myBALL – Owen Stewart

The interactive parody of conventional commercial websites that Shawn Rider presents in his flash production is an inventive criticism of consumer society. myBALL is a piece devoted to the improvement of society, by pointing out its flaws and the commercial sites that pander to their quick and easy improvement. Following along a common template that many commercial sites apply, myBALL includes sections headed; home, about us, testimonials, accessories, for adults and for kids. Sprinkled throughout these sections are pictures, interactive displays and a loop of eerie, ominous music.

Each heading is more or less self explanatory, excluding the about us section. I expected about us to follow the lines of conventional commercial websites, and to present the “companies” thoughts/goals/role in society. Instead it presented Shawn Riders thoughts/goals/role for his piece. In a way, the about us section is really a write up of Shawn Rider and his views on society. It is interesting, but it almost gives too much of the site away. It doesn’t allow the reader to create his own thoughts on the website, instead giving the authors reasoning and points of view.

Other than the about us section the rest of the flash site is prototypical satire of the commonplace infomercial product. Where the site comes short is in the fact that it is a very heavy handed satire. There is not a lot of subtlety to the work, and the satire is very much in your face. This does parody the in your face selling style that the commercial websites employ, but is a very simplistic way to get the authors message across. That said it is successful in pointing out societies flaws.

As far as the content of the site, it could easily be any commercial page that has had all of its claims exaggerated. Testimonials like “myBALL has brought my son and I together in new and exciting ways…” are not too far-fetched to expect on any number of commercial websites. However, the quote continues on to say “Now, instead of listening to him drone on about what he learned at school and what his wiener-neck friends are doing, I just read the nightly update that myBALL downloads to my computer.” This quote is an unconcealed lampoon of the parent-child relationship and consumerisms attempt to exploit that bond.

Shawn Rider tries to do a lot with myBALL, and comes of short of the lofty mark of changing society. He does do a good job of pointing out the many faults of the modern parent-child relationship, but does it in a very deliberate style. Where subtlety could have come in handy, Shawn Rider opts for an up front and centre approach. Much of what myBALL presents has been covered before by other authors. This being said, much of the content of myBALL was funny and addressed very real fears that parents have about their children, presenting exceptional and borderline believable solutions.

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1 Comment

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One response to “myBALL – Owen Stewart

  1. Thanks so much for the critique. I share many of your feelings about myBALL, although I am still enthralled with the ways eLit can present/disguise itself as something entirely different (something I played with again in exQorpse) and I’m still a sucker for some heavy-handed satire.

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