Blogs Anticipate Snakes

Snakes on a plane samuel jackson snake
CBS/New Line
With millions of sites floating through the blogosphere, who really has time to peek at even a fraction of them? Blogophile reads them for you and presents a weekly roundup of the buzz on must-read blogs. Blogophile appears new each Wednesday, and is written by CBSNews.com's Melissa P. McNamara.

Bloggers are very early fans of a movie that won't even be released until August. Find out why. Plus, college-bound students find a new outlet for their frustrations over admissions. And, anger brews online over booksellers' decision not to sell a magazine.

Hissing About Snakes on a Plane

If you haven't heard of the movie "Snakes on a Plane," starring Samuel L. Jackson, you haven't been reading blogs. The movie won't be released until the summer, but the early buzz online is hard to miss.

Jackson stars as FBI agent Nelville Flynn, who is accompanying a key mob trial witness on a flight from Hawaii to Los Angeles. And, well, there are snakes on the plane. The storyline is rather simple, but perhaps that's the brilliance of it, bloggers say.

Samuel L. Jackson, and the mere notion of snakes on a plane have burst the movie through the blogosphere.

In fact, the movie has generated so much attention from bloggers that New Line Cinema went back for five more days of shooting months after it was complete to bring the movie from a PG-13 rating to an R rating to meet fans' expectations. Movie producers were able to capitalize on its built-in audience, months before it even had a finished product.

Just how did this buzz come about? As the story goes, bloggers began hissing after screenwriter Josh Friedman posted an entry about the movie on his blog last August. "It's a title. It's a concept. It's a poster and a logline and whatever else you need it to be. It's perfect. Perfect. It's the Everlasting Gobstopper of movie titles," Friedman blogged.

The rest is cyber-history. To give you a sense of its scope, on Saturday alone, over 7,000 blogs referred to the movie. The title has inspired bloggers to create songs, music videos, apparel, poster art, parody films, and mock movie trailers.

"The title itself is so simple, so clean, so perfect...There's no metaphor, no complicated allegories...just snakes. And they're going to be on a plane. And they're probably going to bite somebody," says Brian Finkelstein, author of Snakes on a Blog, which documents his "quest to attend the Hollywood premiere of 'Snakes on a Plane.'"

The term "Snakes on a Plane" has even entered the lexicon. Urbandictionary.com describes it as "a simple existential observation that has the same meaning as "Whaddya gonna do?"

What does this all mean? As Dustbury writes, "Snakes on a Plane is almost certain to be a hit — if everyone who mentioned it on a blog bought one ticket."

And, if you're wondering by now if you can actually bring snakes on board an airplane, check out Indoorfirework's interview with American Airlines.

Did The Mail Come Yet?

As the warm weather arrives, high school seniors are greeted with inevitable bouts of anticipation as they hear whether – or not—they've been admitted into the college of their dreams.

As Jacques Steinberg notes in "The Gatekeepers," a book about Wesleyan University's admissions process, "There are few more unnerving rites of passage in America today than the process of applying to college, for at almost no other time in young people's lives do they face a decision that they perceive will have as profound an effect on their futures."

But, now, high school students throughout the country are blogging about this rite of passage with candid posts chronicling both the highs and lows of their experiences. Whether through myspace entries or college-counseling forums, or even college Web sites themselves, the blogosphere offers students a way to connect with other students throughout the country as they are victims in the same daunting process.

The New York Times points out students' postings let the public "listen in on the kind of conversations that used to be shared only between friends, with college counselors — or with the colleges themselves."

In some entries online, students find it cathartic to share their good and bad news with friends and even anonymous readers, and look for validation (and perhaps, feedback) from others. For example, bluegraybrown charts on his blog which schools he's been accept to, waitlisted and rejected from and explains his rationale for which school he may choose. "I'm happy with all of the ones to which I was accepted though I'll probably end up at either Boston College (most likely) or Vassar (which I have yet to visit)," he writes. "Oh well. 9/13 and only two flat out rejections isn't bad, yes?"

Many students like Short Sara and Nathalie Marthenson, post their letters from college admissions offices, including both acceptances and rejections.

And some students offer words of encouragement to those who will follow them. M&N posted a message to "all the juniors in high school" worrying about the college process. "There are a lot of times lately when I've thought I probably should have spent a little more time on that application, or on that one. Maybe I was to nonchalant with that one? Maybe I should have been more intense about school and grades? Maybe I should have ran for that leadership position?" Meeshee blogs. "But it's done and over. And I am satisfied with how I spent my high school years. That's better than getting into any college."

Even those with contacts to admissions officers have weighed in. One such blogger sees value in the Ivy Leagues. "Colleges are a giant networking conference. The better and thicker the network, the better the chances for financial or academic rewards," directorofadmissions blogs. "You can still succeed, easily, outside of it. But it makes it easier to have the bonuses built in."

But it's not all gloom and doom for the college-bound.

Ursula (a.k.a. Glossgrrrl) posts her acceptance letter from Boston University and writes simply, "yay! okay. neat." And Becca brags about being "FREAKING happy" with her acceptance to the University of Virginia.

Broken Borders?

Bloggers had lots to say this week about a decision by Borders and Waldenbooks not to sell , a magazine devoted to secular humanism, on newsstands because its April-May issue reprints the Danish cartoons of prophet Mohammed, which incited mass protests. The companies site "safety and security" as their reason for not selling it.

Many bloggers, especially conservatives, think the book sellers made the wrong decision. Little Green Footballs posts a letter from a Borders employee who suggests the company really fears angering the Muslim community, and isn't as concerned about safety. The site also directs readers to some places that are selling the magazine.

Andrew Sullivan writes, "Well, at least they're honest. Sharia: 1. The West: 0. If you care about freedom of expression, don't buy books from Borders or Waldenbooks. And if you want to draw a lesson from the entire episode, it's obvious: violence against free writers and artists gets results. We have all but invited more."

But Borders does have some defenders online. "Some book stores choose to not carry a magazine that is publishing the cartoons? How is that squelching free speech again?," Da Bird questions on Newsbusters. "It's a book store, not the government. They're certainly free to sell or not sell whatever they choose, correct?"

And, while not taking their side on the issue, Jim Geraghty at The Corner praises the companies for their honesty. He blogs, "I would observe that if nothing else, applaud the honesty of Borders/Waldenbooks. They're not claiming that not stocking the magazine is a matter of "sensitivity," it's a matter of safety for their employees. I can disagree whether that's the right decision, but I can at least understand it and appreciate it."

But PSoTD may have a point that this whole debate is giving Free Inquiry more readers than its typical April readership. "Please, quit crying about the freedom of expression - Borders is a store, their job is to do what it takes increase sales and reduce costs, and that's what they're doing. Borders has given Free Inquiry magazine more promotion than they probably get in a year with this action, so more good than harm has come to them as well," PSoTD writes.

By Melissa McNamara