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Hoses of the Holy in the Parallel Universe

January 19, 2006

Judging a Book By Its Cover, a Film by its Title, a Pork Chop by its Wrapper

I find that you can rarely go wrong in life when you judge books by their covers. Anything featuring a detail from a classical work of art: avoid. Anything featuring space, planets, spaceships, fantastic vistas: buy immediately. Anything with embossed gold lettering: avoid. Anything with a dragon: hide.

And so on.

I do the same with movies, based on their titles. The Constant Gardener, for example, sounds like it might be something to do with Rosemary and Thyme, that cutting-edge detective series on ITV1. It sounds like something my mum might like, if she was still alive. It sounds like a Radio 4-listening, Late Review-watching, Radio Times Free Previewing wet dream

But I'm probably all wrong about it (it's my hobby), because it's based on a Le Carré thing, which I didn't know until just now. So it might be quite good, or not, but the title puts me off, and the thought that I might meet people like my mother if I went to see it.

I was trying to think of other films you might think are rubbish, based on their titles, but which turn out to be quite good.

I thought The Shipping News would be tripe, and the fact that it had that old ham Kevin Spacey in it made me even more sure, but I quite enjoyed it really. Andrew keeps lending me films that I quite enjoy, though I can't remember what any of them are called, or what the actors are called.

But anything with "Warrior" or "Sword" in the title: it's going to be rubbish, isn't it?


  • I read this recently, which made me chuckle - 'DO judge a book by its cover - it's been specially designed to attract a certain audience, so you'll pretty much know whether you'll like it or not...."

    By Blogger AnnaWaits, at 10:44 am  

  • I think it depends on your taste really. What one person is drawn to, another avoids like the plague. the worst type of 'wrapper' is the movie trailer: boy, you can make any old crapola look good for a trailer-length period. Sometimes you can even make a very long good trailer: the usual final effect of this is that when you see the film you know they put EVERY second of good footage into the trailer.

    Bookwise, titles will intrigue me too, but you're probably right about covers. There are a lot of covers similar to each other my collection (especially for fiction: does non-fiction count for covers...? or titles?)

    By Blogger Lisa Rullsenberg, at 2:58 am  

  • Also you assume that whoever is doing the marketing knows what they're doing and what will appeal to the target market.

    Typically a single ad agency is used for this sort of thing and they won't therefore have specialist knowledge.

    I know some will claim they do, but how can they? How can they have generalisations of everything?

    I used to work for one of the top 5 UK ad agencies and most of the account managers were more interested in themselves and what they could shove up their nose than anything else.

    And, they sometimes have agendas: they decide who is going to find something appealing, rather than research to find out whom it will appeal to, if you see what I mean. Demographics: "hey these people have a large disposable income! How can we make this product appeal to them and sell lots more?"

    In other words, you can't always trust packaging because a) sometimes it is wrong, and b) it might be craftily designed to dupe you.

    By Blogger SimonHolyHoses, at 3:54 am  

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