Friday, November 22, 2013

Branded (2012): Marketing is Brainwashing and other revolutionary ideas

Branded (2012)
dir: Jamie Bradshaw, Aleksandr Dulerayn

What. The. Fuck?!

This is a movie that opens with our main character being struck with a lightning bolt. The middle has a bloody ritual sacrifice. And it ends with a constellation cow.

I am completely sure that, based on those three scenes, my reader has no idea that this is actually about the damage that advertising does to society. Thus is the insanity of Branded.

Branded primarily intends to use existential absurdity as a primal scream against the cultural domination and omnipresence of marketing and advertising filling in every space that we look. Branded wants to be a crisis moment against the use advertising in EVERYTHING, like children's films as in yesterday's Foodfight!

On the other hand, Branded also frequently seems like a movie made by a paranoid schizophrenic. Or, at least that seems to be its intent. As a result, of this split personality, Branded is singularly batshit insane.

The first half of Branded is about a guy who had been struck by lightning to become a marketing executive. He is controlled by a council of high level people (including Max Von Sydow from The Virgin Spring) who want to make Fat People popular due to flagging interest in fast food. So, the marketing guru's show about extreme plastic surgery actually ends with a fat chick dying under the knife, sparking a reactionary fat phenomenon, and the guru goes into exile.

In exile, the guru crafts an ancient bloody sacrifice, which allows him to see the effects marketing has on people...by seeing the brands as large scary inflatable creatures growing out of people. Then, he makes a large business by creating stronger brands, and having real world Transformers-level fights between icons and brands, waiting for the last brand to survive. And, it has all been controlled by a giant constellation cow.

No, I am not hallucinating this. And, yeah, I'm actually removing some of the even crazier details of the movie to make it seem at least semi-sane. Where Foodfight! is a terrible misanthropic acid-trip nightmare of ugly nonsense, Branded is a crazy misanthropic acid-trip nightmare of well-rendered nonsense. Foodfight! wants to hook kids on branding and iconography. Branded is warning people about how they're being controlled. Foodfight! is aimed straight towards the people who are easily duped, and it fails miserably. Branded is warning anybody who will listen, and fails spectacularly.

Branded is required viewing in the world of insanity gone wild. And, it is also a star-studded affair. The main guy is Ed Stoppard, son of Tom Stoppard. It also stars Leelee Sobieski, Jeffrey Tambor, and Max Von Sydow. It has visual interest beyond most low-budget means. It is a product of love and determination, and it's goals are admirable. If only it wasn't so fucking crazy.

Also, I'm not saying "if only it weren't so fucking crazy" lightly. This movie is fucking batshit. It takes left turns every 5 minutes, and I didn't even add in the forbidden love story between Stoppard and Sobieski. It's just one left turn followed by another, and by the end, you're left holding your head just wondering what it all means.

In that sense, Branded fails at being a warning siren against marketing. It's too crazy to take seriously, though it is trying to have a serious point. I think. Maybe it is being a satire of people who say that marketing is a conspiracy theory. But, it doesn't work on that level as it seems almost earnest about it. Maybe it is trying to be an ironic Foodfight! by saying that anybody who thinks marketing is evil and controls the world is this fucking nuts.

In any of the ways to watch this movie, Branded is pure mind-bending semi-irony awesome. 

1 comment:

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