It’s a rather obvious ploy. It’s one that we, as media consumers, should be very much aware of, and you know what? We are aware of it. But truth be told, we just can’t help ourselves when a tune is oh so catchy. You see, those responsible for a movie’s overall image know the importance of reiterating and using to their advantage, our senses, especially hearing. This is because without even having our immediate attention focused on something, we hear it regardless. Think of it this way, we can choose not to look at an advertisement as we mosey down the street, but it’s not nearly as easy to stop listening to one, especially when you have no control over how its being played. This is why it’s extremely important for directors and producers to put emphasis on the scores of movies.
The one example that is the freshest in my mind, is from the Pixar movie Up.
The main theme song for this movie, isn’t just played in the title sequence. It isn’t just played during the high action or climactic scenes. The theme song is literally played throughout the entire film, the only changes are in the way it is played and the instrument used. For instance, in one version a slow piano is used. In another version, there’s the appearance of a saxophone and violin. In this last example, the piano is even slower. The tune though, as you can hear, stays exactly the same. The changes were used solely to invoke a particular emotion at certain parts of the film. It wasn’t until I watched this movie a second time, that I realized how often the tune was used. No wonder it stuck with me so well when I left the theater. Now, whenever I hear that tune, I know EXACTLY what I associate it with, so I tip my hat to the producers of Up. Good job.
Another example, that I believe has been stated in a previous post is the score of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean. Though their score is more diverse and much larger than Up, the same basic idea is employed. Many are familiar with the theme song because is it directly played during specific moments of the movie that are memorable, or during the credits, which resonates with the audience. During scenes that are prominent with the character Jack Sparrow, the song is especially notable. What the producers have successfully done have made that tune recognizable by means of repetition. When the audience hears it, they know what follows. Music is a powerful way to gain attention much like how people associate smell with nostalgia. My opinion stands that this method, though manipulative, is one the of the most effective ways to acheive recognition.
The only way that I believe a media consumer could immunize themselves is by simply recognizing the fact that these techniques are being employed. Unlike Klosterman, where in his excerpt “Ha ha, he said. Ha ha,” he criticizes tv show comedies for using laugh tracks to persuade the audience to laugh, I’m choosing to look at this form of media manipulation more optimistically. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that there’s anything optimistic to be said about laugh tracks….in fact there probably isn’t. I’m simply stating that manipulating the audience to think about a certain film via sound isn’t nearly the same thing. I don’t think these methods are menacing, rather I think they are exceptionally brilliant. Repetition is one of the most operative ways to burn images, words and sounds into the minds of the consumers, therefore, those responsible for making the executive decision to repeat these theme songs are simply doing the best they can to do the best at their job, and you know what? It works.