Want to see the impact of the too-close relationship between media and the media it covers? Look at the promo for Mike Myers’ apparently awful new movie on the front page of The New York Times.
While the deck on the front page says “Mike Myers floats through ‘The Love Guru’ with serene confidence,” the actual review is a complete pan of the flick that says “’The Love Guru’ is downright antifunny, an experience that makes you wonder if you will ever laugh again.”
Now, why write a deck that conveys the opposite message than the review? Because The Times needs movie ads. Someone breezing through the front page would get a favorable impression, despite how bad the story judges the movie to be. It softens the blow to the film studios, who would surely recognize the reason for the powder-puff promo. Maybe the managing editor thought this was a clever play on words, but the message is clear: “We need to cover up how bad this movie is.”
Sure, it’s just a movie review. We should expect more from the Grey Lady. If the film is terrible, promo the review with that message and set readers expectations for a bad review. Either way, they’ll read the review because a strong message gets read every time.
How about “Impotent ‘Love Guru’ suffers from Mike Myers’ insincere confidence”? People will read that, and they’ll come to the article with a clear idea about what they are about to read.