Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The Great Doritos/Reddit Incident of July 2013

Doritos vs. The Funpowder Plot vs. Reddit vs. Reddit
I don't know how much of my 15 minutes is left at this point, but I'm definitely going to run out soon.

It appears to me that it's always one single event which triggers this kind of shit off. That Lily stuff aside, Juice Nothing got most of its attention from How To Fuck Boys And Not Be Gay (which recently hit 50,000 views, I might add), and The Goat's Nest's main claim would surprisingly be that Top 50 Albums Of 2011, Reinterpreted As Short Stories garbage (which in total, has racked up more than 10,800 views). I'm still patiently praying for Coming Down Happy's turn, but it was our collective Funpowder Plot specifically which faced the spotlight shining upon them over the last few days, and on a level which could be considered somewhat brighter than any of those that came before.

It went a little something like this:

On Friday, Ash sent a group FPP email with the simple subject line "Remind you of anything?". Within its body was one link, which directed us to this Doritos video. We were all flabbergasted (I actually spelt that word right first try without using spell-check, score). As you may or may not recognise, this ad looked almost too suspiciously like our own Doritos video which had existed a year previous; one we'd submitted into a competition for the brand, guest directed by the talented Andy McCormick. I mean, view these things side by side to get the full picture, and then maybe you'll understand our reaction.

Now (and perhaps a little prematurely, I'll admit) I assumed this to be an official Doritos advert. I based this on the title itself ("Doritos Super Bowl XLVII commercial - 2013 Winner", fairly convincing), and the fact that the actress (Jessica Serfaty) had some other online presence to her name. Which is why I promptly turned to Reddit, looking for some support, looking for some opinion, looking for some stir. And we got all of those. More than anyone could have ever anticipated.

Posting the previous side by side link here into /r/FilmMakers, I watched in joy as the upvotes regularly presented themselves, to the point that within the hour, we were the top post of that subreddit. Chuffed with the success, I went out and drank too many beers and J├Ągerbombs with my mates, eventually returning home around midnight, drunk and yet not too drunk to avoid the fright as I turned on my PC. Because things had escalated a bit too rapidly for any comfort.

1,562 upvotes later, and we had hit the fucking front page of Reddit. Below this was 859 comments, scattered over a range of responses. Some people were repulsed by what they too considered blatant plagiarism. Some people laughed and called us idiots for even entering the competition in the first place, whoring our skills to the corporate world, and deserving of what came to us. Some pointed out that the terms & conditions explicitly stated that we had lost any rights to "intellectual property" as soon as we submitted our piece. Some argued this wasn't the point, and that it was a disgraceful practice of Doritos regardless, relating the incident to their own nightmare experiences in a similar vein. Some rightfully pointed out that there was no concrete evidence this was even an official Doritos ad anyway, and could have very well been yet another later competition entry. And finally, others dismissed the case, based on the fact that the idea wasn't exactly the most "original" concept, and a coincidence was more than plausible. And, hey, all of those were fairly valid arguments.

But at this stage, none of this mattered much to us, because the initial bad feelings and point of the post had been drowned, replaced swiftly by astonishment and hysterics. All of a sudden, here was this thrust of attention on a video we had so long forgotten about, the whole Funpowder Plot vs. Doritos thing now solely a Reddit vs. Reddit thing. It was incredible to watch, and I watched it a lot over the course of the weekend.

And it didn't even end there, although it kind of did for our post. Due to the mass amount of traffic we had pumped straight to that YouTubeDoubler url, it tragically crashed. And when the link stopped working, Reddit was as merciless as ever, the downvotes pouring in until we spiraled back to 0 and fell very quickly into obscurity. However, some Karma whore cross-posted a new link to the much more popular /r/video subreddit, and it fucking happened all over again. 4,796 upvotes, and bam, back on the front page, spawning a further 471 comments. Christ.

And, wait, it didn't even end there. One articulate Redditor in particular who really ripped us a new one impressed so many people, that it even got its own post to /r/bestof, earning 8,021 upvotes all by itself, most likely hitting the front page too, even if I didn't see that happen. This one gained 545 comments, and in all honesty, those were probably the ones that backed us up the most, despite the nature of the original post. I guess that's because Redditors in general like to argue with OP by default.

