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A movie on movie advertising,marketing, and product placement made with money from advertising, marketing, and product placement
on April 26, 2011
I sat through Morgan Spurlock's The Greatest Movie ever sold with fascination, but when it concluded, I wondered where was the film? Spurlock's idea is ingenious. One that very few people could have dared, and pulled of. He makes a film about the difficulty of finding sponsors to give funding for a project. The film however is the mission to meet with sponsors and advertisers; in other words, this seems like a behind the scenes sort of preproduction of funding your project. The money is going towards the film itself which IS the journey to get the funding. With commercials from official sponsors, one wonders if Spurlock himself is embracing the commercial enterprise. In other words, when does a spoof become to close to the subject it lampoons or critiques?
What I always enjoy about Spurlock, including here, is that even though he may disagree with advertising or the nutritional benefits of McDonalds, he appears for a large majority of his films as quite fair and balanced; unlike some people who from the get go detest their subject-*cough* Bill Maher. He actually gets in the game, calls countless companies and corporations for a deal, and gets rejected countless times for good reason. Not many companies would feel great about helping a film that is trying to demonstrate the intrusion of product placement in films. However, he eventually does get a good number of sponsors willing to spend from $25,000 to upwards of a million. Yet, the money is not delivered on the spot. There are countless contractual obligations that need to be followed so the rights of both sides are not compromised.
Morgan Spurlock is not Michael Moore. It's not that Moore is better or ruder than Spurlock, but that their styles differ. This shows for better and worse in this project. First of all, from Ralph Nader, Noam Chomsky, to the demanding people at POM, Spurlock is as respectful and cooperative as one can be. There is no sense of superiority on Spurlock's behalf. We get that this is a nice friendly guy. This helps to understand and enjoy Spurlock's point of view. However, what Spurlock is not is an adept interviewer. Noam Chomsky and Quentin Tarantino are fascinating subjects, for completely different reasons, but Spurlock asks them a question or two, and they are forgotten forever. He is inquisitive, but a Moore would push for more information, and really get down to the meat of the issue.
We all know that marketing, advertising, and product placement play a big role in the film business, but Spurlock shows it in its very extreme. He isn't revealing it, but he approaches the issue through film, knowing that advertising touches every section of art. Where it gets most unfortunate is when these corporate powers enters the school: an institution that should be devoid of corporation's reach. A big issue for Spurlock is whether this project will turn him in to a new man who embraces product placement in his work. For many, this may not be a problem, but for him it definitely seems to be.
Rather than being insightful, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is passionate and funny coming from a man who cares about these issues, and deep-down obviously abhors advertising's intrusion in every part of our daily lives. A downside to the film is the ending. Unlike Supersize Me where one could come back with a moral or conclusion, such as "don't eat frequently at McDonalds, till it goes bankrupt" the conclusion of this work suggests there is no way to win against advertising. The only rescue to confide in nature to escape the wicked nature of today's ever increasing commercial world. There is no solution, but only a few routes of escape from such despicable activities. Many things don't get better with time, and it seems that advertising will only debase art more and more as time moves on.