The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

The Mario Van Peebles labor of love Baadasssss!, which chronicles the making of his father's first independent movie back in 1971, just rolled into town, playing at Tampa Theatre. It was a trip; a slightly-too-frenetic pace, but enjoyable.

The decision to entitle the film Baadasssss! brings some peculiar problems in the age of Internet marketing. The spelling of "baadasssss" is a nightmare for the movie's promotional website: Do they really expect people to remember how many "s"es there are in the title? Too few or too many letters, and you're likely to land on either an error page or some unrelated poacher's site. Yet the URL is intended to be visited, because it's prominently displayed in the film's trailer. A unique title can be an asset, but not when it's so unique that no one can spell it. A movie's website certainly isn't going to make or break a film, but it's of practically no use if it's difficult to find.

Curiously, you'll notice that redirects to Sony opted to not mess with the unconventional spelling for its subdomain and just went with "badass". Smart move.

I guess this follows the general problem Van Peebles had with branding this project. The IMDb entry still uses the film's original 2003 release title, How to Get the Man's Foot Outta Your Ass. I guess that title was too obscure. I think Van Peebles should have invested some more money into the marketing/branding efforts; it could have made a big difference at the box office.

Or maybe Van Peebles wanted to emulate his dad's original experience with Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song... It's noted in a couple of scenes during Baadasssss! that the deck was stacked against Melvin because his film's title couldn't even be printed in newspaper ads or marquees; the word "ass" was more verboten thirty years ago.