Posted in: Comic Books, Science Fiction, Star Trek, Star Wars

The Good, The Bad and The Internet

Clickbait vs Easter Eggs

So there have been two trends that I’ve noticed on the internet. Yea, these may have been around for a while but I want to talk about them for a second. The evil of click-bait sites and videos and the good of easter egg and behind the scenes videos.

There have been a lot of sites and videos with “Trusted Sources” spreading rumors about some of our favorite franchises and shows. What bugs me is the way they try to sell themselves. Usually with a headline that screams click-bait. These type of sensationalized headlines are a form of social engineering. They want you to react to the video/article and the only way you can do that is by clicking on the link to their site. “Has {insert showrunner name here} been fired at {studio name here}?”, “{Famous person} ruined our favorite franchise, here is the proof.” or “{Famous person} reacts to my video/post/website/outlandish claim.” See how they can practically recycle the headline just by switching out a few details and boom, another click-bait headline. Some of these videos and sites can get to be quite toxic.

Another trend has not been quite as negative, but still very click-baitish. Streaming services have been a gold mine for fans of various franchises. The studios are trying to attract subscribers by taking chances on shows that may not make it onto the over-the-air or cable channels. This has brought us more shows in the Star Trek (I’m looking forward to the Pike series, Strange New Worlds) and Star Wars universe (love The Mandalorian). There is an upcoming series for Battlestar Galactica and it looks like I’m finally going to be able to see Moon Knight on the screen. While this is good, it also gives rise to rumor websites with headlines like “{Character name} series confirmed.” At the rate they are pumping out these “articles” you would think that we would soon see a series focused on Captain John Harriman (would the XO be Commander Ferris Bueller?) for Paramount+ and Disney+ releasing The Star Wars Muppets (actually I’d watch a SW Muppet series, but don’t quote me as a source). These rumors are not as outlandish as the “{show name} canceled immediately due to plummeting ratings.” headlines and I think that’s what makes it a little bit dangerous. Some actors want to return to the roles that made them famous. Others never want to return to the franchises if they don’t have to. But there is a little bit of a toe-hold that these “news sites” to say that a new series is coming soon and you better read about it here. When you listen to these sites, they use the weasel words that you commonly see on those Ancient Alien shows. “Could this be true? It’s possible.” Ugh that bugs me more than it should.

Why are these sites and videos posting these dubious claims? In one word, money. The more clicks a site/video has, the more eyeballs see them. The more eyeballs they get, the more they can sell themselves to advertisers. Technically nothing is stopping them from being the Weekly World News of the internet. So like spam and robo-calls, they continue to be a scourge on the internet.

What can you do about them? Well learn to spot click-bait headlines. If it sounds like it was posted to get an emotion, be suspicious. Look at the source. Most social media posts will give you the domain the article/video is coming from. If it’s not from a source with a good history (for most entertainment news that’s usually Variety, Deadline, Entertainment Weekly, one of the mainstream media companies, etc.) or from the studio itself, then be suspicious. However be careful, there are still rumor news sources that are on TV or in print. If you are suspicious about a headline, then remember that Google is your friend. If a rumor is close to being true, multiple sites will post about it. With the rumor websites there may only be one or two sites posting about the topic. If your Spidey-Senses are going off, don’t click on the link or video. By clicking on them, you are giving them what they really want.

Now, in my humble opinion, there is a really good trend going on right now with some online videos. The “Easter Egg” videos that point out some of the things in the background. Some are very spotable, some are very hidden (hence the name Easter Eggs). There are some video makers that will freeze-frame certain scenes and translate from the alien languages (if translations exists) to dig up hidden details. I am a big fan of Star Trek and Star Wars so I’ve noticed a lot of these Easter Eggs in Picard, Discovery, Lower Decks and The Mandalorian. So for me the fun was seeing if I had missed anything and if I had spotted stuff the video makers themselves had missed.

Another good thing about these videos are for the series I’ve been enjoying, but I don’t know much about the source material. The latest example has been WandaVision. While I know Marvel’s Spiderman, Captain America, Iron Man, other-mainstreams, etc. I only know very little of the other superheroes that Marvel has in their catalog. I’m more of a DC man myself, but I don’t turn my nose up at the Marvel non-mutant titles (don’t ask me about the mutants now, that will be saved for another blog post). After encouragement from friends, I checked out WandaVision. I found that I enjoyed the writing, the acting and the special effects. But I felt like I was missing something that came from a deep source. So I turned to the same Easter Egg video makers that I had enjoyed before and they expanded my understanding of the WandaVision storyline. In the last episode of WandaVision there was a “big reveal” from a bad guy (no spoilers so don’t worry). I felt that this reveal wouldn’t have made a big impact if I hadn’t watched the Easter Egg videos telling me who these characters were. Thus I was “in on the story” when it happened.

While I’m encouraging you to avoid the click-bait sites, I would also encourage you to check out the effort that goes into the Easter Egg videos. Let me know what you think of these videos that have been released.

Tally Ho

Clickbait