Thursday, March 09, 2006

S-ublimi-N-a-L SNL Messaging?

There's another "SNL Digital Short" doing the rounds, and again, this one displays all of the laziness we've come to associate with the show: not only is it based on a fake TV show format (like every other SNL sketch in the last thirty years), the joke is essentially the same as the Lazy Sunday skit that was so successful online a few weeks back.

Natalie Portman was the guest on the show last weekend, to promote V for Vendetta. She performed a rap, and said some hilariously foul mouthed stuff. Her being there to promote the film is fair enough - that's how most guests end up on TV, lined up to hawk their wares. We know that.

This might have gone a little too far though. I suspect they included an attempt at advertising the movie.

By going frame by frame through a Quicktime version of the skit, you'll see what I mean. About half way through, just when Natalie is rapping "While I laugh, you die" there are a few flash frames. A picasso-y Ralph Wiggum comes first, but then theres a silhoutte painted on a shutter.

There's no mistaking the shape - it's clearly supposed to be V. Were SNL paid to include this? Is it actually legal for them to show such a thing?

Why not boycott V for Vendetta and buy the source book instead? That'll teach them a lesson.


Anonymous said...

Why do they think subliminal ads will work if a whole thirty seconds won't? Idiots.

Chud crawler said...

You are a moron. I and my friends noticed the "V" mural while just watching it at normal speed. It's not a subliminal message if you can notice it clearly at normal speed. It was a fast cut edit. It goes with that whole "trying to look like a real rap video" thing.'s illegal to have a fast edit on a TV show.

I hope you do us all a favor and boycott life.

Brendon said...

It's a fact that edits under a certain number of frames can be subject to legal restriction. There are plenty of famous cases - my favourite being the Brass Eye/"Michael Grade is a C*unt" one.

I was simply raising questions and playing devil's advocate. What's more, it made for a better story than continued excited weeping over the damn Wachowski's involvement in the film.

Jon B. said...

yeah...the main reason why Portman was on SNL was to promote the movie anyways, man.

So don't get all bent out of shape over a 1/2 second "subliminal" image.

Anonymous said...

I think it's more like 1/3 second but okay, it is long enough that in most formats most people will see it. If they don't really know the shape of V it won't mean anything to them if they do, it might. It will relate the shape of V to them having a good laugh at the sketch where Portman rapped though. So that alone has advertising worth. I have friends who spend weeks trying to smuggle associations like that into their work.

Reading the comments here and on the chud message board though I am amazed how people just take advertising for granted these days and don't question it. We're surrounded by ads all day long and for even a show like this to have an advertising agenda that is at once blatant and also sneaky is just not on.

For the record I don't think it was contrived at the shoot, but the possibility was seen in the edit.

I think the point about boycotting the film was tongue in cheek though I bet Alan Moore would want the film boycotted and would also hate this editing trick in the sketch subliminal advertising or not.

Anonymous said...

That dude in the hat is from "I Spy" graffiti, which is all over Williamsburg, and other parts of Brooklyn. I'm sure they got the film clip from there.

That dude in the hat is all over the walls of abandoned factories and apt. buildings and has been for years.

Terry Gilliam said...

It's pretty clear that the liminal edit cut on SNL is not the character V from V for Vendetta. Any reasonable person could tell it's a more faithful rendering of Baron Munchausen. Clear as day I think.

Sam Hedge said...

I'll try to be a little more respectful than your other posters. The definition of subliminal refers to images or messages that work below the threshold of conscious perception. This means, if you can see it or hear it, it isn't subliminal. Since I quite clearly saw the cut of V, the image is not subliminal. The entire reason Portman was invited to SNL was to promote V4V, and this cut is just another shot at doing that. There's nothing underhanded about it.

Brendon said...

I do, of course, understand the meaning of the word Subliminal, but here are a couple of points for me to make here:

First of all, when I'm watching, say, Cypher and there's a sequence of quick cuts depicting a barrage of information, many of them register very, very clearly with me. They may not register very clearly every time I watch it, or, for that matter, register with every viewer.

There is a threshold at which a quick quit renders the image hard for some viewers to clearly see on every viewing. Even if an image is only one frame long, however, some of the viewers will see it clearly some of the time.

Secondly, there are rules governing "subliminal advertising" in many places that rule a cut of a certain brevity is unfit to air. Now, I'm quite aware that this cut is just as short as would be allowed in some territories, but I didn't know the US regulations for sure. The idea is that an advertisement may function subliminally for some viewers, not for all. (I know for a fact that an ad could be thirty seconds long and feature no edits and still have a subliminal effect - but that's a different argument altogether.)

My most important point, however, is that this entry was, really, just me ragging on that damn V film again. I'm just not happy with it.

And besides, we got a good conversation going here, didn't we?

Bear in mind that my tongue is often in my cheek as you read the various posts up and down this page. I might just be trying to stir things up a little...