Over the last decade or so, more and more movies and TV shows have been investing in elaborate online marketing campaigns. Back in 2006, Lost set up an entire conspiracy theory rabbit hole with its officially canonical and totally unnecessary Hanso Corporation and “The Lost Experience.” Recently, The Hunger Games devoted a branch of its marketing to Capitol propaganda. So the new Independence Day marketing angle has a lot of precedent, but still manages to be infinitely more terrifying than any of its precursors.
20th Century Fox has just released this mini-trailer/faux ad for the ESD- the Earth Space Defense.
In the new Independence Day sequel, the ESD is the defense program fighting the aliens. If you click through to the ESD’s enlistment page, this is what you find:
SINCE THE WAR OF 1996, THE EARTH SPACE DEFENSE HAS BEEN PREPARING FOR THE NEXT GREAT ALIEN INVASION. WE’RE LOOKING FOR THE BEST AND BRIGHTEST FROM AROUND THE GLOBE TO JOIN THE ESD, AND PROTECT MANKIND. OUR PURPOSE IS SIMPLE: DEFEND EARTH’S INDEPENDENCE AT ALL COSTS.
It’s a neat idea, and a cool way to make the film’s marketing interactive. There are a bunch of games you can play where you explore different branches of the ESD’s work, from bio extraction to codebreaking to outer space fighter pilot. Cute, right?
Totally cute except that the fake military brach of the ESD is hosted by the very real GoArmy.com, and eventually, every game result leads to actual military job applications. You enjoyed that Bio Extraction game? Cool, here’s the logical next step!
This is not the first blockbuster to have paired its cross-marketing with the Army. X-Men did it a few years ago, but this is the most elaborate and the most potentially ethically murky tie-in between a movie about fake alien shooting and actual people shooting I’ve ever seen.
I’m not saying that people shouldn’t have the option to enlist in the military if that’s what they want to do. I AM saying that if the military is making fun games to train kids to kill funny little bug-looking aliens as a way of basically tricking them into an interest in actual killing, we should be wary because THAT’S LITERALLY THE PLOT OF ENDER’S GAME.
SOMEONE PLEASE LISTEN TO LITTLE BABY ENDER.