Better crafted, funnier, a bit more mean spirited, and... yes. More dinos, earlier in the picture. Plus a T. rex running loose in San Diego.

Also: fuck Klosterman. His hipsterness is unbearable.
posted by brundlefly at 10:52 PM on July 28, 2006


I maintain that Jason X is a beautiful masterpiece, and easily the best in the series.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:05 PM on July 28, 2006


Well i am completely fucking entertained by this movie and it hasn't even been released yet. and that is good.
posted by Frasermoo at 11:17 PM on July 28, 2006


See, I'm hoping that the SOAP phenomenon will lead to audience interaction in other arenas. Like interactive baseball.
posted by greatgefilte at 11:25 PM on July 28, 2006


My job forces me to read stupid articles and columns all day long, every day, and that is possibly the most pointless, stupid article I've ever read.

Does anyone know why Esquire exists? Jesus, that crap makes Vanity Fair look good.
posted by kenlayne at 11:35 PM on July 28, 2006


I don't see anything wrong with filmmakers, tv writers, or radio show hosts taking things from the internet to make their product better. Yes, the Sam Jackson line makes the movie funnier. Should they have released the news that they went back and reshot scenes? Eh, that's up to them, obviously adding more steam to the meme was more important to shock value in the theater, a "HE ACTUALLY SAID IT" kind of moment. Writers don't work from under a rock so if they see something worthwhile pop up they should include it. Had bloggers been envisioning "All your snakes are belong to us" I doubt they would have reshot any scenes.

After all, the producers of LOST openly acknowledge the fact that they read message boards and pick up ideas from them. They decided to keep Jack in the show because of a focus group, now I'm not the biggest Jack fan in the world but I can't imagine the show without him.

Nobody is putting any scripts up on wikipedia for anyone to mess with like Klosterman is implying will happen so what's the big deal if one line gets thrown into a movie?
posted by crashlanding at 11:48 PM on July 28, 2006


I said it before in the original thread and I'll say it again. The porn movie knock off will be called 'Snakes In A Dame.
posted by Effigy2000 at 12:04 AM on July 29, 2006


Astro Zombie writes "I maintain that Jason X is a beautiful masterpiece, and easily the best in the series."

Nah. That honor goes to Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood. Telekinesis makes anything better. By the way, AZ, some day I'll have to tell you about my horror franchise idea: Blood Monkeys.
posted by brundlefly at 12:07 AM on July 29, 2006


Also: Badgers on a Segway
posted by brundlefly at 12:12 AM on July 29, 2006


This is an awesome idea for a film! However I plan only to talk about it and use it's catch phrases, not watch it. Watching it could only make the experience of "Snakes on a Plane" worse.
posted by muppetboy at 12:42 AM on July 29, 2006


A Sack Of Weasels On An Evil Clown Riding A Unicycle On Top Of A Combine Harvester Through A Nunnery
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:46 AM on July 29, 2006


I don't get it. Snakes are three-dimensional and a plane is only two.
posted by spock at 12:55 AM on July 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


ROU_Xenophobe writes "A Sack Of Weasels On An Evil Clown Riding A Unicycle On Top Of A Combine Harvester Through A Nunnery"

...Upside Down
posted by brundlefly at 12:59 AM on July 29, 2006


I've had it with these motherfucking geometry jokes on this motherfucking web site!
posted by muppetboy at 1:01 AM on July 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


Ehhh, to me, the attraction of SoaP is that it strips back the veil and acknowledges the utterly vapid Hollywood movie-creation process we've always assumed: some guy makes a fifteen-second concept pitch over a line of coke ("It's ... snakes, on a plane!") and then after it's been greenlighted they go back and slap on all that plot and character and story crap and pull a title from a hat. The glee is in seeing past the denial of a widely-believed truth for a moment. Like catching a known-corrupt politician taking a bribe on video, or something.

I have no idea whether I'll go see the movie. I kind of feel like I've derived as much entertainment as I'm going to from the internet memery. On the other hand, I want to go just so I can complete the joke.

