This was something I’ve been thinking about ever since I ran into The Worf of Starfleet, but seeing this really clinched it for me: we are now a culture that treats a movie trailer, especially one for a franchise movie, as it’s own work, worthy of being parodied should a good idea present itself:
Of course trailer mashups are nothing new; for a long time vidders have been known to take clips from two different movies/franchises/TV shows/etc and mix them, or, more often, use the audio for a movie trailer combined with video clips from a different source(this is the oldest example online I know of, though there are probably older ones somewhere). But in both cases, there was at least audio from both media sources, and the point was pretty much the combining of the two franchises; the trailer audio could easily be seen as just as easy tool with which to do it.
Contrast that with these two trailers. For one thing, The Wolf of Wall Street isn’t even the kind of geek culture movie that usually goes in for this kind of treatment, nor is it famous enough(like Pulp Fiction is) to justify its use that way. But clearly Grant Gourley saw in the movie’s trailer the striking impact of the slamming intertitles combined with “Black Skinhead,” and saw that as something worthy to be used in parody, by itself, with the assumption people will recognize it even without any audio or video from The Wolf of Wall Street itself. After all, who actually went and saw The Wolf of Wall Street anyway? Some people, maybe, but probably not as many as might have seen the trailer during their trips to the movies and such. I should perhaps disclaim, however: I actually don’t know how far the original trailer circulated; I went to the movies a lot less than usual last fall/winter and only saw it myself when I watched it yesterday in anticipation of possibly writing this blog. But then again, doesn’t that say something, that the first time I watched The Worf of Starfleet I instantly realized the music and intertitles had to be based off a trailer I hadn’t even seen, because these are things modern trailers have?
And now we come the franchise trailer, the one Marvel actually released a very brief preview of before debuting the whole thing online. And really, what’s the thing that has most gotten people’s attention since the original teaser was released? “Hooked on a Feeling,” that’s what. Not the clips of these characters or hints of a plot. So when the parodies get made, of course the 70s music is what gets kept. “Hooked on a Feeling” will probably be associated with Guardians of the Galaxy for a while now, and the minute you hear that music, you know a trailer for a movie that hasn’t come out yet is being parodied. But then again, why not? This is a trailer with it’s own preview and anticipated release date, and much work has gone into it to make it effective and catch the imagination(although personally, I was disappointed we didn’t see any of the circular drawings from the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. finale, which had even aired literally the week before; but doesn’t it say something, that using the trailer to build on the TV series finale seemed a thing Marvel might have been willing to do?).
Certainly anticipating and running to see new trailers is nothing new. I remember back when the early Harry Potters were coming out, fans would even endure movies like Scooby Doo just because the trailer for the next movie was attached to them. But it seems the studios are starting to realize that, when they do things like they did with the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer, and this makes the quality of all trailers go up, even ones like The Wolf of Wall Street, the trailer which was done just as a trailer, meant to attract people to a movie, but not being used for a full-blown hype campaign. But even trailers in general attract some interest; nowadays when you go the AMC at the end of them they’ll point you to their website if you want to watch more trailers.
I’m sure there are plenty of people in the world who are appalled by all this, since we are, after all, essentially seeking out and wanting to watch commercials, which is definitely on the consumer culture side. But hey, that ship sailed ages and ages ago thanks to the Super Bowl. And meanwhile, we get more carefully crafted things to watch in the world, and not just by studios, but by fans as well. That can’t be entirely a bad thing, can it?