All the while, we kept quiet. I mean, there were just too many comments! I couldn't keep up! Plus it was weekend for fucks sakes! I had things to do! However, at the very end (and probably a bit too late) I did give my 2 cents in 4 points, and I'd like to elaborate on those now:

(1) I had to lol at every single person who called me a "cry baby" or a "whiner". I merely posted a link to an observation, I never even once stated anyone stole anything because I'm fucking clever like that. In fact, the only cries I read were from commentators, ironically crying about me "crying", unaware at how much we were laughing. Seriously, this was a fantastic and valuable thing for us, regardless of who said what.

(2) However, I wasn't laughing when people accused us of "only having one idea", claiming we deserved to have it stolen if we couldn't do any better. Fuck you. As we currently we have over 20 vastly different videos on our channel, I find it offensive that someone would jump to that conclusion when we work so hard at what we do. This video was ancient for us, it's incredible that of all our pieces this was the one that caused the most fuss (especially when we have girls drinking puke and boys getting kidnapped by aliens). In all honesty, this Doritos thing isn't any of our favourite work, we were trying to win money.

(3) Ultimately, I think there was a ton of good which came from this, as it gave other artists a platform to vent about similar frustrations within the industry. Whether we legitimately got ripped off or not is up for debate, but it's very apparent to me that this does happen to many people, and I am glad we spurred on conversations to this effect. Much love to those peeps.

(4) Finally (and more than anything), I am soooo grateful for everyone who supported us and/or hated us. Because of you and the three Reddit postings, in total we accumulated 14,379 upvotes, 11,793 downvotes, 1,875 comments, and roughly 55,000 new views on our Youtube video. As it stands, this is now our most viewed piece of work, a whopping 43,342 hits more than the second in line, and that is insane. Furthermore, it has been my dream for a long time to hit the front page of Reddit, and despite being an unlikely candidate (which is always the way), we couldn't have done it without all of you guys. So from the bottom of my heart and the rest of us at Funpowder land... thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

You can stop reading now.

Top 20 Most Unusual Rockstar Deaths
Hot off the press, this article was released at the exact same time as this rant/news item. And as the article's very conclusion informs, it was a long time coming. Standing as the sibling piece to one of my most well-received writings (2010's The Top 20 Naughtiest Musicians, Ever) the concept predates Juice Nothing itself, the first draft existing back in 2007. I'm glad I waited until now to give it the nurture it deserved, and I feel it stands as a solid bit of babbling, in a year which has already turned into one of solid bits of babbling. I hope you enjoy it, because if you don't, then I'm completely useless.

Work on the next blog has not started because (truth be told) I have no idea what it will be. I'll shit out something, but for now I wouldn't mind a little sleep.

Quickly in other related news, there has been a slight lull(z) on the site redesign recently, purely due to time issues. But I plan to make up for lost gaps asap because it's looking rad, I'm having a ball making it, and I still feel confident for an end-of-year launch. No promises though.

The Johnson Line
It's unlikely, but some of you may have actually read my previous news post where I warned there wouldn't be any writings released in June, but somehow this short story came together much faster than anticipated, and I kicked its ass out the door just in time. The history behind it will probably be quite boring for most, but fukkit, for the sake of my own records, I'm going to lay it all out right neow:

As a story about a train which travels through Hell, the origin of this idea should be fairly predictable. I was stuck on the tube, armpit to armpit with smelly strangers, and like so many who have come before, thought to myself "this must be what Hell is like". From there I developed the idea of different stations leading to different areas of nightmares, but the main difference between my original plan and how it all turned out was the central point itself. At first, I wanted this to be the sequel of one of my other short stories, where a character who'd died previously found themselves in this terrible world and had to make a choice. It could've worked too.

So (as it is tradition), I began writing the tale on the long plane journey to South Africa on Xmas 2012. However, upon landing in Turkey for my connecting flight, inspiration hit from a different direction and I decided to change focus from a weak human-type to the demon conductor himself. I felt this was a much better angle, and ended up writing about half of the thing on this air trip, naming the character after my internet archenemy Faure, who I'd previously promised to honour in my fiction almost a year before.

However, the story kinda sucked and I had to painfully force myself to continue, doing so in such a half-assed manner that it's actually quite humourous to remember. Many chapters were written blind-drunk on tube rides home with complete disregard to legibility. I even somehow lost full pages during these sessions, which all made for an interesting rewrite when the time came, forcing a lot of room for guess work. But eventually I finished the crappy first draft on the 7th February 2013, and then threw it into my drawer without any interest in looking at it ever again. However, during the month of June I grew brave, and tackled the thing head-on, eventually completing and releasing it to quite a fantastic reception, which is always a relief.

And just quickly, I want to give two little facts which nobody seemed to pick up on:
(1) The Johnson Line itself was named after Robert Johnson, the blues musician who famously sold his soul to the devil in order to play guitar better than anyone, and becoming pretty much the original member of The 27 Club. I figured that was fitting.
(2) The game concepts for each station were based upon one of the seven deadly sins. The Bucket Chamber = Lust; The DigestiTrack = Gluttony; Bank = Greed; The Chillzone = Sloth; The Mousetrap = Wrath; The Chess Tournament = Jealousy; and Before The Fall = Pride. Each one of the corresponding sins were sneakily mentioned within its own chapter, which I personally felt was pretty clever on my part. Because I like myself a bit too much, maybe.

Very briefly, I would like to say that the future of The Goat's Nest is still looking bright. I had another really exciting idea the other day, which will be the "sequel-ish" to The Johnson Line. I am flying back to South Africa for a holiday in February 2014, and so I think that would be the ideal travel time to hit that bitch in the mouth. I also have my second novel idea stewing something fierce. But above all else, my debut novella This is Your Brain on Drugs is nearly about to enter the next phase, where in before the end of the week or so, I will be sending it along to five interested applicants to give their feedback on. After that, I'm still not 100% sure what to do, but I have had quite a killer idea on how to deliver this bastard, and am aiming for an end of year launch at very very latest. Now that's a promise.

Stupid Superhero Should Have Let Me Die
Next up, the second song off The Black EP was finally launched earlier this month (click that link for more details on its conception, I hate repeating myself), and to say it was a stressful process would be an understatement. You see, I was greatly inspired by Kanye West's latest album Yeezus, especially when I learned he'd only finished the thing less than a week before it was released. And so I attempted to do something similar, my last-minute schedule looking like this:

04/07/13 - Finished the drawings.
05/07/13 - Finished the song, sent it to mastering.
08/07/13 - Realised I needed one more drawing, drew it, and then announced the release date to the public.
09/07/13 - Scanned the last drawing and finished the video
10/07/13 - Launched it.

Despite the pressure, I think it turned out really well and a few important people have told me that it was their favourite track so far, which meant the world to me. But I'd never do that to myself again.

That said, the third track is already well underway, and if I had to give it a word, it'd be: evil. Keep an eye open for that one, just in case it notices you first.

World of the Day
And finally (as if we hadn't spoken to death about this creative already), there is some unrelated Funpowder news to share. The thing is, due to the hours of time that went into this epic video; the great lengths each member has already gone to promote it; and all the insanity I started this rant with... I don't really have the stamina to fully describe what it all means to us. So instead, I will give you 10 reasons why you should watch it:

(01) It's like a music video without the music, which is unusual.
(02) Loose is the star in my eyes, which makes it the first video of that kind.
(03) It's all based around one of The Freewheelin' Troubadour's poems.
(04) It stars every single one of the Funpowder Plot members in one way or another, which has only ever happened once before.
(05) More time was spent on this video than any other.
(06) We used techniques which we have never attempted before, and will probably never attempt again.
(07) The amount of hidden symbolism would take many many watches to fully grasp.
(08) I wear a dress.
(09) We all agree that this is probably the best thing we've ever done, and we are super proud of it, so who really cares what anyone else thinks.
(10) I actually just sat here and listed 10 fucking reasons to fucking watch it, so fucking watch it.

Discussions for the next video are already underway, just so long as my head doesn't sink into my lungs before then.

Five HUGE golden stars if you read this entire piece.
It's all over now.
Don't call me, I'll call you.
Lots Of Love,

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