For years now, America has been searching for an alternative to the much-maligned "Inception" sound effect — an obnoxious blaring horn popularized by the Christopher Nolan film. Its appalling overuse in movie trailers has producers everywhere looking for other ideas. Unfortunately, this one didn't quite pan out.
The Federal Communications Commission is fining Viacom and ESPN a total of $1.4 million for airing a trailer for "Olympus Has Fallen" — that unfortunate film wherein Gerard Butler has to defend the White House from North Korean terrorists and Morgan Freeman's talents are completely wasted.
Why did a bad action flick catch the attention of the FCC? Well, the trailer makes use of the Emergency Alert System. The EAS is only supposed to be used in the event of an actual national emergency. But the trailer blasts the telltale sounds of the EAS, along with messages like "This is not a drill" and "This is not a test."
It should surprise no one that telling people this when there is no actual emergency may land you in hot water. Viacom played the trailer 108 times across seven of its cable channels, according to the FCC, and ESPN did so 13 times across three channels. The two networks initially admitted as much to the FCC, but they challenged the amount of the fine. After hearing and rejecting their arguments, the FCC on Tuesday decided that Viacom should pay $1.12 million and ESPN $280,000.
ESPN declined to comment. A Viacom spokesman insisted that the FCC's actions "were unwarranted" and that the company is "considering our next steps."
Of course, none of this is likely to touch the producers of the movie, who above all should be held responsible for casting Aaron Eckhart as the president.