Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Child Abuse

Those of you following my birthday invitations will be aware that I am staring at thirty like an SBS cooking show: interesting, slightly unfamiliar and inevitable. But I know some sick sick child abuse when I see it. Watch this video.

Fkn sik bra!
Or, as one of the esteemed Youtube commenters put it: "... dat is prpr sick! fck da queen m8!!!!!" (katiomou)

No, actually. It's not prpr sick. It's neither sick, dope, jiggy, mad, def, fat, phat, tight, stylin' nor "kewl". It is, as another, more astute Youtuber, Windowpenis, put it: "
Blatant fake. The vidya's pretty convincing, but the description on the site tries way too hard and can't be anything other than some goatee'd viral marketing prick trying desperately to relate to the yoof of today."

Kingtag is a single page site containing the above video, two screen shots and a short textspeak proclamation:
"wnt 2 c da queen but she waznt @ her crib. dun dis 4 da $$$ check on dis 2 graf dis film tag n hit buck pal n tagged it up prpr. nunaya can tuch KT!!!! i iz getin a G 4 dis shit!!!!"
To give your index finger 3 seconds more of respite from the onset of RSI-induced arthritis later in life from mouse clicking, I'll spoil it for you by telling you that the "dis" "King Tag" refers to is the MySpace page for "One of the COOLEST films of the summer!", The Wackness.
The movie itself is nothing to speak of. Watch the preview below. Or don't add to their view count and read on.

The ingredients can be found in the front of The Great Big Book of Movies For Idiots. Turn to the "American Tweenagers" section, skim through the section on Exploiting The Insecurities Inherent in Every Childhood for Financial Gain, find the recipe for Coming of Age Story and follow the simple recipe:

1. Traditionally cool setting - New York. (Los Angeles is also acceptable). Young people need to feel that the "cool" place they are being shown is definitely that in order protect themselves from true individualism and unpredictable consumer patterns.
New York has an established history of individualism and "cool" attached to it and therefore is a safe plot investment.
2. Urban (read: de-blackified black) activity - graffiti. Co-opting black culture from trends begun in black ghettos in the '60s, '70s and '80s is necessary to ensure again that your young, mostly white audience feels as though it experiencing "cool" without actually having to endure the upheavals and danger associated with the free-thinking and antiestablishment self-expression of hip-hip, graffiti, rap, breaking, skateboarding etc. To this end, black culture has been carefully re-named "urban" in order to include white teenagers and their pocket money. Use the word "urban" as often as possible.
3. Unknown young male actor carefully chosen for resemblance to current day's heartthrobs' style - Emo. Ensure that this actor is sexy without being sexual, straight and adept at urban activities (see above). Under no circumstances may he possess any identifying markers of minority groups (Central and South Americans, Asians, homosexuals, Jews, Eastern Europeans, etc). Nervous teenagers need to be reassured that they are identifying with someone who may play an outcast, but who will never truly be one.
4. Adult behaving differently to play mentor - Ben Kingsley, smoking bongs. Preferably a British actor, male, white, etc. 10% more interested in the sex-life of the main male character than would be appropriate for an unrelated older male. Have them engage in "young" and "cool" activities (drug use, above-mentioned "urban" activities, etc). Never a father-figure, always a teacher.
5. Utterly stylish young girls in leading female roles must never be allowed to star in anything ever again. - Young female audience members can see changing styles from film to film (and consume them accordingly) but without the low-fiscal-returns of static role models and identifiable actors.Young male audience members experience the vicarious thrill of watching sexually attractive females on screen without having to relate to or be challenged by these females (who they are threatened by in real life). Keeping young males from identifying with females as more than objects will result in poor fiscal returns and negative outcomes for the multi-trillion dollar Industries of Attraction and Extended Boyhood. Men interested in and committing themselves to deeper relationships with women spend less on attracting those women (from cologne to clothes to cars) and also less on items which replace the company of women (electronica, cars, collectables, etc).
6. Spray liberally with essence stolen directly from indie youth films which have done well recently - The oddball retro modern realism of films like Juno and Napoleon Dynamite will buff out the sheen of a well-designed marketing campaign and provide a filter for the consumer-driven messages.
7. Blend. Ensure that main character experiences love and second base. Screen. - Avoid controversy in the film, but ape it in the marketing, both direct and viral. Remember to use the word "urban"

There is nothing wrong with making a movie, squealing "urban" at every opportunity and completely expunging black people from the narrative so that nervous white American teenagers will spend their money on it. To paraphrase Bill Hicks, we will all be paying a higher psychic price, but the world needs shitty films too. Even just as an example of what is but should never be.
My problem is with the casual child abuse of marketing. When marketing is done well, it's like John Howard: still evil, but you can at least learn from it and how to resist it. When it's done like this, it's like a flasher. One minute you're wondering why that pale-skinned fellow is wearing a coat on a nice day like this and the next you're wishing you'd never asked.
Viral marketing has become as ubiquitous and pointless as junk mail. I first saw the above video on The Age website, for crying out loud. "Graffiti artist appears to tag Buckingham Palace". The Age video didn't work, so I hit Youtube, wondering what these young film makers were up to, genuinely hoping that it was a wind up for a film, instead of a dirty, yucky viral marketing campaign designed to expose young people to child pornography before they're old enough to recognise that their own tools of self-expression were being used against them to take their money.
I was disappointed.
The whole carton of caboodle, from the nose-blow-by-numbers movie to its inherent racism to the MySpace page to the textspeaking King Tag plugging for the graffiti competition which amounts to nothing more than free advertising for the film, stinks like a room full of people with marketing degrees whiteboarding things they've heard and read about "young people" in order to design a product which bring in the maximum bottom line.
It's ascusting.

