VAN SCOY: Deflating summer movie madness

The summer is a big hit for those who want to go catch a flick when restlessness and boredom set in. Some really big blockbusters have moved forward in advertising for better promotion, and some have shown progress just by word of mouth. Either way, this year’s highly anticipated movies are getting loads of press – it’s getting a little ridiculous.

Consider three of the most anticipated events at the cinema this summer: “Transformers,” “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” and “The Simpsons Movie.” Each one of these movies caters to an incredibly loyal fan base, so when time comes for advertising, we already know who’s going to be first in line to buy the newest themed merchandise. Most of us also already know there will also be groups who think the new version is never going to be as great as the original. And, sadly enough, there will be those fanatics who read way too much into the message.

Are these people part of the original fan base, driven by mass media to extrapolate themes into something they love? It’s a bit hard to tell, considering the fanfare and perspective they’re pushing. For instance, the “Harry Potter” franchise has exploded across the world, and everyone wants to be associated with it. Harvard Square in Cambridge, an area with loads of history in the town and the university next to it, was renamed “Hogwarts Square” for a weekend bash to celebrate the series and the release of the next book.

Not that the series doesn’t warrant acclaim for the tremendous amount of fans and praise for the plotlines, but the world is going mad reading into this as something like the greatest fantasy story in history. For a franchise targeted toward a younger audience, an amazing amount of adults are sucked in as well.

It used to be geeks abound would praise “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Dark Tower” in secret, scorned into a classification system. When the world finally decides this literature is fantastic, we celebrate “Harry Potter.” It’s all about the number of fans, now undaunted from boundary through the Internet, which sucks the true substance from the story and makes it a marketing wonder.

A less fanaticized story, that of the “Transformers,” drew crowds who wanted to see their favorite Autobot or Decepticon of their childhood. Lots of people liked it, and it’s fair to say lots of people had complaints. That’s what happens when you take a part of someone’s history and have to mold it into a sellable movie. But something else lurks behind the story of robots from another world.

Through the army scenes and the patriotic undertones, politicians have emerged calling the film biased toward conservative values. Do we really need to analyze the crew behind the magic in order to enjoy and decipher the story? If “Transformers” is a political movie, then may the heavens have mercy on the film industry.

The only hit that seems to be immune from a skewed perspective about its worth is “The Simpsons.” The series has been around for 18 seasons, gathering different generations of fans throughout the process. For promotional movie purposes, different 7-Eleven stores around the nation were changed into “Kwik-E-Marts,” selling products from the show’s storylines. Sellout? No way. “The Simpsons” franchise has rested on the theme that humanity is random and opportunistic, funny and cruel, and basically life just “happens.” The fans love it, and that’s what makes the recent promotions so profitable.

Although the history of long-adored morals and cliffhangers is dwindling because of the debatable nature of their influence, it seems a franchise made for pure entertainment value is causing the least amount of ripples in the pond. That should really be the entire point of entertainment and art – to comment on life and give people a good show. Trying to find the great meaning and worth behind everything just makes the world suckers for a fad ideology or an attitude that politics determine everything. Despite the background of all these movies, just remember that when you leave the theater, you’re either a fan or you’re not. There’s really no need to make it more than it is.