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Friday, July 12, 2013

20

Guy DeBord or Sharknado?

At Pacific Standard, Amanda Hess wrote a mesmerizing piece on the Asylum, the ultra-low-budget B-movie studio that produced last night's Twitter-bomb Sharknado as well as 2-Headed Shark Attack and a host of big-studio ripoffs like Transmorphers, Battle of Los Angeles (ideally conflated with Battle: Los Angeles) and American Warships (nestled neatly next to Battleship at Redbox and on your Netflix queue). These movies are drafted in ten days, have budgets as low as $100,000 and are intentionally naive about their own inanity: “I wish we could be more self-aware when we’re making these movies, but it’s, like, a rule,” one of the filmmakers is quoted as saying.

The people at the Asylum are well aware of the risible-to-detestable spectrum that their movies inhabit; the 25-year-old producer of Sharknado sums up the typical criticism as, “I hope everyone involved in this production dies and their families die." But these movies, willed into existence by market algorithms, are still getting made and watched and iterated.

In these troubling times, we must turn to our Marxist critical theory. Here is a selection of unmarked quotes from both Hess's article and Guy DeBord's "Society of the Spectacle," which is really the only think piece on Sharknado that we need; call this a Sharktopus of block text, or perhaps just never willingly participate in the world again, which is the option that I am considering.

In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation.

We appear to be living in a world of unlimited choices, all screened directly into our homes on demand.

In a world which really is topsy-turvy, the true is a moment of the false.

“Carmen Electra is a doctor,” Horton tells me with a mix of glee and disdain. The question is: For the love of God, why? “The short answer is: We don’t know."

The success of this production, its abundance, returns to the producer as an abundance of dispossession. All the time and space of his world become foreign to him with the accumulation of his alienated products.

We don’t really know the consumer. The consumer is too big and too fractionalized. All we know is we’re making a film for Netflix, and they tell us what they want.

All the goods selected by the spectacular system are also its weapons for a constant reinforcement of the conditions of isolation of “lonely crowds.

If a Japanese DVD company wants a submarine, and Blockbuster needs a monster, the Asylum will make a sailors-meet-sea creature movie.

The spectacle presents itself as something enormously positive, indisputable and inaccessible. It says nothing more than “that which appears is good, that which is good appears.

“It’s exactly what you think it is—a tornado full of sharks,” he explains. “That movie cannot be bad.”

It doesn’t matter how unwatchable it is.

The spectacle is the nightmare of imprisoned modern society which ultimately expresses nothing more than its desire to sleep. The spectacle is the guardian of sleep.

PS, in (the unlikely) case you were wondering if a sharknado could ever actually happen, Mother Jones has your answer, and it is, as we suspect: no.

20 Comments / Post A Comment

anachronistique

Sharktacular.

cxbcbxsdg547

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Scandyhoovian

Judging by my facebook and twitter feeds, I was one of maybe two people on the face of the planet not watching Sharknado last night. So whatever they're doing, they're doing it right.

iceberg

"Animals often get caught in the paths of tornadoes, but they typically die before they get the chance to harm Tara Reid."

SarcasticFringehead

@iceberg That piece was amazing. "As with any waterspout or tornado, the best advice is to be in an interior part of the lowest floor of a sturdy building—and not outside, whether sharks are raining down or not."

Advice which, I hate to say, the stars of Sharknado ignored with impressive dedication.

hallelujah

This. THIS. Drop the fuckin mic, Jia.

Betsy Murgatroyd

Last night, our sleepy little sea town on the Salish Sea was besieged by black helicopters and a loud bang at about midnight. Nobody (the military) is really copping to what was actually going on, but I've decided it had something to do with a freak Sharknado about to rip through the Olympic Peninsula.

blushingflower

Yeah, judging by my social media feeds, a lot of people were watching and tweeting about it. Advertisers don't care if you're watching ironically, as long as they get to put their ads in front of your eyes. When big name Twitter users like Wil Wheaton are using a hashtag with your movie's name, that's a way to get advertisers to purchase time on your channel, and that's how tv producers get paid. As long as people keep watching this stuff, it'll keep getting made.

Alli525

Am I missing something or are they not replaying this?? I missed it and am trying to find another listing, HELPPPP

#sharknado4lyfe

Judith Slutler

but did you see this amazing interview with the screenwriter, whose actual name appears to be THUNDER LEVIN? http://io9.com/736131336

rekabeka

My brother starred in Asylum's "666: The Child" as the dad opposite Boo Boo Stewart. Just thought I'd share.

Rock and Roll Ken Doll

"In these troubling times, we must turn to our Marxist critical theory."

Oh god, Jia, truer words, etc.

hands_down

Because I am a spelling nerd and because I am That Person, I will point out that it's Guy Debord, not Guy DeBord.

[sic]

@hands_down THANK you!

SarcasticFringehead

You guys, I was one of the masses last night, and I tell you what, it was well-nigh unwatchable, even for a Syfy channel movie.

Onymous

I just wanna recommend The Asylum's Sherlock Holmes.
It starts with a T-Rex terrorizing White chapel and ends with Iron Man with a machanical Drgaon fighting Sherlock in a (quite Verne-ian) hot air balloon.

The actually production is acceptable, on par with the average Sci-Fi made for TV movie, but it's one of the few Asylum films that actually goes far enough to rise to the level of interesting.

It's on netflix instant

SarcasticFringehead

@Onymous I am one hundred percent into that.

sophia_h

I watched about 15 minutes last night and that's my recommendation -- watch any random 15 minutes, howl in laughter at how bad it is, then turn it off.

Tragically Ludicrous

I miss my directly lived sharknados.

cxbcbxsdg547

@anachronistique Hey~`My Life is so lonely .How about you? I need a man who can love me back , Recently, I join a serious black white dating site on__ MixêdMàtching. ℂoм___ I just want to find my true love. This is the best place for looking for interracial dating, relationship,love or marriage. Specialize in bringing together singles who want to date different races. .)If you are single, take a try.rtu5

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