The Atlantic capitalized on the online furor surrounding the Syfy Channels “Sharknado” which hit the air last night at 9:00 PM. The premise of the article can be paraphrased thus: “Uhhh…Twitter? Facebook? Sharknado wasn’t very good.”
The thing is, no one thought this movie was going to be good. We didn’t watch it because of any anticipation of excellent acting or great story (although I was a bit disappointed by the lackluster special effects). No, we watched it because the very concept was so ridiculous that it required us to sample it. It’s just like the, “Wow, this stinks! Here, smell it!” that happens frequently. We (or at least, I) will never watch that movie again but I will certainly say that yes, I stayed up drinking while watching Sharknado with some friends, because how is that different from spending time at a bar with the same people? It’s not really. It’s the social thing. Which is exactly why the social medias went bonkers over it last night. This was a movie of epically bad proportions which had to be shared with the rest of the world. But again, no one is going to be talking about this next week.
Where The Atlantic seems to run off the rails is the idea that SyFy might leverage this social media barnstorm into better contracts and deals with cable companies. I suppose that is possible, but this Sharknado thing is a one-hit wonder, unlikely to be repeated any time soon. For example, SyFy has put out the following shark-themed movies in the past: Dinoshark, Sharktopus, Shark Swarm, Swamp Shark, and more. None of these had the grip of Sharknado because their basic concepts weren’t turned to a ridiculosity level of 11. SyFy is not going to be hit by the lighting of Sharknado again anytime soon. Business deals that bank on that sort of social media storm will founder, and business people aren’t stupid.
I tweeted this yesterday, and I’m not the only one who thinks this:
SHARKNADO may be this decade's Snakes on a Plane, although I doubt it will be nearly so good.
— Bill Ruhsam (@bruhsam) July 11, 2013
Yes, Sharknado may be the latest version of Snakes on a Plane (2006), which got traction solely because of Samuel Jackson being quoted shouting, “I’ve had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane!” Without that line, no one would have gone to see that movie. With that line, it seems like everyone did. And yet, there hasn’t been an equivalent movie since then despite studios knowing that if they can generate the groundswell with a gimmick similar to Sam Jacksons, we will go and spend our money.
Sharknado has certainly given us something to talk about and marvel at. Thankfully, we’ll all be done soon.