‘Breaking Dawn’ And ‘Dark Knight Rises’: The Trouble With Trailers

Josh Horowitz takes a stand against the teaser-trailer obsession.

This is the actual thing. It’s not the preview of the thing. It’s not the tease of the preview of the thing. It’s not even the glimpse of the tease of the preview of the thing. It’s the actual thing. I know — weird, right?

If you’re an insatiable consumer of media like me (and if you’re not, you’re in the wrong place. Go commune with nature, you hippie; I’m juggling an iPad, a laptop and a Blackberry with one hand!), you’re probably getting sick of the parsing out of “exclusives” during the last few months. I write the following acknowledging there’s some hypocrisy here. I (and MTV News) am after all guilty of exactly what I’m claiming to be tired of: the teaser culture. But I’m taking a stand — I hereby go on record saying I am officially sick of 10-second previews of previews. As I write this, a bunch of new trailers and teases and commercials (figuring out the appropriate terminology is a headache in and of itself) just landed on the Interwebs.

Perhaps most notable in your world is the latest from “Breaking Dawn – Part 2″ that came out Tuesday morning (June 19). Yes, Summit has released what it calls a “ten-second sneak peek of the teaser trailer” in anticipation of the actual teaser trailer for said movie, which presumably will give way to a non-teaser (er, regular?) trailer in a few months. Still with me? Now don’t get me wrong: I love seeing early imagery from films I’m anxiously awaiting, but this is not the way to do it. At least not for me. Mind you, this snippet is still worlds better than the time-honored entertainment-show tradition of showing snippets of an exclusive trailer while a breathless correspondent narrates exactly what you’re seeing. “There’s Bella! And there’s Edward!” Yeah, we see that. Thanks, Billy Bush.

Also out Tuesday morning are two examples of advertisements for upcoming flicks that definitely get things right, in my estimation. In the — let’s call it “traditional” — category, there’s the brand-new trailer for “The Dark Knight Rises,” which frankly doesn’t show a ton more than we’ve seen already. But it does package the material so artfully, with a keen sense of self-serious awesomeness (“This year a fire will rise” — yes!), that I doff my broken cowl in its favor.

And then there’s my personal obsession, the latest work from Paul Thomas Anderson, “The Master.” The second of what I’m guessing will be a series of shorts (calling these trailers doesn’t do them justice) has been released, and each is slowly but surely introducing the upcoming flick’s key figures. (Joaquin Phoenix is going to steal the film! Wait, no, I take it back — it’s Philip Seymour Hoffman’s movie!) Make no mistake, “The Master” is the “Dark Knight Rises” for the Sight & Sound-subscribing crowd this year.

Of course, this assortment of teases/ trailers/ shorts/ whatever doesn’t even get into the most interesting area of film advertising going today — let’s call it the viral short. “Prometheus” may have divided fanboys, but I think we all can agree that “Happy birthday David” was mesmerizing and creepy in all the right ways. So where is the viral video of the Cullens sitting at home watching a “True Blood” marathon? Oh, the possibilities …

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