Mission III: The Counter Narratives

How are your Arganee Health Board scores doing? How are we doing as a group? What will it take to raise all our levels. By the time Kean students walk into their classroom alchemy lab Wednesday, there should be updates reflective of your work from Mission 2.

Arganee is Cooking with Cooking

But this is the third week of missions.

Live Cook off

We’ve seen some impressive work by our Digital Alchemists for the Cooking With Anger show. We really want to see your stories cross posted here on this blog, because they are that tasty. And it boosts your scores. Because scores.

We have one more challenge, in that at the start of our Kean class Wednesday April 19 (4:30PM EST) we are going to VIDEO BOMB the live cook offs that Mark Marino and Rob Wittig are running. Other participants in Cooking with anger will be near their end of doing a live improv story, based on a basket distributed to them.

Some shots from our Cooking With Anger cookoff

They do not know we re showing up, so we are planning to all bring alchemy props, costumes, anything to spook them! Let’s show ’em what Alchemy is all about. Because of the small overlap in time, we will take the same basket (or maybe another one), and do our own group improv story. We really want to show off how powerful alchemists are, so get your best storymaking faces on and bring your most vivid imagination.

These were our provided basket items to improv a story:

the trick

spice pack:
1/4 tabl Loathing
1/8 pinch of overwhelmed
1/2 ts[ pf exhiliration
1 cup of surprise

And here is the story our Alchemists came up with in ~20 minutes

A Pepsi Alt Narrative

Maybe you missed this recent story, but a large budget commercial for Pepsi went a little “flat” on social and other media:

There has been more than enough critical commentary on how badly Pepsi planned and executed this message. They perhaps had hoped for the success Coca Cola enjoyed with a 1971 advertisement that is considered by many one of the best commercials ever:

Both try to suggest that sharing a sugary carbonated beverage can change the world. But Pepsi definitely missed the mark, right? Among the blast of reactions in social media was spoofs like


and from Saturday Night Live

Is this kind of narrative, parody, effective as a form of activism, or is it simply another on the heap of heaving bad mojo towards Pepsi?

We want you to spend some time exploring and analyzing with the web annotation tool Hypothes.is a brilliant critical parody from McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.

But there has been more than enough criticism and Pepsi tsk-tsking (well maybe the need some more). So we invite you to try on, for the sake of narrative, a different perspective, though it might be implausible. Sometimes it helps to try on a perspective that seems outlandish, just for looking at things differently from the way everyone else is chiming in.

So here is the mission. First, create a new Hypothes.is account for your Digital Alchemist persona. Remember your class and character so far. Slip into that persona. Now here is the scenario…

The people in the upper chambers of Pepsi tower who planned this ad campaign knew in advance it would have the negative reaction, but they have a diabolical plan that is built on the premise that any mention of their brand, good or bad, is valuable (some would suggest a certain recent Presidential candidate employed the same strategy). So you, as a group of Digital Alchemy Consultants are analyzing works like the McSweeny’s parody for its effectiveness towards this hidden strategy. When you are annotating, aim to make it conversational with your fellow alchemists, and include in your notes external references that try to associate the parody with cultural or related connections.

Remember this is narrative, not critical commentary. Play your part. Have disagreements with each other or send compliments.

Use this link to open the article with Hypothes.is enabled. And remember to include an arganee tag with all your notes. This is what will feed the world health ratings.

There is also a bonus on the table of every bit of the McSweeny’s article is annotated.

Also, for some more reference on this Pepsi angle, see Pepsi’s New Ad Is a Total Success (“Every feature of the “Jump In” ad benefits the company—even the act of pulling it from the airwaves”). And as well, see the LA Times story Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner ad: Mistake or subversive strategy?.

Does Heineken do it even worse?

For the Rest of the Week: Draw into the Story and Meme Parodies

Once you have played out your Pepsi Alternative Narrative, see if you can pull other goaafy (non Alchemists) into the story, maybe via twitter, even maybe people in the regular #netnarr stream. What can make them want to dive into your conspiracy world? We strongly encourage you to try first bringing in open participants such as @dogtrax @sandramardene @wentale @telliowkuwp @KeeganSLW @OnlineCrsLady @MCorbettWilson @NetKidHorse @Seecantrill @jstew511 @AwoJolt @Autumm @sensor63 @ggevalt @markcmarino

Engage in writing here, or in twitter about the role of parody in civic activism, or maybe criticize it. We ask that you look at some other issue in the news, or your world, heck maybe just parking, and create a meme message that explores an alternative to the norm perspective on it (as we have done with Pepsi). What can you convey or transform or draw attention with the simple combination of a photo and big text?

Also, for more participation credits, keep tweeting, blogging, commenting, doing Daily Digital Alchemies (it is likely creating a new DDA by your alchemist will count extra).

Make alchemy!

Featured image: Tekniska högskolan metro station Wikimedia Commons image by Arild Vågen shared under a CC BY-SA license

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