Dunno if you've heard, but apparently there's a little superhero movie opening all over the world this Friday by the name of Watchmen. You'd think the Interwebs was nutso over comic book movies or sumthin', cuz everyone's falling all over themselves to be the first geek to post a review of the movie.
But the so-called "legitimate," "mainstream" press beat you to it when Time's blog Nerd World ran a review of the film on February 16, written by Matt Selman, an executive producer of The Simpsons. Oh, Selman tries to wriggle out of the embargo Warner Bros. has slapped on Watchmen (as it slaps on all its films):
There is a press blackout on reviewing the Watchmen movie until March 6. However, I've seen the movie, and I'm not press.
Sorry, Matt, but if you're blogging at Time, you're press.
Don't worry, I'm not going to write a review of Watchmen. What I am going to write about is the emotional experience of seeing a piece of literature with which I have an intense personal connection LITERALLY COME TO LIFE. It's a serious freak-out.
How cute that Selman thinks that's not the beginning of a review, which he goes on to write. How cute, too, that Time is owned by the same corporate parent as Warner Bros., and that critics who might write negative reviews are still muzzled by the embargo.
Except ... wait ... not everyone is honoring that embargo. As of this writing, Watchmen has already garnered 39 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, where it's currently at 74 percent Fresh. Some of these reviews are from UK critics (the film premiered in London on February 23) but not all of them.
We could stop being puzzled by Warner Bros.' selective enforcement of its embargo if we recognize this: Geeks are now a desirable demographic. We are the audience Warner Bros. is after, and if that means that Harry Knowles gets to break an embargo in order to preach to the choir, no problem. Geekdom is now a bandwagon. Hell, when Time is trying to get in on it, you know you should simply ignore most of the hype even if it's a positive review of something we geeks are looking forward to. Nerd Blog is suspiciously rah-rah and promotional, focusing on pushing corporately-produced stuff geeks "should" be buying and not caring if its bloggers don't sound very nerdy -- what sort of nerd "barely knows a kilogram from a kilometer"?
Review embargoes -- and the selective enforcement of them -- are just an attempt by those corporate producers to control the conversation. And look: here we are doing their job for them again, talking about how we're not supposed to be talking about something.
Meanwhile, though, Entertainment Weekly keeps on pushing its six different "collector's" Watchmen covers. There are never any embargoes on unfettered, unabashed promotion.