retail memorabilia #4

Been digging through some boxes I’ve got in storage, and I found some things. So it’s time for another blog post.

I got some promotional lanyards. Yeah, I know, not that exciting. But they’re kind of neat, right?

This one is pretty generic. It’s just a lanyard promoting the PS3. It’s fine, I guess.

Now this one looks like another generic PS3 lanyard. But if you turn it around:

It’s actually a promo lanyard for Gran Turismo 5 Prologue. You know, the GT that everyone loved, and wasn’t a shameful, arrogant act of charging money for a fucking demo. The fucked up part is that I actually bought the thing, so I’m not really in much of a position to complain. Though I can at least say I bought it when it was discounted. Never really got far in the game (the demo), because I deleted it for hard drive space (this was on my old 80 gig system), and then I got GT6 and never looked back. A weird time for Sony, given that their executives had all suddenly decided it would be a good business decision to inject steaming hyena shit directly into their brains.

I actually used to have two of these. I gave on to a friend that I have not spoken to in over a decade. She reacted to me giving her the news that I had just been diagnosed with bipolar disorder by completely vanishing and never talking to me again. So, you know, thanks for that.

The last one I have here is a bit more unusual, mostly because of the game it’s promoting. And also because it’s a PS2 game, and this is when that system was being phased out.

But yeah, Rogue Galaxy. This was given to me by Sony themselves, so they had an interest in wanting people to play the game. Unfortunately for them, it was against corporate policy for us to actually wear any of these while on the clock, so their brand awareness strategy was a complete failure.

It even has this promo card with all of its marketing bullet points.

Never played Rogue Galaxy, but boy howdy, does “over 8 hours of cinematics” fill me with a sense of dread. I hear the game is good. Might try it out someday.

Look at this. Sony, or whoever, went out of their way on this thing. It even has these little molds of the characters. Okay, granted, they look like shit, but it wasn’t like the Gran Turismo one had a rubber car on it. Probably had to pay for another lanyard later on that had one. Their heart was in the right place, at least.

Something you’ve probably picked up on with all of these posts is that Sony really, really liked to give you free stuff. Microsoft might give you a button or a pen once in a while. Nintendo wouldn’t give you shit, except for the rudest asshole vendor who would mouth off to you if you tried to give him any kind of instruction, and because he didn’t work for you, you couldn’t fire his bitch ass. What I’m saying here is that I’ve hated Nintendo of America long before they fired Alison Rapp. Sony, though, they were nice and easy to work with. Which is a blessing when you’re stuck working a shit job as a retail manager. Still not all that interested in the PS5, I must say.

the maxx

Holy shit, it’s been a little while. I meant to have some posts up on here, but I was way too fucking busy with life, so uh, I didn’t. Plus a lot of recent events put me in a bad mood, and I didn’t really feel like making another angry post. I’m a lot less busy/upset now, so here I go.

I don’t remember the context of it, but I was having a conversation with a friend about “light” trauma. I don’t mean trauma in the sense of abuse or seeing a dead body or anything. I mean “trauma,” in the sense of walking into a room during the worst part of a horror movie as a kid. Or, probably the most relatable one if you’re in my age group, turning the page in any volume of Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark and getting an eyeful of Stephen Gammell’s even-as-an-adult unsettling artwork.

the picture that gave every millennial nightmares

There’s always at least one piece of media, whether it be a movie, book, TV show, video game, that you can look back at fondly and say, “yeah, this scared the fucking shit out of me as a kid!” Sometimes it’s something that, in retrospect, was kind of stupid. For me, it was the poster for Les Misérables. I could not see that poster on the street, or in a commercial, without completely going hysterical and crying. I could not for the life of me tell you why, exactly, this was the case, but it was.

I guess when you’re only five years old, and your eyes and brain haven’t fully developed yet, any otherwise innocuous image can be absolute visceral horror.

Then you have stuff that I absolutely should not have seen as a kid. For example: to any parents who are reading, don’t let your 7-year old rent a copy of Splatterhouse 2 from the video store. That’s not a good idea.

Also maybe don’t let your kids watch MTV. Probably shouldn’t let them watch that bullshit now, but definitely not in the mid-90s. The time period where MTV was actually willing to be experimental with its programming, mostly in regards to its animation. Of course, I watched a lot of Beavis and Butt-Head. No, it was not scary. I was way too young to understand most of the jokes, instead laughing at two idiots calling each other “fartknocker” and then getting into a fistfight. Aeon Flux? Way too complex for my simple brain to handle at the time. At that age, you can’t even spell “surreal,” let alone watch some high-concept animation full of it.

Then there was The Maxx.

The Maxx absolutely should have been right up my alley. A cartoon based on a comic book character? A character that looks like every other badass anti-hero of the day? Of course, I hadn’t actually read the books first. The Maxx, simply put, is a story of horrifically traumatized people, one of them an amnesiac who believes himself to be a super-hero, dealing with life in the big city, and dealing with a serial rapist with magic powers constantly stalking him and his friends. That shit is not for kids. In addition to the extremely heavy subject matter, Sam Kieth’s dreamlike art style can create some really fucked up looking visuals, which were recreated to the dot in the animated series.

I rewatched all 13 episodes yesterday (episodes are about ten minutes a piece). They hold up really well. I found the show while digging around on Soulseek, because YouTube and even the almighty Internet Archive were no help in looking up classic MTV animation (though the IA does have Liquid Television quick click this before Chuck Wendig gets it shut down). Adult me recommends it.

Back on topic, though, holy fucking shit did this show ever take a toll on my small brain. I could have, you know, stopped watching after episode 2 or 3. But no, I watched every last one as a kid. I was not a smart child.

And even if I were to stop watching, MTV’s advertising department made sure you knew that The Maxx existed. In their campaign to promote the second half of the series, the commercial opened with a severed fucking head.

A bit of context: in episode 2, the primary antagonist, Mr. Gone, is killed, via his head getting cut off. However, due to his mystic powers and ability to travel between dimensions, he’s still able to exert his will, and gets his head sent to the apartment of the woman who killed him several episodes later. Now, because this is a rotting body part, the smell is bad enough that she discovers the package his head is in, and opens it, to her horror.

Now, before I continue, I want you to imagine something here. It’s 1995. You’re about 8-9 years old. You come home from school, and you turn on your TV in your bedroom. Because you’re impressionable and doubly susceptible to marketing, you turn on MTV. You’re watching some music videos. Maybe you’re watching Nirvana’s acoustic cover of “The Man Who Sold The World” (for my money, one of the greatest live performances of all time). About 2 or 3 videos play, before it’s time for a commercial break. You don’t think much of it; sometimes commercials tell you about something you want to watch, or toys you want for Christmas. This one, though, opens with this:

Be sure to watch new episodes of “The Maxx,” only on MTV!

It’s funny. I feel like I’m coming across as a media watchdog crusader, asking someone out there to please think of the children, because I definitely should not have been allowed to watch this. But I suppose I should also be thankful, because being exposed to all this weird, terrifying shit as a kid had a pretty direct influence on my art, and overall aesthetic choices. So uh…