As a product of the Ronald Reagan era, I grew up with all sorts of entertainment. Whether it be the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Major League Baseball, Comic Books, Transformers, or even Bravestar (do you remember that?), I always found some type of hobby or interest along those lines. The Masters of the Universe movie with Dolph Lundgren absolutely fascinated me (that may seem silly to you, but that was a breakout role for Courteney Cox!).
Now, all these things from my childhood are being re-marketed to the same target audience. Superhero movies are extremely popular and they will only increase from here. Cartoons like Transformers are being re-invisioned with live action films. And quite frankly, I love it. Excuse the cliche’, but it makes me feel like a kid again.
But with this new wave of old entertainment, corporations are finding out that there’s more money to be made.
As a typical Republican pro-economy conservative, that really shouldn’t bother me, right? After all, I feel that companies have the right to make money by any ethical means possible. However, in some ways, I think that big business has gone too far.
For instance, if you’ve seen the new Fantastic Four movie (which I loved), you’ll notice that their cruiser had a Dodge symbol on it. Mr. Fantastic even talks about it having a Hemi engine. I’m sure that Dodge/Chrysler paid a pretty penny for that little tidbit one way or another, but at the same time, I felt like it slightly cheapened the movie.
Also, if you’ve seen the Transformers movie, you’ll notice that virtually all the vehicles are made by General Motors. Luckily they don’t talk about it, at least from what I remember. But there are definitely scenes in the movie that look like there should be a narrator saying “the all new line of Chevy, coming in 2008.”
Unfortunately, it doesn’t end with movies. Corporations have a stranglehold on the sports industry too. Everything is sponsored by somebody. I wonder what baseball legends like Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, or even Ty Cobb would have thought of that kind of advertising. “Babe’s looking a little tired on the mound, maybe he should just stick to batting, uh oh, here comes the Hershey’s call to bullpen.”
At what point will it end? “Here we go, it’s the bottom of the ninth and it looks like Alex Rodriguez is going to make the Viagra trip to the urinal.” I’m also wondering how far into the future it will be before the 7th inning stretch of every World Series game has a live concert in it. Sponsored by someone, of course.
Obviously, there’s money to be made no matter which part of the entertainment industry you choose. And there really isn’t anything inherently wrong with that. But how far will it go? Where does the sponsoring and shameless plugging end?
It’s not like companies such as Pepsi, GMC, Chrysler, or Shell aren’t already household names. Of course, I understand that getting your name out there, even if you’re wildly popular, still helps in ingraining your company in the mind of your audience. But what happened to legitimately attemping to persuade the consumer into believing that you have a superior product? Instead, these corporations have traded the offer of a premium product for the mindless name recognition associated with a “call to the bullpen,” or a passing comment in a popular movie.
It’s not that I oppose a corporation’s right to market their product or service in every way possible. I just wish they would seek a better route than thoroughly infiltrating the movies and pastimes we love. But that’s just my take on the matter.