About six years ago I was introduced to the wonderful and whacky world of SyFy Original Movies. They say you never forget your first…and its true, Mansquito was my first SyFy Original. Curiously though, this movie is now called Mosquito Man. Since then it’s been a cacophony of ridiculousness Ice Spiders, Sharktopus, Two Headed Shark, Chupucabra: Dark Seas, Frankenfish, well the list goes on and on. The titles of these movies almost always leave little to the imagination and are always awesomely insane. So anyway…
Last night I came home from walking the dog and wanted to watch a little television. I stumbled upon SyFy and saw a movie called Sharknado. SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! I froze. I had no choice. I had to look. Seconds after tuning in I saw Ian Ziering on the phone with Tara Reid. Clearly there was no turning back.
Now, you might be asking yourself “What exactly is a Sharknado?” The answer is not as simple as you may think. Sure, in keeping with SyFy Original tradition, the title pretty much spells it out…mostly. SPOILER ALERT Sharknado is a tornado…filled with sharks. A deadly combination to be sure. While I missed the beginning so I am unclear as to what environmental disaster was responsible for tornado’s sweeping across Los Angeles, I can say with almost complete certainty it was a combination of pure idiocy AND the polar ice cap melting that caused the flooding that resulted in sharks being in tornado’s.
Shardnado was written by Thunder Levin, which I am guessing is not his real name. “Thunder” is the type of name you give yourself when you move to LA. “Hey guys, not for nuthin, but can you call me Thunder from now on?” He probably just kept the Levin on to keep getting jobs or he didn’t want to disappoint his mother. Based on the dialog, I might venture a guess that Thunder Levin might not be a person at all. It’s probably a bunch of SyFy marketing people who wrote the script via Power Point.
What makes this movie better than most of the SyFy Original Movie fare (and trust me, that is saying something) is Sharknado’s absolute dedication to lunacy. The premise is beyond ridiculous. The dialog is just awful. Truly, truly awful. The film making itself is barely a notch above film school. And the acting is pretty lazy overall. And yet, everyone is absolutely committed to bringing their B game, and unwittingly, all those negatives somehow turned positive.
On a whim, I decided to hop on Twitter and announce I was watching this movie. Low and behold, the Twittersphere was absolutely blowing up about Sharknado!
Normally, I think tweeting during television shows or movies is self indulgent and pretty dumb. As I scrolled through the myriad of #SHARKNADO tags and literally laughing out loud, I realized this was more than a movie, Sharknado was an event! And I actually think tweeting during the movie enhanced my Sharknado experience. It was like hanging out with your wittiest friends cracking wise about a ridiculous movie. Dare I say it even felt, social.
Everyone watching and tweeting about Sharknado elevated the movie from being pure shite to wonderfully sublime. This must be the synergy thing networks have been prattling about and trying to cram down our throats for years now. Here it was in full effect, enhancing the experience! But, I am fairly certain this was unplanned…which is probably why it worked so well, even on me.
Oddly, it seemed like everyone who was watching this movie was tweeting about it.
Actor Wil Wheaton tweeted “”We lost the night to #SharkNado? What the hell is that?” – every non-syfy network executive tomorrow morning.”
Actor Michael McKean chimed in about 3/4 of the way through asking “Am I really missing a movie called Sharknado?”
Screenwriter Damon Lindelof, actress Elizabeth Banks and comedian Patton Oswalt got into a three way pitch for Sharknado 2.
Even Mia Farrow was tweeting about watching Sharknado, she even sent a picture!
However, I think it was comedian Patton Oswalt who said it best “No way is Sharknado as entertaining as the Tweets about it. Congrats @SyFyTV You’ve created a new way to watch movies.” And he’s right. Tweeting during this movie heightened the pleasure in its absolute insanity, in the best way possible.
You’ll have to pardon my cynicism, but I feel pretty comfortable saying that this Twitter-pooloza was not planned by NBCUniversal or the SyFy folks. Of course, that probably won’t stop some mid-level marketing twit from attempting to milk credit and a promotion from it (he’ll probably get it too). And if history has taught me anything, it’s that NBCUniversal and SyFy will take the Sharknado experience and kick the living shite out of it by trying to capitalize on it. ESPECIALLY if they didn’t plan for it. This will, of course, inevitably fluck it up and suck the joy out of the synergistic experience. My advice to SyFy? Just leave it alone. Let your viewers have this, you don’t need to monetize every single God damn thing.
Is Sharknado the zeitgeist of modern television viewing? I think it might just be.
And until the Twitter SyFy Original Movie double punch gets ruined, I think I found the best way to spend Thursday nights. Next weeks SyFy Original promises to be simply explosive as Frankie Muniz and Barry Bostwick star in BLAST VEGAS.
Some great Sharknado related links:
Here are some great Sharknado tweets put together by Bruce Floyd.
Article on Sharknado from cnn.com
Totally awesome and spoiler alert ridden post from EW.
LATimes covers the Sharknado pandemic here.