Billy’s Speech Comes True

London, Observatory, The Arts

James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ was described by the Guardian as ‘the world’s first attempt to fuse the aesthetic of Starship Troopers with the ambience of mid-period Enya’, but it was huge. The film had more than 125 licensed products incorporating toys, clothing, books and video games which earned over an additional 100 million squids.

But that’s nothing compared to what’s coming.

A few months ago, Twentieth Century Fox unveiled its plans for the future of Avatar merchandising in Las Vegas. Despite blueprints for two Avatar sequels still being hazy, the studio’s licensing arm is betting on the longevity of the brand and is staking out shelf-space for children who aren’t even born yet. This merchandising is “legacy product”, and Avatar is shaping up to join the likes of the Star Wars and Toy Story films. I liked the film, but I wouldn’t want to thrust crappy bits of plush on the next generation of schoolchildren who’ve only seen the film on their mobiles.

It’s just the beginning. To make the point, here’s the speech young PR chief Billy gave at the end of my play ‘Celebrity’. See if it rings a bell…

Billy:
I take my new job very seriously, and they reward me very well. I’m rising to the top like cream. I watch my back, and keep my nose clean. Nobody calls me a sissy now. I’m a Senior Vice President.
These days – we’re in everything.
We fake the photographs.
We kill the rumours.
We leak the sex tapes.
We doctor the phone-ins.
We edit the interviews.
We supply the sunglasses to the celebrity who’ll wear them in public so you’ll insist on buying them. We’ve presold all the clothes you’ll wear, the books you’ll read, the things you’ll want next year. We’ve already chosen the toys your unborn children will beg you to buy.
And as for the truth – we buried that a long time ago.
To us, the only thing that’s real now is you handing over money, forever.
Everything else is fake.
Our best trick? We replaced stars with celebrities. We saved a fortune. Now there’s just the brand, the promotion and the franchise. Celebrities are anyone we choose to put in front of you. And us, we’ve become completely invisible. Perfect.

3 comments on “Billy’s Speech Comes True”

  1. Absolutely spot on. But how much worse are things going to get?

    They’re taking about re-running all the old tv shows with digitally updated product placement blended into the studio sets so it’s unavoidable.

    I know a guy who was in a ‘reality’ tv show and he told me that the whole thing is not only tightly scripted and micro managed down to the last syllable but for insurance purposes it’s also standard practice to use actors in every scene that doesn’t involve the main cast so the network won’t get sued for anything spontaneous that might otherwise occur.

    Where will it end?

  2. Andy says:

    Avatar 2? Isn’t that the new Smurfs movie?

  3. Mike Cane says:

    Well OK then. Any chance of Celebrity as a novel then?

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