Greg Cox wrote:
I've always thought that there was vocabulary problem at work here, in that we tend to use the same words--bomb, flop, disaster--to describe both commercial and artistic failures, which are very different concepts. With the result that we often end up talking past each other.
Granted, there are plenty of shows that fail on both levels, and there may even be a causal link sometimes, but they aren't the same thing --and it can get confusing when we throw the terms around interchangeably.
Just because something bombed doesn't mean it sucked, and vise versa.
(There's also the understandable human tendency to conflate our individual opinions with the general audiences', as when we assume that because we and our like-minded friends all disliked something, it must have bombed at the box office, right?)
I once thought the same. But I can only believe now that the confusion is too useful for people who are primarily interested in the financials. These people control too much of mass media criticism for ordinary people to straighten up the language.
The ironic part is, this sort of confusion can muddle financial decisions, too. I've run into people in the business who truly believed that such-and-such book or movie had lost money because they didn't personally know anybody who liked it or because they had perhaps seen some negative reviews.
"Wait, you're saying SPACE VIXENS was a hit? I heard the movie was a bomb?"
"No, the movie was #1 at the box office, and the novelization went through ten printings . . . "
"Wow! Who knew? Maybe we should do more SPACE VIXENS books."
"That's what I'm saying . . . ."