Bad Titles: Snakes on a Plane

At his Scanners blog, Jim Emerson makes a good point: Despite the pre-release buzz, "Snakes on a Plane" is not actually a very good title. It's just a description.

When you stop and think about it, SOAP has none of the impact of something like, say, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. It doesn't scream out at you that you must see this movie!

Really, would DIE HARD have attracted ticket goers if it had been titled "Bad Guys in a Building"? Would people have flocked to JAWS if it was known as "Shark in the Water"?

Emerson links to an Esqure article by Chuck Klosterman, in which he points out that the real appeal of the SOAP title is not that it's promising to be outrageous exploitation of even amusing camp. It simply invites audiences to feel superior to the movie:

  • It's not a bad movie that's accidentally good, and it's not a good movie that's intentionally bad; it's a disposable movie that people can pretend to like ironically even though a) it's not ironic and b) they proably won't like it at all.

The Esquire article was actually written before the film came out, so it has a slightly speculative tone. But so far, the reality seems to have confirmed Kloserman's thesis. At least now he can rest easy, since the film was not the box office blockbuster he feared, so hopefully it will not start a trend.