Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Rumor Mill

Website reports that according to an unnamed source, Actor, is currently in talks to star in Film.

Website = a member of the set news websites
Actor = a member of the set actors
Film = a member of the set upcoming films

We all know the formula. We've all read the posts. Someone has it from some source that someone will likely be doing something that we're supposed to highly care about. There are entire sites out there dedicated to collecting all the rumors surrounding comic book adaptations, major blockbusters, romance films, and the like. I should start off by mentioning I don't hate rumors, they're not bad, and occasional doses of them does supply some much needed anticipation factor to films. These days though, they're getting a bit incessant.

At a certain point I began wondering if there were any actors who haven't been rumored to have a role in the upcoming X-Men reboot, playing the villain in The Dark Knight Rises, or featuring in The Hobbit. Of course there's nothing wrong with reporting a rumor if you feel it has some validity, but there has to be a line at which you stop. If your 'unnamed source' is a guy who stood near a guy who heard from another guy that was best friends with someone who may have been doing casting for that film, reliability needs to be called into question. It's not that you should always tell us the reliability of your source, but would a scale percentage on their accuracy, if it's someone you've used before, hurt too badly? Or if they're first time, mention they are, and so their reliability is subjective. Oh, and if you would be so kind do that FIRST.

I do understand why media outlets do it though. There's a big deal in online media, or media in general, with being the first to report something. If you're the first to report it, the other news sites, blogs, and fan sites link back to you. In turn, it ups your viewership, which ups your ad count, which ups your money. Rumors are merely an extension of that idea. If you post a rumor for something nobody else has reported, even if the backing is a bit sketchy, people will latch onto it and want to know more.

Personally I'm just tired of it all. There's no requirement that your rumor even possess the most minute amount of accuracy, as by definition there's never much basis for a rumor. They're always hearsay, and without firm foundation little more than hypothetical wishing. Too many of these rumors seem to pray on the hopes and desires of fanboys and fangirls. Trying to get them worked up. Don't believe me, whip out google and type in Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the Riddler rumor. The rumor spread like wildfire across the internet, turns out, no Riddler in the film at all. But that's what happens with these things, someone hears that a rather popular actor, actress, or director is going to be apart of a rather well anticipated thing and the rumor explodes.

These rumors become monsters in their own right. They build up anticipation by playing to people's desires. It works in the studio's favor if you keep talking about their film, even if nothing you say is accurate. It keeps awareness up, which keeps hype up. The inevitable flaw in all this is the realization that once the truth comes out, if the rumor is incorrect, people have spent a lot of time, and personal investment, in what amounts to nothing. Most people brush this off and dive back in, but over time even the tiniest dings in armor add up.

To me there's just too much negative that comes from a rumor than outweighs the vague possibility that it might be accurate. But we live in a society where Headlines supersede content. Where the enjoyment derived from hype outweighs the possibility of being let down. Where people seek out the things they want to hear, not the things they need to hear. A vast database of information. An even more vast database of false information. Do us all a favor, don't feed an already overgrown monster. Try and keep the priority on the facts.

Thank you.

8 better thoughts:

Rick Bman said...

The problem is that news sites and bloggers are so worried about being the first to report something that they are afraid to not report the rumor. They'd rather be first then right... but that is how our media works these days. Unfortunately it affects much more then just movies rumors.

My favorite way that an internet rumor spreads is when an actor is interviews and they are asked "Would you ever want to work with Such and Such director?" and the actor says "Sure, it would be awesome to work with him." Within hours the headlines on the internet are "This Actor up for role in Director's next film."

Ryan McNeil said...

Totally agree with you Helms. I noticed this trend going into hyperdrive in the days and weeks after THE DARK KNIGHT, and had to wonder what the merit of it all was.

Then again, I've never been one for any sort of perhaps I'm the wrong one to ask.

SugaryCynic said...

pfft, then I guess you don't want to hear my hot tip that Betty White is in the running for The Penguin in The Dark Knight Rises. It's legit, I heard it from my friend who heard it from his brother's girlfriend's nephew's best friend who heard a guy in a very nice suit say so on a bluetooth. So it must be true.

Univarn said...

@Rick Oh who can forget the whole Sun, Rupert Grint, Martin Scorcese wildfire rumor that spread a few months back with the Sun coming out and basically going 'ok fine, yeah we made up the story, sorry' and everyone just going 'awwwww, too bad.' Not 'wtf is wrong with you people!?'

@Mad I feel the same way when someone says: "did you hear who so and so is dating!?" and I say "yes, and I hate myself everyday because of it."

@Sugary BUT OMG!!!!!! BETTY WHITE I F@*#*&! LUVZ HUR!

Anonymous said...

You really are the master of these 'rant' posts, Univarn... it's always an entertaining read :)

Well I sure am glad I didn't post my thoughts about that Heath Ledger rumor that he might be back on Batman 3. I was thinking of posting my thoughts on it but decided against it as it's probably dismissed before my post went up anyway. You're right, the rumor mill is getting out of hand to the point of absurdity. Besides, it's not like it's going to affect my interest in seeing something one way or the other unless that rumor is confirmed. In general I avoid gossip sites anyway, I couldn't care less who so and so is sleeping with who. I mean it's Hollywood, it's not news that everyone is cheating. It's when people stay together that's newsworthy. Sorry I kind of went of in a tangent here... I'll stop right now :)

Simon said...

Why must you remind me of the JGL-Riddler thing? Need my hopes be dashed twice?

Castor said...

I don't frequent the rumor mills and usually don't report rumors in my weekly news aggregation. Now, when an actor is "in talks" as reported by sites like Variety or Deadline, the casting happens 95% of the time. However, when they "rumored" or "is interested" then it's usually just what it is, rumors.

Univarn said...

@flixchatter thank you for the compliment. Perhaps I should take my ranting on the road?

The issue with the Heath Ledger rumor is that months ago everyone involved said No Joker. That's a rumor built entirely for stirring people up with no real foundation.

@Simon Seeing as the second time is me mentioning it as a negative, I don't believe it should mess with your hopes at all. Then again, perhaps you should avoid getting your hopes up to begin with? Be like me, grumpy and mistrustful of everything!

@Castor You do a fine job of avoiding them, but not a lot of people do. Many fall into that same trap Rick mentioned. Taking someone casually answering a question and moving it to the farthest degree of arbitrary extrapolation.

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