(or, the blog post for people who actively enjoy being traumatised in their sleep)
This. What in God’s name is this?
Well, dear reader, this is a weekday, and so it is time for a less thoughtful, more ranty post, today directed at the bowel-movement-inducing horror that is the advert for Alton Tower’s relatively new mechanised child-horrification device, The Smiler, cunningly disguised as a form of entertainment. I’m sure all of you have seen this – it’s fairly old news by this point in the endlessness of time, so I’m not going to go over the usual ‘this is terrifying and sick’ arguments surrounding this ghoulish thirty seconds – I’m going to take about specific and personal reasons as to why this is ghoulish and sick (you can’t say I’m not original here).
The first problem harkens back to my very first blog on here, where I talked about the idiocy of trying to advertise a soap produce by defining its smell as a colour, and the apparent incompetence of the development team behind it; the same problem can be seen here, as logic does not suggest that the best way to advertise a children’s ride at a theme park is to scare them into going on it. Although it is true that we, as a species, use nonsense like theme parks as a source of entertainment, because they scare us – this is why the horror movie industry developed like it did, because we all like a good scare from time to time. However, most horror films work around the principle that the scary stuff is happening to other people, and that we can simply get up and walk out (or at least wait for the film to end), and we’ll be perfectly safe from the big bad chainsaw-wielding maniac / dream-haunting killer / trap-devising lunatic / giant fluffy rabbit or whatever happens to be ‘in’ that decade. However, in this advert, the chilling line ‘You belong to the smiler’ puts you in the frame of the horror – you can’t just get up and walk out because the real-life danger of hurtling along a rail protected only by two buffers made of marzipan at 53 miles per hour is directed at you (and walking off a moving rollercoaster is probably more dangerous than just sitting though it). Furthermore, a lot of entertainment activities these days focus around us ‘being ourselves’, in some vague sense suggesting that human culture is anything more than just a re-hash of everything that came before it in the last thirty-thousand years. However, The Smiler creates an almost Orwellian dystopia, in which every member of the public must submit themselves to the rollercoaster, almost like a bizarre form of natural selection, where those of a weak will and an even weaker stomach have these ‘flaws’ exposed, and so are chucked out on the rubbish pile of humanity (either metaphorically or literally), doomed never to procreate and pass on their genes. That, or we’ll all be left grinning gormlessly like moronic Cheshire Cats who want to remain as visible as possible, while still being technically ‘invisible’.
The other main problem with The Smiler is that it doesn’t appeal to me personally as a form of enjoyment, and I suppose I’m in its key demographic, being old enough to have both disposable income and a partner, and so will bring in twice as much money to the park by dragging my non-existent girlfriend along, and young enough to not have to waste my time with children or ‘real-world’ commitments (these marketing executives clearly undervalue the importance of A-levels for some people). I’ve only been on two rollercoasters in my life, because I fundamentally prefer less obviously-fatal ways of wasting my free time before I die, but I’ve always considered them – I’ve looked around theme parks and thought “Wow, that would be fun, but maybe not today”. But I look at The Smiler and think ‘Holy Jesus, get that out of my face!”. I want to be convinced to go on a rollercoaster, or any ride for that matter, and the idea of surrendering myself to a dangerous machine for minutes at a time simply scares me, and not in a good way. Furthermore, I feel the overall focus of the advert misses the mark: if I want to ride a rollercoaster, I want to focus on that coaster – plastering a ride with weird smiley faces and hypnotic eyes may have made sense in some topsy-turvy marketing guru’s mind, that plebs like me are incapable of comprehending, but surely it would make more sense to talk about the features of said rollercoaster in its publicity events? The advert does highlight the fact that The Smiler is ‘The World’s first fourteen-looping rollercoaster’, although at the end so no-one cares about it, and almost inaudibly quickly so no-one that does care can understand it, but mentions nothing about the coaster’s speeds, G-force, or anything else that practically makes little difference but makes kids the World over go “Ooh, look at the big numbers!” I understand that reading off a sheet of figures would probably discourage people from using The Smiler, but at least give us some information to make a judgement about your coaster on, instead of leaving us to scrape out information from two lines of the TV advert, like a doomed English student in an exam with no points coming to mind, even less time remaining to write the damn thing and a Uni offer slipping through their fingers, who’s relying on borderline-irrelevant language analysis of the same four bloody words over and over again to pad out their answer. Perhaps the abject lack of objective details suggest that The Smiler has nothing actually going for it, and the only way for it to be at least half-appealing is to scare the audience into going on it.
But maybe all this psychological nonsense appeals to today’s kids – I can’t find any figures for the number of riders or anything, but the ride is still going strong (technical issues aside), and so I guess that my mind simply cannot determine what is fashionable; perhaps the fact that popularity is derived form being hoarded by the thousand into flying seats and forced to enter into a cult-like group that worships a rollercoaster like some bizarre god is just another example of the growing illogicality of our society.
Either that, or people really like rollercoasters.
– The TV Advert (maybe the Communists had the right idea with censorship?)
– The Still from the TV Advert (Google Images is my friend)
– The Wikipedia Page (for that one statistic I used)