You know what REALLY grinds my gears these days? You guessed it; that thing I put as the title of this article. I’ve been going to movies and playing video games for a good long while now and while the quality of each has had its ups and downs over the years, one thing has progressively changed for the worse: the length of the closing credits.
The epic masterpiece *cough* Aliens vs Predator tips the scales at 12 minutes (over 10% of its running time) of credits to beat out Return of the King’s meager ten minute marathon, while Kevin Smith included the names of all of his Myspace friends (it was a different time)- a total of 163,070- in the closing credits for Clerks 2. These are some of the facts and figures that come up in a half-assed internet search, but there are plenty of unaccounted offenders to be sure (I’m quite sure Kill Bill: Volume 2 cracked the 15 minute mark) due to the lack of people sitting in the theater with stopwatches. But rest assured, collectively this represents a depressing amount of my time wasted in the theater.
And video games? Yeesh. Metal Gear Solid 4 closes with some 20 minutes of credits after the hour and forty minute closing cutscene, plus an epilogue. In fact, games really have movies beat when it comes to this as it’s becoming more and more fashionable to slap unskippable credit sequences that are well into the twenty minute range on the end of major game releases with some gamers claiming that they are passing the 30 minute mark.
Too late, guys; the player is already asleep.
If you aren’t a nerd you are maybe thinking “pssh, just don’t watch them! Nobody’s putting a gun to your head!” But they are, friend. They are. Some films and games put mid and/or post credit epilogues that we geekfolk do not want to miss out on in the mix. Marvel Studios in particular has made a tradition of this to the point where their post-credit scenes are like events unto themselves. You don’t want to be that loser looking up the scene on Youtube a week after the fact after the buzz of having just watched/played something awesome has long since worn off and the scene no longer has the impact it would have. I know this pain.
For example, a lot of reviews complained that the game Batman: Arkham Origins had nothing to do with its title. These are the people who skipped the end credits because a little ways into them you are treated to a radio transmission linking the events of the game to the re-opening of the fabled supervillain nuthouse, completing the game’s story. There is also Joker crooning a Hank Williams ballad to express his feelings for the Caped Crusader which is creepy as hell, but fitting. Furthermore, there is a Marvel-style cutscene cameo that creates some very interesting possibilities for future DC gaming properties. This is the kind of shit you don’t want to miss; what makes the insanity of suffering through the sssllllooooowwwwlllllyyyyy advancing names of hundreds of paid game testers in a game riddled with bugs worthwhile.
But then you get something like Iron Man 3. I was fairly disappointed with the film itself, but very much anticipating what might be waiting for me on the other side of the credits given past precedents and the fact that this was the first post-Avengers Marvel outing. They made me pay for it. Just for the hell of it, they decided to add fake names to the credits in order to lengthen them past the ten minute mark so that we’d have to wait that much longer for the epic unveiling of …the fact that the film’s voiceover narration was really Tony Stark talking to a sleeping Bruce Banner. Having Mark Ruffalo show up just give us the middle finger would have been a more clever way to make that work. The lame gag was unnecessary.
Woo-hoo, we suck!
Thus have we often been trapped in the death spiral of endless credits hoping that there would be some sweet little tidbit in there somewhere to justify our OCD. Since I got a smartphone, I’ve gotten into the habit of searching the net on it after the credits roll to see whether there is an epilogue scene or not. It’s a simple solution, but it shouldn’t be necessary. If it’s gotten to the point where the closing song is not long enough to contain the credits and the audience has to research whether or not they can leave at the end instead of losing another ten minutes or so of their lives that they can never get back, that is the exact moment where it needs to stop.
I understand that all of the people involved in such a massive project as a blockbuster film or a AAA video game want credit for their work and to give shout-outs to every person they’ve ever met (in the streets they call this “keepin’ it real”) and list every baby that was born during production and all that, but it’s really gotten out of control. I don’t know if it’s collective ego or force of habit or if every tester, programmer, assistant, and whatnot will go on strike if their name isn’t on screen for ten seconds of a ten minute text crawl, but it’s gotten to the point where it seriously detracts from the finished product at times and makes me angry at the end of something I otherwise thoroughly enjoyed.
Shadow of the Colossus ran their credits during the closing story sequence, Studi Ghibli and Pixar often give us adorable bonus art sequences, and Jackie Chan usually rocks your socks with outtakes and crazy brutal stunt fails as a bonus for sticking around awhile, to name a few alternatives of what studios could be doing right, but these are pretty much rarities. A few minutes is more than enough time for props to be given and filling that space with a little bonus content is not a tall order.
Quick, film fans: what is Boris Karloff’s defining role? That is correct. Frankenstein’s monster. But were you aware that this legend-making performance was not even credited onscreen?
And let me point out while I’m here that there is no “Igor” in this film.
In the olden days of cinema, the end credits (when included at all) were typically limited to a single card featuring the primary cast. And damn it, we liked it that way! Or I would have if I’d been alive. Karloff didn’t even get his shoutout proper, yet everybody knows it was him. Not seeing his name on the screen did nothing to diminish the film or his role in it, and there is no possible way that a massive list of names which are meaningless to the viewer that is made up of enough text to finish A Song of Ice and Fire can improve the experience.
So here’s what we are going to do, true believers… Well, I guess all we can really do is bitch about it on the internet. But oh, how we will bitch. I’m talking about flexing all of the internet’s entitled social justice whining muscles here. Take to Twitter and wreck Hideo Kojima with abuse. Post nasty things about Shane Black’s mother on Facebook. Or better yet, copy/paste from your local phonebook listings and spend all day spamming them with it.
Okay, you probably shouldn’t do those things because they are mean and obnoxious and may well take up even more of your time than these peoples’ absurdly long credits did in the first place. I guess if we are acting like adults, we’re pretty helpless to do anything about it unless we start tracking the length of end credits of upcoming releases and begin loudly boycotting them based on that. And that is stupid so let’s not do that either. To put it bluntly; we are f**ked.
I’m sorry I let you down, Impotent Rage.
So consider this my conscientious objection to an entertainment trend that is currently burning my ass. All I ask is that they give us something interesting to look at beyond a black screen with white letters as they assault us with their entertainment industry hubris. It’s not a lot, but it’d be something.
At the end of my life as I lay on my death bed regretting all my final regrets, I can’t help but think I’ll have an especial burning rage and despair regarding the insane amount of time I spent watching ending credits hoping I’d catch a little something extra that turned out to not be worth it or nonexistent. Hopefully I’ve still got plenty of time to plot all of the wicked nasty haunting stuff I’m going to do to the executives in charge of this shit when I’m a ghost. Paranormal Activity won’t have shit on me.