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November 20, 2008

does it detract from its value?

alan commented on the bike/guitar hero link saying that an ad company had admitted to making the clip.

a gaming blog, gamecyte.com, responded to critics by posing this question:

"If a company produces a legitimately awesome piece of art in the vein of user generated content, does its less-than-humble origin detract from its value?"

what do you think? what does "in the vein of" mean in this context? does it mean "pretending to be"? is this like lonelygirl?

as the lines begin to blur between "reality" and "fiction", how does our perception of "intention" play into this? is this about ethics?

talk to me...

activision responds

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Comments (64)

You're sounding very professory to me...

From Ze: Spit out your gum, young lady.

Posted by: meghan at November 20, 2008 8:39 PM

I don't really get the "in the vein" part but I image it to mean something like "posing to be" user generated.

Overall, this was an awesome video that obviously took some work an planning. That should be recognized and appreciated. This form of advertising is much better than tradition banner ads or pop-ups because it is art, and it is entertainment.

In a way similar to the art of producing an amazing Superbowl commercial, I think that the intention was to entertain first, and market after. And that is an intention that I like.

Posted by: JMO at November 20, 2008 8:42 PM

Intention has always been a part of the art world; more credit is given to higher intention usually. Something could be horrible but if a person spent 10 years on it, then the intention itself gave the work value. I think it's different for everybody, part ethical.

To me, it doesn't force itself on anybody the way billboards, commercials or branding do, intruding/polluting into our environment and mind; we watched it because we wanted to, we spread it around because we wanted to. The line between reality and fiction, to me, blur when a fiction is forced into our reality and is said to be the same.

(From Ze: Interesting. Although if I receive 50 emails in a day telling me to check out a video, from people who believe this is an example of fanboy art, and therefore interesting as an example of a particular kind of counter culture, how is that less intrusive than a billboard? especially if this was the very phenomena that the agency intended.)

Posted by: Louisa Nicholson at November 20, 2008 9:01 PM

It doesn't detract from the value of the art, so much as feel like deception. Creative videos and memes are awesome, particularly when they are grass-roots, but it feels dirty to have something that shallowly reflects a DIY aesthetic. It's paying a lot of money to look low-quality and homemade. Real user-generated content is far more exciting than something that is corporation-generated.

There's also the part where they're trying to sell me more stuff I don't need for their gain, instead of some fanboy making the video for love of the game. It has value as entertainment, but making people think their peers made something wonderful instead of that something being produced out of a vast amount of money invested in market research to turn a profit off kids like me just makes me feel used and sad.

(From Ze: you start by saying that it doesn't detract from the value of the art, but that it feels you leaving deceived. How are you defining the value of this work outside of the way it makes you - or anyone else - feel?)

Posted by: courtle at November 20, 2008 9:02 PM

If an individual (or a group) produces awesome content, the individual (or group) should be praised for how awesome it is. Examples* of awesome content created by individuals include The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (radio show, books), The Show with ZeFrank (daily video project), the Mona Lisa (painting), and The Royal Tenenbaums (film)**.

If a company produces awesome content, the company should be praised for how awesome it is. Examples of awesome content created by companies include Audiosurf (game), Deep Blue (chess computer), the Statue of Liberty (monument), and Home Movies (television show).

Awesomeness is a subjective trait, and can vary based on time. Origins of content actually have very little impact on the awesomeness of the content. If content looks like it was created by an individual, but was instead created by a company, it has the quality of "looking like it was made by an individual," which should be considered, and "being made by a company," which should not affect the awesomeness.

In this scenario, it was totally awesome to see a group of individuals paint dots on the ground and synchronize lights on a bicycle to music. It is also awesome that a company thought of this idea, decided it was awesome, and hired individuals to act out the parts of the idea. Both the individual that seemed to create this content and the company that actually created it had to first create the idea, evaluate the awesomeness, decide it was awesome enough to be produced, and then produce the final awesome content.

In short, a creation's awesomeness does not depend on who created it, but the qualities of the object itself. The creator should then be praised for the awesomeness of the creation.


*Awesomeness is a subjective trait. Examples may vary. Be sure to consult your physician should problems occur.

**It seems important to note that not all awesome content produced by individuals include the word "the" in the title. This is merely a coincidence.

(From Ze: What about a scenario in which the "awesomeness" is not the thing, but the narrative behind the thing? And what about "not so awesome" things? if the video had been less good would you feel the same way?)

Posted by: FadedOasis at November 20, 2008 9:15 PM

It's way more impressive if some guy with a camcorder creates something like this than an ad company with a 4 digit budget.

Also: perception. A fan who comes up with a tribute seems inspired, while the same tribute coming from a paid ad company might seem forced.

(From Ze: This hints at something beyond the content itself. There is a story that is being told - in the description on youtube - the poster said "you have no idea how many time it took to do this" - for me, imagining this sequence of events is as much part of the piece as is the final video, and there is a jarring effect when i have to include a catering truck, a gaffer into that imagined story)

Posted by: zxo at November 20, 2008 9:18 PM

This is a bit different than lonelygirl in that she was a series posing as justanotheryoutuber (at least, initially). Bike Hero is just an awesome concept, well executed and highly entertaining.

If the point to the 2-dot-oh is that it makes things equal for everyone, it doesn't seem fair to hold a video's "less-than-humble" origins against it. It's like that scene in Chasing Amy where Joey Lauren Adams explains how she, a lesbian, ended up with Ben Affleck, a dude.

(From Ze: I agree. One thing that makes this particular video a more difficult example is that in my opinion it could have worked as a glossy TV commercial. However i do think that there is some posturing going on here, much in the same way as the justanotheryoutuber effect)

Posted by: poploser at November 20, 2008 9:22 PM

I think it's a combination of things.
Mainly, people simply don't like being lied to. It's patronising when ad companies try to start "astroturf" campaigns because they think people will ignore a more corporate message. It feels a little like when you were a kid, and adults tried to act "cool" by copying your mannerisms.

But there's no need for it if they're genuinely producing something awesome. People still loved the Honda Cog advert even though it was obviously made by a large company; it was still hugely impressive.

But I also think a lot of people just assume that if a big company produced it it was therefore really easy. As if computers just automagically do these things for them, thereby making the effort involved not "real". Sure, they may have a lot of resources and help to do it, but so do the people who build skyscrapers. It shouldn't make the end product any less impressive.

(From Ze: Agreed. It feels a little like brands are afraid of tying commerce to creativity. There is a great story in saying: brand x funded a group of people to create a crazy video. but instead we just get the narrative: a group of people made a crazy video.)

