Media Industry Jokes

Ever since Sigmund Freud insisted, a little too adamantly for my tatses–that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, we’ve all known that jokes often express unconscious desires or have some form of hidden meaning or purpose.  No surprise there.  And, ever since George Plimpton punked an entire nation of sports fans with stories of a Buddhist Met with a 163-mph fastball, the April Fools article has been a staple of contemporary journalism, even moreso in the age of page views and click-through ad revenue.  And because those of us who hang out in the film blogosphere are not immune to such things, there are plenty of film and media bloggers who’ve taken the opportunity to comment on the state of the industry with their tongues planted firmly in their cheeks.

One story that almost seems like it should be an April Fools joke is the report from The Guardian that Sony and other studios may stop selling DVDs in Spain thanks to rampant piracy.  But apparently, this is one story that is being widely confirmed.  But part of the reason “piracy” is so widespread in Spain is that, as the LA Times puts it, “piracy isn’t against the law in Spain unless it’s done for profit.”  At the same time, David Poland notes that in an industry dominated by “red herrings,” it’s sometimes best to skip the jokes.

But one very fun April Fools prank comes from the folks over at Film School Rejects who have remade their page to make it appear as if all of the content was produced on April 1, 1980, when some movie called Clash of the Titans was set to re-invent special effects and viewers could anticipate the hottest new titles to hit VHS (complete with cool retro font and a debate about whether to get the film Betamax or laser disc).  There is even a paean to the fading “craze” of 3-D films and discussion of a media “upstart” named Ted Turner who plans a 24-hour cable news network.  On one level, of course, it’s an illustration of how far we’ve come in terms of media change.  “New” technologies such as the laser disc and VHS are long gone, and we take for granted the 24-hour news cycle that may very well be killing politics, but it’s also a fascinating, often irreverent account of how little has changed when it comes to the ways in which films are promoted for supposedly novel special effects.

Like The Film School Rejects, the blogger at Inside Redbox had a little (slightly less artful) fun with today’s license to joke, conjuring up a new Redbox service called BoxButler, in which the company promises that workers will stand next to kiosks to collect returned movies so that customers won’t have to wait in long lines or get stuck with the problem of a machine that is too full to take in more discs.  The post is a sly commentary on the state of the DVD rental industry, and even acknowledges the ways in which the labor and technology required to sustain a service like Redbox often remains unseen.

Update: How could I have missed Bieber or Die, Justin Bieber’s “takeover” of Will Ferrell’s “Funny or Die” website (h/t @annehelen)?

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