May. 13th, 2014

fengi: (Mr. Sherrif)
So Kaleb Horton wrote this amazing post which uses Atari's failed ET game and rumination about mythic narratives versus mundane acts as a roundabout way to insult the portentious marketing for Interstellar. I love this sort of thought piece with a punchline strategy when it works. It touches upon the sort of things my brain finds delicious: cognitive dissonance, perception and reality and advertising metastasis.

The full essay is good if a bit loose - these excerpts distill the awesome:
...The reality is that in 1983, Atari threw a bunch of games away because they made too many. What’s out there in the desert is just garbage, and lacks even sentimental import. They made millions of those games. None of them have first-draft code that can bring down the Kremlin.

But the Atari landfill mythmaking imagery is just too powerful for reality to get in the way...It’s a great American story, at least in a vacuum: a long time ago, a convoy left Texas and entered New Mexico to bury something shameful....Atari’s failure takes on a mythic hue after 30 years beneath the desert. “E.T.” has gotten mythical too: it’s no longer the caffeine-addled last minute work of one overworked guy but instead the worst game ever. By burying some of that legacy in New Mexico, Atari made its failure mean a lot more than it did when they poured that concrete.

Marketing agencies need to look into this strategy. If you have a product that won’t sell as much as you need it to and you’re out of options, just bury it in the desert and ride it out for 30 years...Call it “The Desert Strategy.”

...When my grandma died, she left behind a whole storage unit worth of photo albums. Now, I’m never gonna look at those. It’s not gonna happen. They’re in Florida. Can’t be done. But if, in her will, she wrote that she buried “something” in New Mexico out by the Air Force base, not only am I gonna drive down to get it, but I’m gonna examine every one of those damn pictures like a forensics expert.

...Say you’re in a band. You’re 27 or so. You got some steady local gigs, opened for The Dead Weather a few times, went on Conan, Pitchfork described your first album as “haunted by the ghosts of forgotten people and forgotten places,” but it’s time for a day job because nobody makes money playing music anymore.

So go out with a bang. Record the second album. Make it even more haunted. Ten times as haunted. Press it to vinyl, drive down to New Mexico. Put all the albums in a big safe...Wait 30 years, and you’re all but guaranteed a documentary and a tour out of it. If the album’s a 7 or 8 out of 10, it’ll get retroactively canonized.

...The second angle for the Hollywood approach is to unceremoniously kill a movie that’s a guaranteed smash hit, just to make the director look like a tormented genius. Give an air of mystery to somebody fed up by the instant reaction culture of the internet. I suggest “Interstellar.”...To cancel this movie for no good reason, well, that’d turn the heads of the most jaded sons of bitches on earth.

Can you imagine it? A whole cottage industry would spring up. Websites dedicated to preserving as much “Interstellar” related content as possible. All the studio has to do is let two or three people see a rough cut and make them sign a non-disclosure agreement for 15 years, then ghostwrite books for them...All you have to do is say one little movie is buried someplace in the desert. Maybe by Roswell. Nobody knows.

Sure, there are some issues of practicality...A faceless corporation would lose a bunch of money in the interest of creating a top 10 event in movie history. And thirty years from now, if any of us are alive, we can all go “oh sure, I remember the trailers to that” or “yeah, movies are horrible” and our grandchildren will pay tepid attention to us for a few minutes.