February 18, 2013

Who likes "Fast & Furious" movies? NYT remains stumped

Jerry Seinfeld (light blue shirt, sans toupee) has really been working on his triceps and tan lately
From the New York Times:
‘Fast & Furious’ Stresses Social Side of Fandom

By BROOKS BARNES

LOS ANGELES — Despite selling $1.8 billion in tickets, Universal’s “Fast & Furious” car-racing series is Hollywood’s equivalent of a second-class citizen. 
It does not dazzle with computerized special effects like “Transformers” or feature rising young stars like “The Hunger Games.” It lacks the cultural cachet of “Harry Potter.” 
“We feel like underdogs most of the time,” said Vin Diesel, who leads the “Fast & Furious” cast. 
What “Fast & Furious” does have — and it has gone largely unnoticed — is an astounding online following. Its Facebook page has 24.9 million “likes,” more than any active film series except “Avatar.” Mr. Diesel has 39 million Facebook fans; among actors, only Will Smith has more. 
That kind of passion is making the next installment, “Fast & Furious 6,” one of the most anticipated movies of the summer. After an online promotional stunt coordinated by the studio to coincide with a Super Bowl ad, “Fast & Furious 6” is setting up one of the biggest box-office races of the year: Mr. Diesel and crew against “The Hangover Part III.”

But without Chris Dorner around to stand in-line to see "The Hangover Part III," it's just not going to be the same.
“We measured the various ways audiences talked about these films online, and ‘Fast 6’ blew everything else away,” said Ben Carlson, Fizziology’s president.

So, Brooks Barnes, NYT reporter, who are these people who like "Fast & Furious" movies? Enquiring minds want to know! I realize that you don't, personally, know any of them, but, surely, living as we do in the Age of Big Data, there must be information available to answer basic questions like: what are, say, their demographics?

Apparently not. As far as I can tell from reading this article, "Fast & Furious" films are liked by people who like films entitled "Fast & Furious."

Why do you want to know more? What are you, curious? If you are supposed to know more, you'll be informed of it through the proper channels.

61 comments:

Anonymous said...

Who's the shiksa standing next to Vin Diesel?

Bob Arctor said...

"Who's the shiksa standing next to Vin Diesel?"

Elsa Pataky.

Anonymous said...

F&F franchise reflects new America quite well... There even a token White guy!

Anonymous said...

White male here, I think the movies are freaking awesome. They're really dumb, but they're highly entertaining. WELL worth the $0.00 I pay per pirated download.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

But it doesn't look like a Mexican-American movie to the NYT, so it just can't be.

NYT writers don't like these movies, but they want to encourage more of the audience to come here.

Anonymous said...

It's like Resident Evil series.

It's trash but I like it because it's honest trash.

But DARK TRITE RISES... that's trash trying to be high concept art. Gimme a break. Insufferable.

Anonymous said...

Nobody at my son's upper westside Yeshiva watches them!

DaveinHackensack said...

I watch the Fast & Furious movies. They are consistently entertaining. Speaking of which, and of the movie's demographics, the soundtrack of the last installment in the series included this Spanish language song during the movie's denouement. That song gets airtime on some NYC-area radio stations now, but at the time, I'd never heard of it. The Latinos in the theater I went to were singing along to it though.

Interesting contrast with AC/DC song featured in the denouement of an action movie that bombed last year: Battleship. I just saw that one on cable, and it's actually not terrible. But the producers of the Fast & Furious movies appear to have their fingers more on the pulse of contemporary American movie goers.

DYork said...

"Fast & Furious", original title for the HBO series "Girls".

True story.

It's amazing what's going on out there. The popularity of various TV shows, movies, music and videos that I've never even heard of is incredible.

There are YouTube videos with 40 million to over 150 MILLION views!!! by people I've never heard of yet I have unfortunately some awareness of some pop culture.

And I read "eyebrow" and "Glendale" and I'm thinking Armenian.

I guess they mean eyebrow in the generic sense not in the get-out-of-my-way Armenian sense of eyebrow. The Armenian eyebrow = the Samoan of eyebrows!

And Steve, why do you always ban my comments about Senor Yglesias?

Nalen said...

