When can you “cash in” on good will online? When can you rely on previous work to sell your next project? The answer is nebulous and different for everyone, but – for some – they definitely launched at the wrong time.
Buzzfeed’s SECOND ARG: The Alleged Disappearance of Ivy (Since Removed)
As you may notice by the title, Buzzfeed now has two ARGs. Aria Inthavong’s ARG, the first one on the channel, was a little sketchy. He made it, he scripted it (As far as I can tell) and he executed it. Yeah, it wasn’t made explicitly clear that it was an ARG, but the format was immediately different, there was buildup to it, and Aria (as much as I like him) is not the channel’s sole moneymaker. People watch him too, but a big portion is not subscribed for him, like they are for Shane and Ryan. Using him was much safer than trying to use Shane and Ryan.
The second ARG, using Shane and Ryan (and very noticeably sponsored by IKEA) was just downright deceptive by comparison, and it used too much of the channel’s built-up good will around its resources. It was titled the same way that their real Unsolved series is, causing confusion – the other cases were real, but this one, being an ARG, was not, and that wasn’t obvious. It wasn’t written with Shane and Ryan’s usual tone-of-voice. Much of the video was spent on a video call with two other actors. As of now, the video is gone – and searching for it is impossible given their ARG with Aria.
This break in format was more confusing than anything. The video right before it announced the end of Buzzfeed Unsolved’s True Crime Series, which was understandably emotional for fans – to see an eight minute ARG intro in their inbox titled as though it were part of the series upset some folks, and the real season finale for the True Crime season didn’t come out until a couple days later. They seemed to understand how much the series meant to fans, because several were invited in on Zoom calls for the actual finale, and yet they still released that ARG video to capitalize on it before it ended. And now the entire ARG is gone. Yikes.
The Jeremy Renner App
So… Jeremy Renner, who many people know only as Hawkeye, has some skeletons in his closet. Everyone does, sort of, and Hollywood is built on an ancient burial ground, just like everything else, but his are particularly fresh and disturbing.
The app is just weird. You buy stars, and you spend money, and he’s the only one making posts. Just Jeremy. Only Jeremy. Everyone else could only comment, like, or assign stars with real monetary value. Even weirder, a company specializes in making these apps, meaning other Hollywood stars have their own apps too – the New York Times mentions Amber Rose and Tommy Chong, both people who have big followings, but might not be recognized out on the street. Renner seems to be the breakout among them.
The app got deleted after a journalist made fun of how Renner’s face was in every corner of the app, including the notifications, which lead to other people producing videos and tweets about it. What also didn’t help is that his critics had those aforementioned skeletons at the ready: he was allegedly falling behind on child support payments despite recently starring as Hawkeye in several Avengers movies, and he allegedly threatened to kill both his wife and young child because of it. So… nobody was really willing to come to his defense. Amber Rose doesn’t have this issue (or at least I never saw anything about her app), so I can only assume he overestimated how much his star power could smooth things over.
Gabby Hannah’s Incomplete Poetry Book
Gabbie is sort of a mini-celebrity online, big enough to get attention from stars on record labels, but small enough to show up on podcasts.
She’s had her fair share of controversy, and she’s made quite a few mistakes – ‘tea’ videos about her are all over the place, and criticisms range from petty to pretty serious. While her poetry book ‘Adultolescence’ is on the lighter side of those criticisms, it’s still often talked about in the arguments around her. To be clear: this book did well, and it has a lot of content, but some of the content is not as good as the rest. Some of pages are nearly blank, and only contain jokes, cheap popsicle-stick pun quality jokes. Others are entire paragraphs or poems that consume the entire page. Having both makes fan response conflicted.
As comparison, Milk and Honey came out when Vine was still around, and people made fun of it for the pseudo-deep two-line poem format it took on. These poems were also extremely short. However, this was a much smaller book – literally, the pages were 7 square inches smaller than Adultolescence’s pages. It was also clear from previews that all the poems were short. Both use illustration – Gabbie did not use illustration on some of the bigger offenders, leaving 90% of the page blank, where Milk and Honey had a comparatively large (if simple) drawing on every page.
Even worse, the book was well-liked! When it hit, it hit. Fans, then, were angry that they could turn a page that really resonated with them to the next, only to get a pun about relatives, for 30$. Some of the poems benefitted from the giant blank page (one with a message bubble stands out), but those other enormous blank pages established a pattern, and then people didn’t take that one like they were meant to. So pages that were artistically blank were lumped in with ones that were just nearly blank because they were rushed.
Allegedly the due date crept up on her too quickly for her to finish the rest of the poetry – I don’t know why she didn’t push harder for an extension, or pushed to take those white pages out. The book has 256 pages in it, surely taking out a small handful of those would have been acceptable. As it was, people accused her of phoning it in, and relying too heavily on the rest of the book to sell the sub-standard portions.
Ninja and Times Square
I don’t know how he got on TV. He’s one of the last people I would have picked for a show aimed at adults and people staying up til midnight. Remember when flossing was a thing? And then Fortnite got in on it, and the Flossing Kid’s mom tried to sue over it? Anyway, flossing and Fortnite went together like peanut butter and jelly, and Ninja, one of the biggest Fortnite streamers, sat at the intersection. The issue is that only people who were online knew how to do it, everyone else only ever saw smidges. Katy Perry’s music video for Swish Swish had the flossing kid in it. Some people like Stephen Colbert were doing it on TV. Could you see a dance once or twice and recreate it? Most people can’t, even something as simple as flossing. That’s strike one against Ninja on the New Year’s show.
Strike two is that the average person didn’t even know who Ninja was – if they did, they often only knew him as some guy with blue hair online, and his hair was bright red at the time of the show. I know my parents didn’t know who he was. I barely knew who he was, and I only looked him up after an anti-cyberbullying video he made got some response clips featuring him telling opponents to kill themselves, which of course hit the front page of Reddit and Twitter. So even though I knew his name, I didn’t particularly like him. The people online who weren’t fans, but knew of him, either felt neutral about him or worse.
The third strike is his audience: the problem with appealing to children is that most of your audience is unable to drive and may be asleep by the time you’re doing a midnight celebration. The crowd was already stacked against him. Additionally, people in a crowd can be reluctant to dance, the same way they’re reluctant to break rank if someone collapses in front of them – it’s the bystander effect! Ninja trying to get people to dance made for one of the most awkward minutes of TV I’ve ever seen.
I don’t know how he got invited.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlrmORO1a_w (this is a video – it’s Ninja at the New Year’s party)