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When Viral Marketing Goes Wrong: Nazi Propaganda for Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds

It isn’t news that Tarantino is becoming increasingly out of touch. The Grindhouse project he and Robert Rodriguez helmed was a disaster at the box office. Tarantino’s installment for the project, Death Proof, was an incoherent rambling mess of unlikable characters, inane dialogue, and racial stereotyping. His newest film, Inglourious Basterds, clocked in at two hours and forty minutes at Cannes Film Festivals, where it received mixed reviews (which I wrote about here). He didn’t learn from this, actually adding film to the theatrical release cut, which will be at least one minute longer than it was at Cannes. Now, he has unleashed a viral marketing ploy of questionable taste at best: a fake movie trailer for the film being screened at the climax of Inglourious Basterds. It’s the story of a noble, handsome young Nazi, who will become the hero of his country in the Nazi propaganda film, “Nation’s Pride.” It even mentions Goebbels. Are they so desperate to drum up publicity that they think that offending people with a Nazi viral ad is a good idea?

This may seem like another Tarantino assassination piece. I don’t intend it to be so– I actually thought the last trailer for Basterds was skillfully cut and made the film appear exciting. However, if the Weinstein Company believes a Nazi ad that shouts out Goebbels can help their company’s desperate financial problems (they need this film to be a hit– very very badly), they are sorely mistaken. Why did Apple even choose to go along with this… what kind of money could the Weinsteins have offered Apple? It’s not even an offensive advertisement. It’s the concept that offends me more than anything else. Movies about scalping Nazis? No problem. Pro-Nazi ad campaigns that have zero references to the Nazi-scalping film it’s trying to promote? It has very little upside, and a whoooooole lot of potential to confuse and/or make people mad. All it elicits from me is an eye roll– another misguided attempt by Tarantino to spread his own cinematic nerdiness into the national filmgoer’s subconscious. No one really cared about grindhouse horror films, no one really cared about double features, it’s questionable that people care now about a nearly-3-hour Dirty Dozen Nazi scalping epic, and certainly very few people are going to get amped for a film because of a Nazi movie trailer they saw online.

If that trailer makes you want to see Inglourious Basterds even more, feel free to leave comments below disagreeing with me. All it inspires in me is the sorrow and the pity.

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~ by russellhainline on August 6, 2009.

12 Responses to “When Viral Marketing Goes Wrong: Nazi Propaganda for Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds”

  1. I agree with pretty much everything you have said. This trailer only serves to distract from the movie.

  2. I agree this does seem to be in very questionable taste. Are we supposed to think this is cool? Funny. And name checking Goebbels a Nazi who murdered his own children won’t score points with moviegoers who have no idea what Inglorious Basterds is.

  3. Folks,
    As soon as you get used to the fact that QT will never make another Pulp Fiction, the better off you will be.

    Chill out! Have fun. That is what going to the movies is all about. If you don’t like his stuff don’t go see it. Your review and comments make me believe that their is genuine anger for the guy. Like he owes you something. Move on.

  4. I fail to see what gets people amped about a fake Goebbels-sponsored Nazi propaganda piece.

    And of course you hold out hope that a director delivers something that lives up to his past. That’s silliness. Not to mention he made a movie after Pulp Fiction that was better– Jackie Brown.

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  7. Because violence against Nazi’s and levity in the face of WWII is unacceptable, where as glorified drug use, gangster activities, violence against everything and everyone, and flirting with racism is the mark of a cult classic.

    Lighten up. If you are a fan of any of his movies – you’re a fan of absurdity and morally questionable events. Period.

    • I agree in principle, but the bottom line is WWII is a setting that carries far more weight than any of Tarantino’s other films, which are stylized and entertaining, but basically empty in terms of depth and meaning. WWII automatically gives a film depth and meaning, and one shouldn’t treat it flippantly, in my opinion.

      I wrote this before seeing the movie– this was solely about releasing a Nazi trailer online, which I thought, and still think, was in questionable taste.

  8. I appreciate the point of view that the movie is less than worthwhile…
    My argument would be- Do not judge to harshly– “art” is supposed to titillate, irritate and possibly annoy. Happiness, joy, and fulfillment are also possible outcomes of a screening. this film just happens to spark repulsion among many. Reaction is what “artists” are after. The subject matter is less important than what one does with the “canvas”. In keeping with my art analogy — consider Salvidor Dali– anyone familiar with his work probably would feel all of those emotions, depending on the piece.

  9. I think you are missing the point. A fact that nobody realizes is the title is spelled wrong. IngloURIOUS bastEREDs. As opposed to the original Inglorious Bastards (with Bo Svenson and Fred Williamson). Tarantino’s movie is a play on WWII FILMS. It’s meant to say “Hold on, none of us were there, the whole basis for films is through opinion of what occurred.” You speak of racism in Tarrantino’s films (Which is completely inaccurate.) Yet what about all the WWII films that were American Propaganda films? Bashing Japanese, Chinese, Indians, ect?

    WWII films are guilty of this. How they interpret history and how they feed off a desire for entertainment and satisfaction. All historical films as guilty of this. I don’t care if it’s Schindler’s List, Pearl Harbor or Gestapo’s Last Orgy. They are all guilty of exploitation. Tarrantino is simply being honest about his approach.

    Are we so use to having Americans as the heroes and using Germans, Japanese or Vietnamese as fodder that we can’t handle when they are portrayed as actual people? The bottom line of the movie is simple: In War there are no victors only victims.

    It seems people take everything that’s on the surface too literally and miss the point of the movie. That’s not Tarrantino’s fault, that’s just the people’s.

    Also the reason why Grindhouse bombed was because it was marketed as a modern film. Hence why most people thought Death Proof was boring….it was supposed to be. If people didn’t care about Grindhouse horror films then numerous DVD companies wouldn’t spend thousands tracking original negatives down, re-mastering them, getting interviews, adding commentary ect.

    • So Harvey Weinstein put millions of dollars into a film that he wanted Tarantino to make boring? LOL.

      And there’s a long documented list of questionable handling of issues of race in Tarantino films. So no, it’s not completely inaccurate at all. I actually have evidence for my side– where’s yours?

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