When Added Value Is Just Added Time

This year, on behalf of (Cult)ure Magazine,  I attended Carnivale Lune Bleue  an event inspired by the traveling carnivals of the 1930s complete with vintage rides and actors in period costume (the full review can be read here.) Over all I enjoyed the carnival; however,  on the evening I attended a decision was made by the organizers to tack on an interview with an actress before the acrobatic Cirque Maroc.  I feel this was a mistake and instead of adding value it only added time.

The actress in question starred in an HBO TV  series about a 1930’s traveling carnival, which obviously served as inspiration for the organizers of this event.  While on paper this might look like added value (it was thrown in at no additional charge to the audience) it was actually detrimental to the experience.  

Previously, much effort had been put forward into setting the mood/atmosphere for the carnivals patrons taking them  back in time to the 1930’s.   It worked and the audience was immersed in the spirit of the carnival and primed to see an acrobatic circus act performed under the big top.

Rather than the high energy acrobatic show we were expecting, we were greeted instead with a TV screen and a Q&A session.

 The interview itself was clearly an adhoc affair, more reminiscent of a high school yearbook interview then anything else.   Most of the audience, including a large proportion of children, were bored out of their minds.

I also doubt very few knew who this actress was and those that did were probably not that impressed with the line of questioning.  Unfortunately, many of the questions were actually very inappropriate for the kids.  “What’s your favourite cuss word?”  being one example of  a question that was particularly poorly thought out, provoking a string of profanity from the actress.  

The greatest sin on the part of the organizers was this was not what the audience was promised.  We came for acrobats and a carnival atmoshphere  and we were given a modern TV interview.  It felt like a “bait and switch” maneuver and all the magic of being under the big top was destroyed.   The tent became a hot non-air-conditioned space and the audience was held captive wondering where the hell the acrobats were.

Forty minutes later they did appear, and they were excellent.  It is a testament to their performance that the interview portion (hopefully) will be forgotten.

This serves to underline another lesson.  If you have a “winner” don’t tack anything on to it.  The acrobatic show was more than enough to wow the audience.  

If you are wondering why this criticism didn’t make the review, it is because this tacked on interview only lasted for a couple of days (thankfully).  By the time the review was published it was no longer relevant, so I left it out.


2 responses to “When Added Value Is Just Added Time

  1. I find there is a similar problem with the recent “directors cut” approach to releasing films on DVD. The version of the 40 Yr Old Virgin that I rented a few years back went on for like two and a half hours! Even the funniest comedy in the world stops being funny after about an hour and a half. The “added value” of all these deleted scene being reinserted actually made for an excruciating viewing experience. Most of the time deleted scenes are cut for a reason!

  2. I was there for the interview, so you know I agree.

    I like Kevin’s reference to technology. It seems to me, as the cost of data storage continues to approach zero (especially for end-users), people seem unwilling to exercise any critical judgment when it comes to editing.

    Yes, editing essential elements to save space / time/ money is almost always wrong. Conversely, adding shit just because you can is almost always wrong too. Editing is a good thing and it makes for better art — whatever your art may be.

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