Posted by: David M at November 20, 2008 9:22 PM

I think this is the production company equivalent of slumming. The could have made a proper title card. Instead they just scribbled on paper like a commoner.

(From Ze: Ha! Slumming...But isn't simplicity the aesthetic of the times? I agree that it is in these moments - the title card, the writing on the hands - that we are most exposed to the question - "was this a choice, or was this a necessity?". But it's a tough call to say that advertisers should all conform to certain level of production value, isn't it?)

Posted by: Eliot at November 20, 2008 9:22 PM

I think "in the vein of" here means "presented as." And therein lies the problem: the standard human response to discovering deception, e.g. finding out that a cool video wasn't spontaneous independent stuff but rather a corporate project, is rejection and anger. The viewer feels betrayal.

But that's not a nuanced view, and it can end up throwing out a lot of neat stuff. A lot of music (pre-20th) was commissioned music--just as this video was commissioned art. Personally, while I am a bit uncomfortable with being deceptively sold something, I think that cool things are cool and ought to be recognized as such. The video was awesome, and it retains that quality regardless of who did it.

(From Ze: For me this brings up the question: Do we appreciate content differently when it is couched within the context of DIY? Or maybe - to what extent is a piece of content dependent on that context to be successful? In this case it sounds like you are saying that the quality of the piece isn't all that dependent on it being made by an amateur. In that case wasn't the decision to pretend that it was - by omission - unnecessary? )

Posted by: TBD at November 20, 2008 9:40 PM

Short answer: Yes.

Longer answer: It's not that it's a commercial, it's that it's a hidden commercial. It's not the art, it's the ruse.

Newspapers figured this out a long time ago. That's why they put ADVERTISEMENT at the top of the page when an ad could be mistaken for genuine content.

The thing these marketeers constantly miss is that, had it been labeled an ad, people would still have talked about it, linked to it, enjoyed it. It's only their ad-man inferiority complex that make them dress up an ad in "user-generated" clothing.

One thing pretending to be another is always a betrayal of trust.

(From Ze: So how can companies avoid the betrayal, but still capture the essence of amateur content?)

Posted by: Derek Powazek at November 20, 2008 9:52 PM

Admit it, you really liked the Honda Accord advert with the Rube Goldberg-style machine.

FWIW: So long as nobody is actually lying about where it comes from, I don't see what the problem is.

(From Ze: Is there such a thing as lying by omission?)

Posted by: Pseudonym at November 20, 2008 9:52 PM

I was just talking about this with my friend today--because I noticed on youtube some of the commenters were saying "viral marketing" dismissively, as if the thing had no value anymore.

And my friend was glad, he said, because that shows that intention matters. I know there's something to that. Some of the stupidest youtube videos are the most beautiful because there're no special effects, flash, or..well, talent, really...masking the maker's pure, simple desire to create something wonderful. And because of that, the thing they create has more value to me, anyway, than 99% of the blockbusters Hollywood churns out like sausages.

On the other hand, I don't like the idea that we should begin to dismiss things out of hand because the creator's intentions aren't purely...artisitc? Think of how much we would lose if we did. How many "classic" and culturally significant and beautiful films has Hollywood churned out like sausages over the years?

More importantly, say we do work for some stupid advertising firm that creates marketing campaigns for soulless corporations that seem to suck the life and humanity out of everything. And say our firm presents us with the task of selling the most sinisterly addictive video game ever devised. The thing about the "we" in this hypothetical situation is that "we" are not soulless, life-sucking corporations, but people, capable of being beautiful, and the awesomeness of this video is evidence of that. And maybe, in that respect, it is like those horribly made beautiful youtube videos--because it gives us a glimpse of the pure and simple desire the makers have to create things that are awesome.

I like that people are calling this what it is. I like that we recognize when someone is trying to sell us something--because someone is always trying to sell us something. But we don't have to buy any of it.

(From Ze: Oh, I like this. If I get what you are saying - We are constantly casting about, looking for signs of what it means to be human - things that are genuine in some way, without a hidden intention. That is the beauty of this social age - there are gems in the smallest gestures. This sort of video holds the promise of some sort of inspiration, glee...and we are betrayed when we find out that there are other motives involved. Is that it?)

Posted by: toastedsuzy at November 20, 2008 9:53 PM

For me it changes the value. It is a really cool idea, but it was impressive in a crazy way that some guys and their friends would create this for nothing more than the creative joy of doing it (and maybe a few ad hits if they hosted it at a blog).

But when this (admittedly good) idea is funded by a major company rather than out of pocket, and its intent is to sell the game instead of be an awesome tribute, than the value changes.

I dont know if it goes down, because many commercials are fantastic works of art and entertainment, but it is different.

I think for me it changes because it loses alot of its inspirational aspect. Some user generated content makes you stand up and say "wow, if they can do that, I wonder what I am capable of." But a well funded ad loses that touch. But in its loss of amateur status it gains respect for being spot on. The designer of this add knew exactly what the internet wanted and it gave it to them. The hallmark of a perfect ad and to be respected in its own right.

(From Ze: Yes. I think you are right. A crucial component behind this DIY culture and the way we appreciate it, is the way that we insert ourselves into the narrative - as you pointed out. Maybe realizing that it is part of something much larger crushes a certain dream we have about ourselves?)

Posted by: Joshua Rothhaas at November 20, 2008 10:13 PM

I think that companies need to be upfront about the fact that they created something or else you're left with a slight feeling of betrayal when they finally admit it.

That said, I'm ALL FOR companies making stuff like this. Not only is it genuinely cool art, but hopefully it comes from a genuine place in the makers' hearts - meaning, that the people who work for the company actually enjoy their own products.

(From Ze: Maybe we should write a collaborative ethical primer on advertising.)

Posted by: Robin at November 20, 2008 10:14 PM

This video is a fantastic idea, and isn't that the whole idea of advertising agencies in the first place? They got hired because brands were looking for a great idea that they couldn't come up with on their own. They were supposed to be a hotbed of creativity that came up with nothing but life changing ideas. In the end it's nothing more than something that people want to watch. End of story.

(From Ze: Really? Surely there are some constraints on making awesome content.)

Posted by: Greg Rutter at November 20, 2008 10:18 PM

I think... a large part of what makes such videos "awesome", what makes them so entertaining, is cultural resonance. The video says, "Guitar Hero is so great, it inspired me to create this tribute." The viewer finds the video awesome because (a) he's moved by the creator's emotions, this inspiration and dedication, and (b) this resonates with the viewer's own feelings about Guitar Hero -- he feels that others understand him, that he's part of the "Guitar Hero club".

