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precarious since 1997 | by maryann johanson

more adventures in corporate Hollywood totally misunderstanding the Internet

I wrote recently about how the people behind Kick-Ass missed a golden opportunity to engage with fans of the film when they failed to do anything with the domain redmist.org, which features prominently in the film.

Two more examples of the same mystifying failure cropped up over the past few days.

Last Thursday’s installment of FlashForward featured a plot point revolving around a fictional car-sharing company called ZoomCar.net. It was actually quite clever and, as far as I’m aware, the first such use in a fictional setting to recognize the criminal potential of car sharing, which offers more anonymity than traditional rental cars. A good chunk of the episode involves Joseph Fiennes’ FBI agent driving around California deserts, following directions from the bad guy, which included numerous shots of the ZoomCar.net logo on the sides of two different cars.
What happens when you plug ZoomCar.net into your Web browser? Absolutely nothing. ABC owns the domain, but it’s not even pointed at ABC’s official site for the show. It takes two seconds to set up domain forwarding. Why lose the traffic from curious viewers?

FlashForward, on the whole, appears to be one big exercise in squandering potential: this could have been the next Lost, but now it’s on the verge of being cancelled because of low ratings. So perhaps it’s not surprising that one more ball has been fumbled in this game.

But The Simpsons? One of the longest-running shows ever, and one that has regularly anticipated fan reaction, down to throwing in jokes that can only be seen if you record an episode and examine it frame by frame? Last night’s episode opened with a parody TV ad for a summer blockbuster movie called Tic-Tac-Toe: X v. O, “from the producers of Duck, Duck, Goose; Got Your Nose; and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.” It was a hilarious poke at how dumbed down Hollywood movies have gotten, and it concluded with the movie’s “official” site: www.tic-tac-toe-x-v-o-the-terrible-movie.com.

I couldn’t wait to see what would be found at that site — surely the creators of The Simpsons would have something wonderfully clever for us. And this is what I found:

The mind boggles.

The domain name is far too specific another kind of joke not to have been deliberately created for this episode: it’s not as if Fox is riding on the coattails of a long-ago-registered URL (although, rather surprisingly, both tictactoethemovie.com and tictactoemovie.com are available). The joke domain is owned, however, not by Fox or Matt Groening’s production company but by something called Offshack Solutions, which has its own domain, offshack.com, that goes nowhere.

I’m so perplexed by this misstep on the part of the Simpsons folks that I’m half convinced Offshack Solutions is the setup for a future joke. It’s gotta be, right?



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