Is “The Purge” Worth Watching?

The makers behind Paranormal Activity and Insidious really understand how to make horror movies, at least financially.

After all, the return on investment for their films is astonishing.

Recall that Paranormal Activity only cost $15,000 to make and brought in almost $200 million. Every sequel since has replicated this, albeit with higher budgets.

This weekend, The Purge, debuted at #1 in the box office, already making its entire budget in the first weekend. In a decade when horror movies aren’t exactly a safe bet for investors, Jason Blum has managed to change that with his high-concept horror movies that seem to really bring in audiences.

So, is The Purge worth watching? You’ve probably heard some bad buzz. It has been panned by critics who were disappointed at the misuse of the film’s interesting concept of what would happen if crime was legal for 12 hours.

Casual film goers have been giving mixed to bad reviews, proving that this isn’t just a critical dismissal.

The problem with The Purge is two-fold for me. The biggest issue is how limited they were with the premise. Here you have this wonderfully original backdrop for a great commentary on laws, utilitarianism, and the actual effects of unrestricted humanity.

The movie does little to address the interesting themes surrounding man’s depravity and our ill attempts at restraining it.

Gee, subtle.

Gee, subtle.

The second issue I had, and many casual viewers had, was the “in-your-face” subtext that sent a clearer message than I think they attempted. They basically could have called it, “This is What Would Happen If the Tea Party Won” and “Class Warfare 101.”

You see, the orchestrators behind this ridiculous “Purge” law are a political party that is eerily alludes to the conservative “Tea Party.” I don’t really have a problem with this concept, except that it is handled so terribly and offensively.

The real message behind this law, if you really think about it, is that the best way to handle the poor is to let criminals wipe them out once a year (hence it is called the “Purge”).

After all, the only people who are safe from the “Purge” are the rich, and the villains of the movie are clearly upper-class maniacs who are letting their true nature shine once a year.

It’s just so obvious and obtuse. Class warfare commentary was already really old when In Time came out. The whole Robin Hood thing is just getting preachy at this point, and this is coming from someone who is far from rich.

Actual marketing poster for this movie.

Actual marketing poster for this movie.

So, no I don’t think this movie is very special. It doesn’t have an interesting horror story behind it that you haven’t seen before, and the exhausting subtext does nothing to alleviate that.

There is already a sequel in the works, and I actually look forward to seeing if they can get it right the second time, but for now, this is a “nothing else to watch” rental.

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7 Ways to Get The Day Off

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We all crave those days when we can just take a day off and recharge our batteries. For most of us, these are “personal days” that we use with discretion.

If you’re desperate, however, you can always turn to alternative excuses that you can present to your employer.

Such as:

1. It’s raining and you’ll melt if it touches you.

2. God told you not to work today.

3. You had a sudden urge to make pancakes and it just can’t wait.

4. There is a hostage situation in your living room involving a giant spider, a Nerf gun, and an upside down empty glass.

Other times, you are already at your place of employment, so getting out of work for a day is a little trickier. Luckily, you have several other options.

Such as:

5. You’re secretly a spy and the CIA called with a lucrative mission and that’s all you can say. Other than you need the day off of course.

6. There is a strange humming noise coming from outside and you have to go check it out. But it takes all day to find it. And if he asks, tell him it was a giant cicada threatening to tear the office down. “Needless to say he won’t be bothering us again, sir.”

7. Finally, you’ve been contacted by the mafia who have been trying to extort your part-time job of managing a bakery, so you need to leave the office and retaliate, Gran Torino style.

What’s the lesson here then? Don’t be lazy and try to get out of work. Your excuses usually sound just as ridiculous as the ones above.

*Above excuses were written courtesy of SituationallyOpal, a free-thinking college student who has perfected the art of creative day off excuses.* 

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The “SuperFan Strategy” and Why More Brands Should Use It

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A fascinating Fortune article reached me recently. It was a feature on how brands like Sephora and LEGO are relying more and more on “superfans” to regulate their online communities.

What’s a superfan? As the author of this article, Kurt Wagner, puts it, these are the most engaged users within an online community of a brand. These are the people who comment, like, and share every Facebook Page post they see for the brand they love.

The feature points out that these fans get paid nothing to essentially patrol online conversations and discussion boards, answering questions and providing product advice. You can see why they have caught the attention of major brands.

I would take it one step further. You see, I have gotten to interact with and observe superfans within my own company’s brand. I won’t say much, except that I have always found them to be among our brand’s biggest assets, and I think we should develop a deeper strategy to capitalize on these engaged users.

The “SuperFan Strategy,” as I call it, is a focused attempt at empowering the most engaged users of an online community, similar to how Huffington Post gives more responsibility to its most influential users. Conversely, superfans of a given brand, let’s say LEGO because they are currently on the cusp of this, could be used as gatekeepers and testers for new products.

This would ensure that LEGO’s latest products are consistently creating new fans and, hopefully, superfans. I know most people would jump at the chance to be a more official advocate for a brand they love, giving them more incentives to stay loyal and active.

This type of strategy also positions the brand as a two-way communicator, constantly listening to their fan-base and being responsive.

Are there significant drawbacks to a strategy such as this? I’m not sure, though the only one that comes to mind is that a superfan can lose some credibility among the rest of a brand’s fan-base if they become a pseudo-employee, so that must be handled with care.

Otherwise, the “SuperFan Strategy” is one I expect more brands to try, as it really is a no-brainer amid the advent of social marketing strategies.

Like what you read? Connect with me further via twitter @JonNegroni. I’ll follow back if you seem like a real person. You can also subscribe to this blog by clicking the “follow” button in the top-left corner.

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