A video that was produced on contract misrepresents both (a) the creator's emotions, and (b) the size of the club.

I think this matters because a culture assigns value to art according to how much it inspires people, and how many people it inspires. The video falsely inflates Guitar Hero's inspiringness. It makes it seem as if Guitar Hero is more valuable to the culture than it actually is.

The video is entertaining, but it represents (in a small way) a culture lying to itself about its emotions and values, about what's important and what's not. To me, that's a steep price for entertainment.

(From Ze: For the advertising to be effective, i would say that (b) would have to be re-framed as: a club exists, is vibrant, I'm not in it, but I want to be a part of it. If it just resonated with people that were already in the club it wouldn't do much to drive sales. I think that your argument still holds up, though - that it is a misrepresentation about the nature of this club. What is interesting to me is that a lot of traditional advertising relies on both (a) and (b). Nike has a commercial where they feature a free-runner / parkour guy running around a landscape in free-runner shoes made by Nike. What makes the ad compelling to me is that I dream about both (a) and (b). In this dream there is this excitement, there is a club...but i also know that it is a dream. Perhaps what makes the guitar hero piece different is that it implies a reality, when in fact it is just another dream?)

Posted by: worrydream at November 20, 2008 10:27 PM

I don't think it detracts. It remains cool because they made a cool thing. It wouldn't be cool if they cheated in making it though (say, used cg for the coloured circles or something) because then its a lie and a lot less awesome :P

(From Ze: Were the colored lights on the bike done in post?)

Posted by: Annabelle at November 20, 2008 10:39 PM

Well, I have a tendency to feel deceived and manipulated when they get sneaky like this. But the fact is, "they" (the marketeers, the ad-men) have been sneaky and manipulative for a long time. Look at smoking in movies. Was it ever natural for people to smoke as much as they did in those old movies? They have tried to make ads blend in to regular life and entertainment as seamlessly as possible for years. As a result of finding this out, I am distrustful of fads, of corporations, of government even. It is hard to know if you really like a thing on its own merit anymore or whether you have just been told by the advertising that you like it.

Aside from my feelings about it (and sorry for the overly-dramatic rant), I think there is a place for this kind of advertising (ads can be cool), but why try to pass it off as user generated content? Why not be straightforward and let people know it is an ad? Why the deception?

(From Ze: What is the most minimal way that they could have alerted you that it was an ad?)

Posted by: steph at November 20, 2008 10:45 PM

not really, but when your post questions whether it is made by a marketing agency or a fanboy, it forces a comparison of the two and you almost immediately have to side with the fanboy because he could almost be seen as an underdog.

For me it invokes thoughts about whether the lunar landing was real... maybe it wasn't, is that any less impressive, I mean even if it was fake, it is still a nice piece of pop culture.

(From Ze: try telling that to a NASA engineer :)

Posted by: bob at November 20, 2008 10:59 PM

I greatly dislike viral marketing. It can be fun sometimes, (I thought that the Cloverfield stuff was a great treasure hunt) but most of the time it leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth. It feels to much like a con.

It seems the company's intention is to trick potential customers into thinking that genuinely creative and ambitious people are crazy about their product, and when I discover it's just another add, I feel disappointed.

This really backfired when Sony tried viral marketing with their site alliwantforxmasisapsp. Instead of selling a very cool toy, it just insulted their current customers and made their company look like a joke.

Commercials like the one we just saw would be better presented as just that: A clever commercial. Trying to take it viral just adds on more baggage then is necessary.

A lot of viral marketing can come off as very annoying and personally I'd like to see less of it. In this case the ad was very clever and fun. I enjoyed it, but the fact that it was presented in this way did detract from it, imo.

Posted by: pbij at November 20, 2008 11:13 PM

I think it's fine.

To me it's like eating a piece of chicken (if you eat meat), and you say that you enjoy it. Then you're told it was raised in a factory farm instead of pastured and humanely raised. If you don't intentionally eat factory farm meat, does that change your enjoyment? Maybe you're more wary before partaking in some chicken next time, but that has no bearing on whether you'd like the flavor.

Posted by: Daniel at November 20, 2008 11:34 PM

I can see where you are coming from but I think that the circumstances of creation are important when it comes to "user" generated content.

We get a warm glowy feeling from the thought that some poor shmo just like us, generally with limited resources, got excited enough about something to put that kind of effort into it. The video is made more awesome by virtue of its authenticity and passion.

When it turns out that it was just some well paid ad guy trying to be clever for a client, it's not the same and we (ok, I at least) just feel a little cheated.

I don't hate ads (I really don't hate the Heidi Klum ad for GH), I just don't care for fraud.

Posted by: singo the dingo at November 20, 2008 11:35 PM

The bike video was awesome hands down. But if I was told it was made by a bunch of college kids for thrills, I'd be a lot more impressed. There's all sorts of work that goes into making such an elaborate play like that. An ad company would have all the resources for it, or atleast, it would've been a lot more accesible to them.

What if the Mona Lisa was a collaboration? I'm sure it's value would lessen tremendously.

Posted by: Vyaas at November 20, 2008 11:56 PM

No. In the vein of has been the heart and soul of art for millenia... in the vein is emulation. Emulation is almost imitation, but with the added element of craft. This isn't about ethics... this is about directed and focus marketing. It's about making something for a specific audience in a specific context with a specific look and feel... and then doing it well. Which takes research, knowledge and skill.

Ain't nuthin' wrong with that. Saying there is is like watching the Wonder Years and getting pissed off that they really did a good job making it feel like the 60's even though it was filmed decades later.

Posted by: gifa at November 20, 2008 11:57 PM

In the vein = coopting.

I agree that ads like this are more entertaining and the viral thing feels a little more 'consensual" to me... we're telling our friends to watch it, instead of it interrupting our other media.

On the other hand, it just feels creepy to imagine the execs who paid for researchers to quantify exactly what makes a "fanboy vid" work and "engineered" those qualities into an ad intended to simulate individual or small group creativity, just to get "in the vein"s of our youth culture.

Posted by: Kendra PJ at November 21, 2008 12:19 AM

By "in the vein of" they mean "genre" but it seems they forgot that nice little word.

The fact that this video was made with corporate backing and an advertizing budget makes it self aggrandizement, rather than being the lovechild of some kids who are paying homage. This does cause it to leave a bitter aftertaste.

