So I’ve got the place all to myself the other day and I’m watching The Dirty Dozen on AMC.
It’s bad enough that they’ve edited the hell out of this classic and see fit to interrupt me every few minutes with commercials, turning a 150-minute testosterone thrill ride into a slogging, 210-minute endurance test.
But I’ve got a DVR, so I’ve given the movie a head start and I’m racing through the endless commercial interruptions, jumping from scene to violent scene. I mean, it’s The Dirty Dozen: Lee Marvin, Charlie Bronson, Jim Brown, John Cassavetes, Telly Savalas and company killing Nazis…it doesn’t get tougher than this.
Then we get to one of the few scenes where there’s no action at all, and Lee Marvin’s got me riveted to the screen with just a hard look, a bottle of scotch, and his gravelly voice, when suddenly, in the lower left corner of the screen there’s this hot chick in sexy lingerie standing in a doorway exhorting me to watch Mad Men — and she’s totally blocking Lee Marvin’s face!
Did the sexy chick make me want to watch Mad Men? Not one bit — quite the opposite, in fact. Nor did that slick Don Draper guy in the 1960’s suit that stood in the same left corner later on, blocking a scene where a real mad man was actually killing something. Nor the next time the sexy chick came back…nor the time after that, nor the…you get the picture. (Where’s Maggot when you need him? Hey, it’s an inside joke — if you don’t get it, watch the movie.)
What’s AMC’s plan? Do they think that somehow, somebody who has avoided tuning in to watch Mad Men for the last 3 seasons will be swayed suddenly by the sexy chick in the lower left corner? Or that somebody who is already watching Mad Men will suddenly go, “Oh my god, that’s right, I nearly forgot that I love Mad Men and I must make a note to watch it the next time it’s on. That Don Draper is so tough.”
Now I’m pretty sure there’s no intelligence behind the timing of the tune-in ads. They didn’t plan to obscure Lee Marvin with the sexy chick, it just worked out that way because nobody who cared was paying attention.
And that’s my point. AMC is supposed to be a channel about movies for people who love movies. In their own words, “Story Matters Here. Dedicated to American movie fans featuring popular movies and original productions. Long Live Cool.”
Does anybody else remember when AMC walked the walk they still talk? They were all about great old movies… and they played them without commercials. Sure, sometimes they edited them for content, but I could overlook that — what’s a few deleted expletives between friends?
But as bad as that got, at least they weren’t obscuring critical content with their own tune-in ads for their original TV shows. (TV Shows? Don’t they understand that if I want a good cable TV show, I’ll watch HBO or Showtime?)
It all comes down to respect. AMC doesn’t respect me. (At least not the way TCM does!) To AMC, I’m just an eyeball to be advertised to, whenever they want, as much as they possibly can, regardless of what I’m watching, in whatever inappropriate manner they think will work this week.
Can someone please explain to me why — in this day and age when dozens of commercial-free movie networks are just a click away, when I can download movies from Netflix instantly, or watch them On Demand — AMC still thinks any self-respecting movie fan will swallow their disrespect?
Maybe that kind of thinking used to work in the fictional 1960’s in which Mad Men is set, but it doesn’t fly now. And if Lee Marvin were alive today, he’d kick Don Draper’s ass for dissing The Dirty Dozen. Long live cool.