Simon Kelner: Nothing much can remain a secret in this viral age

Kelner's View

Share

If you haven't seen The Artist yet, does the fact that it has won five Oscars make you more, or less, likely to go and see it? Seduced by its success, or put off by the hype?

I ask this question from the standpoint of someone who was rather underwhelmed by the film, but it's just that, for anyone who hasn't thus far been drawn to this quaint homage to the era of silent movies, how can the reality match the expectation? And given that much of the film's appeal rests on its point of difference, can it have any of its power to surprise left? We've seen the clips, we've read the reviews, and we know all about Uggie and how his flawless performance has turned Jack Russells into the most popular breed of dog.

What's more, we've also seen a handful of the acceptance speeches. I can't imagine anyone seeing the film for the first time, and not knowing exactly what they're in for. "Blimey, nobody told me there was no dialogue," is what they wouldn't say. "I don't know what all the fuss is about," is a much more likely response.

The truth is that nothing much stays a secret these days. We yearn to discover something that allows us to indulge in cultural one-upmanship. Have you seen the new BBC4 series set in an Estonian police station? Have you read that book translated from Sanskrit about a man and his son living in the woods? Have you heard that 40-piece rap group from Azerbaijan?

Yet no sooner have we unearthed these gems – or at least felt that we have – than everyone in the pub is talking about the coppers from Tallinn, and everyone on the beach is reading that very book, and the once-obscure band are appearing on the Jonathan Ross show. You can't even spot a seemingly innocuous bit of film of a man shouting after his dog in Richmond Park without finding that, at that precise moment, it's being watched by millions of other people all around the world.

It's what is called going viral, and the power of the internet is such that it takes very little to turn something you imagine that you've incubated in your own home into a worldwide contagion. The modern equivalent of word of mouth can become a phenomenon before you know it, and for reasons you barely understand.

The one certain thing is that the old-style tools of marketing are nowhere near as effective as they once were. Personal recommendation – in the shape of the number of YouTube hits – is the hidden persuader of the 21st Century.

Which brings me back to The Artist, and those who have so far missed out. I'm afraid it may be too late to have an original opinion: they've all been well rehearsed. You know the plot – such as it is – and even the twist at the end has been all but given away. So what to do? My advice would be to wait until it comes to a telly or a plane journey near you. By then, the fuss will have died down, there will be another movie à la mode, and you can watch it without feeling tyrannised by prevailing opinion.

 

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an intermediate help de...

Recruitment Genius: CNC Turner

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This long established manufactu...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Reporting Manager

£70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executives - OTE £25,000

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A young, vibrant and growing co...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The sun balances next to St Albans Church in Earsdon, North Tyneside.  

The world’s nations have one last chance to slow climate change

Michael McCarthy
Charles Kennedy campaigns with Business Minister Jo Swinson in East Dunbartonshire on 27 April 2015  

Charles Kennedy and the rise and fall of the Liberal Democrats

John Rentoul
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral