Reports put together by Kevin Watson for a presentation at the annual International Music Summit in Ibiza valued the entire global industry at roughly $6.2 billion in 2014 - a staggering increase from last year’s figure of $4.5 billion - and everybody from Disney to FIFA is competing for their share of the ever-expanding market. Still, the white-haired suits who serve on such companies’ boards routinely underestimate the inertia of dance culture’s 32-year history, and their halfhearted efforts to win over its followers range from mildly awkward to downright embarrassing. As you’ve probably guessed, the following 3 examples fall into the latter category.
Fox Digital Studios Releases Feature Film Flop ETXR
Between the upcoming HBO comedy series Higher and festival circuit documentary No Cameras Allowed, the imminent spillover of dance culture into the on-camera medium seems a logical next step for numerous venture capitalists. However, as evidenced by how the film community received Fox Digital Studios’ straight-to-Netflix March release of their thrown-together micro budget film ETXR, being the first one there doesn’t necessarily mean being the best.
Where They Went Wrong: What the movie tries to pass off as a plot better resembles a collection of stereotypes and tropes lazily stitched together by obvious EDM outsiders (and, unsurprisingly, first-time screenwriters) Herb Ratner and Trevor Sands. The main character, a struggling DJ/producer (played by independent film actor Samuel Caleb Hunt) who goes by the stage name Bix the Bug, dons a helmet inlayed with flickering LEDs a la Deadmau5. By a series of contrived plot devices, he comes into possession of a device called a “Teslascope” which receives sound frequencies from extraterrestrials. He incorporates it into his live sets, which puts him on the mainstream radar at the cost of eliciting unwanted attention from government agents and a terrorist organization known only as “They.” As if Bix looking for every opportunity to insert his catchphrase, “the Bug is bugged,” into the dialogue wasn’t bad enough, the script is littered with EDM clichés like “I don’t just press play!” as well as name drops of companies like Live Nation and Insomniac likely pulled from a simple Google search.
The film’s housey, trancey soundtrack itself is listenable enough, but post production decisions to match it up with footage of Hunt twisting knobs or pushing buttons that don’t correspond to any effects in the actual music ruin the story’s depictions of live performances. Ironically, ETXR’s saving grace seems to have been that hardly anybody in the EDM community actually watched it. What pop culture relevance critics perceived it having led them to take mercy on it; “If you’re a fan of electronic house music, dubstep blasting and bass all up in your face, there’s a stronger chance you’ll get more out of this movie,” said Michael Smith in his FilmBook review of the movie, failing to recognize that all house music is electronic or that the score didn’t contain any dubstep whatsoever.
Most Cringeworthy Moment: During a textbook “hero rejects the call to action” scene, Bix asks his neurotic college acquaintance, Curtis (played by Levi Fiehler), “Do you think you’re better off alone?” Whether the Alice DeeJay reference was intentional or it simply made the cut because nobody on staff was familiar with it to begin with, it qualifies as a crime against humanity.
Roy Krebs Invents RaveAid But Can’t Discuss What It’s For
Even though groups like non-profit organization Dancesafe have made significant strides in facilitating a constructive dialogue about substance abuse in the EDM scene, the better part of the industry can’t seem to decide on what it wants to contribute to the conversation. From Insomniac all but pretending that it doesn’t take place at their events in Electric Daisy Carnival documentary Under the Electric Sky to Electric Zoo requiring attendees to watch staunchly anti-drug PSA The Molly, the only thing industry leaders seem to agree on is that they don’t want to invite the kind of legislation that forced the rave scene underground in 2003. For similar reasons, Roy Krebs putting serotonin production supplement cocktail RaveAid on the market made for more than a few awkward conversations.
Where They Went Wrong: Instead of calling the product what it was - a supplement that reduces the harmful bodily effects of the controlled substances ravers certainly weren't going to stop using anytime soon - Krebs went out of his way not to acknowledge any connection between RaveAid and recreational drug use. The product’s list of active ingredients reads as a veritable laundry list of detoxifying and adrenal fatigue-combating agents including 5-HTP, Coenzyme Q10, Vitamins B3 and B6 and Magnesium - the latter of which RaveAid’s website itself points out “Minimizes jaw clenching, tooth grinding, and muscle cramping.” While most of the product’s consumer reviews were positive, they came at a price; RaveAid’s first wave of consumers took it upon themselves to highlight the disconnect between the product's marketing and its obvious intended purpose as a hangover tonic (for the kind of hangovers people who stay up dancing until sunrise three days in a row suffer). One such Amazon product review began, "Let's face it, if you are buying this product you probably know what it's actually designed for, even though it's not mentioned on the label or product description."
Most Cringeworthy Moment: Tessa Stuart of the LA Times clearly didn't get the subtlety memo and penned an article titled "RaveAid Will Cure Your Ecstacy Hangover" in what might as well have been all caps. As if the headline weren't bad enough, the piece asserted that Krebs developed RaveAid's formula based on information gleaned from "hard-core ravers - the kind of EDM enthusiasts who make graphs plotting the exact time a high should hit to match the peak of a DJ's set." In an attempt to mitigate whatever PR catastrophe Stuart's article may have spawned, Krebs contacted the publication and demanded that they insert a disclaimer at the end of the article:
Roy Krebs, RaveAid, and its affiliates do not encourage, endorse, or condone the use of illegal drugs. Any statements regarding RaveAid's use to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease are those of the editor. All statements suggesting a link between RaveAid and the use of illegal drugs are strictly those of the editor.
The internet responded to Krebs' disclaimer with a resounding "Seems legit."
Children's "Molly Monster" Halloween Costume Assaults Everything You Hold Sacred
On the opposite end of the spectrum is a product that unapologetically references drug culture and serves no practical purpose whatsoever, save for compelling everyone who looks at your kid to call Child Services. In the Fall of 2013, Californian Jeremy O'Keefe took a photo of the outfit in its original packaging at a local Halloween costume store and uploaded it to Facebook. The Internet unilaterally dubbed it an atrocity on par with the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined before ensuring that it found its way onto every last News Feed being refreshed that week.
Where They Went Wrong: Where didn't they go wrong? How does a product that takes the most universally loathed aspect of EDM culture and effectively cut the age of its victim in half make it past a board meeting and onto store shelves? To make matters worse, though, most of the blogs that ran the story used a version of the image with extra accessories Photoshopped in, namely a pacifier and kandi bracelets (one ironic exception being gossip site TheDirty.com). For a time, many challenged the authenticity of the photo altogether while yet others tried to argue that it was based on a children's show character rather than a drug reference. The only two characters named "Molly Monster" from stories big enough to merit a mass-produced costume bear no resemblance to the outfit itself, unfortunately, and its combination of fluffies and a wig send the message loud and clear. In a backwards advertising era in which clothing labels release highly offensive designs (like Urban Outfitters' infamous blood-spattered Kent State sweater) in order to keep their names in people's mouths, the costume may well have served its purpose.
Most Cringeworthy Moment: Really, each moment that passed before the Molly Monster costume was finally taken off the shelves was an increasingly inexplicable testament to everything that's wrong with human beings. As a matter of fact, an adult version of the costume has managed to stay on the market - so in a manner of speaking the most cringeworthy moment is this very instant. Soak it in.
Written by John Cameron