I could tell that American movies had shifted demographics. A decade or so ago, I started watching European movies, and found that their reliance on clever plots and storylines over exploding cars and chihuahuas appealed to me more than the current American movies.

DR said...

Speaking of data related to this franchise, I'd love to see how much the traffic fatality rate increases on the opening weekend of Fast and Furious movies.

beta_plus said...

Can we just accept that some guilty pleasures cut across all race, religious, and class lines? And that no one of any background wants to admit it to his Mom?

The movies are pure trash. Wonderful, glorious, completely unrepentant trash.

Coffey said...

Well, at least an ever increasing Hispanic population will keep down the queer trend of modern movies to show naked guys instead of naked women. Buildings on fire, cars jumping off bridges and tits flailing around wildly in the wind are what sell with this crowd.

Anonymous said...

The first 2 ones in the series were popular with white adolescent boys. I don't know if they're still popular among that demographic though.

Anonymous said...

He does look like Jerry Seinfeld on steroids in that picture.

Anonymous said...

Steve, OT, but you might be right about your thesis about how greater national/international coverage of mass shootings might have increased the number of mass shootings over the past half century:

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18563_162-57569958/newtown-shooter-motivated-by-norway-massacre-sources-say/

"Law enforcement sources say Adam Lanza was motivated by violent video games and a strong desire to kill more people than another infamous mass murderer.

Sources say Lanza saw himself as being in direct competition with Anders Breivik, a Norwegian man who killed 77 people in July 2011."

"Two officials who have been briefed on the Newtown, Conn., investigation say Lanza wanted to top Breivik's death toll and targeted nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School because it was the "easiest target" with the "largest cluster of people."

Evidence shows that his mind, sources say, Lanza was also likely acting out the fantasies of a video game as he killed 20 first graders and six adults at the school. For Lanza, the deaths apparently amounted to some kind of "score.""

Anonymous said...

The type of movies Hispanics seem to like today might be heavily influenced by the average age of Hispanics (young).

I recall seeing a goodly number of 50-something papas trying to ride herd on their teenage wannabes to get them to watch The Passion of the Christ. (Of course, once they got to the flail scene, that was pretty easy...)

Anonymous said...

It's good to know that the Mexi's like Fast and Furious, because I've always wondered who watched that garbage.

I also like some garbage. "Road House" with Patrick Swayze and "Striking Distance" with Bruce Willis are a couple of my faves that I will always stop and watch while channel surfing. Sarah Jessica Parker and her horse face were still kinda attractive in "Striking Distance."

Eric said...

I could tell that American movies had shifted demographics. A decade or so ago, I started watching European movies, and found that their reliance on clever plots and storylines over exploding cars and chihuahuas appealed to me more than the current American movies.

The demographics have shifted, yes, but the Mexican angle is only a tiny bit of it. Hollywood doesn't make movies for Americans any more. They're not going to make anything that has complicated cultural themes because that hurts the world-wide gross. Welcome to the least common denominator.

That's why I stopped watching American movies in favor of Chinese and Japanese. Probably missed a good flick or two over about the same time period, but the big studios crank out so much garbage it's just not worth my time to sort through it.

I'm 40 years too old for comic book superheroes, and "quality" movies seem to have been designed by a computer to maximize the likelihood of an Oscar nomination without any thought given to the audience. Yes Nazi Germany probably sucked for gay Jewish orphans. I don't care.

Eric said...

"Road House" with Patrick Swayze and "Striking Distance" with Bruce Willis are a couple of my faves that I will always stop and watch while channel surfing.

Road House is a movie everyone laughs at in hipster fashion but watches when it's on. It's a good movie, though I think of it as a Sam Elliott movie and not a Patrick Swayze movie.

RKU said...

Well, after reading this comment-thread, it seems that a major audience component of that stupid Fast & Furious movies series is...readers of this blogsite!

DaveinHackensack said...

I also like some garbage. "Road House" with Patrick Swayze and "Striking Distance" with Bruce Willis are a couple of my faves that I will always stop and watch while channel surfing. Sarah Jessica Parker and her horse face were still kinda attractive in "Striking Distance."

