This is sort of sad, actually. Not the video itself, which is a perfectly ordinary promotional video — it could almost have been an extended ad for the Oscars. No, what’s sad is that — as Tom O’Neil at Gold Derby reports — apparently this was meant to be an attempt at viral video: it was, according to O’Neil, “leaked” by a production assistant at the Oscars prior to Sunday’s telecast, as some sort of unauthorized teaser. Not leaked — straight up sent out onto the Web in a sneaky way, so to speak — but “leaked,” quote-unquote, as in “released with full authorization of everyone involved in the hopes that we’d think it was something we weren’t supposed to see, and with the knowledge that we’d be in on the joke, too.”

Except there’s no joke.

If the “leakage” thing is true — and it could be that O’Neil is simply part of a multilayered campaign to double or triple fake us out — then this video is absolutely laughable. If anything like this was to go viral, it would have to look as if it was shot surreptitiously — the voiceover and the slick editing are unavoidable tipoffs that it is official — and it would have to depict something outrageous, like Jackman pulling a Christian Bale and ranting with the worst swear words imaginable at some hapless production assistant like the one who’s meant to have released the video into the e-wild. It’s hard to believe that Jackman actually really would behave in such a way, not with his reputation for gentlemanliness, but it might have gone viral if we got that it was an over-the-top put-on to see him acting like a supreme jerk.

That could have been funny, and it could have gone viral. And there are things we saw on the Oscar telecast — like Ben Stiller’s impersonation of Joaquin Phoenix (with the added layering that Phoenix’s ongoing meltdown may be a big put-on, too) — that suggest that the Oscar producers do have a clue about how audiences today digest and regurgitate entertainment gossip and make it their own (as with the remixes of Bale’s R-rated rant). But there’s no evidence of that here. And that’s a shame.

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Tue, Feb 24, 2009 5:44pm

There’s nothing about this that doesn’t look like a promotional video. Did someone really think it would look like a leak? Even the running time — exactly two minutes — is a giveaway.

There’s nothing wrong with this video at all. There should have been an Oscar Channel on Youtube, and they could have had multiple rehearsal videos narrated by Hugh Jackman, and that would have been worth watching.

Big Media is really dumb about how to play in the little media world. This is just the newest example.