I resisted wanting to do a Trailers Without Pity for Gamer for a while because it just sounded really, really dumb. Normally, that would be a good thing, but I was reluctant to add fuel to any Hollywood product that sought to stick video gamers into the traditional, stereotypical geek box. "What will video games of the future be like?" the film seems to ask, "well, you can kill real people, for one thing."
I wanted no part of that junk. But when I finally watched the trailer and saw that it was no more (and maybe no less) than a gussied-up retread of The Running Man, I warmed up to the concept and we decided we might yet have fun with it.
So the video's below, our take on Gamer, which stars Gerard Butler, Michael C. Hall, Kyra Sedgwick and (!) Ludacris. Enjoy!
Last week, I was talking with my producer at NPR about news bits we could do on the All Tech Considered segment. We're trying to mix up the usual one-topic segments with what he calls a more "shotgun approach" some weeks, touching on several bits of tech news and culture.
One of the things I'd written about last week and that was making the rounds on tech blogs was the story of how a video featuring Keyboard Cat and Hall & Oates (below, with audio intact) was stripped of its audio on YouTube after Warner Music Group got wind of the (brilliant) mashup.
My producer took the idea half-seriously, which meant there was a pretty good chance it would get on the air. This gave me what we in the serious journalism world call a "News boner." I was suddenly determined to introduce Keyboard Cat to the masses. (A little late, sure, but it would still be awesome.)
My producer was worried that ATC host Robert Siegel might not find it amusing (especially the crazy Helen Hunt drug part of the video), but we forged ahead anyway. I worked up a script draft and got into the studio on Monday. Before the segment, the subject of lolcats came up and I found myself in the weird position of explaining what they were to him. He seemed curious and baffled at the same time, especially when I told him where to go online to find them.
"So it's 'I-Can-Has-Cheezburger,' then?" he said.
What followed was one of the most surreal experiences of my young broadcasting career. Robert Siegel reading to me lolcats captions as I listened, without a computer in front of me.
"Ah, in this one, there's a cat on one side of a screen door and a dog on the other. The dog is saying, 'What's the password?' The cat says, 'Let me in or I'll shred your face?' And the dog replies, 'That'll work.' Mmm."
"Does it have big white text?" I asked. What the Hell was I supposed to say?
Hey, I tried. I could psychically sense Robert Siegel taking a long, deep mental breath before continuing.
In the actual segment, Robert uses the segue, "And now from high tech, to low culture..." before we talk about Keyboard Cat, so I'm guessing he was not completely enthralled by the story of Fatso, the deceased Internet cat sensation. Nevertheless, I thought the segment turned out well and the reaction, at least from what I saw on Twitter, was mostly positive. I think most people were just surprised to hear the catchy song on their afternoon drive.
When I got home, my wife asked if I wasn't a little embarrassed for lowering the public radio bar with something so silly. Maybe just a little bit. It is pretty dumb. But a big chunk of my beat is Internet culture and Keyboard Cat is one of the reasons why I love the online world. It's stuff like that, out there, being created every day. It amazes me how these things happen.