Facebook Ads, Paradigm Shifts, and “The Absurd”

“A normal day, that’s all it was.”- Stephen King, from ‘The Dumb Asshole Non-Fiction Shortcut Intro Handbook for Bad Writers Who Suck’

I want to talk a little about paradigm shifts.

Everyone remember High School Science? Thomas Kuhn? Anyone?

Well, not scientifically speaking. I am not a scientist, if this wasn’t abundantly clear by my formal demeanor and my high-class ways. [fart joke goes here. don’t forget to delete this]

A paradigm shift, colloquially, occurs when there is a change (shift) in the general opinion (paradigm, from the Greeks– ‘example’) or perception of events. The aforeposted image that many of us are familiar with is a physical example of this concept– some people see the Duck (facing left) or the Hare (facing right) and what you see may be influenced by others. If you were told, for example, that it was a picture of a Hare before you saw it you may be more likely to see the Hare and vice-versa.

[do the joke again where you leave in something that looks like it’s supposed to be taken out lol it was for sure funny the first time] I want to talk about “absurdism” as a philosophical concept. Don’t worry, you don’t have to bother dusting off your copies of The Myth of Sisyphus for this one. Here’s a very quick and very dirty– if you’re more interested in absurdism or absurdist works go here for a handful of good suggestions.

“The Absurd” is the idea that there is inherent conflict between the nature of Man (big “M”:- relax, nutjobs), which is to seek value and meaning in life, and our inability to find any such value or meaning. This doesn’t mean that there is not such meaning in the world, or that the fight is not worth fighting– Camus (I’m going to save you as little potential embarrassment– you’re welcome) notes that “the struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart” and that this state of being “…requires revolt”– so do with that as you will. I’m personally a fan– a reason to fight is a reason to continue fighting.

 “Now why is he talking about these two things? I see no connection. It’s really feeling like a waste of my time.” questioned the Hastily-Constructed Strawman.
“Don’t you worry, my light-headed friend– there is much merry to come forever more ever forever all the time.” replied the Even-More-Hastily-Constructed Iron-Man.

-Brendan C Bush, A Tale of Two Cities 2: Insurrection

Take a look at this–

This is an advertisement I was brutally subjected to this morning on my very normal, very typical day. An advertisement for the game Dragon Awaken, which is one of those horribly half-assed, browser-based, “””free”””-to-play scam NONSENSE that shows up on the sidebars of every less-than-reputable website. Or, you know, smack [*dab*] in the middle of my Facebook feed.

Zucc’d again.

If the aforeposted video didn’t rub you in the most bodaciously wrong and, coincidentally, best way ever this may not be for you– but if you’re still on-board let me give you a little look behind the curtain and break it down. The assets shown in this demo are, first off, clearly stolen. Go back and look at the Dragon Awaken page– better yet, here’s a video from their own YouTube channel.

Aside from not telling us much of anything about the game, did you notice the shocking lack of the man in a cauldron, flinging himself around with a pickaxe (whose icon seemed to be a Battleaxe, perhaps the most precise opposite of a pickaxe)? Perhaps even more egregious than stealing what most assuredly had been months and months of work designing, modeling, and rigging that model of the Baldroun (get it?) man (who is the player character in “Getting Over It With Bennett Foddy”), not to mention all of the background art which is also stolen from the same game,  is that the thieves couldn’t even spell the name of their own game correctly in thE YOUTUBE VIDEO DESIGNED TO ADVERTISE THE GAME IN WHICH THE NAME OF THE GAME IS FEATURED WITHIN THE FIRST TWO SECONDS OF THAT VERY SAME VIDEO, I’M FINE.

I took a screencap in the off chance someone realizes this mistake– immortalized forever.

The advertisement has absolutely zero to do with the game. Could you imagine that? I know what you’re thinking, third-and-final manufactured Strawman of a slightly better build quality– “But wait, ads can be wacky and crazy all the time and have nothing to do with the product they’re selling”— and that would be correct, if these companies did not already have the brand recognition from years and years of advertisements like this–

Not to mention that all of those advertising campaigns are simultaneously art and business, if you think about it, requiring giant teams of copywriters, artists, administrative members, decency boards, and the list goes on– especially in the United States. Its a lengthy process to get an advertisement on television or the radio, but online there are so few obstacles that you can truly put almost anything on YouTube and just use that video as your advertisement, posting it wherever you can. It’s genius.

I don’t really care about the game itself– it’s more Chinese bootleg crap and I find it humorous at it’s absolute worst, and wildly side-splitting at it’s absolute best. I am positive this did not hurt the sales of Bennett Foddy’s game, nor did it help the numbers grow over at Drayghon Aweekown. I’m much more interested in what this game represents on a microcosmic level and how that is indicative of the general state of being in our modern times– a sort of listless, blasé flippancy towards these sort of things, an attitude that is becoming part and parcel of living in the information age. This is the modern Sisyphus– us young people scrolling endlessly through page after page of who cares what, just going and going with the goal long since forgotten, all apathetic to the state of being.

Apathy is frightening– or, rather, it should be. It’s not fear and it’s not hate, it’s not love or interest– it is the absence of any opinion whatsoever. It is the emotional equivalent of the person who never picks a goddamn place to eat when they’re the one making the plans. Our apathy is, of course, the fruits of a dying Postmodernist way of belief in which “meaning” is thrown out as a possibility in the minds of Man, therefore giving us nothing to fight and struggle for and, therefore, no reason to live (if you remember the words of Camus)

“Mnemonics are dumb”- Camus the Camel

So on this exceedingly banal day in this Postmodern hellscape that we, the youth, had no hand in creating, a video like the Dragon Awaken advertisement gave us more than we could have ever hoped to get from any other source. Our higher education is failing us, our politicians are failing us, but this Dragon Awaken advertisement has our backs. We can absorb it, break it down, and make it the reason we’re fighting to push our boulder to the top of the hill, even if we’ll never make it. Maybe someday, somewhere someone will.

A video like this is going to be long forgotten by the month’s end, that is certain. But it’s impact will hopefully stay with me, motivating me and others around me to shift the paradigm back to an age of sincerity and well meaning, when you could ascribe meaning to ultimately meaningless things and not be considered lesser by your fellow Man.

-Brendan C. Bush, Co-Creator and Contributor at Heck Media

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