Fast & Furious flicks aren't garbage; they are extremely well-crafted popcorn flicks. They continually outdo themselves with the set pieces that open the movies. The last movie had the best one yet, an elaborate heist of cars from a moving train, in some badlands west of Rio de Janeiro. The only stunt/chase sequence I can think of that rivals F&F in recent years was the one that opened Casino Royale, with the Parkour chase around the construction site in Madagascar.

Anonymous said...

Justin Lin director of the movies is another Taiwanese guy in US movie directing. Becoming a trend?

Anonymous said...

I could tell that American movies had shifted demographics. A decade or so ago, I started watching European movies, and found that their reliance on clever plots and storylines over exploding cars and chihuahuas appealed to me more than the current American movies.

Hipster SWPL. Sure, all American movies have exploding cars and chihuahuas. And all Europeans movies are all so clever.

Anonymous said...

Bitter because Sylvester Stallone and Tom Cruise are washed up?

Peter the Shark said...

Bill Simmons "The Sports Guy" and Adam Carolla both spend ridiculous amounts of time talking up this series. So it would seem that white prep school kids and jocks love these movies. NYT reading SWPLs probably not so much.

Anonymous said...

DId someOne SaY Resident EvIL was TRaSH?

I DeclaRE WAR On YOU SiR!

No one. Insults. Mila!

(the above written by a white female)

Ray Sawhill said...

I think of "Road House" as a Kelly Lynch movie.

I've only seen the first of the Fast and Furious movies, but I loved it. (That one was directed by Rob Cohen.) I'll never work my way thru the rest of the series, but I wouldn't mind checking out the best of the bunch. Anyone want to volunteer a couple of recommendations?

Anonymous said...

Re: Lanza wanting to be number 1.

Dude only managed spot 9 on the scoreboard though...

http://www.spreekillers.ch/?o=vic

mattos said...

The last one is the best by far. The final chase sequence is hilarious in its ridiculousness.

Nalen said...

" Anonymous said...

'I could tell that American movies had shifted demographics. A decade or so ago, I started watching European movies, and found that their reliance on clever plots and storylines over exploding cars and chihuahuas appealed to me more than the current American movies.'

Hipster SWPL. Sure, all American movies have exploding cars and chihuahuas. And all Europeans movies are all so clever."

Typical Anonymous troll. Creates a strawman argument and knocks it down with the greatest of ease. We're all impressed! Where do you once see the word 'all' in what I wrote?

Anonymous said...

I'm with Ray; Road House is a Kelly Lynch movie. Eric, your manhood is suspect!

Hmm, fast cars, explosions and posses of dusky models running around in skimpy, almost non-existent clothing. How on Earth could that be successful?

Just an aside Steve, you may have the most hideously silly anti-spam test in history.

Glaivester said...

Sources say Lanza saw himself as being in direct competition with Anders Breivik, a Norwegian man who killed 77 people in July 2011.

Which is interesting, given that the killings were in some ways so different: Anders Breivik was a political terrorist who killed to advance an agenda, while Adam Lanza just wanted to hurt people for its own sake.

Dude only managed spot 9 on the scoreboard though...

This reminds me of the killer in The Frighteners, who was killing entirely to "up his score."

FWG said...

How can you not love a movie featuring the legendary thespian Ja Rule?

Anthony said...

I've watched all of the films in the series. Some of the movies were better than others; however, all of them were better than any of the movies in the 'Transformers' series.

Truth said...

"I could tell that American movies had shifted demographics. A decade or so ago, I started watching European movies, and found that their reliance on clever plots and storylines over exploding cars and chihuahuas appealed to me more than the current American movies."

Translation: You got old.

Truth said...

"Hollywood doesn't make movies for Americans any more... That's why I stopped watching American movies in favor of Chinese and Japanese."

Gotcha.

Anonymous said...

Justin Lin director of the movies is another Taiwanese guy in US movie directing. Becoming a trend?

I think that we're going to see more asian and asian-american directors in Hollywood.

el supremo said...

The good thing about Fast and the Furious is that they don't talk about the diversity of their cast or make it a plot point.

Unlike the usual NYT movies of choice, there are no wise Latinas or socially conscious black men to englighten the white stars - the hispanic and asian actors steal cars and drive like maniacs just like the white ones.

Anonymous said...

Ray - The F&F movie that I like best is TOKYO DRIFT. A thing of beauty, it is.
Fabrizio

rob said...