Yes, ethics come into play - and yes the lines are blurry; maybe the ad team that made it really did do it for love - and it made them money. It's a really clever idea, so does money make it disingenuous? Only in that it's a counterfeit of the genre, which, though it may have been created out of true love, it's in the vein of disingenuousness.


Posted by: jeano at November 21, 2008 12:37 AM

There is a difference between harmless pretending and lying. When you make a video with the intention to influence people (advertisement) you're crossing the boundary of pretending. I think that's a bad thing because there are a lot of people who will not be able to distinguish the two.

Posted by: Manfred Stienstra at November 21, 2008 1:49 AM

In the vein of.... authentic creative and artistic spirit, the lifeblood of which is a desire to create, and/or be ingenious (amongst other things) before that desire we feel for material satisfaction.

I think there is no clear way through the media-maze of contemporary capitalist society if one is going to unabashedly adhere to a predetermined set of values as to what is, and what is not.

I do not mean to imply that one can not have a vigorous set of values which they adhere to. More so, I think that pieces of work such as this are the result of genuine creativity, on a certain level.

The same type of questions have been posed to many musicians who have used their work for commercials. While they were initially labeled as sell outs, I think this uncritical viewpoint has begun to disappear as people realize that there does not always have to be a negative association.

Having said that, some forms of creative media and art associated with shitbag companies dont earn my respect, but I take things on a case by case basis.

just my .02

Posted by: Poot at November 21, 2008 1:51 AM

If the video had been made by some kids who knew each other from school, on the streets where they live, on a budget built of yardwork, it's more impressive than if it was made by a group of people from around the country who have been college-educated in marketing, on a much higher budget.
It's also easier to relate to: we think it's something we could do ourselves with a little ingenuity and elbow grease.

And, yes, there is an ethical bit to it: they lied to us*, lying is wrong, they are therefore bad people, bad people make bad things...value is now lower. If they have to lie to sell their product, the product must not be very good.

All that makes it sound like I don't like the video now that its less-than-humble origins are known, but that's not the case. Maybe it's because when I saw the video the first time I assumed it wasn't "homemade", but I don't care about all of that, and just think it's a cool commercial.
If it weren't so long, it would have been a great traditional TV commercial.

*Yes, "in the vein of" does mean "pretending to be", and "pretending to be" does mean "lying". Their intent was to deceive.

Posted by: RunningFool at November 21, 2008 2:19 AM

I think it's just a matter of deception. If that video had a little tagline on the bottom that it was an ad for Rockstar I would have thought "Wow Rockstar made an awesome ad!" and forwarded it to my friends.

When it comes across as an independent thing that looks a little too staged, I stop thinking about it being awesome, try to figure out if it's "real", and don't pass it along as I don't want to look like a chump when the story breaks in 2 days.

People don't have much of an aversion to watching something they know is an ad, heck people will go to websites devoted to superbowl ads if they're funny. But they do have an aversion to feeling duped.

Lead in with an official title screen, or a put a little disclaimer at the bottom, then everyone knows what's going on and they can just enjoy an awesome video for its merit instead of being suspicious about its origin.


Posted by: Brendan at November 21, 2008 2:23 AM

Overall, I agree with JMO. It was a cool video, and I appreciate the effort (though I can't quite comprehend the methods) that went into making it. I thought that it had pretty high production values for a non-sponsored thing, but it was definitely not as obviously an advertisement as that Heidi-Klum-or-whoever-in-her-undies playing Guitar Hero thing that came out a couple weeks ago.

Quality of entertainment aside, should this kind of viral marketing be prefaced in the same way political ads are as a sort of consumer protection?

"I'm Guitar Hero, and I approve this message"

I would argue that they shouldn't, since it strikes me as an unnecessary regulation that would detract from the potential entertainment value of the piece. However, companies should be forthcoming about their role in these sorts of things. The cell-phone popcorn hoax (perpetrated by a bluetooth headset vendor) was irresponsible and dishonest.

To sum up, I don't think that there should be any drastic changes in the law to account for viral video marketing, but consumers should be educated about the techniques and should hold dishonest companies accountable for their advertising, whatever its forms.

For the record, I don't think Activision did anything out of line with the bike stunt.

Posted by: IanB at November 21, 2008 2:28 AM

I would remove my twinges of unease if they'd make it clear that it was paid for, but it's still awesome.

Posted by: ken at November 21, 2008 2:37 AM

The word 'intention' comes to mind. Were they sitting around at a table wondering how to squeeze something into our minds? (which I seriously doubt) Or did someone within the company have an independent desire to create something valuable in more than an advertising sense?

Either way, I think it's cool, and they went all the way with it. I think that it should be considered content, in which case advertising (for once) has succeeded.

Posted by: Brian at November 21, 2008 2:46 AM

The short answer:
Yes, its intent skews the public’s trust for reward.

The long answer:
In the last eight years of, ‘it’s every man for himself,’ a good question might be, what has happen to Truth in Advertising? Nearly every advertised product makes some sort of clam that it will make you quicker, younger, better, thinner, richer, happier … All consumers need a healthy dose of skepticism when it comes to, unfortunately, everything. The two rules of thumb we must apply in our post-modern era; If it’s too good to be true it probably is, and its counter part; There’s a sucker born every minute.

Ultimately, in a free society consumers must take an active roll guarding the differences between the truth and the lie. In this case, albeit relatively harmless, it’s clear the line has been crossed, but should serve as a reminder how Consumer Laws have been eroded or ignored to the point that advertisers have decided to take the aggressive Enron approach; make money now with little care towards the public’s perceptions and perhaps the companies they serve; line walkers. It’s a clever gimmick, but not endearing.

Advertising has always been the black sheep in the family of art or if you prefer, your rich uncle, and the public knows this so well that Advertiser has decided to take a less sophisticated route to become more sophisticated by appealing to a demographic that hates Advertising; slight of hand deception and the flavor of the day.

This particular commercial, like the fake Gatorade Catch, are meant to appeal to the low level viewer. I call this form of advertising shock and/or awe; the War of the Worlds with product placement, but Advertisers have always exploited popular and traditional culture to reach their target audience. i.e. Rap and Cherry Coke, Monsanto’s Round Up, and even our own government’s deceptive practices; the Bush Administration’s Fake News Medical Report and Climate Change.

With the emergence of You Tube, poor production home videos are ‘in.’ A point of historical reference might be the Blair Witch Project, though the concept to deceive consumers in the US dates to the traveling Medicine Show; a slim shift in consciousness and product.

