In praise of the 'Cop Land' Facebook page
In this era of smartphones in every pocket and wi-fi at every coffee shop, social media is inescapable. Everyone with a product or service is taking advantage of this utterly pervasive tool for self-promotion (don’t forget to follow In Reel Deep on Twitter and Facebook!). This extends to the entertainment industry as well; a new release just over the horizon surely has an account on all the major social media platforms. The good ones engage occasionally with users and share “exclusive content” like set photos and newly released posters or trailers; the bad ones will spout unfamiliar quotes with no context while attempting to force synergy with other upcoming releases (“Did you see #TheEqualizer? Then don’t forget to check out #JohnWick!”).
And then there’s Cop Land.
Cop Land was released to mild fanfare in 1997. Directed by James Mangold (who would go on to helm a bevy of feature films, including Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma and The Wolverine) and featuring an all-star cast that included Sylvester Stallone, Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta and Harvey Keitel, the story of a small New Jersey town packed with crooked New York cops grossed $44.8 million domestically and garnered enthusiastic reviews for Stallone’s dip into a more dramatic role.
So why are we talking about it now? Because it lives on at https://www.facebook.com/CoplandMovie.
This is Cop Land’s Facebook page and it has over 35,000 likes as of late September 2014. This is not an overwhelming amount – Contact, released in the same year, has over 177,000 – but it’s a bit high for a 17-year-old movie that didn’t make much money and wouldn’t pop up on a list of most people’s favorites.
How do the proprietors of this page interact with their users? Screenshots and captions, of course.
They can be playful or stone-serious, intense (as much as a Facebook post can be) or very tongue-in-cheek. There’s no rhyme or reason to what the likers will get or when they'll get it; the good people behind this page have nothing to promote or advertise for (if you liked Cop Land on Facebook, you presumably already own it on DVD or Blu-ray) but at least once or twice a week you’ll find a new still on your News Feed.
Occasionally they include a link to the movie’s Amazon page:
Or additional clips from Miramax’s surprisingly still-in-existence Cop Land landing page:
Sometimes they’re even holiday-themed:
This sort of online silliness is not a unique occurrence; Twitter is packed with “brands” trying to seem irreverent and weird. What makes it so wonderful is that Cop Land is a nonentity everywhere but on Facebook.
It’s a solid film, and all the praise heaped upon Stallone’s performance is warranted, but it won no awards and it’s not particularly quotable. Stallone himself condemned the movie for a brief period, blaming it for perpetuating the notion that he’d be transitioning from action franchises to quieter work.
This is all to say that the Cop Land Facebook page is definitely not highly trafficked or relevant to Miramax in any business sense whatsoever, yet it continues to bring us consistent content anyway.
And that’s what makes the Internet great. If you have the time and the desire, you can pump an endless amount of shit into the ether. Maybe no one will notice, but one day 35,000 diehards may stumble upon you and laugh. There’s a creative freedom there that no other medium can provide, and it’s given a second life of sorts to Freddy Heflin, Gary Figgis and the rest of the gang from Garrison, New Jersey.