DaveinHackensack said,

I watch the Fast & Furious movies... during the movie's denouement.


The denouement? You ain't the target audience, yo.

Anonyia said...

"Bill Simmons "The Sports Guy" and Adam Carolla both spend ridiculous amounts of time talking up this series. So it would seem that white prep school kids and jocks love these movies. NYT reading SWPLs probably not so much."

White prep school kids are SWPLs -if you haven't noticed. Even jocks are pretty SWPLfied at those places.

Anonymous said...

http://www.ted.com/talks/keith_chen_could_your_language_affect_your_ability_to_save_money.html

pat said...


I have a few suggestions to make these movies more acceptable to the NYT readership..

The cliche in these kind of movies is the orange-red fireball that accompanies every crash. Having all your fuel go up all at once is obviously bad for your mileage to say nothing of the climate change implications. It's time for a more eco-friendly but still spectacular auto crash.

One reason gyroscopes are not used for automobile power is because when their bearings freeze they spin the car around wildly. I would like to see a bit of that instead of all the gasoline explosions. Let's get a new screenplay in which the F & F gang are a dedicated group of eco-terrorists who drive only flywheel powered cars.

At vital plot points the bad guys (guys who burn gas) shoot the good guys cars and hit the flywheel bearings. The car immediately spins at great speed and tragically ultracentrifuges one of the good guy side-kicks to death.

Plenty of action for the yahoos - politically correct automobiles for the effete urban snobs. Sure hit.

Albertosaurus

Ed said...

"It's amazing what's going on out there. The popularity of various TV shows, movies, music and videos that I've never even heard of is incredible."

I have the same reaction, but I didn't find it so amazing. I attributed it to turning 40.

Anonymous said...

Is "who watches movies like 'Fast and Furious?'" really an interesting question that demands some sort of racial/socioeconomic demographic breakdown? I suggest the NYT is just filling some space and they don't care that much.

Eric said...

"Hollywood doesn't make movies for Americans any more... That's why I stopped watching American movies in favor of Chinese and Japanese."

Gotcha.


You misunderstood the point, which is Hollywood studios make movies for an international audience, so they've denuded the product of anything that people in other countries would find confusing or offensive. Which leaves the artistic equivalent of lukewarm gruel.

Filmmakers in other countries don't do that. A Japanese movie is unapologetically Japanese, and will have some complexity based in Japanese culture. Same with Chinese, or Persian. It's only Hollywood movies that are written by a committed and expected to do x million dollars internationally.

I know a guy who writes scripts and sells them to studios. It turns out to be an easier gig than you'd expect, because studios buy up scripts they have no intention of turning into movies to keep them away from competitors.

Anyway, a few of his submissions have been turned into movies. None of them have been rewritten less than six times by other (separate) people, including the producer, on occasion. None of the rewrites were done to address artistic problems.

No, they were done for business reasons. Characters and vehicles were added to make merchandising easier. love interests were added to bring in the adolescent boys. Any dialog or plot elements that wouldn't be obvious in Romania were stripped out. Etc.

By the time they were done his original scripts had been turned into artistic clones of all the other movies that came out that year.

He didn't care that much, because the money was good and he understands it's a business. But if this is normal it goes a long way toward explaining what we see (or don't, in my case) in the theaters.

Anonymous said...

Do you know how depressing it's become to work in Hollywood with aspirations to make something decent? If not Casablanca or The Godfather, at least popcorn entertainment as well-crafted as Jaws or Raiders of the Lost Ark?

Sure, the money helps, but it's no fun making movies for knuckleheads that have to be able to play in Moscow, Delhi, and Sao Paulo as easily as in Van Nuys.

Anonymous said...

Theres a 6th one? Theres are 3rd through 5th ones?

DaveinHackensack said...

"The good thing about Fast and the Furious is that they don't talk about the diversity of their cast or make it a plot point."

They don't talk about it explicitly, but Diesel's character refers to his multi-ethnic group as a "family". And they do family-like stuff: they eat meals together, say grace before meals, share chores, etc. So the message is sort of the opposite of Bowling Alone.

"Ray - The F&F movie that I like best is TOKYO DRIFT. A thing of beauty, it is."

