Why are Snotlout’s lines in ‘How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World’ edgy beyond reason?

There’s gotta be an explanation, right? I might just have a theory on that …

Here’s my personal theory.

Back in 2010 when the first How To Train Your Dragon movie was released, smartphones were still fairly new and expensive and not many people had them. Because of that, people who visited movie theaters so they would see quality movies — and coincidentally, the first HTTYD movie is still the best, most carefully crafted movie of the three. But that’s beside my point.

Skip 9 years ahead. Today, it’s 2019. Popularity of smartphones has exploded and the habits of movie-goers have changed accordingly. Theaters are no longer places where people go to see movies. People go to theaters so they can tweet, facebook, snapchat et cetera in peace, undisturbed by their friends, family or significant others. Most movie theaters have changed to better adapt to the changing habits of movie-goers (though there are still some stubborn holdouts that refuse to move on with the times) and started providing free wifi.

But here’s where our problem begins.

Most theaters are in places with shit internet.

Imagine places like Australia, USA and other third world countries where people are poor or the internet infrastructure is so bad. Internet in theaters is often complete and utter shite — and that’s assuming they offer it in the first place. (To make things worse, Australia doesn’t have internet access at all! Well, sorta.)

Dreamworks’ board of directors has recognized that this is indeed a problem, and a problem they need to fix in order to improve the movie-going experience. Some time in the late 2014, they sat down in their board room and asked the fateful question:

“How do we improve people’s tweeting and facebooking and snapchatting experience at the theater?”

They started looking for solutions. When Comcast bought Dreamworks in 2016, they realized that equipping movie theaters with decent routers and internet connections would be borderline impossible and cost too much money. After all, as every American will tell you, Comcast are experts at providing unusable internet service.

For some time, it truly seemed that achieving better tweeting experience for people is a pointless goal. But then, one of the Dreamworks’ execs got a bright idea:

“But what about cellphone signal?”

Initially it seemed like a terrible idea. After all, American cellphone providers (e.g. Verizon, AT&T) are somehow even worse than the broadband providers even before you take into account that cellphone signal isn’t very good at penetrating thick concrete walls of movie theaters.

Completely out of ideas, Dreamworks execs were stumped and all hope seemed lost, so they decided to turn to the experts. Together with Dean DeBlois — the director and scriptwriter of How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World — they booked the first flight to Boston in order to consult with MIT on how to provide better cellphone reception in the theaters. During their stay, they learned some basics about mobile technology:

  1. GSM/GPRS was the first standard, but it cannot support a lot of people and is not designed for transferring data, as data transfer speeds cap out at low single digits kilobits per second. This is worse than having no internet connection at all.
  2. 2G, or EDGE, is a bit better, as in: you can actually go on twitter (even if it’s a bit slow)
  3. 3G is nice and fast
  4. 4G/LTE? A pipe dream

With their fresh knowledge of mobile networks, Dreamworks execs and DeBlois returned to LA. Of course, The script of Hidden World was more or less written by that part. Since the script was very much akin to abandoned half-collapsed house in Detroit, he couldn’t change it too much or the entire movie would collapse into complete ruin.

So DeBlois started to experiment with little things. He took a fairly unimportant character and started experimenting with edgy humour in attempt to provide some weak 2G signal. He started with minor tweaks to the twins, and hey: preliminary results showed promise. The movie was edgy enough to emit 3 bars of 2G signal. Curious, he turned to Snotlout and gave him edgy lines. Not only was it edgy, it was so edgy it was 3G. DeBlois started wondering how far he can take this. “Who died and made you chief?” 4G/LTE. Is it possible to go further? Let’s have Snotlout hit on Valka, with pickup lines that were so edgy that they weren’t just 3G or 4G, but provided full 5 bars of 5G signal to everyone within the movie theater, long before the standard was finalized or even thought off. DeBlois wanted to continue, but Dreamworks execs burst into his room and told him to stop. FTC had just called them and told them that improving their tech would result in a massive fine due to violation of rules governing the use of electromagnetic spectrum. Besides, the ending of the movie still hadn’t been finished, and the movie was supposed to come out in just under 4 months.

DeBlois, satisfied enough with his result, decided to call it quits, wrote the final 20 minutes of the movie in a single night and then celebrated by partying hard for the next 6 months.

When the movie was released, most of the movie-goers commended the impeccable tweeting experience they had during the movie. Dreamworks execs were very satisfied with the result — to the tune of a $100% million bonus check they cut DeBlois on top of his contractually agreed pay.

And that’s the story of why Snotlout’s lines in The Hidden World are as edgy as they are.

Bonus content:

This writeup on reddit

The issues with The Hidden World (reddit post)

Hypable: The Failure of the hidden world

Another writeup approaching a different set of issues with HTTYD: The Hidden World

Tamius’ face reveal:

Yes, I’m still salty about how trash that movie is.