Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Q: Brilliant or Stupid? A: Microsoft

I feel dirty.

I work at an agency. I should know better. You think by now I wouldn't be another sucker, falling prey to a viral campaign. But I was tricked again. D'oh. And worst of all? It was by Microsoft. Fuckers.

In anticipation of the launch of Windows 7, Microsoft posted a series of videos on YouTube about how to host your own Windows 7 launch party. I feel like I shouldn't even post them here, because I'd just be spreading the Microsoft viral marketing taint. Oh, what the hell, here's the brutally crappy one that I watched:

It's horrific. And embarrassing. And insults our intelligence. All things commonly associated with Microsoft. And I, like most people, spent the afternoon posting it to various social networking sites and going, "EW EW EW EW."

After the third or fourth response I got, and the third or fourth time I saw it picked up and posted by someone else, it dawned on me: SHIT. It's gone viral. Which is precisely the intention.

See, it doesn't matter that Microsoft looks fucking stupid and we all think they're jackasses. Because we already think that. They're not trying to influence public opinion. They're trying to get the word out that Windows 7 is coming and get us talking about them. And by leveraging our hatred, our love of irony, our cottage industry of mocking anything horrible and putrid, and by throwing a couple of really bad "device" double entendres in for good measure, they've got us hooked. Microsoft doesn't care about our number, but their agency sure has it.

Still, it's not positive press. Which begs the debate, is any viral good viral? Is it better to get people talking about your product and brand at any cost? And was that REALLY the intention here, or am I seeing brilliance where there is really just a bad campaign and a total lack of self-awareness? Is this Chauncey Gardner, or just a retarded guy that's good with plants? It's an interesting discussion. I'm sure we'll be talking about it at my Windows 7 launch party. When we're not playing with our devices.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Just Kill the Lobster and Shut Up

Kill me. Please. I can't read another page.

I'm reading Julie and Julia right now. I needed something to read on my recent flight and at the airport bookstore had a choice between nine million Dean Koontz novels, ten million Nora Roberts novels, and Julie and Julia. I had heard it was vaguely good, wanted to read the book before I saw the movie, and was intrigued by the idea that someone would attempt to cook all of the recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. God knows I couldn't do it. So it narrowly won out over Chicken Soup for Your Cat's Soul.

Halfway through the book, I'm now thinking I made the wrong choice. The precious cat stories might have made me puke, I might have at least had some admiration for the protagonists while I was heaving.

To me, reading Julie and Julia is the literary equivalent of watching a Jerry Lewis movie. For the first two minutes that you see Jerry Lewis on the screen being a bumbling retard, you think, heh-heh, kinda funny. After 20 minutes, you don't know who you want to shoot in the head first, him or yourself. It's the same with J and J. At first, you're like, woman like me, trying to boil a calf's foot, freaking out, ha ha ha. But a few chapters later, you're like, "Lady, it's just a goddamned lobster. Kill it and shut the fuck up."

Which pretty much sums up my hate for the book. I have to sit there for a chapter and listen to you whine about the horror of killing a live lobster. It's a LOBSTER. It doesn't care. (Hi PETA). Boil it and enjoy. Don't like being a secretary? Be something else. Love Austin and hate New York? MOVE. What would Julia do? She'd tell you to grow a pair.

Don't get me wrong, I'm intimately familiar with neurosis and whining and first-world problems. Oh yes. But I think this blog would be a little boring if all I did was wring my hands and say "Hey! Look at the stupid thing I did today! Ever notice how nice and round my navel is? The end!" (Look how I'm assuming that a. this blog isn't boring and b. I have readers. How CUTE!) I mean crap, if I knew there was such a market for books about white-lady passive aggressive dissatisfaction and ineptitude, I'd be on volume 12.

It's also a waste of talent. Jerry Lewis (stay with me here) didn't get where he is because he sucks. You watch his movies, and there IS genius hiding somewhere behind the idiocy. Every once in a while, it comes out. Same with this book. There are lines, paragraphs, passages, where good writing comes through, where you can really feel the angst or the awakening bubbling under the surface. But then it's gone, buried under tears about lobsters and tantrums about dinner guests. And I don't have the time or inclination to wade through the dreck to find the diamonds.

I'm not an across-the-board fan of Eat Pray Love, but I give props to Elizabeth Gilbert--she's a helluva writer and storyteller and she makes you love to read about her crazy. This book, not so much.

But it makes me look forward to the movie--I think this is one case where the movie will take the book one step further and round out the characters, give life to the Julie/Julia comparison, make me give a shit. Because now, after the 150th pre-dinner-party meltdown, with approximately 150 more to go, Julie and Julia are about to find a spot in my Goodwill book pile. And that's just not fair to Julia.