Friday, March 17, 2017

Make Love Not Warcraft

Sometimes, there is a narrative which so perfectly casts into relief the connections and differences between various old and new media forms that it becomes a kind of date/time stamp for the history of media. Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre production of War of the Worlds, Gary Ross's 1998 film Pleasantville, or the recently viral video of a baby trying to use pinch and swoosh finger controls on books and magazines, are among those that come to mind. And to that very select list, one should really add episode 147 of South Park, Make Love Not Warcraft.

The episode's first stroke of genius was to collaborate with Blizzard Entertainment, which custom-produced the computer game segments, even adding features -- such as synchronizing mouth movements with speech -- not actually available in the game. The second stroke was using the South Park character voices with their Warcraft avatars (as the game would look and sound to those using software add-ons such as Roger Wilco or TeamSpeak) so that the kids' voices come out of their tough-looking overbuilt Warcraft selves. Thus there is irony in every scene, the more so when a balding, beer-bellied, potato-chip munching man wearing glasses and a carpal-tunnel brace turns out to be the big-bad fellow who is "killing everyone in the game." Blizzard executives are show being stunned to discover that this character has become so strong, he's even killing their admins -- he has been playing WarCraft all day every day since it came out, such that he must have no life whatsoever outside of the game. So, as one Blizzard exec asks in Master Po fashion, "How do you kill that which has no life?" The kids will show us the way.

1 comment:

  1. 040717 Make Love Not Warcraft
    One can do things in comedy which would surely get mobs brandishing pitch forks and burning torches into a self-righteous frenzy if they were done in the “real world”. Science Fiction also has this social waiver, Star Trek was famous for addressing unwritten taboo subjects, such as racism in an episode where a planet full of people are killing each other because they are black on the left and white on the right side of their bodies, and they are in a deadly conflict with people have the opposite pigment. We are supposed to think, “what’s the big deal?” and then realize we do somethings equally foolish. South Park pokes at the basement dwellers who think they are impacting the world, while actually barely being part of the functioning world. Technology is easy to get used to, as is virtual reality. I got so accustomed to my touch screen audio mixing console that I would get confused when I poked at my laptop screen and nothing happened. I’m a parody waiting to happen!
    Tony Ricci