And of course if SoaP is successful Hollywood will miss the point and churn out a million pathetic imitators, all failures. So what? If they weren't churning out SoaP imitators, they'd be churning out other crap. It changes nothing.
posted by hattifattener at 1:04 AM on July 29, 2006


Trouser Snakes on a plane.

I love and hate you for beating me to it, kosher_jenny.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:20 AM on July 29, 2006


There's certainly no dearth of misconceptions in the world, but is there any value in the critical work of someone who apparently wants only to address the most irrelevant, obscure, and unlikely of them?

PEOPLE GET CONFUSED BY the term populism, especially when that word is applied to entertainment.

Right. This is clearly a huge problem in the world today.

People seem to think calling something "populist" means it was purposefully constructed to be stupid, solely to attract the largest possible audience.

Who even uses terms like "populist" anymore? I think the problem with people misunderstanding it lies in the fact that it's really not in usage, and that's because the social milieu from which it arose is utterly obsolescent.

What populism really means (at least when used outside politics) is that something's significance is dependent not just on what it is but on the degree to which it represents the shared sensibilities of large groups of otherwise unconnected people.

The term, populism, means that a cultural artifact may be significant or not significant, and its opportunity to be significant lies in its ability to mirror the common "sensibilities" of people who have nothing besides those in common, but that has nothing to do with what it is?

You can't design populism—and if you try, you'll inevitably construct the opposite. But people keep trying (and they'll certainly never stop), which is why other people remain confused.

He doesn't even bother to imply that he's trying to elucidate the nature of this arbitrarily conceived non-problem.

That's the real problem with him and his work; he's not trying to accomplish anything meaningful or say anything worth hearing. He's more than happy, though, to fuck around with ludicrously moot questions of taste in which nothing is disingenuous or stupid or poorly-conceived, and a cultural artifact is at worst unamusing. He can do little more than rate easily-recognized social touchstones on a scale from inappropriately-popular to in-actuality-superior. He espouses a particularly fatuous and lazy approach to the world in which the intellectual work of the day is passively and uncritically grading one of many choices of content, gossiping about what other people might or might not think about something, and mumbling Beckett-esque gibberish:

But I do know this: Its existence represents a weird, semidepressing American condition, and I'm afraid this condition is going to get worse.

The condition he's referring to is crowdsourcing shitty movies. I can see why this would bother him; he's basically an elitist who happens to lack taste and perspective. He cannot function as a cultural observer because he not only doesn't know how to interpret anything but has desperately pedestrian aesthetic judgment. His only real talent is his ability to bluff and obfuscate the casual reader until the article is over.
posted by clockzero at 3:01 AM on July 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


How are we supposed to pay attention to someone who can't even get the fucking signature line right?
posted by mr_crash_davis

Thank you mr_crash_davis. This encapsulates everything.

I'd just read - with crawling disbelief - Klosterman's article in the UK's Telegraph - but I wasn't sure whether I'd gone mad at first. (The Telegraph doesn't usually offer such utter dross).

I felt immensely cheered when I came here from your comment on. Yes, I'm a SOAP neophyte - there are some of us left - but something felt dreadfully wrong with Klosterman even to me.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 3:53 AM on July 29, 2006


Metafilter: keep the humans alive for food.
posted by zaelic at 4:13 AM on July 29, 2006


Snakes on a Plane rule! (apologies for the MySpace)
posted by puppygalore at 4:42 AM on July 29, 2006


I'm surprised that nobody's mentioned it here, but this kind of studio-audience populism give-and-take occurs on a regular basis over on Harry Knowles's Ain't-It-Cool.com.

Almost as long as that site's been in existence, some producers have provided the principals with screenplays and there have been script-reviews, sometimes with calamitous effects, when the nerds REALLY don't like the way things are headed with a beloved franchise.