GTH - River takes it away with the unbelievably astute observation about how long it takes to get a decent latte out of the machine when I'm pushing the buttons. Jolly good show.


  1. Also, 1a – A Title that prompts the question 'what?' from most interviewers. Feel free to play around with slang words the youth would never use anyway.

    Right, I'm off round to Kingsley's to ask him what happened to his career.

    Oh, GTH... 'hello my baby, hello my darlin' hello my rag time gal', on skateboards.

  2. I went to a somewhat disturbing "professional development" yesterday which claimed that music sales have gone so far through the floor because "the kids" aren't buying music anymore that viral marketing of random products is the only way Chingy can expect to make any money ever again.

    Some might say this is for the best.

    But won't somebody think of the children, etc.

    You've nailed what has been bothering me about teen movies for some time Franzy. Well, what you said, and the fact I'm not a teenager anymore.

    GTH - it's the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, is it not?

  3. Viral marketing is the buzzword of the boofhead advertisers right now, Franzicle, and your observations are brilliantly spot-on.

    If you ever want to sell your soul for a LA condo and all the starlets you can eat, you could easily write such a script.

    GTH - it's not you, but is it your co-conspirator who helped you put together your brilliant video birthday party invite from last year? Goofing off near the steps behind Coles Norwood?


An explanation of The Joy Division Litmus Test

Although it may now be lost in the mysts of thyme, the poll below is still relevant to this blog. In the winter of 2008, Mele and I went to live in Queensland. In order to survive, I bluffed my way into a job at a Coffee Club.
It was quite a reasonable place to work: the hours were regular, the staff were quite nice, it wasn't particularly taxing on my brain.
There were a few downsides: In the six weeks or so that I worked there, there was about a 90% staff turnover (contributed to by my leaving). This wasn't seen as a result of the low pay, the laughability of staff prices or the practice of not distributing tips to staff, rather it was blamed on the lack of work ethic among Bribie Island's youth.
However, one of the stranger aspects of the cultural isolation that touched our lives during our time "up there" was the fact that nobody at my work had heard of the band Joy Division.
The full explanation is available here.
But please, interact a little further and vote in my ongoing poll. The results are slowly mounting up, proving one thing: people read this blog are more well-informed about Joy Division than anyone who works at the Coffee Club on Bribie Island.

Have you heard of the band Joy Division?

Chinese food, not Chinese Internet!

Champions of Guess The Header

  • What is Guess The Header about? Let’s ask regular “Writing” reader, Shippy: "Anyway, after Franzy's stunning September, and having a crack at 'Guess The Header' for the first time - without truly knowing what I was doing mind you - I think I finally understand what 'GTH' is all about. At first I thought you needed to actually know what it was. Don't get me wrong — if you know what it is, it may help you. I now realise that it's more Franzy's way of invoking thought around an image or, more often than not, part of an image. If you dissect slightly the GTH explanatory sentence at the bottom of his blog you come up with this: “The photo is always taken by me and always connects in some way to the topic of the blog entry it heads up.” When the header is put up, the blog below it will in some obscure way have something to do with it. “Interesting comments are judged and scored arbitrarily and the process is open to corruption and bribery with all correspondence being entered into after the fact and on into eternity, ad infinitum amen.” Franzy judges it, but it's not always the GTH that describes the place perfectly that gets it. “The frequent commenters, the wits, the wags and the outright smartarses who, each entry, engage to both guess the origin and relevance of the strip of photo at the top (or “head”) of each new blog and also who leave what I deem the most interesting comment.” It generally helps if you're a complete smartarse and can twist things to mean whatever you feel they should mean - exactly the way Franzy would like things to be twisted." - Shippy Blogger and GTH point scorer.
  • Nai - 1
  • Lion Kinsman - 2
  • Will - 2
  • Brocky - 2
  • Andy Pants - 2
  • The 327th Male - 3
  • Mad Cat Lady - 3
  • Miles McClagen - 4
  • Myninjacockle - 4
  • Asheligh - 5
  • Neil - 5
  • Third Cat - 5
  • Adam Y - 6
  • Squib - 6
  • Mele - 6
  • Moifey - 7
  • Jono - 8
  • The Other, other Sam - 14
  • Kath Lockett - 15
  • Shippy - 19
  • River - 32