The Honest Trailers series has many influences. Honest Trailers are a subset of mashup videos or re-cut trailers. Re-cut trailers have their roots in the fan practice of vidding which goes back all the way to the 1970's. Additionally, some media commentators have noted the stylistic similarities between Honest Trailers and other film parodies. This includes some other web videos, the seminal satirical magazine Mad, and the cult film/comedy show Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Midnight Movie Screenings Edit


Midnight movie screenings, such as those for The Room (pictured), influenced Honest Trailers.

There is a long history of film fans enjoying laughing at "bad' movies. YouTube series like Honest Trailers are influenced by many older forms of fan criticism from previous decades such as midnight movie screenings. Daniel Singleton points out this link, noting "“bad” film fandom and anti-fandom have migrated from the college campus and “midnight movie” distribution circuits of the 1970s and the alternate video stories of the 1980s and 1990s to the internet forums and YouTube channels of the present moment."[1] Singleton also notes that "The object of attention and modes of watching these films have changed over time, but the pleasures of “bad” cinephilia have remained relatively consistent. Regardless of whether groups of “bad” cinephiles congregate in repertory theaters to throw rice, streamers and plastic spoons at the screen or whether solitary viewers cycle through several Honest Trailers while browsing YouTube."[1]

The similarity between Honest Trailers' style of comedic commentary and midnight movie mockery is part of the reason why Screen Junkies avoided making an Honest Trailer for The Room for so long - they argued that attending a midnight screening for the film was already tantamount to watching its Honest Trailer.

For more information about part of the history of "bad" cinephilia, see the Wikipedia page Midnight Movie.

Early Web Videos Edit

LITERAL Twilight Eclipse Trailer Parody

LITERAL Twilight Eclipse Trailer Parody

Literal Trailers by Tobuscus is a comedy web series that parodies movie and game trailers. It predates Screen Junkies' Honest Trailers series by just over 2 years.

Honest Trailers are a subset of re-cut trailers, a form of mashup video that "uses footage from a movie or its original trailers to create a completely new context or one different from the original source material. The mashups are parody trailers that derive humor from misrepresenting original films" (from Wikipedia). According to Vollans, the root of re-cut trailers ultimately lies in the earlier fan practice of vidding: "the very concept of this kind of trailer stems from the antecedent practice of vidding." According to Wikipedia, fan vidding goes all the way back to the 1970's.

Mashup videos became popular on the internet in the early 2000's. As Wired points out, "As with most things on the internet, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where, when or how the first remixed movie came into existence, or whether remixes preceded supercuts, or vice versa, and so forth. But there are definitely forerunners. Some point to a 2003 video known as “Kill Christ,” a brutally funny remixing of Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill and Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ." In 2013, Mitch Rotter (Break Media's former Head of Programming who executive produced the first 40 Honest Trailers) suggested the 2005 re-cut trailer for The Shining marks the emergence of the format.

The popular YouTube comedy series Literal Trailers by Tobuscus (which has been published since 2009 on YouTube) may have provided inspiration for the Screen Junkies' re-cut trailer series. Literal Trailers was extremely popular between 2010 and 2012, with many episodes achieving millions of views. In addition, there are several "honest trailers" that predate Screen Junkies' series, for example The REAL Indiana Jones 4 trailer by playdohfactoryworker (published January 25, 2009) and Black Swan The Honest Trailer by Frank Kemp (published December 1, 2010). YouTube channel Red Letter Media is another influence, particularly their well-known 2009 comedic video review of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace which combines geek film analysis and sophomoric comedy.

Mad Magazine Edit

The-Sound-of-Money mad magazine

The opening page from MAD #108, January 1967 shows many tropes that Honest Trailers uses 50 years later.

Additionally, some media commentators have noted the stylistic similarities between Honest Trailers and the influential comedy/satire magazine Mad, which was founded in 1952. Jeffrey Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere wrote that cartoonist Jack Davis's work in Mad magazine is the "first surfacing of the 'Honest Trailers' aesthetic," and calls Mad "an early print version of the playfully critical style of Honest Trailers." The writers of Honest Trailers frequently cite Mad magazine's movie spoofs as an influence on their work.

For example, the January 1967 issue of Mad featured a parody of The Sound of Music, called "The Sound of Money," which is similar to the honest title trope later adopted by Honest Trailers. It also features parody lyrics, similar to the song parodies Honest Trailers incorporate into their musical episodes. It also includes an introduction that sells the movie by its worst features, in the same way the Honest Trailers voiceover narration does: "Nothing but a collection of the same old dull cliches and boring tear-jerker gimmicks that you've been seeing in movie musicals for years."

For more information about MAD Magazine, please visit the MAD Magazine FANDOM Wiki.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Edit

Mystery science theater 3000

Mystery Science Theater 3000 influenced Honest Trailers. The speech bubbles on this DVD cover demonstrate the kinds of mocking film criticism the series is known for.

Furthermore, several commentators have noted the similarity between Honest Trailers and comedy/film criticism show Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3k) which aired during the 1980's and 1990's. Unger the Radar writes, "Think of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and you have “Honest Trailers”, a brutally honest take on many of today and yesterday’s ridiculous film trailers."

Consequences of Sound argues that Honest Trailers is clearly inspired by MST3k, and emphasizes how influential MST3k was, writing: "for many, the major source of inspiration (and film education) instilled upon them at a young age was and is Mystery Science Theater 3000, which was always a comedy show before it was a film class." The site wrote that "laughing at bad movies was obviously A Thing before MST3k came along, but the show offered an innovative template for that experience – a way to enjoy those bad movies that was accepted and even entertaining."

Vodzilla suggests that many currently popular web series such as Honest Trailers and Bad Lip Reading use the same style of jokes as MST3k and should be considered a part of the same genre:

“The idea of riffing, of mocking, of commenting on things is very prevalent nowadays,” writer and performer Mary Jo Pehl commented to Wired. “Obviously, it was happening before Mystery Science Theater codified it. But it just seems to have pervaded a lot of the way comedy is done now — it’s its own genre.” (Ivan Radford, April 13, 2017, Mystery Science Theater 3000: The sci-fi show 30 years ahead of its time Vodzilla)
For more information about Mystery Science Theater 3000, please visit the MST3K FANDOM wiki.

Weird Al YankovicEdit

Some medic critics have drawn parallels between the style of parody songs used in musical episodes of Honest Trailers and the work of parody musician Weird Al Yankovic.[2]

For more information about Weird Al Yankovic, please visit the Weird Al FANDOM Wiki.

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Singleton, Daniel. (2019). The Bad Auteur(ist): Authentic Failure and Failed Authenticity in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood. Quarterly Review of Film and Video 2019, Vol. 36, No. 5, 414-444.
  2. Geeks of Doom, (March 7, 2017). Honest Trailers Presents Disney’s ‘Moana’

See also Edit

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