What is most important I think is that the public must be aware of the millions of dollars Advertising spends lobbying Congress to keep our noses out of their business. Advertisers have a loyalty to the company they represent first and the laws protecting consumers handled by the increasing size of their legal departments; sign of the times. Regardless of your political stance, propaganda, and advertising is a form of propaganda, can be one of the most destructive forces in any society.

Advertisers, like adolescents, will try their best to blur the lines of consumer protection to sell their product, eventually one will cause harm in this particular vain and the FCC will catch up and initiate controls; a required logo perhaps and a paragraph on the wiki.

Why I think this is a bit of a big deal? Because it suspends public trust, which may make the firm a pot load of money now and a nice add to the list of names served on their web site, but it also breeds contempt from a weary public towards good and responsible corporations that have something of value to sell.

The bottom line is, no one likes to be lied to and everyone wants the punch line to the joke :)

Posted by: nader at November 21, 2008 2:55 AM

Watching the clip, I was amazed (and dubious) that an individual/small group of friends was responsible. So reading that an ad company made the clip wasn't that surprising yet I experienced a twinge of disappointment. Maybe it's the Obama effect, but I think I was hoping that it was the work of a super fan geek boy. While I still appreciate the creativity and effort involved, knowing it was produced by an agency changes my perception because it does speak to intention: Promotion vs. fan adoration/inspiration. Does the end ("a legitimately awesome piece of art") justify the means?

Posted by: jen at November 21, 2008 3:45 AM

I always thought that it funny how often our view points on this type of subject contradict each other.

On one hand people who get really upset when marketers use a viral video style of advertizing. They attack things like the bike/hero video saying that since it wasn't done as a personal collaboration between average people, it is no longer a valid form of art or creativity. Yet so often we hear people complain about the lack of creative content in advertizing.

In some respects I must agree that since this wasn't done by someone who wasn’t being paid with incredible ambition and innovation, and instead was done by an advertizing department, it does cheapen the experience I get from watching it. However I feel we can still appreciate the work it took to create this.

In recent years our culture has labelled marketing, specifically advertising, in such a negative way that we can't just sit back and judge works like this on creativity and ingenuity. Instead we only see how companies are trying to sell us. Maybe we shouldn’t focus so much on the ‘who’ but instead on the ‘what’ and then we would be able to simply enjoy it.

Posted by: Harland at November 21, 2008 4:34 AM

Normally this stuff bugs me, but this one is so awesome that I just don't care. I suspected as much just from the sheer amount of effort and organisation put into it.

Last week a company built this giant chair tree sculpture next to my building at uni. I hoped it was art, but found out it was for an ad. Still awesome, still a huge effort from the people who made it.

Posted by: crumpet at November 21, 2008 4:41 AM

I don't see any problem whatsoever.

Consider all the great sculptures, paintings, architecture, mosaics, cloths, etc that we have... how many of them were made purely for the sake of the thing itself.
Now, to distinguish, I'm not talking about the work of art itself. I mean, Holbein wasn't paid to do his paintings for the sake of expressing anything other than the subject of his painting. But the reason he created it was because he was paid to do it.
So, the reason why a piece of art was created does not detract from the art-work itself. Art is an end in itself - the very point of art is that we are presented with something directly perceivable which prompts an emotional response. It is constructed in such a way to produce an emotion, in someone who recognises that construction as standing for something.
You don't look at it, look for an explanation and go 'Ooooh'. The expalanation might help you appreciate it, by pointing out things in the work of art you missed, but you have to appreciate them in the work of art itself.
So if it turns out it was created for commercial purposes, it doesn't matter, because art appreciation has nothing to do with anything before or after or outside the work of art itself. It's a timeless monolith, standing on its own, in its own universe, requiring no explanation except itself.

Posted by: Rory at November 21, 2008 5:20 AM

It's a no brainer to me.
OF COURSE it makes a difference. It makes a huge difference.

We weren't only appreciating the "artistic value" of the video which - I concede - remains intact, but also the RESOURCES required to put it together.

The though of one guy and his mates investing endless hours and good cash for no other purpose except to share this with you and me is a wonderfully entertaining (and inspiring) thought.

Knowing that this was not only NOT the case, but that there was a deliberate attempt at DECEIVING you and me into thinking otherwise is profoundly uncool.

Posted by: Matan at November 21, 2008 6:23 AM

(This is a little rambly)

I think there are two reasons people react badly to 'commercially generated' viral pieces - one of which is legitimate, the other is slightly unfounded.

I'll start with the latter.

There is a belief that advertising agencies (the source of the majority of 'fake'-viral marketing media - a concept which in itself is slightly sideways*) have unlimited source of funds - certainly compared to the amateur alternatives this is true. On the other hand commercial agencies spend the majority of their budgets on investigation (one might call it active browsing), proposals (effort put in to winning - and losing - accounts), and that 'rework' time which is essentially trying to get one side of a bridge (achievable developments within budget/timeframe) to meet with another (client expectations). Viral marketing campaigns are cost effective from a production perspective, but difficult to get buy in from the client. There is possibly as much chance of a paid-for youtube spot getting picked up by the public as there is Ronald Jenkees (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoFurLevE28). [That guy rocks and you all you do yourselves a favour by checking him out]. Ronald Jenkees is an amateur by design. He is paid-for, but not an ad.

Indeed - It's no accident that you enjoy a piece of viral marketing when it does blow up - because while both paid-for and amateur works can make it into the mass media there is something about both, when successful, which innately appeal. Even if only fleetingly - at the point in time that they hit. Yet one is considered accidental the other intentional.

Which leads to the main issue- the one which holds grounds - is the intent.

I feel duped after having played with subservient chicken or watched SuperGreg to discover their origins are less than 'legitimate' - that I am not giggling at the plight of some schmuck but am instead being induced to giggle - for the sake of some brand.

There is a distinct sensation that the work is from a factory - all of a sudden I have not been enjoying the organic produce of the internet - but some synthetic prototype, whose sole aim is to distract me long enough that it can sneak through my defenses and apply its commercial messages directly to my brain.

In essence the same piece of work could be either amateur or professional - either free or paid for (most people never knew, for instance, that SuperGreg was the work of Levis) - it's only in the discovery that the work was 'fake' that there is a feeling of deception - on an emotional level.

