Bike Hero: A Critical Review

This video, a riff on Guitar Hero, is pretty great.

Unfortunately, it’s also a fake. The video is totally awesome, to use the technical term, but a large part of its awesomeness derives from the fact that some ordinary person not only came up with this completely implausible idea, but executed it brilliantly for no discernible reason. That makes it art, if only because we¬† don’t have many other good names for this type of behavior. One of the millions of untrained, unlicensed plebes rose up and did something amazing, and it’s inspiring precisely because it makes us think that we just might be able to do it ourselves. It’s our art.

Except that “we” didn’t do it. The video was produced by creative agency Droga5, according to the credits on this page, which also lists the CG animators. Doubly fake. Not only was this piece created as a viral marketing ploy for Guitar Hero, but the events in the video never actually happened.

“Authentic” is very hard to define. It’s easy to give flip answers like “love, not money,” but plenty of good art has been created to pay the rent. For an internet example, take the brilliant “OK Go on Treadmills” video. Sure, they did it to sell their album, but somehow it feels very “real”. I also like to imagine the jazz and blues musicians of old New Orleans, playing in the clubs every night. They were great artists, but they were working artists. Conversely, real culture can be executed as fake, like faux-Irish pubs all over the world. While any idiot can throw up dark wood paneling and serve Guinness, it’s not hard to tell when you’re being scammed for the tourist dollar. The trouble is, I’m often very hard pressed to say precisely what it is that makes one Irish pub phony and another authentic. Is Bike Hero no longer art now that we know who paid for it?

The only certainty I can fine here is that I don’t like being lied to. Undercover marketing is designed to make us believe that it’s not marketing at all, and that makes it the eptiome of inauthenticity. For this reason I have to give Bike Hero two thumbs down.

2 thoughts on “Bike Hero: A Critical Review”

  1. I just read a pretty awesome book called “Unmarketable: Brandalism, Copyfighting, Mocketing, and the Erosion of Integrity” by Anne Elizabeth Moore. It dealt with a lot of this same stuff, and it’s a good read. You can borrow it if you want!

    (Amazon link to book)


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