Or: Why I Won't Even Watch the First Episode of TNT's Snowpiercer
Even before Bong Joon-ho took Hollywood by storm with Parasite, fans of his work were already well-aware of his unparalleled knack for illustrating class warfare.
As a huge fan of violent action thrillers, and also anti-capitalist ideologies, Snowpiercer ranked among my favorite movies of the last decade. Parasite is inarguably more polished and subtle, but there's something refreshing about the blunt relentlessness of Snowpiercer's take on literal class warfare. Therein, Snowpiercer—a futuristic, high-speed train with cars corresponding to social class, carrying the last human survivors through an arctic, post-apocalyptic wasteland—is an outright metaphor for capitalism and the protagonist, played by Chris Evans, is an oppressed worker-turned-revolutionary who lives in the back of the train, where the working class are relegated, and decides to make his way to the front, where the social elite live in opulence. Finally, upon seeing the worst of humanity and reaching the engine, he realizes that the only moral choice, if he wants to end the class struggle, is to derail the train entirely.
In other words, the main takeaway of Snowpiercer is that the only way to stop oppressive capitalism is to throw the whole system out. Unfortunately, the folks at TNT who took it upon themselves to adapt Snowpiercer into a TV murder mystery cop show seem to have missed that takeaway completely.
There's an inherent irony to adapting a movie like Snowpiercer, with its fiercely anti-capitalist ideological core, into a television show in the first place. Television is a long-form medium designed to tell episodic stories over time in order to continually draw in viewers (and thereby make studios money). It's a format that works very well for epic narratives, but it doesn't make nearly as much sense for concise stories that can be told within the span of two-hours. As such, unless a movie's world is so dense that it can be stretched out in entirely new directions (i.e. Star Wars or Lord of the Rings), turning a movie into a TV show almost always reeks of rancid cash-grabbiness.
Indeed, the world in Joon-ho's Snowpiercer is intriguing—a futuristic, high-speed train with cars corresponding to social class, carrying the last human survivors through an arctic, post-apocalyptic wasteland—but the concept is explored more than thoroughly throughout its runtime. We understand how the world functions, we see all the cars, and we reach a satisfying conclusion. We aren't left wanting to see more stories from its world, because Snowpiercer is not intended to be an epic narrative, but rather a functional, self-contained story.
Still, typically speaking, I'm willing to give TV adaptations of movies I like a chance. I enjoy seeing movie worlds expanded, even if those expansions tend to be unwarranted and usually fail. I've even been pleasantly surprised in the past by conceptually much more stupid movie-to-TV adaptations that actually turned out pretty fun.
So I want to be very clear here: I was willing to at least watch the first episode, right up until I saw TNT's mind-bogglingly off-the-rails marketing push for the release.
For some truly unfathomable reason, TNT thought it was a good idea to market their Snowpiercer adaptation—again, based on a movie about destroying capitalism—by paying celebrities to live-tweet the premiere.
Watching YouTube stars, media personalities, and also William Shatner (seriously, why?) live-tweet about a TV show that's supposedly about class warfare, with hashtags like "#Sponsored" and "#TNTPartner," is so beyond the pale that it borders on parody.
I’m live tweeting the premiere of @SnowpiercerTV in just a few minutes - be sure to watch with me!… https://t.co/CHsIb9mQ2S— Grace Randolph (@Grace Randolph)1589763161.0
Being paid large sums of money to tweet your reactions to a TV show is one of the most privileged things that a person can humanly do, and TNT's choice to go this route with their marketing for Snowpiercer displays a fundamental disregard for the source material.
It's grotesque, and I won't support it. Then again, it's not like I was watching TNT's only other programming of Law & Order: SVU spin-offs anyways, so at least they're not losing a viewer.
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