The primary issue which our emotional perception of these pieces is hidden the terms I have used to describe them. Amateur need not be Free, Professional need to be paid. Because a viral element has been funded does not mean it has been sponsored. Because it has been sponsored does not mean it is an ad. Because it is an ad does not mean it is not amusing - and ultimately, isn't that the point of there pieces? By definition they are blips - easy pills to be consumed and passed on. It's Peyote vs LSD. It's Accident vs Design. Ultimately it puts their viewer in the same place and so long as it can achieve this without breaking the wall (pushing it's agenda so strongly that it interferes with it's appeal) - then I have no issue with swallowing the pill.


*surely if something is viral - ie, if you feel the need to pass it on and want others to partake in the enjoyment of watching/playing/witnessing the piece of work, then it IS viral. Not fake. Not fabricated. It may have come from a lab but it can be as effective as home-grown viral works.

Posted by: rumoko at November 21, 2008 7:27 AM

Marketers have been, to quote Igby Goes Down, pissing in the well from which they drink. Our environment is saturated with commercial messages and they have lost nearly all meaning, while degrading our surroundings. In this sense, videos like guitar hero bike are an improvement from this, because at least they offer something novel, watchable, and in this case, very clever.
But in another sense, this type of marketing is just an advancement of the same problem, this time threatening to pollute a realm that was previously trustworthy: web2.0. User-generated content, let's be realistic, has never been pure, and marketing therein will not be a cataclysm. But the videos are at least disingenuous. They rely on misconception, posing as the work of an amateur, and seeking to enjoy the currency of charm, achievement, and credibility that an amateur -- not an ad agency -- would deserve.

Posted by: danny at November 21, 2008 7:54 AM

I saw the link from waxy, who thought it was suspicious (yet cool) from the get go. I thought it was cool, but had to wonder how the hell they could keep the bike speed constant, for one.

Am I shocked or betrayed or disappointed now that I know it was a ruse? No. I do think there's a certain irony in spending a bunch of money to make something look like (practically) no money was spent on it.

I've seen the flipside of this, where awesome and/or weird stuff is doubted from the get-go, like Sonseed or Fred and Sharon. In both of those cases I've seen Metafilter detectives take the trouble to contact these people and prove that yes, they're for real.

Posted by: oscar at November 21, 2008 8:40 AM


What's different is that on one case... it's like a gift.

When you look at as user generated content, it's like someone has handed you a bright shiny apple from their orchard. It was from their first crop. They planted the tree. They had a vision of growing something. There's something sort of ... unsullied and beautiful about it. It's like a happy, "look what I made. Cool eh?"

When you look at it as a product of marketing, it's the same apple... The same stuff (creativity-wise) went into it. And that is still beautiful. But suddenly it's part of a marketing awareness/desire exercise. It's suddenly feels like a big grocery store and the same apple is for sale. It's still juicy and crisp. Appealing. But different. It's no longer a gift since there is an agenda behind it.

I don't really think it affects its intrinsic worth, but it changes how it is received and it changes your heart-reaction a little--even though it is still beautiful and creative. And even though the same vision may have gone into its creation.

Posted by: ingrid at November 21, 2008 9:55 AM

Yeah, it detracts. Not a lot mind you, but it detracts. You want to believe it was a handful of kids cutting out buttloads of colored construction-paper circles after school and putting together this video in a fit of artistry.

Instead you find out it's a multi-million dollar company hired to make another multi-million dollar company look good.

It eliminates the cool background story, even if it was just imagined. The artistry is still present, and it's still awesome, but not *as* awesome.

Posted by: limbodog at November 21, 2008 9:59 AM

I can't say whether these particular means (an awesome-but-dishonest video) ethically justifies this particular end (marketing Guitar Hero), but I do notice an implicit assumption in some of the posts here: "the video would have more value if it was made by individuals instead of an ad company."

The ad company is not a monolithic lump. It's made up of people. Whatever the intentions behind it, every part of the video is the product of someone's creativity and effort. An individual or a group of advertisers came up with the idea, and another group of people put in all the labor necessary to execute it.

It's true that these marketers had more money and resources at their disposal than amateurs would have, as a few people have pointed out, apparently as an argument against the video's value. Does that mean art has more intrinsic worth if the artist was constrained by squalid material deprivation? Are the ethics of this situation only about dishonesty and motives, or are they also about the conditions under which the video was produced? Would an advertising video made for profit by a struggling small business be worth more or less than a spontaneous not-for-profit video made by rich kids with lots more money to spend on it?

Posted by: Isaac at November 21, 2008 10:49 AM

When I thought "the show with ze frank," was just one person I was blown away. But once I realized he had an entire soup of people working on it like J.J., hands, and the bobo twins, it became less awesome because the ability to make something awesome with a whole group of people is so much easier than doing it by yourself.

So when I watch the bike video the first time I think how lucky he is that the car didn't block his path as he crosses the street, how amazing it is that he can keep in time to the song, that someone was able to light the fire on the street right before he gets there.

But after the big reveal I look at it and say, the second AD cued the driver of the car to cross at the right time, the fire is a digital effect, and is that even a bicycle, or is it a camera dolly with handle bars on it?

On a side note I think it's pretty cool that there were so many comments on this topic, and that Ze gave me a shout out at the beginning. Now that's awesome.

Posted by: alan at November 21, 2008 12:08 PM

Did anybody actually think this wasn't done by a company? It had "produced" written all over it.

(From Ze: Apparently yes. People who are not in companies increasingly have the tools to create things that look "produced")

Posted by: DmL at November 21, 2008 12:19 PM

A big ad agency behind it just means there's a tonne of money going into it. Everyone should be allowed to participate (in whatever this big web art culture bubble is).. it's just a pity that the little guys don't have more resources available, like the big guys do.

Posted by: Pach at November 21, 2008 1:43 PM

Of course it detracts. In two ways. It means that any other really good amateur work will be discounted because people will assume that its is faked by a big budget agency. It also furthers the decay of the value of "truth" in our societies. Truth is "anything you can get away with".

Posted by: Gerard V at November 21, 2008 1:53 PM

Frankly, the video really didn't do anything for me. I don't like video games, and I find it boring to watch other people play video games. So a video of someone's view from the handlebars of the street painted to look like a video game? Eh.
I didn't care for LonelyGirl either.
Point being, I would only begin to care about produced vs fan if I liked what I was watching
Usually I'm more positive about fun things on the interweb, sorry. Off day.

(Ze, in "...detract from it's value" there shouldn't be an apostrophe in "it's")

Posted by: Lesley at November 21, 2008 2:55 PM

Ze: "This sort of video holds the promise of some sort of inspiration, glee...and we are betrayed when we find out that there are other motives involved. Is that it?"