Given the general class of the customers in their talkback sections and the quesstionable quality of our tweeny-bopper, mock-horror and terrible remakes of J-Horror films, the effect of their 'influence' should come as no surprise.
posted by vhsiv at 4:49 AM on July 29, 2006


I kept waiting for the article to get to a point, and it never did. I'm seeing more and more of that lately in 'mainstream' journalism...feature articles and editorials that go to great lengths to sound wise, but never actually get around to saying anything. Are these writers confusing their 'file the story with publication' button with their 'post this to my personal blog' button?

Anyway I sincerely doubt there was any consulting of the public to see what they want out of a film on this one. Somewhere in Hollywood there was a screenwriters meeting, with a whiteboard labelled "Things That Scare The Crap Out Of People." Looking at the list, which included snakes, earthquakes, plane rides gone wrong, volcanic eruptions, bus rides out of control, guys in bad hockey masks... some genius said, "Hey! I know! Let's do a film with snakes AND a plane!"
posted by Zinger at 5:01 AM on July 29, 2006


A Sack Of Weasels On An Evil Clown Riding A Unicycle On Top Of A Combine Harvester Through A Nunnery

From here:

The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!?

My Lovely Burnt Brother and His Squashed Brain

Elvis Is Alive! I Swear I Saw Him Eating Ding Dongs Outside the Piggly Wiggly's

Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines or How I Flew from London to Paris in 25 hours 11 minutes

The Lemon Grove Kids Meet the Green Grasshopper and the Vampire Lady from Outer Space

The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade

I Killed My Lesbian Wife, Hung Her on a Meat Hook, and Now I Have a Three-Picture Deal at Disney

Night of the Day of the Dawn of the Son of the Bride of the Return of the Revenge of the Terror of the Attack of the Evil, Mutant, Alien, Flesh Eating, Hellbound, Zombified Living Dead Part 2: In Shocking 2-D

The Man with the Smallest Penis in Existence and the Electron Microscope Technician Who Loved Him

Un Fatto Di Sangue Nel Commune Di Sculiana Fra Due Uomini Per Causa Di Una Vedova Si Sospetano Moventi Politici. Amore-Morte-Shimmy. Lugano Belle. Tarantelle. Tarallucci È Vino.

Another Demonstration of the Cliff-Guibert Fire Horse Reel, Showing a Young Girl Coming from an Office, Detaching Hose, Running with It 60 Feet, and Playing a Stream, All Inside of 30 Seconds

and finally, short, but delivers exactly what it promises:

Zombie Ninja Gangbangers
posted by meehawl at 5:13 AM on July 29, 2006


Theodor Adorno sez you're all full of shit! So there!
posted by eegphalanges at 5:22 AM on July 29, 2006


you're all full of shit

Strong words for some who professes an interest in
Holistic Health, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Robert Anton Wilson, Aldous Huxley, shamanism, entheogens, healing, Caetano Veloso, women's studies, Starhawk, examining and defining Power and it's uses/abuses, change, magic, torture, political prisoners, Amnesty Intl., Faith vs. Religion, cognitive dissonance, most everything

Alas, the sorrowful knowledge is that you'll be first against the wall when the badgers come. The splinter in your eye is the best magnifying glass with which to project negatively an image of utopia.
posted by meehawl at 5:32 AM on July 29, 2006


Mark Ames, a low-life douchebag among scribes

Is that link supposed to convince us that Ames is a low-life douchebag? Because, like, it's totally not doing it for me. He can be scathingly aggressive in print, sure, but Ames is usually spot-on, as he was about Klosterman; that piece was written years ago but still nails Klosterman's latest phoned-in nonsense. It's a testament to the head-up-the-assness of Klosterman's bosses that the guy can repeatedly sell himself as a popcult commentator while being so hopelessly tone-deaf on so much of pop culture.
posted by mediareport at 5:49 AM on July 29, 2006


That's not me! That's somebody else who looks like me and has my name, interests from four years ago, and old email address. I assure you as a college drop-out who's never taken a single sociology class, nor posted once on the Sociosopranos board, that I'm one of the badgers. An emotive, faithful badger. I haven't seen a Hollywood movie in, um, three hours. And I know perfect freedom, nonetheless. Cheers!
posted by eegphalanges at 5:58 AM on July 29, 2006


I believe that's a qualifying rebuff, meehawl. Eegphalanges, the badger badges (and yes, we do stinking need them) can be picked up down on B1, in the HR office.
posted by cortex at 6:29 AM on July 29, 2006


Mark Ames, a low-life douchebag among scribes

Couldn't care less about Snakes on a Plane, but needed to chime in on this thread in defense of Ames. At his most drug-addled and forgettable moments, Ames is still worth ten cheap cloistered hacks like Klosterman.

