Southwrite

Telling stories

Bad News is Good News

Posted by southwrite on June 23, 2014

Eva Green and the revealing Sin City movie poster

Eva Green and the revealing Sin City movie poster

We say we like good news, but the reality is we prefer our news bad. Bad is good. Bad is interesting. Bad is worth our time.

I’m not talking about bad news from your relatives or boss. We don’t want to hear anything bad from them. But when it comes to the news we consume – in newspaper, magazines, and mostly on the internet – we like it bad (for someone else).

Sure, we say the media is too negative and we wish it would report more on the positive side of life. We say we want to hear about the triumphs, the important issues and the people doing good. Yes, we say that, but we don’t mean it.

Consider the polls that repeatedly reveal that people prefer hard, in-depth news reporting to fluff and celebrity gossip. Media moguls hear that plea and then see that people overwhelmingly turn to the trivial. Put a long form piece on global warming up against a story on the Kardashians and see who wins.

I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. You knew you were lying to the pollster when she asked you about your news habits. It’s what we do – we lie to survey takers.

For the entertainment industry, unpleasant news can be good in many situations. Having the poster you created for your new movie banned might seem like a bad thing. Consider this provocative image for the new film Sin City: A Dame To Kill For. It features the voluptuous Eva Green wearing a translucent nightgown and holding a revolver in her hand. The poster was banned by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) “for nudity — curve of under breast and dark nipple/areola circle visible through sheer gown.”

Bad news? If you’re The Weinstein Company (and their genre label Dimension Films), you pretend it’s a bad thing. You do that even as the media hits and page views pile up. The original poster may never appear on the wall of a local Cineplex, but more people will have seen it (and learned about the new film) than would have if the MPAA had not looked so closely at Green’s breasts. (Leave that to teenage boys.) If you weren’t thinking of going to see Sin City before, you might be now. (A more modest version of the poster has since been released.)

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Green said it was “a bit odd.” “It seems like it’s all just publicity — a lot of noise of nothing,” she said. “You have so many more violent things in the movie business and this is kind of soft. I’m not naked. It’s suggested.” She added there is nothing wrong with the poster. In fact it’s “really sexy, actually.”

I can’t say if the movie’s promoters planned to do a poster that would be censored and whip up a heavy dose of publicity. I wouldn’t be surprised. Despite the ban, the poster was leaked to the press and soon spread across the internet.

Similar bad news also raised support and sales for brands such as the A&E reality show Duck Dynasty and fast food chain Chick-fil-A.

In an earlier era advertising agencies would put on publicity stunts designed to attract attention. Today, they’re sometimes referred to as “planned mistakes” that are anything but mistakes.

Yes, bad news can be good – especially when it’s bad news you’ve created.

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