Well, I do agree with that to some extent--I can understand the sense of betrayal--but I think that, despite the other motives, that sense of inspiration and glee are there in this video. Whatever motivated or paid the makers of that piece to do what they did, I think that we can see the joy of creation there, and yeah, that is a way in which we can form a human connection with the makers.

I said I am glad that people call this what it is—that they recognize viral marketing, because that enables them to undermine it, and that is awesome. We should be vigilant and work to undermine the forces of lame in this world, but I don’t think--especially in a world where we are always encountering commercials, where we’re always being sold something--that the answer is to dismiss out of hand anything connected with marketing.

If we just dismiss this video, for instance, we’re rejecting that connection that happens when some brilliant people create something awesome and an audience enjoys it. We can’t do that. We can’t relinquish our own stake in the relationship between the artist and the audience. We can’t give the marketing firm complete ownership of that video—that robs the makers and the audience. That is how we allow marketing to suck the life out of everything. We are letting the lameness win if do that.

I can see why we celebrate Bill Hicks when he’s telling people in marketing to kill themselves—because people who are always “looking for an angle” make the world look stupid, heartless and inhuman. But…isn’t it inhuman and heartless to tell people to kill themselves? I’d be more inclined to tell those people to liberate themselves.

That’s what I mean when I say we don’t have to buy what they are selling. We do not have to let marketing suck the life out of everything. It seems like the best way to undermine marketing campaigns like this is to take what is real and interesting or cool or whatever out of the video and ditch the rest. We don’t have to buy it.

I mean we’re going to buy Guitar Hero World Tour, of course; let’s not be ridiculous.

I’ve been interrupted like five times while trying to write this because stupid work is stupid, so I’m … lost now.

But I’m gonna post this sucker anyways.

Posted by: toastedsuzy at November 21, 2008 3:15 PM

Ze: "This sort of video holds the promise of some sort of inspiration, glee...and we are betrayed when we find out that there are other motives involved. Is that it?"

Well, I do agree with that to some extent--I can understand the sense of betrayal--but I think that, despite the other motives, that sense of inspiration and glee are there in this video. Whatever motivated or paid the makers of that piece to do what they did, I think that we can see the joy of creation there, and yeah, that is a way in which we can form a human connection with the makers.

I said I am glad that people call this what it is—that they recognize viral marketing, because that enables them to undermine it, and that is awesome. We should be vigilant and work to undermine the forces of lame in this world, but I don’t think--especially in a world where we are always encountering commercials, where we’re always being sold something--that the answer is to dismiss out of hand anything connected with marketing.

If we just dismiss this video, for instance, we’re rejecting that connection that happens when some brilliant people create something awesome and an audience enjoys it. We can’t do that. We can’t relinquish our own stake in the relationship between the artist and the audience. We can’t give the marketing firm complete ownership of that video—that robs the makers and the audience. That is how we allow marketing to suck the life out of everything. We are letting the lameness win if do that.

I can see why we celebrate Bill Hicks when he’s telling people in marketing to kill themselves—because people who are always “looking for an angle” make the world look stupid, heartless and inhuman. But…isn’t it inhuman and heartless to tell people to kill themselves? I’d be more inclined to tell those people to liberate themselves.

That’s what I mean when I say we don’t have to buy what they are selling. We do not have to let marketing suck the life out of everything. It seems like the best way to undermine marketing campaigns like this is to take what is real and interesting or cool or whatever out of the video and ditch the rest. We don’t have to buy it.

I mean we’re going to buy Guitar Hero World Tour, of course; let’s not be ridiculous.

I’ve been interrupted like five times while trying to write this because stupid work is stupid, so I’m … lost now.

But I’m gonna post this sucker anyways.

Posted by: toastedsuzy at November 21, 2008 3:15 PM

I like your idea of an writing a collaborative ethical advertising primer. So many methods are still uncertain in "social media marketing," and what seems like common sense to some people is not intuitive to others.

Being in marketing/communications myself (for non-profit), it would at least be a useful tool for my own office and my colleagues.

Posted by: Robin at November 21, 2008 3:44 PM

I guess the thing that makes a big difference to me, personally at least, is the resources available and thus the effort needed....

When something like this is done by an agency or company, they have certain resources at their disposal. This is their JOB to produce something like this. It's still VERY cool. The way it's filmed is really interesting. It's still fun in SO many respects. Also, the low-keyness shows that there was an attention to keeping it relatively DIY, which even from an agency is still pretty neat.

But... if you DO imagine that this was done by a bunch of kids, that illusion is so much more impressive because of the effort involved in putting this thing together. The hard work and time which are so hard to give when you have other responsibilities... well, when someone pulls THAT off, it says a lot about the person and the work they've created, don't you think? I guess that isn't the case this time, which is a shame... oh well.

I guess in a grander way of thinking of it, it becomes a way of looking at something as "a labor of love" vs. "something for work." That's not entirely true, of course. It's entirely plausible (and considering how cool the ad was, probable) that the people in the agency who created it love guitar hero quite a bit. But you wonder if there was as much sacrifice involved.

In the end? I still love it and I bet the individuals who actually had a hand in making it enjoyed the hell of it and are a bunch of good folks.

Posted by: Ghoast at November 21, 2008 3:52 PM

Yes, a corporate origin reduces the intrinsic value of the piece. Many things are considered great simply because they were created by people with limited resources and abilities. The pyramids, for example, are made greater because of the limited technology available and tremendous effort required.
Yes, the video is awesome. Being manufactured makes it less awesome. Imagine that it turns out the the video was made virtually using incredibly realistic 3D graphics. It immediately loses another bucket of cool points. Now imagine that the 3D engine was made by a 12-year-old genius in Turkey. Cool points restored!
This kind of marketing feels deceptive. It smacks of Ford's attempt to generate buzz around the Focus by paying young hotties to park them in public places and lean on them all day. It is a marketing plan clad in homespun veneer. Doing so bypasses our carefully constructed defenses to advertising. Now we must build new defenses, and in doing so will start to question or even dismiss all user generated content. What then? I certainly wouldn't have taken the time to respond to this question if I suspected that "Ze Frank" was a character designed by Go Daddy to get more people to build personal websites... uh oh.

Posted by: Hyperbolic Dan at November 21, 2008 8:03 PM

I hate it when art is marketed to me. There was this one dad who built his kids a giant mech robot treehouse based on one of the robots in the game Mechcommander. It was so cool that his kids had a giant mech madcat in their backyard.

