Friday, September 12, 2014

As easy as ABC -- er, AAA

I was fascinated, though completely not surprised, by the revelations in this article at Flavorwire.

Because I know you'd much rather have me summarize the article than read it yourself, it discusses why a particular film coming out this fall was retitled Are You Here from the more definitive You Are Here.

The reason is simple: Alphabetization.

A is a lot closer to the beginning of the alphabet than Y, so when OnDemand providers list films alphabetically, you're much likelier to get to Are You Here than to wade all the way through to You Are Here before making your selection

I mean, the least they could have done is given it a question mark at the end.

The article discusses this phenomenon in relation to a number of other recent movies, many of which had the word American grafted on to the front to increase the movie's alphabetical visibility. The one I found most personally relevant was the film I'd actually seen, called Adore -- which, strangely enough, had a different changed title in its country of origin, Australia. When I saw the movie last fall in Australian theaters it was called Adoration. When it played at festivals, however, it was called Two Mothers. Not alphabetically opportune at all, so they changed it.

There are lot of other forms of cinematic chicanery that are probably more insidious, but for some reason, this one bothers me more than some of those others. Movie titles get changed for plenty of reasons, but most of them are about making a film more accessible in an entirely different definition of that word. In those title changes, we take "more accessible" to mean "more easily understandable and translatable." The trend discussed above is a more literal way of increasing a viewer's access to the movie, by physically positioning it more prominently in their list of options.

The big irony of this, for me personally, is that I have seen 41 movies released in 2014 -- and have yet to see one whose title begins with an A.

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