Tokyo Drift wasn't my favorite, but it was good. And interestingly, it succeeded despite ditching pretty much the entire cast (save for a brief cameo by Diesel near the end).

BTW, a couple of weeks ago when we had a huge snow storm around here, I was walking out of a diner that was one of the few places open, and saw a half dozen AWD cars and their drivers hanging out in the mostly-empty, but snow-covered parking lot. Snow was coming down at about an inch or two an hour then, and these guys were apparently going for a joy ride in it. A WRX did a Tokyo Drift-style slide in an arc around the lot and then led the rest of the cars out on the empty highway. Maybe the F&F after this one should be set in snow country somewhere.

"The cliche in these kind of movies is the orange-red fireball that accompanies every crash. Having all your fuel go up all at once is obviously bad for your mileage to say nothing of the climate change implications. It's time for a more eco-friendly but still spectacular auto crash.

One reason gyroscopes are not used for automobile power is because when their bearings freeze they spin the car around wildly. I would like to see a bit of that instead of all the gasoline explosions."


Actually, most of the crashes in F&F don't have the big orange fireball, but if you watch Gladiator again, there's a shot similar to what you have in mind with the fly wheels -- it's in the Battle of Carthage reenactment scene, when the chariot crashes into the wall.

"You misunderstood the point, which is Hollywood studios make movies for an international audience, so they've denuded the product of anything that people in other countries would find confusing or offensive. Which leaves the artistic equivalent of lukewarm gruel.

Filmmakers in other countries don't do that. A Japanese movie is unapologetically Japanese, and will have some complexity based in Japanese culture. Same with Chinese, or Persian."


I'm not so sure about that. I think the Chinese in particular tried to aim for an international audience with some of the movies produced after the success of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Roland said...

Perhaps Hollywood remains an avenue of English-language adoption? Until they start making them in Spanish, I suppose. But outside of Latin America (and the Beltway), who cares about Spanish?

Anonymous said...

Sarah Jessica Parker and her horse face were still kinda attractive in "Striking Distance."

Thankyou! I thought I was the only one who thought she had a horse face. My family are well used to me whinnying when she appears on-screen.

Anonymous said...

When gyroscope bearings seize (which isn't often) the gyro goes flying out of its housing in some random direction, right through people or walls. It's a gruesome thing.

The other problem with gyro cars is the car can't turn because the gyro won't let it.

Anonymous said...

"Well, after reading this comment-thread, it seems that a major audience component of that stupid Fast & Furious movies series is...readers of this blogsite!"

Selection bias.

Gilbert P.

Eric said...

Say whatever you want about SJP. Whenever I see her in a movie I think of her in LA Story and...

I'll be in my bunk.

Nalen said...

""I could tell that American movies had shifted demographics. A decade or so ago, I started watching European movies, and found that their reliance on clever plots and storylines over exploding cars and chihuahuas appealed to me more than the current American movies."

Translation: You got old."

That could be part of it (or at least older, don't know how 'old' I was at 22), but I also like a number of older American movies for the better plots as well, which suggests that the steady drift towards mindlessness in American movies has gone hand in hand with the demographic shift.

Anonymous said...

Roland said...

...who cares about Spanish?

You'll care sir, when you can't get a job in the government, or advance in public life because you don't speak it. When your unilingualism makes you a second-class citizen in your own country. You'll care THEN. But just as with Canada, it'll be too late. I would say America is a generation and a bit, behind Canada, in the language wars. But don't worry, its coming. And believe me its not going to be pretty.

Wisp said...

Another bewildered news story. Searching on Google for "black" first names provokes ads for criminal background checks more often than searching for "white" first names. No one can conceive any explanation for this strange phenomenon except that, just perhaps, Google is malevolently racist.

Anonymous said...

In the 80s we had this thing called "Trekkies"

But now every media-nerd variety of synthetic tribal identity--even these stupid 90-minute car commercials for the macho MEChA set--has been blessed with social acceptance

Truth said...

"The denouement? You ain't the target audience, yo."

Now that's good. Somebody's been reading my stuff.

Diomar Salvado said...

Nice article,by the way I'm an avid fan of fast and furious films since 2001,2003,2006,2009,2011 series and now the fast and furious 6 2013. Thank you.