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The Longest Now

More on the fake reviewer industry
Monday August 16th 2004, 4:29 am
Filed under: %a la mod

Sorry, this has me fascinated against my will, and I can’t stop thinking about it. Visiting Yahoo! just to read bad movie reviews
is becoming an addiction. This is a massive, elaborate subculture which I would never have noticed, had I not run across a clearly-fake review from a reviewer with an extensive and articulate review history. The plants review on all the major review sites, visit many popular movie blogs, and, one presumes, work to land “on the street” TV interviews and other “random” spots.

I feel as disillusioned as I did last week when I browed “Yahoo groups” by category last week for the first time… and discovered that over half of the hundreds of thousands of groups are semipublic groups with names like “ctevyewkprku” and descriptions like “The island of the sun – welcomely.” … which are presumably involved in some kind of spam or porn toolchain.

Meanwhile, Yahoo Movies, which normally summarizes 10-20 major reviews, converts their different ranking schemes to an A-F scale, and lists five of these on the film overview page, gave the film a weekend-long pass by waiting three days before summarizing critics’ reviews.

Here’s my new favorite review:

Simply different

by runjcutta Aug 13, 2004

No Doubt that AVP can’t match the original classics like Predator and Alien. The one thing i didn’t like about the movie is that the Predator wasn’t the way it used to be. The new director didn’t exactly try to rewrite the movies, he just altered it. The rest of the movie was very fascinating. I didn’t exactly know to scream or to cry.

Whoever created the account writes like a careless high-schooler — and no doubt there are bored teens who get their jollies by creating fifty yahoo! accounts and bashing or promoting a least/favorite film — but is obviously clever and appreciates a little higher mathematics now and then (cf. Runge-Kutta).
So innocuous, and yet… suggestive of such layered deceit.
I’ll guess this was cut-and-pasted from a list of ‘suitable reviews’ that was autogenerated or split up among many different people.

A few more tips for the would-be plant:

  • make your reviews exactly 200 chars long; that’s about how much will fit on the blurb-view that readers see first when skimming the list of reviews
  • If you’re panning a competitor: throw in a comment about how “those other people” who gave the movie good reviews (whatever you’re not doing) must be studio plants
  • Mention that you “just got home from the midnight showing” or that “the audience was cheering and clapping at the end”/”Ive never gone where the audience booed at the csreen before” — it adds that special touch of reality.
  • (pos review) did you remember to mention how great it will surely be on DVD? or how many times you’re planning to see it in theatres?
  • (neg review) did you remember to mention how you hope nobody else goes to see the film, or ever rents the DVD? how you’ve never felt more strongly about convincing others not to see this film?

Oh, and just in case you think I’m bashing the film too much, the heroine of AvP, Sanaa Lathan, is a real actress… making the best
of a nightmarish predicament.

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