Campaigns: Weekly Web Watch - X-Men takes its lead from Blair Witch

Organisation: Twentieth Century Fox

Organisation: Twentieth Century Fox



Issue: Promotion for the forthcoming release of the X-Men film



At: www.mutantwatch.com



Twentieth Century Fox has launched a two-pronged internet offensive in

an attempt to make its X-Men film this summer’s blockbuster.



An adaptation of Marvel Comics’ long-running comic book series, the film

follows a group of genetic mutants led by Professor Xavier (Patrick

Stewart) who use their various super-human powers to fight the evil

Magneto (Ian McKellen) and his mutant cohorts, intent on destroying all

of humanity.



If this isn’t bad enough, the misguided US government wants to rid the

world of all mutants.



Navigating your way from the official Fox site takes you to the

obligatory stylish web site (www.x-men-the-movie. co.uk ) with nifty

animations, sound effects, production notes, and trailers. However, a

button at the top of the page launches you into the ’X-Men Experience’,

subjecting you to a retina scan before taking you to www.mutantwatch.

com.



The excellent tongue-in-cheek site is home to senator Kelly’s campaign

for re-election on an anti-mutant ticket. With red, white and blue

congressional banners, a mission statement from the senator outlines his

objections to the ’mutant threat’. A campaign milks every cliche of a

wholesome America while the senator’s voice over proclaims that

everything is set to change on 14 July - the day of the film’s

premiere.



A ’Known Mutants’ page has several grainy surveillance photographs of

the film’s mutant characters, accompanied by files, which also don’t

have much in the way of detail. In fact no actual mention is made of the

film except for a small statement at the bottom of the home page

announcing sponsorship from the Stop the X-Men campaign. An on-line quiz

allows you to assess whether you’re a mutant or not and there are web

links to a couple of dry dissertations on genetics.



The ’Report a Mutant’ page encourages you to sign up to the senator’s

campaign and shop a friend/suspected mutant as well, effectively

registering two users to the promotional mailing list for the price of

one.



Despite Mutant Watch’s negative point of view it takes its lead from

last year’s Blair Witch Project web site, by immersing users in the

fiction of the film. Particularly as you can get to this ’fictional’

site quite easily from the official site but there are no links or

references to take you back.



Interestingly, Mutant Watch’s ’official’ appearance is neatly reversed

by Marvel Comics’ official X-Men site (www.x-men.com) which establishes

itself as a rogue transmission from the underground band of mutants.



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