• Snakes on the Internet

    by  • July 31, 2006 • Movie Reviews and Features, Uncategorized, Writing

    Looking for more about “Snakes on a Plane?” Here are some links to get you started:
    Official site: http://www.snakesonaplane.com
    Snakes on a Blog: http://www.snakesonablog.com
    TagWorld Snakes site: http://www.tagworld.com/snakesonaplane
    Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snakes_on_a_plane

    Mention the upcoming film “Snakes on a Plane” to someone and chances are you will get one of two reactions: either they’ve never heard of it, or they have and are thrilled. The film is a sensation on the internet and pop TV shows like “The Daily Show,” and fans are generating everything from t-shirts to videos in celebration. The studio has embraced the tidal wave of fandom and even changed some of their own plans in response to it.
    The surge of internet popularity apparently began when one of the screenwriters mentioned in his blog that he was going to be working on it. Really, however, it has gained momentum simply because of the movie’s name. “Snakes on a Plane” was meant to be the working title, but star Samuel L. Jackson insisted they keep it (rather than changing it to the more tepid “Pacific Air Flight 121”). Like most high-concept action/horror films, it’s not meant to be great art. But with a title like “Snakes on a Plane,” it’s obvious that this is not going to be a great film. It’s almost as though the studio was aware of the schlock they were making — and if there’s one thing Generation Y loves, it’s self-aware mockery, whether it’s the neo-surrealistic programming of Adult Swim or the comedy-news of “The Daily Show.”
    Generation Y embraced “Snakes on a Plane,” as did much of the geek demographic here in Silicon Valley. A quick look in the internet search engine of your choice will reveal countless mentions of the film. A major hub of information is Snakesonablog.com, where one fan has set out to get invited to the premier, and is gathering “Snakes on a Plane”-related links and information in one place while he’s at it. You can find fan-made tshirts, videos and songs inspired by the show, graphics, interviews, and everything else related to the film there. Now there’s even a book coming out about the phenomenon: “Snakes on a Plane, The Guide to the Internet Ssssssensation” by David Waldon.
    Once the filmmakers realized what was going on, they jumped to capitalize on it. The film’s official website features a fansite of the week and offers several different myspace.com profile looks related to the film. New Line Cinema announced a contest on the website TagWorld where musicians could submit songs inspired by the film. The group Cobra Starship won with their song “Snakes on a Plane (Bring It)”, which is the first track on the official soundtrack. The music video for the song features Jackson, who appears to be wearing an unofficial fan shirt. Word has it that some dialog inspired by fan videos and writings has even been added to the film.
    It seems unlikely that New Line will be able to duplicate the “Snakes on a Plane” phenomenon. Internet users in general and Generation Y in particular are extremely sensitive to advertising and generally can tell when they’re being manipulated; “Snakes on a Plane” took of precisely because it didn’t have any manipulation. It’s as if “Speed” had been entitled “Bomb on a Bus”: there’s no marketing twist there, it’s a title that tells you just what you need to know about the film. Now, however, if a studio puts out a film with that sort of title, people will likely recognize the style and realize that the producers are trying to pull a second rabbit out of the hat.
    As a movie reviewer, I can’t help hoping that “Snakes on a Plane” will start a new trend in Hollywood. My favorite cheesy movies are ones that are perfectly aware that they’re not very good. Nothing is more sure to make a film unpleasant to watch than pretentiousness, and “Snakes on a Plane” is the antithesis of pretension. What the studios need to do is realize that it’s that lack of pretension that makes “Snakes on a Plane” awesome, and put out more films like that.

    About

    Ealasaid is a technical writer, freelance movie reviewer, bookbinder, and geek-of-many-trades based in Portland, OR.