The Longest Now

The seamy underbelly of reviewing
Saturday August 14th 2004, 11:47 pm
Filed under: null

I’ve always wondered whether and how large companies coordinated touting for their products in online fora. I remember fake Amazon book reviews going back to 1998; even today, most books get so few reviews that it pays to throw in a few fake reviews from friends of the author.

For years, it seemed as though only individuals bothered to do this — again, see the small number of reviews for most products. But they’re wising up; just today I ran across someone who is clearly now a professional “Yahoo movies” reviewer, trained in the ways of Writing Like an Enthusiastic Average Joe, Proper Mispellign, and Mimcking a Hard-core Fan. His Yahoo user profile lists just three reviews, two of them terrible, but I’d guess that this person has a hundred accounts just like it… and I wonder what a review like his Alien v. Predator review is worth.

It reads like a film-industry pro who’s had just enough training not to give it away — mentions “the Novel”, the director, and the movie names by abbreviations that few fans use, but that someone who uses the term hundreds of times a week might. And, hmm,

I strongly believe that there will be an extended version on DVD
but that’s just a thought of mine, so don’t take it as a fact.

by the same articulate guy who then closes with

My Final thought!

And the film he’s writing about? Right, Alien v. Predator. About which real reviewers tend to say things like “you can just burn a ten dollar bill and get more enjoyment out of that then sitting through this horrible movie.” (damianisnice)

He’s not the only toadie out there. And there must be lots of reasons to be a toad other than being paid for it. But Damian makes the good point that anyone who gives AvP high marks is likely associated with the film somehow, and there are a *lot* of A reviews for this one; check out the list and you’ll find some reviewers with… unusual histories. Some traits shared by the best of them:

  1. no personal information; only a few sporadic reviews; could be one of a long list of dummy accounts… OR lots of detailed personal information, w/conflicting information coming out in individual reviews to make the reviewer fit more squarely into the target audience (See chickmagnet, below);

    For instance, chickmagnet, whose profile says hes “19” and heading into the Air Force, but who claims to be 15 when reviewing SpongeBob Squarepants.

  2. lots of A+/F movie reviews the day/weekend a movie is released (don’t forget that an F review for the other movies in your space is almost as good as an A review for your own)
  3. PR speak in the middle of a rambling, misspelled teenage post.

    this battle between the Queen and the Predator and scientist is much more fast-paced, suspensful and action-packed, that is actually the way the whole movie was compared to other Alien and Predator films, more fast-paced, slightly more suspenseful, and much more action.

  4. Combine detailed knowledge about backstage details (never EVER misspell the director’s name) with atrocious orthography.

    The way Paul W. Anderson created the story was just fenominle. (bushead)

  5. Don’t forget to hype the DVD. “I can’t wait for the DVD!”, “I hear there’s going to be a director’s cut DVD, that would be so cool”, etc.
  6. Don’t forget the hype, period. “This was, without a doubt, one of the best movies I have ever seen.” “i don’t care what others say it the best movie i’ve ever seen!”
  7. Compare favorably with a recent major success (“I, Robot” seems to be the fave here)

Perhaps the most interesting upside of this look at the AvP reviews, is what it suggests about other recently-touted films — Fahrenheit 9/11, Punisher, and Spiderman 2 tended to get similar boosts…

2 Comments so far
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More from the wires — many people with private movie review sites have been seeing plants from the movie theatre surrounding AvP … and I just discovered that they cancelled their premier, most likely because they didn’t want anyone to see it before it hit the theatres on opening night. yow!

Comment by sj 08.15.04 @ 11:21 pm

I always wondered what you did in your spare time …

Comment by j 08.16.04 @ 12:25 am

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