I have to confess that I was somewhat skeptical — okay, really skeptical — when I read in the New York Times about a deal between 20th Century Fox and a group of guys who had put together an “homage” video about the Die Hard movies. As the story describes, the original video was a compilation of action sequences from the three movies, with a rock-style song as a voiceover, including the immortal words “Yippee-ki-yay, motherf***er” as the chorus.
The movie studio forced YouTube to take the video down, since it uses a whole pile of clips from the copyrighted movies, etc. etc. Standard bone-headed movie industry activity, in other words. But at some point, a light bulb clearly went on over someone’s head (either that or a studio executive under 30 attended a meeting) and Fox approached the group and offered to not only let them post the video again, but offered to pay them as long as they included some clips from the upcoming movie (which is in theatres now). In other words, turn an homage into a preview.
When I read the NYT story, I thought “Well, that’s going to wreck it — it will no longer be a tribute, but just a paid ad for the movie.” And when I read a quote from a Fox executive saying “Why should something that people enjoy be any less â€˜coolâ€™ because it is supported by a film studio?â€ I thought to myself that he must be a moron. Obviously, having the studio involved would ruin the whole “user-generated” nature of the thing.
But I think I might have been wrong. Not only has the new clip been viewed more times than the original, lots of commenters on YouTube like it better — and you know what? It’s actually pretty good. The studio left the creators alone, and obviously didn’t even mind the “motherf***er” chorus, which is a crucial part of the both the movie and the tribute video. The whole thing kind of works. (the clip is not for childish ears, obviously).