As Shao Kahn surveys the horror Realms, he’s disgusted that a majority of new horror films are committing the same sins. He’s set me to the task of cataloging these evils you should dread, and writing You Suck! editions on them, in the hopes that both the establishment and the indies will seek some originality. I can’t make any promises…
This time around, we tackle social media, and how all the hype often turns out to be all sound and no fury.
Social media is a tricky thing. For one thing, there’s no middle ground. One camp swears by it; to its people, it’s a lifeline to the world. Camp two sees it as an unnecessary venue for people to purge out their entire existences, and feed off those of others. I’ve never been a fan of it, to be honest. I have no personal Twitter or Facebook account (though Death Ensemble has one, for purely business reasons), and I still barely know what an Instagram is. But social media goes beyond people, and into territories of advertising. Businesses from the small town pizzeria by one of my old jobs to Coca Cola to Variety have Fb and Twitter accounts. Which makes me wonder… do they really make a difference? SyFy will try to convince you they do, using SHARKNADO as Exhibit A.
SHARKNADO premiered on July 11, the day after my birthday. I’d seen a few scenes from it, and let me be clear about this, I had no intent to watch it. The problem is… well, it’s another SyFy movie, with a ridiculous maritime premise. If SyFy ever ran a great original movie, it would be by accident. Though I revere MEGA SHARK VS. GIANT OCTOPUS, I don’t do so because it’s even marginally good. So SHARKNADO hit the airwaves, and according to People, drew in about exactly what any of the channel’s original movies would: 1.4 million viewers. That tells me the only people watching the flick were SyFy junkies who will watch any original SyFy movie.
The odd thing about its premiere was the attention Tweeters paid the flick: EW reports there were 387,000 #Sharknado Tweets during the show’s first run. That’s a lot of talk for a show that only had 1.4 million viewers. It broke Twitter records for SyFy… but not viewing records. EW states Roger Corman’s SHARKTOPUS had 2.5 million viewers, without sporting any Tweeting championships.
This didn’t stop SyFy from claiming triumph, and spinning their Tweety record into viewers. Shamelessly (and let’s face it, SyFy doesn’t do anything any other way), they re-ran the show the following Thursday. Many sites are reporting they picked up another 500,000 viewers… which still puts them just ahead of the premiere of PIRANHACONDA.
So hype built more hype, so much so that I’m reading articles on horror sites claiming SHARKNADO a “huge success” among a myriad of hyperbole. SyFy will run the flick two more times in the upcoming weekend, in hopes of increasing those numbers. Hey, you ride that shark as far as it will take you, boys.
But while you’re doing so, let me take you back.
“How far back?”
Way back to November 21, 1981. Well before social media existed, CBS ran a little show called Dallas. At the end of Season 2, Larry Hagman’s character J.R. Ewing got shot, propelling America and the world to question, “Who Shot J.R.?” On that cold day in November, Dallas answered that question. What does any of this have to do with SHARKNADO? This: 83 million Americans tuned in to see whodunnit, and 300 million people worldwide. That’s roughly 42 times the number of SHARKNADO viewers on the second viewing. Ponder on that, and ask just exactly how impressive the numbers for the shark flick were, and exactly how much the hype did for SyFy.
What conclusions do I draw from this?
a) Social media is way overrated. It’s not going anywhere anytime soon, but it’s not as big an influence as people make it out to be.
b) An increase in 500,000 fans didn’t even put SHARKNADO over the SHARKTOPUS line. It barely beat out PIRANHACONDA.
b1) Christ, SyFy movies have some awful titles. Whoever generates these hybrid creature names deserves a beating behind the shed.
c) J.R. survived through thirteen seasons of Dallas, two TV movies, and a season and a half of the reboot, which follows the Ewing clan. Had Hagman not died, the meanest villain in television history would still be kicking ass. So…
d) If SyFy ever made SHARKNADO VS. J.R. EWING, good ole J.R. would slice up the sharks and have them for breakfast before the first commercial break.
And even Shao Kahn can’t be upset at that prospect.