On preview: What mediareport said.
posted by blackberet at 6:35 AM on July 29, 2006


Also: Badgers on a Segway

Would you settle for otters?
posted by davelog at 7:27 AM on July 29, 2006


But I do know this: Its existence represents a weird, semidepressing American condition, and I'm afraid this condition is going to get worse. I suspect Snakes on a Plane might earn a lot of money, which will prompt studios to assume this is the kind of movie audiences want. And I don't think it is. Snakes on a Plane is an unabashed attempt at prefab populism, and (maybe) this gimmick will work once. But it won't keep working, and it will almost certainly make filmmaking worse.

Well, no shit. Isn't this phenomenon similar to, well, every new addition to pop culture in history?

Of course Snakes on a Plane will be successful and yield little to no other similar successes... that's how pop culture works. Survivor yeilded countless elimination-stlye reality shows... most failed. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. American Idol. The Matrix. Remember when South Park became big and there was that two year period when every network tried to make huge blocks of cartoons that all sucked because they only thought people liked cartoons where someone farted?

Prefab pop culture doesn't fail because of "the public." It fails when something becomes part of pop culture and then the industry foolishly believes it can fabricate and dictate certain trends.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:45 AM on July 29, 2006


^I once drempt I had an otter-body experience. Granted, it was in a tide pool, not on a Segway. Still, I never thought I'd live to see my dreams made cinematic, kinda-sorta. I guess I'll be forking over $12 for Snakes on a Plane, after all. Who am I to dream my own dreams?
posted by eegphalanges at 7:48 AM on July 29, 2006


I think his main point is that he thinks people are too dumb to know what they want.

Chuck is thinking so we don't have to. We should all be grateful.
posted by thekilgore at 8:06 AM on July 29, 2006


tepidmonkey writes "The snakes represent the things in pop culture we wish we could get away from, like Paris Hilton or American Idol"

What do you mean "wish"? Your remote control is broken?
posted by signal at 8:32 AM on July 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


So the $tudio is not behind all of this hoopla? Is that what Klosterman is spreading? It seemed like a Blair Witch marketing ploy to me. They only need to bribe or infiltrate the cultural commentators of the target audience.
posted by Brian B. at 8:40 AM on July 29, 2006


45 minutes ago
posted by Flashman at 9:27 AM on July 29, 2006


What do you mean "wish"? Your remote control is broken?

Yep. I point it at friends, coworkers, fellow transit riders, and nothing happens.
posted by cortex at 10:06 AM on July 29, 2006


The plane symbolizes a vagina. The people on the plane are penises. The snakes on the plane are the clap.

The plane symbolizes the earth. The people on the plane are endangered species. The snakes on the plane are polluting, killing human beings.

The plane symbolizes God. The people on the plane are Jesus. The snakes are the Devil.

The plane symbolizes Vietnam. The people on the plane are the Viet Cong. The snakes are napalm.

- English Undergrad-o-matic (which only exists in my brain right now but would make a cool web site come to think of it)
posted by Jaybo at 10:40 AM on July 29, 2006


Good job, Jaybo. Don't forget the First Rule of Undergrad Film Studies: anything longer than it is wide is a phallic symbol. That includes snakes, planes, people....
posted by you just lost the game at 10:51 AM on July 29, 2006


No, the plane symbolizes pure logos, unfettered creative will, devoid of ethics-- dare I say hubris. It is the blind faith in scientific method, social planning, and airplanes. It kinda symbolizes itself, then.

