You’ll Only Need the Edge

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I’m every bit as gullible as the next guy, assuming I’m not standing at a Tea Party rally, but I’m way too cynical to be comfortable with the ad campaign around the new Yogi Bear movie. (Which I’m indirectly contributing to via WordPress’s built-in search engine optimization. Irony noted).

Today I’ve already seen about a billion links to a video with an “alternate ending” for the movie, supposedly leaked by people working on the film (with the YouTube info text helpfully telling you the date of the movie’s release). And it’s edgy because it shows Boo Boo shooting Yogi with a shotgun in what I’m assuming is a parody of The Assassination of Jesse James but have no idea because, much like Yogi Bear, that movie never seemed like anything I’d want to watch.

And because of the way retweets work, a majority of the links came with the warning “watch this now because it will be taken down immediately!” Presumably, as soon as the studio found out about what some naughty, rogue animators were doing.

Except this is the same movie that had an initial teaser poster with a visual and verbal double entendre, which made its own rounds across the internet as people stumbled over each other to write “oh no they didn’t!” posts (like this one) about it. And even though those blank, glassy eyes are incapable of winking, the ads most definitely are. The tagline was since changed to the more innocuous “Life’s a pic-a-nic” or “Please do not feed the bears,” we’re to assume after one of the higher-ups at the studio was alerted by a younger, hipper staff member that “Great things come in bears” had people giggling at their cluelessness.

I honestly don’t know how I feel about this. On the one hand, I’m genuinely impressed by a marketing campaign that’s so insidiously successful. Somebody, somewhere realized that they had two options when advertising a movie based on a dated cartoon character: act like they’re in on the joke, or invite legions of internet hipsters make fun of them for being clueless. They chose the road less traveled, and that’s made all the difference in site traffic and trending topics.

On the other hand, it’s shockingly cynical. They had to realize that the type of people who would say “Pfft. Hip Smurfs,” and go on about their business, are the same people who wouldn’t hesitate to link, tweet, retweet, share, stumble, and Like a poster or a video if there’s even the slightest hint of subversiveness. They’re not just promoting your movie for free; they’re doing it while believing they’re mocking you.

Whenever pop culture starts to do a Vizzini with the whole mocking-and-self-awareness cycle of media manipulation, it just makes my head hurt. Is it wrong that I want my viral marketing campaigns to go back to the simpler, more innocent days of subservient chickens and half-naked men wearing nothing but a towel and deodorant?

7 Comments

  1. Huh. Maybe I am. (Or MAYBE… that interview is all part of the ad campaign! The conspiracy goes ever deeper!)

    And maybe I’ll get over my aversion to Westerns and eventually get around to watching The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Just don’t tell me what happens or who did it!!!

  2. Well, if you do get over your aversion, it’s a pretty decent film (and yes, the short to which you link is directly parodying it). While there are elements that fit well within a Western, I think really it’s the movie Public Enemies should have had the guts to be.

    Having seen the trailer to this movie twice, and now about half of this animation, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen more than enough YB to last me for the next thirty years or so. Thankfully it didn’t come out a few years ago when my kids would have begged me to go see it, because I would have relented. After all, I did take them to see Underdog. shudder

  3. Completely agree with Brett w/r/t Jesse James & Public Enemies. The title’s actually exactly right once you’ve seen the film. They really missold it by trying to make it look like a traditional Western, and maybe you got the wrong impression of it from that. Trailers in HD here: http://yhoo.it/gCflBO — the first trailer is completely wrong (like, rom-com trailer for The Shining wrong), the second one is just right. Highly, highly recommend, but see it on the biggest screen possible with the dimmest lighting you can manage: the cinematography’s inky.

    I suspect that you could watch Yogi Bear on a sixth generation VHS copy plugged into a black & white TV and it would be improved.

  4. I think you’d need to get over your aversion to movies that are slow and boring in order to like “TAOJJBTCRF.” (BOOM! Acronym.) Of course, I loved it, but I am a fan of the slow and boring and anything faintly Malick-esque.

    The title and the parody basically give the big moment in the movie away, so I don’t think it would be spoiling anything to check out the original scene on YouTube, if you haven’t already, just to see how well done the Yogi version really is…

    Also, I know someone who, in all seriousness, had the following conversation:

    “What did you do this weekend?”

    “Not much. Watched a movie.”

    “Oh yeah? What’d you watch?”

    “‘The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford’.”

    “Oh really…What’s that about?”

    AND…SCENE.

  5. Slow and boring, hmm. And hey look! It’s 2 hours and 40 minutes long!

    I’ve got Brokeback Mountain out from Netflix now. Can I just watch that and pretend that they shoot each other at the end?

  6. You can, but for a better representation, imagine one shoots the other but, as a lesser man to begin with, ends up miserable despite his fame. Between living his life in a man’s shadow, and living his life in a dead man’s shadow, the former was preferable. Also, imagine Heath Ledger as Brad Pitt.

    I didn’t find the movie boring, but I will agree that it’s not fast-paced by any stretch. There are a few scenes of violence that I found a little excessive. I did really enjoy the film, though, and thought that Casey Affleck’s performance was well worth watching.

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