He shot pics of himself making the thing and I really admired how creative he was with it, just as I admired how creative fanboy was with the whole bike and lights idea.

Now that I know a team created it, I am less impressed. I kept imagining how much work and thought this one inspired fan put into this creation. The wow factor went way down now that I know it's an ad.

Posted by: John P. at November 21, 2008 8:11 PM

Yes, it absolutely detracts from it's value to have been faux-realed. The Bull$%t meter runs hot these days and the only requirement to connect to a web audience is honesty. Did the ad-made viral clip really have a fan art quality?

Posted by: Shelley Noble at November 21, 2008 8:56 PM

Good questions! The Stride gum sponsored video of the guy who danced across the globe with people from all countries is a good one to apply these questions to as well.


The lines are blurred intentionally and it is hard to figure out how I feel about it. It is a compliment that marketers have an affinity for the grass rooty online pops, but just as soon as one can say "aw' the exploitation part of it kicks me in the bum.

I've considered it for a while due to the Stride vid as it made use of so many of the things I hold dear about the online community and humans in general to sell me gum. I have come to the conclusion that it is a good thing. It provides some revenue to a different kind of creative, plus if the endorsement is admitted somewhere, then it is ethical.

If a duckie had an idea and gained sponsorship to develop it at the cost of promoting a product, I would watch it and cheer them on. Might even try the product. I much prefer advertising that is creative and so what if the creativity takes the front seat? That's brilliant.

I don't complain when traditional creativity is used to market things like cooking shows and some reality shows etc. Why should I get my panties twisted when a different style is used just because I feel I have more membership in that style? There are better things to get cranky about and this kind of thing might get people who make things for the fun of it to realize a little green too.

Posted by: boo at November 22, 2008 12:37 PM

"From Ze: Interesting. Although if I receive 50 emails in a day telling me to check out a video, from people who believe this is an example of fanboy art, and therefore interesting as an example of a particular kind of counter culture, how is that less intrusive than a billboard? especially if this was the very phenomena that the agency intended."

lol Well us "normal" people don't receive that many requests for a single video in a day. But you do have the option of deleting the emails, blocking those people, not making your email public or simply not clicking on it to view it. You have choices.

Posted by: Louisa Nicholson at November 22, 2008 4:40 PM

As you implied in your comment by the video, a big part of the excitement of the clip was the scale of the thing if it was considered as an "insane fanboy creation". The idea of some kids making something that big and polished, rather than the art of the video itself, is what is enjoyable. On the other hand, a marketing department with a big ol budget and a bunch of professionals making something like that isn't really exciting at all.

For me, the the nature of the creator does not detract from the inherent art of a creation like this - a beautiful littlebigplanet ad is still beautiful if it's created by a marketing department. What is lost is the 'wow look at what someone did' factor. In this case, for me at least, it was this factor that made the video interesting. With the marketing background in mind, it's just a relatively interesting ad.

Posted by: Felix at November 22, 2008 8:40 PM

I like it. True I liked it more when I thought it was a fanboy creation.. at first. But I like advertisements as a form of art. A weird little window into our social soul.

Someone still had to have the idea, and people had to collaborate to create it.

I wonder that people aren't offended because they feel somehow foolish that they didn't see the advert for what it was.

Even if the original intent hadn't been as an ad.. it inadvertantly would have been one. Because one of the things advertising does is: look for what people are already doing, and inimate that.. then people iminate adverts, because - well, mostly cause people in adverts look cool. But they do it a little differently - so then the advertisers mimick that (etc +1)

Maybe we're collectivly offended by viral advertising because it means that regular advertising has already worked so well. If you hadn't known about or played guitar hero already, then you'd just think "woah - that kid should get a life",

but because it has a reference point, and you get it (because you already know what guitar hero is) then you have to justify it with a reference point and admit to yourself that you watch too much tv??

I don't know.. I still like it.

Posted by: Lolli at November 23, 2008 6:03 AM

The money matters.

One of the cool things about content generated by regular peeps is that generally things are done on a low budget. The creativity stems from the ideas not from the budgets.

Clearly, the bike video is a cool piece of content, but money helped it become cool.

And I agree with Derek Powazek's point above about the "ad-man inferiority complex" ... If I had a dime for every time I've had to argue about this ...

I think there's something to be said about transparency here, and that brands and companies should not feel obligated to pretend not to be companies in order to be cool.

For instance, check out the EA Sports response to the someone's video on YouTube:

They didn't pretend to be someone else, but it is still cool. It works, and brands/companies get credit.

I'd argue that the Bike Hero video would be even *better* had they slapped a logo or some other message on it to let everyone know that they know how to have fun.

Of course, that's just my off-the-cuff blink opinion, and I could be full of shite ...

Ze and all, what do you think?


Posted by: George Nimeh at November 23, 2008 6:09 PM

Well, I can see I'm a little behind on this discussion.

The first time I saw this video or heard of it was right here, when you posted it. You definitely colored my viewing of it when you suggested that it could be just an ad, especially since I had no other context for it. I still don't know the story behind it, i.e. how it spread and what it claimed to be, and I am too lazy to look it up. But I don't really feel deceived. I don't even care, really. In terms of making me want to buy their product more, it was unsuccessful. In terms of branding the image of the game even deeper in my brain, it was also unsuccessful. The imagery of the game is already pretty ingrained in my head. In fact, part of the reason the video was so fun to watch is that I knew what was going on, what each hand written sign and drawing on the ground represented.
We don't complain when a company makes an enjoyable game, even though they are arguably just trying to take our money.
Now, there's still the issue of the "ethics" behind it. As I said, the deceit doesn't bother me, mainly because I don't know how extensive the deceit was. Did the makers actively claim to be mere fans of the game who were inspired? Or did they just send the video out and see what happened?
I personally don't mind the image of the catering truck and the gaffer. Can we only be impressed by something if it was difficult to achieve? Is there some ideal lowest ratio of resource to achievement? Should we not be impressed by the Lord of the Rings movies because they basically had the budget to do whatever they wanted? We often favor the images of huge faceless production companies who are just out to make tons of money and whose employees act like cogs in the wheel and are not invested in their work. But in many Hollywood productions, and I would bet in this video, there are at least some people who are invested in their work and are working as hard as they can and using it as an outlet for their creative talent. I can still respect that and I can still enjoy it as the essentially human endeavor that it is.

Sorry I rambled.

Posted by: Daniel at December 6, 2008 9:40 PM

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