The people on the plane are indeed the People of Earth-- our deep genetic heritage, untrammeled by notions of progress, just along for the ride, showing the all-too-human attributes of persistence and creativity against impossible odds, yet sadly cut off from and even in opposition to our cthnonic roots below--and no sign of God above. All that remains of faith and magic is the awful machinery. The people are sorta like people on a plane, you see.

The snakes-on-the-plane show Pan/Dionysus out of his element of the depths of the id and shadow, making a mockery of both the Apollonian Plane God and the mortal man within. They might be like the serpent of Genesis, but they're closer to being just snakes on a plane. Truly an existentialist drama.

Now who the fuck is Samuel L. Jackson? Hercules?
posted by eegphalanges at 11:05 AM on July 29, 2006 [2 favorites]


ROU_Xenophobe : Jason X is a perfectly good chop-em-up movie and at the same time is a pretty good sendup of itself, especially the bit on the holodeck Camp Crystal Lake -- we love premarital sex! Doom is sort of like this as well.

Astro Zombie : I maintain that Jason X is a beautiful masterpiece, and easily the best in the series.

I'm so glad you guys exist. I was sure I was the only one who saw the transcendental genius that was Jason X. And Doom is one of those weird duck movies that gets better each time I watch it.
posted by quin at 11:19 AM on July 29, 2006


I keep hearing people say things to the effect that "there's nothing a snake can do on a plane that it can't do on the ground." Are you serious? You're in a PLANE. You can't get out, you might crash, a series of snake-shaped ducts and tubes runs above, below, and to either side of you. I thought the whole fun of the movie was the way it brought back good old situation adventure story-telling, like "The Most Dangerous Game" or "Leiningen vs the Ants."

Saying this movie is in danger of retreading ground covered in Anaconda is rediculous. That was snakes in a jungle. This is snakes on a motherfucking plane.
posted by es_de_bah at 11:55 AM on July 29, 2006


This kind of appreciation is based on the premise that the bad movie aspired to be good.

NO WIRE COATHANGERS EVER!!!
posted by longsleeves at 11:59 AM on July 29, 2006


Eels on a hovercraft.
posted by Meatbomb at 12:06 PM on July 29, 2006


Nice story brundlefly and it goes to the point of good moviemaking and populist movie making not being incompatible.

I am going to go see this movie after a thread like this one.
posted by skepticallypleased at 12:39 PM on July 29, 2006


Ames points out that Klosterman looks like a pedophile, and repeats the point at least a half dozen times in a ridiculously long article. Call me crazy, but that's not very incisive, in terms of wit or literary critique. Ames is just like Ann Coulter, talented as a writer but without much of import to actually say, unless you happen to hate the target he/she's hating.
posted by dhammond at 1:15 PM on July 29, 2006


"But if Snakes on a Plane is a commercial success (which seems wholly plausible), this brand of participatory, choose-your-own-adventure filmmaking is going to become a model."

As Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, "We have nothing to fear but the motherfucking snakes on the motherfucking plane."
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 2:19 PM on July 29, 2006


Oh, please. When they started mass-producing punk bands, did that kill punk? No, because it was already dead. Same thing here, with Hollywood.
posted by Eideteker at 2:36 PM on July 29, 2006


I don't care how good or bad Snakes on a Plane will be. All I care about is how to smuggle my sack of 150 rubber snakes past the teenage security vixen.
posted by Sallyfur at 4:13 PM on July 29, 2006


Yellowcake's on a Plame?
posted by longbaugh at 4:57 PM on July 29, 2006


bees on a sub
posted by riotgrrl69 at 6:58 PM on July 29, 2006


Huh, jaybo. It's a good thing I decided I didn't have time to post my oh so insightful rant about how SOAP is the anti-United 93: it's a way of reclaiming, subverting, if you will, the discourse of terra/or by removing evil from the ground and putting it back in the plane where it belongs, and where Samuel L. Jackson will restore the American Narrative by dealing with the motherfucking snakes before they crash the plane into the WTC this time.

