"John Carter," Jimmy Buffett, and the Decline of Traditional Media

John Carter, Disney’s new epic film, is a groundbreaking disaster, if you heed the reviews in a few major newspapers.  Yet it’s made, in only three days’ time, $100,000,000 worldwide.

Jimmy Buffett, a beloved multi-millionaire due to his own perseverance as a singer and songwriter–and because of his shrewd business acumen–is actually a talentless performer who has never deserved to win a Grammy.

Who says this kind of stuff?

“Authority.”  Newspapers, holier-than-thou critics, and rival media executives fighting for a piece of the disposable-income pie.

Who loses in contests like these?

We, the people.

Incredibly, Jimmy Buffett has never won a Grammy.  Look at the list of winners, since, oh, whenever, and you will find a shitload of one-hit wonders who have won, and have since faded into the obscurity from which they never should have slithered.

Really, why should they be recognized–groups and artists such as Boys II Men, Salt-n-Pepa, Tool, Jamiroquai–when Mr. Margaritaville will never, ever receive a Grammy?

Because the power executives want their people to win…and Jimmy has never played the L.A. music, ass-kissing game.  His power comes from the people themselves, not the execs.

L.A. don’t like that.

John Carter, the movie poster.
 Just one little bit of proof that Disney got the marketing all wrong on this one.

The first (as far as I can tell) excoriating review for John Carter came from a big newspaper.  Coincidentally or not, the Los Angeles Times.  Go look it up if you want to.  It basically says the movie is a complete flop.  A waste.  Utter failure.

Now, just exactly how do Jimmy Buffett and John Carter meet, you might ask.

They meet in the arena of venomous critical response.  They meet in the hearts of critics who don’t give a damn about people, citizens, consumers–whatever you want to call us regular folk–but instead lather praise on the celeb du jour, like Katy Perry or Lana Del Rey; the TV series du jour, such as the Kardashian reality series (after series) or any series on pay cable; and movies, the smaller the better, that the average moviegoer will ignore in hordes, especially if it’s French.

One of the reasons the Internet is killing the American newspaper is the prevalence of online niches.  People–today’s consumers–don’t want to listen to old-fashioned authority.  They want to find their own voices amidst similar voices.

The authority that newspapers once had is dwindling.  That’s a good thing.  Because Jimmy Buffett wouldn’t be a star if it were up to the L. A. Times.  They published a review of his L. A. concert back in ’91 or ’92–I was vacationing at Disneyland and read the review in thie restaurant while having breakfast–which was much less a review of the concert itself than it was a poisonous tirade against Buffett himself: his voice, the laid-back style that appeals to the masses (How can that be?), and his predilection for rum-soaked lyrics that–Protect us, oh mighty L. A. Times!–promote drinking.  DRINKING, I say!  To make it worse, the reviewer claimed it was a complete lack of sensitivity on JB’s part to perform his hit, “Volcano,” just days after a volcano erupted in the Pacific and destroyed an island.

That wasn’t a review.  That was a petty little critic mouthing off against what readers–the people–truly like–and what he/she most definitely despised…and, by God, everyone else should hate him, too!

John Carter is receiving only a few bad reviews, but they’re from “authority.”  Mostly, they’re from media sources who WANT the movie to fail, to show Pixar and Disney who’s boss.  They don’t give a damn if the movie is good or bad.  They want it to fail, they want it to be bad…and so that’s what it is.

The problem is that some people are still listening to them.

The good thing is, word of mouth will let John Carter to go on to prove the know-nothings wrong.

Here’s a quote from what I’m reading on the Internet, and it’s typical of how good John Carter really is:

Boy, did the marketing execs at Disney blow it on this one. From the trailer (and the hype), you’d think that John Carter is a Clash-of-the-Titans-meets-Avatar war movie, stocked to the gills with aliens fighting each other in epic battles. Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

But what if you were told it’s actually a super-fun (and often funny) tale of a stranger-in-a-strange-land, with just enough romance to make it a (gasp!) really solid date movie? …along with aliens fighting each other in epic battles, of course.

But there it is.

Read the whole thing hereThis one is even better: it really gets to the core of how good the movie truly is.

The important question: Can positive word-of-mouth now help “John Carter” overcome its poisonous advance buzz?

Yes, I think it can.  It has to.  Good movies need to succeed, to show self-important critics that a blockbuster can also be a damn good movie.  Good performers need to succeed, to show pompous execs and star-fuckers that, yes, good guys win.  (And don’t for a minute think that Disney execs didn’t plant any of the bad press.  They did.  For financial reasons.)

Authority is on the wan.  They can still influence negatively, as in the case of John CarterRead this piece a couple of times — it’s that important.  Don’t just take these opinions from me: you need to see exactly how failures in Hollywood are manufactured.

And read of the sheer joy the red planet can bring.

Don’t pay attention to the hate.

Defy authority.  Listen to the people, not the critics.

Go for yourself, and experience the joy and wonder of living under the moons of Mars.  It’s right next to Margaritaville.

You can’t go wrong.

3 thoughts on “"John Carter," Jimmy Buffett, and the Decline of Traditional Media

  1. and yet the poor little boy does not agree with what others perceive as quality work so he has a tantrum. But wait? you were a critic at one point expounding your values and limited knowledge on the reading public as if the words were the wisdom of a aged sage. The masses will decide through their wallets what they approve of.


  2. The point, my flashback-having hippie wino friend, is neither my nor anyone else's disagreement with honest criticism. Point blank, it's a sense of rational individuality that rejects traditional Authority. And because of the Internet, that sense of individuality is blossoming exponentially. And I am certainly no authority–sure, I still review and I still criticize–but I don't try to tell others that all science fiction is bad, or that the Rolling Stones have never done a good song, or that Frank Zappa belonged in the crappa. Blind disapproval is as bad as blind stupidity, and is not legitimate criticism. I certainly hope you're right that the masses will approve through their wallets. It's time that real people overturned such archaic Authority as daily newspapers, holier-than-thou politicians and evangelists, and corrupt big businesses. Newspapers are dying because people ARE holding on to their wallets. The newspaper is a product that has little value to them in the 21st century. And that's why I think John Carter will succeed just like Jimmy Buffett has: simply because the people like what they have to offer.


  3. It was obvious to some of us that the accepted authorities were nothing more than hollow and reactionary when they tore into the Beatles in 1963. About the only one they've been consistently right about is Barry Manilow.
    Remember when the powers-that-were in France rejected the Impressionists and Fauves?


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