Dead Island Trailer

I have to be honest. I will probably buy this game. [1] The hype surrounding its trailer (which I wrote about HERE for Citypaper) is the gold-mine meme which was everything marketers were hoping it would be, probably times ten. The only real controversy--note, REAL controversy... Any claims that the trailer is too violent or makes inappropriate emotional ties between a young girl's death and buying a video game, well. Stop. Just stop.--is the fact that the trailer doesn't depict any scenes or game-play from the actual video game. From what I've read, it seems that it doesn't even depict any CHARACTERS from the video game (with the obvious exception of the character type, Zombies). It wasn't even designed by Techland (the developers), it was designed by Axis Animation in Scotland. They simply hired axis to make a super-compelling short film about zombies and this is the result. So, it does draw attention to the product, which makes it a good trailer, but it LOOKS LIKE A VIDEO GAME, which makes it somewhat disingenuous. Ethically, things get a little fuzzy.

There's no law saying a studio can't purchase old Adam Sandler clips and run 45 seconds of singing about sloppy joe and then stamp SHREK 4 at the end of it.

(That may or may not even be true, and I'm certainly not going to be the one to look into it.)

But in the free market sense of the word, there shouldn't be anything unlawful about that, and yet it still shouldn't be done. Especially if Sandler gets animated and all Shreked-out. Other types of products are required to put things like "Not actual size" on the ads. There are definitely lawful precedents for products to be advertised correctly. But art and entertainment is a gray area. We remember the trailers for Austin Powers 3, and some of the jokes in the trailer were not actually used in the movie. Nobody flips shit because, really, it's impossible for anybody to realistically care about that outside of a media-ethics think-tank.

Well that's what THIS is... at the moment, anyway. If a trailer is a commercial for the product (movie), then to what degree should the commercial be required to be accurate? Should the commercial be required to be cut entirely from the final product? Should a trailer be treated as art which is allowed to represent the larger art work any way it wants, regardless of how abstract?

These are my favorite types of hypotheticals because there's virtually no way to arbitrate where the line is drawn, and we all have to resign to the golden rule.

Which of course is... try not to be a tremendous dick.

However, back to the issue of why I'll probably be buying this game. It's the same reason I got excited for Snakes on a Plane. Because contemporary marketing strategies can sometimes be works of art in themselves, and I didn't care that the movie sucked. The main thing I was excited about was taking part in something unusual. We tailgated in the megaplex parking lot with barbecue, brewskies and frisbee. We put each other's numbers into that Sam Jackson auto-messanger and had Sam leave boastful messages on each other's voicemail. We enjoyed the fact that a major studio was embracing true self-aware crap. [2] I was enjoying taking part in a modest frenzy awarded this well-deserving, unique cultural cash gambit. I enjoyed contemplating what it said about Samuel L. Jackson that this film became officially part of his legacy (and I honestly never figured out exactly what that was, or what it implied about his other work).

I think Dead Island is probably gonna be a pretty good game. I don't think it will be amazing but it probably will be as entertaining as the average zombie-survival. But since I only reward rare video games with a purchase, and I enjoy crowd mentality, I will probably take part in this subcultural event.

You might say I'm just another hype zombie. I prefer to look at myself as a fake one choosing to blend in with the crowd chanting along with the real zombies for culture... but there really is no difference.

[1] To put that into context, I generally don't purchase video games of any kind, and I don't think I've even played non-social video games since I broke my foot two years ago and borrowed Starcraft (which I love). This is not to say that I normally spend most of my time outdoors or at the gym or doing any kind of activity. When my foot isn't broken I am usually out weakening it pub-crawling. Any alone time I have is usually spent in cyberspace doing this stuff, reading essays or watching youtube. Even when I do play video games it's usually borrowed from someone who's had it for ten years or bootlegged it on the shady.

[2] I was slightly confused when some people were actually pissed when they inevitably found that the film indeed did suck. Wasn't that the point? It's called Snakes on a Plane! Did you think they were gonna sneak Casablanca on you?

No comments: