Idoru

I am both horrified and morbidly fascinated by this:

So at first glance it's just some squeaky popstar video with slightly-cyber teledildonic styling. But if you are me, you watch it and think, "Wait, is this actually a song, or is this a commercial for a drink?" Then a little while later, "Wait, is this a fake commercial for a drink?" Then, "Wait, is this a real commercial trying to look fake?"

YES. YES, IT IS ALL THESE THINGS. Because the Advertising Ouroboros is so far up its ass that NOTHING IS REAL and we're all living in some PK Dick time-slip!

Wikipedia, Repository of All Human Knowledge:

Dunham originally wanted to do a song as a way to market a QT energy drink, and she asked the producers to repeat the name regularly.

QT is, in effect, a virtual character. The project includes DrinkQT, an "energy elixir" with a design by Kim Laughton. The music and drink are intended to be two manifestations of the same product. Both have been described as "fizzy" and "energetic", with Dunham stating that she wanted "to be able to talk about 'Hey QT' and have DrinkQT talk about 'Hey QT' and 'Hey QT' talk about DrinkQT." [...]

"Hey QT" includes a metanarrative about the song itself. The song was debuted at a Boiler Room show in Los Angeles promoting Hudson Mohawke's Chimes EP. A digital broadcast by Eric Wareheim opened the performance. Dunham performed the song as QT, opening the act by sitting down and reading a fashion magazine while a voiceover endorsed the QT energy drink. Dunham then lip synced "Hey QT" while appearing disinterested.

[...] The video includes product placement for Beats headphones.

The commercial includes other commercials! It's commercials all the way down!

Part of me wants to KILL IT WITH FIRE, but part of me wonders why my bar isn't already carrying this.

Ok, so now let's set the Wayback Machine to 1996. If you were me, you were making some questionable fashion decisions like wearing vinyl and shopping at Cyberdog, but all right-thinking people were listening Fluke and playing Wipeout XL, and that means you had a huge nerd-boner crush on fictional anti-gravity racing league star Ariel Tetsuo from the Atombomb video:

(Incidentally, if anyone has a higher quality version of that video, please let me know.)

So the Atombomb video is basically a commercial for Wipeout XL. But that's ok, right? Because the song was on the game's soundtrack, and they both completely rule, so it gets a pass. You tell yourself. If you are me.

But here's the thing about Wipeout: the racetracks in the game actually have billboards above them, advertising Red Bull. But! When the game was released, Red Bull didn't exist in the United States -- it wasn't to show up here for another year or two. I assumed those in-game billboards were for a fictional product from the year 2097. They had the right styling for it!

Surprisingly, that Atombomb video does not show any of the Red Bull billboards. There is an inexplicable alternate edit of the video that is shorter but includes more game footage, and at one point there's a billboard that says "ENERGY DRINK" but the Red Bull logo has been removed. I wonder who paid or didn't pay.

Guess what was released three weeks before Wipeout XL? Gibson's Idoru.

Oh, and in answer to the rhetorical question of why my bar isn't already carrying QT, it's because we have an exclusivity agreement with Red Bull.

And the Ouroboros chomps down just a little bit tighter.

Previously, previously, previously, previously.
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21 Responses:

  1. bmc says:

    Have you seen @nihilist_arbys yet? I'm convinced it is some next-level marketing shit, because I have thought and talked about Arby's approximately one jizzillion percent more in the past two months than in the previous 40 years of my life.

  2. TORLEY says:

    @jwz Do you also remember the worldbuilding that went into Wipeout XL's different manufacturer logos, courtesy of Designers Republic? And how it was later revealed that Arial had a rival twin named Arian? Ahhh that soundtrack was like capturing the light of electronica at the time. I think others seeing this have NOSTALGIA WAVES.

    Anyway, the QT thing is one of those nodes that simultaneously repels and attracts, being its own magnet poles. It's very difficult to not care, to not have a reaction... though I like Hannah Diamond's incarnation of QT more (the one with the short blonde bob fanned out). In any case, so very memorable.

    Also worth noting Sophie (who co-produced "Hey QT") also co-produced Madonna's "Bitch I'm Madonna", which may explain why even Madonna sounds like she's aping these high-sugar tones. Hey, bridging culture.

    @bmc OMG I adore that, thanks for turning me onto some philosophically dark fast food shiznit!

    • jwz says:

      I only discovered a little of that world-building back in the day, but I see now that the Wipeout rabbit hole goes very deep indeed...

    • Buddy Casino says:

      Nostalgia waves indeed, Wipeout was the reason I bought a Voodoo 3D accelerator. Shit was cash. Sadly the PC version didn't have the great soundtrack, but that could be fixed.
      The controls felt exactly right, is there a modern equivalent?

      • NB says:

        There is Slipstream GX. It's nice but not there yet.

        The Psygnosis studio was closed several years ago. The Mac OS X version I used to play stopped working once Rosetta was phased out by Apple. I'm as disappointed as you are that this game, or anything like it, isn't on Steam.

        • A group of ex Studio Liverpool/Psygnosis developers have formed a studio called "R8 Games", who will be launching a Kickstarter campaign to develop a spiritual successor sometime this month.

        • jwz says:

          Wow, the demo video for Slipstream looks pretty good!

          I played Wipeout HD on my PS3, and it was good; basically exactly the same game as all the others, but with upgraded graphics and less compelling music. I hadn't noticed that Wipeout 2048 even existed.

    • Andrew says:

      Truly a great game, I was just playing it a few weeks ago on my PS1, sadly without a NeGcon

  3. Will says:

    The song's actually been out for more than a year, IIRC, so I was surprised to see the video and marketing weirdness roll out just recently. I think they started hinting at the energy drink stuff when it was first released but it seemed almost certainly a fake product to me at that point.

    I've had the "pleasure" of being party to several debates over whether QT/A.G. Cook/SOPHIE's various songs have actual female vocalists or pitch shifted male voices.

  4. She doesn't seem terribly energetic for someone trying to sell a RedBull™ competitor.

    And I'm with @bmc here: Nihilist Arby's is some memetic infectious shit.

  5. Simon says:

    In a somewhat similar vein - the band Stiltskin who had a one hit wonder when a track of theirs was featured on the Levi's "Creek" advert with the two pioneer girls watching a dude bathe in a river.

    Except the song existed before the band. Peter Lawlor wrote it for the advert but because this was during the time that meant having a track featured on a Levi's ad was a guaranteed trip to the top of the charts (c.f Babylon Zoo's "Spaceman" and Mr Oizo's "Flat Beat"). To cash in Lawlor put together a band post facto nd recorded a single (and an album).

  6. Kyle Huff says:

    My recollection is that the Fluke song only became huge after it was featured in 1997's The Saint and the attendant Volvo C70 ads on TV.
    I tried to find a copy on YouTube but came up snake-eyes.

  7. Rena says:

    Have we hit critical advertising mass yet? Ads within ads within ads...

  8. Pronoiac says:

    Someone just reverse engineered the original Wipeout, and they made the tracks viewable in a browser.