The Monster On MySpace

A semi-quick synopsis of the 1-18-08 goings-on for those of you just joining the fun.

Showing before Transformers back in July was this trailer. Some of the people who saw it tried looking it up on the internets. They found the 1-18-08 website, the working title of "Cloverfield" and not much else. At the same time there happened to be an Alternate Reality Game (or ARG) underway, which, to some, appeared connected to the trailer. I mention the suspect ARG without naming it (because it was unrelated) because the perceived association attracted the ARG community, and more or less defined the online viral marketing of the movie as a game to be played, solved, ...won. This all took place back in July. Since then, websites have been updated, posters released and JJ Abrams himself said of the movie 7/26/2007:

I want a monster movie, I've wanted one for so long. I was in Japan with my son and all he wanted to do is go to toy stores. And we saw all these Godzilla toys, and I thought, we need our own monster, and not King Kong, King Kong's adorable. I wanted something that was just insane and intense.
Fast-forward to today and you haven't missed much. The marketing campaign has taken on a schizophrenic quality. The teaser (or fiction) sites remain, but suffer from neglect. There's the trailer itself, and lastly, "Slusho!" One of the characters was spotted wearing a Slusho t-shirt in the trailer which lead to the discovery of the site. The debate about whether the site was related was put to rest when attendees at JJ Abrams' appearance at Comic-Con received Slusho t-shirts in their gift bags. Since then, rumor has it that Slusho's "deep sea" "secret ingredient" is connected to the monster. While I count Slusho as a teaser site, technically it could fall into the character development sites category as well.

The second personality of the online campaign, and the favorite based on frequency of updates, is the "real-time" "in character" MySpace accounts for the human stars of the film, as well as at least one other site recently discovered featuring a banal video message from one character to another. The characters, while living in the here and now, remain unaware of what's to come January 18, 2008. To illustrate this point, here is the email I recently sent to one of them:

from: Ed Edd Eddy (that's me)
subject: FYI, on 1/18/08 you and most of your friends are probably going to die.
text: Just thought you'd like to know.
When these sites were first discovered the consensus was they were for character development, with the aim of eliciting concern from the audience for the human's fates. There's also the possibility that these characters might give us clues as to the back-story behind the looming monstrous events. Their universe, while shared with ours, does treat Slusho as an actual drink, so there's really no telling what other fictional to us but real to them bits of reality might show through on their MySpace accounts. They really are the best place to look and watch for clues.

To recap: A bunch of giant monster movie loving nerds and geeks are being forced to delve into MySpace (ick!), and the consistently bland and/or ineffectual nattering of the Hollywood hotties hired to play the food chain in a movie about a monster. Or to put it another way, what's proving to be the principal wing of the online marketing campaign is geared to appeal to the MySpace crowd, yet the main demographic following the online marketing campaign finds MySpace nauseating and the people who inhabit it either airheads or perverts.

Someone, somewhere, thought, Wouldn't it be innovative to develop our characters online before the movie is even released! And yes, it's a great idea. The only problem is, the only kinds of monsters with MySpace pages are the kind staring on To Catch a Predator. So, good idea, but I'm sorry to say--wrong movie for it. The people that are interested in 1-18-08 are interested in the monster, and the people that are interested in MySpace are interested in Gossip Girl. Oops.

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