A Shopping Mall’s Live Drive-Thru Zoom Play (media and marketing case study)

This shopping mall staged an interactive drive-thru play on Zoom, the perfect pandemic era promotional event. It’s a cool media and marketing vignette.

Drive-Thru Murder Mystery on Zoom

“Since the health department allowed drive-ins, OTC created a Zoom ‘Dinner and a Murder’ event. Taking the basic drive-in concept up a notch, its duo of Janet Jerde (director) and Paige Jeschke (marketing manager) collaborated with The Murder Mystery Company of Michigan to develop a script and hired a dozen actors from across the country to perform the whodunit live online, with the intrigue coming to center viewers on-site on a 41-foot screen erected in the parking lot. That’s just part of the hair-raising story.

Guests who had pre-purchased their tickets could roll up to the center and park in front of the screen, order food and drinks from tenants restaurants, and then ease back into their seats, watch the action unfold, and try to solve the murder like investigators on a stakeout. According to OTC’s team, it communicated with the actors via Zoom while those present really got into the event’s theme and actively participated when prompted by honking their horns, flashing their car lights, using their blinkers, and texting the team who they thought had murdered the ‘movie’ victim, millionaire Sal Fie (get it?). The supporting tech gave the guests the impression that they were interacting with the actors directly, even though the OTC team was the intermediary-the performers could actually call out specific cars, incorporate team names that were texted in, and ‘see’ drivers react when they thought one of the suspects wasn’t telling the truth. “

juicy meat #2: femininity coaches on social media, preliminary notes

“juicy meat” is an ongoing series analyzing media content. This instalment contemplates femininity coaches on social media.

“Femininity coaches” are trending right now. They’re plying their trade on Youtube, TikTok and elsewhere. Lots of commentators say elements of this are “problematic”, but what actually explains the phenomenon? Some early thoughts…

Why Femininity Coaches Now?

  1. Cultural backlash against “Female Chauvinist Pigs”, a phenomenon best exemplified by the Call Her Daddy podcast. Certainly true, right? Femininity coaches reject the Call Her Daddy woman but stop short of outright “social conservatism”, a welcome compromise.
  2. The bitter internet lurkers favourite explanation and sometimes the explicit conceit of the content: hypergamy. Femininity coaches can help you secure a “high value man”, that’s the hope. Women definitely complain about the quality of men in the current day so maybe the stakes are just that high.
  3. Pure fantasy. The content in question has virtually no practical relevance for most of the people consuming it. This is clear from many “comments” and obvious more generally. This explanation is best seen in light of the immersive and intimate quality of the digital media environment. You’re curled up in bed alone in your apartment and a “femininity coach” ambushes you on TikTok.
  4. Women’s desire for feminine intimacy with other women. Straight women desire lots of intimacy from other straight women.* That said, stuff like woman-on-woman hair-brushing has surely declined in the era of the smartphone. Maybe alluring imagery on said smartphone fills the gap? Do current-day men (including “high value men”) really want women to be “feminine” in the style of this content? It’s iffy.** Is this all a woman-on-woman fantasy-projection?

*See: ASMR, fodder for any number of future “juicy meat” posts.

**To be clear, I’m not speaking for myself. I’m not taking a position any which way but playing the objective social analyst.

YouTube, fandom and “intimacy”

Youtube’s Intimacy, Fan Passion and Digital Eye Contact

“When we surveyed our teen and Millennial subscribers, 40 percent told us that YouTubers understood them better than their friends or family.* But a whopping 60 percent of them told us that a creator has changed their life or view of the world.”

“This embrace of openness by both fans and creators has led to a stronger link between them and the traditional teenage fan club. Sixty percent of those same subscribers tell us that the community they form with other fans of their favorite YouTubers is stronger than those they form around traditional celebrities from TV, music, or film. And earlier in the book I mentioned that the same percentage tell us that a YouTube creator has changed his or her life or view of the world.

When I asked Tyler about this, he explained that even the format of vlogging encourages connection. ‘YouTube is so intimate because it’s a YouTuber talking directly into the eyes of the viewer,’ he said. ‘It’s physically so close to the screen, it feels like you’re with your friend.’

But I believe that intimacy goes even deeper. When you first encounter actors, you’re likely encountering them performing a role. Their success depends on your believing their portrayal of someone they are not. With YouTubers, it’s the opposite; their success depends on your knowing and liking who they actually are. That doesn’t just lead to a situation that’s more intimate; it’s the definition of how intimacy is built.”

Zeynep Tufekci on social movements and digital technologies

“Capabilities are like muscles that need to be developed; digital technologies allow ‘shortcuts’ which can be useful for getting to a goal, but bypass the muscle development that might be crucial for the next step. It is difficult, if not impossible, to develop one set of muscles without also developing others that work in support and coordination; digital technologies can sever or alter this link, allowing for the social movement equivalent of a bodybuilder with massive pectorals but no biceps or deltoids to speak of.”