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I would like to point you to a brilliant Youtube video by hbomberguy.

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The video is seriously awesome, and in it he lays out a very compelling case for how our current outrage culture operates. Which has happened pretty exactly with Captain Marvel.

First off, Brie Larson’s comments were the definition of non-controversial. So non-controversial that she commissioned an independent study into the make up of her press tours in order to be as focused on facts over feelings as possible. Her comments were literally the rational conclusion to the objective facts that she literally held.

Brie Larson On Superheroes, Success And Her Hollywood Sisterhood

‘About a year ago, I started paying attention to what my press days looked like and the critics reviewing movies, and noticed it appeared to be overwhelmingly white male. So, I spoke to Dr Stacy Smith at the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, who put together a study to confirm that. Moving forward, I decided to make sure my press days were more inclusive. After speaking with you, the film critic Valerie Complex and a few other women of colour, it sounded like across the board they weren’t getting the same opportunities as others. When I talked to the facilities that weren’t providing it, they all had different excuses.’

This is incredibly dry, incredibly non-incendiary stuff. She saw something she thought was an issue, but rather than running her mouth, she went to an expert in the field to actually study it. Then when she had the results of that study, she worked to make sure that issues she initially noticed were addressed. It’s pretty boring stuff, actually.

Now, of course, bad actors on the internet reported on the most dry facts possible in the most inflammatory way because when the worst people on the internet get riled up, they get lots and lots of clicks. Anyone who has a passing familiarity with Fox News’s business strategy knows this cycle. Get audience capture and then stoke their fears and resentments which creates an outrage cycle leading to ever more audience capture.

Of course all this works out in Disney’s favor. Because when the worst people on the internet get themselves into a rage lather, it benefits Disney tremendously. The worst people on the internet are known for their complete lack of empathy and ability to see anyone else’s perspective (and their complete contempt for that as a concept). Which means they aren’t able to perceive that they are an excellent advertising campaign.

They think review bombing Captain Marvel before it is released will result in negative publicity. Instead it results in a $100 million dollar part of a franchise released by the largest media company on the planet being portrayed as the scrappy underdog. They think the shrieking and rending of their hair over Brie Larson’s completely non-controversial comments will result in negative publicity. Except all the publicity is shiningly positive about how Larson, an Academy Award winning actress, is handling harassment by trolls.

Every single thing that they do only ever results in positive press for Captain Marvel. Had the worst people on the internet not bothered to insert themselves into the conversation, then possibly all the chatter around Captain Marvel would be about how a large-ish number of critics walked away feeling pretty “meh” about the film. Which is not unexpected considering that a large-ish number of critics have felt pretty “meh” about almost all the MCU movies (it’s only the three punch of Black Panther, Thor Ragnarok, and Avengers: Infinity War that made the MCU seem critically acclaimed).

Instead it is about how terrible the worst people on the internet are, and all the terrible things that they do. People can use ad blockers, people can avoid entertainment sites. Savvy people can avoid all the hype and advertising. But because of the worst people on the internet, Captain Marvel is now a news story. A news story you are supposed to have an opinion on. And because the worst people on the internet are, as their name implies, the worst… well you can see what the opinion is going to be.

The worst people on the internet have never managed to have any impact on a movies sales in and of themselves. Their failures are legendary (Mad Max: Fury Road, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Captain Marvel). And the ones they claim as successes are pretty laughable (Ghostbusters, Solo). But what they can do, in their incompetent rage, is provide a movie with all sorts of positive press. To provide the audience with a feeling of schadenfreude and righteousness for striking back at the worst people on the internet… by going to see a movie they were likely going to go see anyway.

So no the ticket sales wouldn’t fail. They didn’t fail. And Captain Marvel made almost half a billion dollars already.

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