Obviously, there are biblical references afloat here too; and I'm thinking that there's a heavy Paradise Lost subtext as well.

But then I decided it was just snakes on a plane.
posted by jokeefe at 7:12 PM on July 29, 2006


marmots on a dirigible
posted by Blue Stone at 8:22 PM on July 29, 2006


Ticks on a teapot
posted by Skygazer at 11:08 PM on July 29, 2006


did that kill punk? No, because it was already dead.

God Save the Queen.
posted by longsleeves at 1:31 AM on July 30, 2006


We mean it, man.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:35 AM on July 30, 2006


As my bride has noted, the ideal version of that song would be performed by an angry Dalek.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:31 PM on July 30, 2006


Is Chuck Klosterman's stuff always like that?

Yes, unfortunately. Easily the stupidest culture writer working today.



I do not know about all that. I think like any culture writer with his "finger on the pulse of young america"....or whatever stupid quotes are attributed to young writers these days, he has his hits and misses. He does seem to polarize people quite a bit though. It is weird....not since Douglas Coupland has someone been championed the awful title of "slacker generation writer". Although I did think he hit the nail right on the head with Punk Rock and its many followers with this blurb from his book "Sex Drugs and Cocoa Puffs"...it is quoted here about 4 pages down on this blog from Wed, Apr 26, 2006....
....

I think he is a bit off on his view of SOAP. The article he wrote is a tad weak. Like everyone has said before me, he assumes that this will continue and studios will put up their own blogs on the net to be read and picked apart and discussed to make amendments to the "We set out to make this movie terrible!" movie. And even if this happens, I think this one at the very least will be quite entertaining and will also satisfy the few hundred blog contributers that wrote in suggestions for SOAP. I am looking forward to the movie. Just my humble opinion though.

P.S. ....sorry if the link is down.....
posted by grobey22 at 4:50 PM on July 30, 2006


sorry here is the link i just tried to post
http://outsidethewhale.blogspot.com/2006_04_01_outsidethewhale_archive.html
posted by grobey22 at 4:51 PM on July 30, 2006


I'm greatly amused/relieved that the phrase "Snakes on a Plane" has become a colloquialism for shitty, bloated, ridiculous Hollywood tripe.
posted by Down10 at 12:27 AM on July 31, 2006


If it is a hit, then I wonder what they'll title the porn knock offs.

Penises in a Vagina?
posted by Durhey at 10:47 AM on July 31, 2006


Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama
posted by effwerd at 10:56 AM on July 31, 2006


Wait... that's been done.
posted by effwerd at 10:56 AM on July 31, 2006


Klosterman says: "Being interesting has been replaced by being identifiable..."

...and Ames reacts: "Someone should pick up a chair and crack it over Klosterman’s head for writing this."

So which is Ames aiming to be?
posted by Milkman Dan at 11:41 AM on July 31, 2006


Pancakes on Mark Twain.

SLJ: 'I've had it with these motherfucking pancakes on motherfucking Mark Twain!'"

Is there anything that guy can't say that doesn't sound cool?

Actually that reminds me. A few years ago I went to Tekserv (a Mac repair shop here in NYC), and I was trying to explain to this girl assisting me what I needed to have fixed on an ancient powerbook, but she was having extreme difficulty focussing on anything I was saying and kept glancing over to the side. This went on for a while and I'm wondering if this girl is deaf or high or what the fuck, when finally I look over to see what the hell she keeps looking at and lo and behold there is motherfuckin' Samuel L. Jackson, sitting right next to me, getting motherfuckin' Final Cut Pro installed on his motherfuckin' G4.
posted by Skygazer at 11:46 AM on July 31, 2006


Is there anything that guy can't say that doesn't sound cool?

"I've had it with these motherfucking double negatives in these motherfucking interrogatives!"
posted by cortex at 12:03 PM on July 31, 2006


It's the Pancakes on my brain.
posted by Skygazer at 10:32 AM on August 1, 2006


It's the Chuck Klosterman opinion generator!
posted by thekilgore at 1:15 PM on August 7, 2006


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