Stupid Focus Group

Movie #12 of the year, [REDACTED].

Sometimes when I’ve been invited to advance screenings they’ll pass out surveys after the movie and give you free movie tickets for all of your hard work of filling out a two-sided paper. When Jeremy and I arrived an hour and half ahead of the screening last night there was already a long line — the lure of free movie tickets was in demand. We quickly jumped out into the cold and shivered behind everyone else, but were fortunate enough to be plucked out of line to be a part of a focus group after the movie (and get an additional free movie ticket.)

After watching the movie from an oscar-nominated director and after we filled out our short surveys we joined another 18 or so people in the front rows to discuss what we liked and disliked about the movie. As soon as they started talking it was quite apparent how stupid the majority of these people were. One lady mistook a character’s stress tick as cancer (but somehow at the same time felt relatable to the character), another lady “forgot” a major revelation that happened near the end of the movie while others wanted that revelation to happen closer to the beginning of the movie, a few others were lost in the genre and wanted the movie to be quirkier (apparently that’s what the public wants in a dark comedy), while others complained about the ending and how it wasn’t what they expected and thus they didn’t like it (if you wonder why Hollywood makes the same shitty movies, focus groups like this are why!) and over half the people had a problem with the main character because she was so unlikeable — which was the whole point of the movie!

Fortunately Jeremy and I were there to straighten things out (point out the obvious) such as: explaining how the character is supposed to be unlikeable; reminding these people of the movie’s title as proof of things were supposed to be the way they were; refreshing the one lady’s mind about the key plot point near the end of the movie that she had forgotten and how that helps explain everything before it and if it were to come sooner it would have lost its impact; and in general pointing out that the movie didn’t need to be changed as much as almost everyone else thought it did. In the end I think we succeeded to help some of the light bulbs turn on in these dim-wits’ heads, but it was so frustrating that these adults couldn’t come up with the simplest of things from the movie. Part of me wants to believe that because the movie was still missing music that perhaps some of the obvious moments didn’t have the same effect on people as they would have with the sound of a string orchestra behind them, but really I know the American public is even more stupid than that.


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