Most of the reviews I’ve seen for Transformers have been pretty good but there is one thing that many people are complaining about. It’s not new to the movie business but it is becoming more prominent and seems to get on a lot of people’s nerve. It is product placement.
Personally I don’t get the big deal about product placement. Since everyone is talking about the product placement in Transformers let’s use that movie as an example.
One of the biggest pieces of product placement in Transformers was none other than one of the Transformers themselves, Bumblebee. In the Transformers movie Bumblebee is a yellow Camaro. Many people are saying that this is blatant product placement and they are outraged. Are you kidding me? If Bumblebee can’t turn into a Camaro, or some other brand of car then when it turns into a car what is he going to turn into? The whole point of the Transformers is that when they come to Earth they turn into Earth objects so they fit in. Turning into a brand of car that doesn’t exist doesn’t make any sense. I don’t doubt that Camaro paid a lot of money to have their brand of car in the movie but Bumblebee had to turn into some kind of car, so what’s the big deal?
In one review I read the reviewer said, “As the film begins in the headquarters of the Department of Defense, you cannot help but notice that everyone in the room was using HP computers. And when the computer analyst decides to steal secret data, there was a very tight shot on her slipping a mini-Panasonic SD memory card into her compact to take home with her.” Actually I know for a fact that it isn’t true that “you cannot help but notice” it because I didn’t notice it. When I go to a movie I don’t sit there and check every computer to see what kind it is and I don’t even know what a mini-Panasonic SD memory card looks like. Here’s another idea, maybe the reason they made a tight shot on the memory card is because without a tight shot you wouldn’t see something as small as a memory card. Either this guy is just a huge computer geek or he’s trying way to hard to find something wrong with this movie, or most likely it’s both.
In another scene in Transformers one character is seen playing Dance Dance Revolution, another attempt at those nefarious advertisers to persuade us to buy things that…kids already buy anyway. Seriously, this is a very popular video game. People play it in real life so why not have people play it in a movie? It is a pop culture reference. Another example of this is that Sam uses eBay to try and auction off some of his belongings. Not only is this a pop culture reference but it is also a vital piece of the story. Without eBay the Decepticons don’t know where Sam lives and the rest of the movie never happens.
I admit there is one piece of product placement that sticks out. At one point in the movie all kinds of electronics are some how turning into robots including one guy walking down the street with an Xbox. The Xbox turns into a robot and starts to burst out of the box. Blatant advertising by Microsoft? Of course. But what does it really matter? Was Transformers a great movie up until the Xbox scene and then suddenly it was an awful movie? No. Did the Xbox have an impact on the story? No. Did the Xbox ruin any of the characters? No. Did the Xbox mess up the effects or the acting? No. So why does it matter if there is an Xbox on the screen? It’s just a prop, a part of the scenery, it has no impact on the film whatsoever.
Advertising isn’t always a bad thing either. Without advertising, how would you own all the things you own? How would you know about that cell phone you own unless you saw something about it? How do you know what car you want if you don’t see it in a commercial and think its pretty cool looking? How do you know if a video game looks interesting or not unless you see a commercial? Better yet how can you sit in the movie Transformers and be furious about the product placement when the reason you’re probably there is because you saw Transformers on one of those pesky commercials on television?
Most people have accepted the fact that there are commercials during television shows. Most people have accepted the fact that when you flip through a magazine there will be ads in it. But an Xbox is appearing for five seconds during my movie? Blasphemy!
It seems these days that people are just too critical of everything. A lot of movie viewers, especially professional reviewers go into movies looking for something wrong. They study every single frame, they watch the background for unnoticeable stuff, they look up facts that were said during the movie so they can say, “that’s not true!” It’s just ridiculous. Yes, there are some movies that I really dislike and when I dislike them I’m not afraid to tear the movie to shreds. But when I dislike a movie it’s because the movie wasn’t good or the movie didn’t entertain me, not just because there was a Camaro in the movie.