New Flash Activism Films Are Teen “Forwarding” Faves

meatrix.gifFree Range Studios is at it again.

Their brilliant parodies that lit up the web with pass around power are touching on new turf with global warming, fast food slams, and who knows what else in the hopper.

Teens love these viral firecrackers because they pack a walloping punch riffing off pop culture and current affairs. Mind you, they favor teen intelligentsia, not a ‘Paris Hilton’s latest outfit’ kinda crowd.

They attract socially conscious youth with edgy satire far beyond petty peer dynamics, school lunch table chatter, or who’s taking whom to the prom.

Whether exposing the ‘dark side’ of “Store Wars” with live action food puppets (Darth Tater, Chew Broccoli, TofuD2 and Obi Wan Cannoli for the Organic Trade Council) or the award-winning animation of the “Meatrix” trilogy (with characters like Moopheus that lit up the film festival circuit) these short one to two minute flash movies are a huge hit.

Media with a message. Gotta love it. Poignant. Whimsical. And even a bit subversive to add that dash of appeal to a teen rebel yell.

This time Free Range Studios is back with a fun NEW viral blitz called Backwards Hamburger which captures the point the movie Fast Food Nation couldn’t make…mostly since their R-rating nixed kids’ access altogether.

Kids will appreciate sharing the ‘ewww’ cartoon style and ‘did you know’ tidbits that are peppered with poignancy throughout the short clip.

Facts like:

· The average fast food meal is shipped 1500 miles. Lots of artificial preservatives keep it ‘fresh.’

· A typical burger may contain pieces of 1,000 different cows and a little serving of manure.

· Meatpacking is some of the most dangerous work in America, but pays 24% less than an average factory job.

Parents may want to preview for age-ranges before forwarding.

It’s razor sharp without being foul, but the end could tug the heartstrings a bit for sensitive tweens, and there’s a bit of grossology to keep in mind.

They trace ‘where your food comes from’ taking us from burger to cow in high speed cartoon rewind.

In some ways, it’s similar to the ‘backwards food chain’ concept of Mike Axinn’s low key pbs-style ‘Doof’ program. (that’s ‘food’ backwards!) Doof tv is still in development, with an aim to connect young children with the roots of healthy eating.

We’ve seen how powerful media like this can shape the message, shift thinking, add to the dialogue, and open minds toward a positive, sustainable future for children.

It’s ironic that BOTH of these creative teams succeed in leveraging these goals yet have VASTLY different media executions. Gotta snag ‘em both as part of Shaping Youth’s media consortium!

If Free Range Graphics’ past hits are any indication, I’m betting their new work will boost viral activism as an entire media genre!

“Store Wars” hit 2 million viewers in two weeks, vaulting to 10 million overall and sizzled in buzz as one of the hottest things on the web.

The original “Meatrix” followed suit with 7 million people and a gazillion awards including a Webby. (they now have a FFN variation: M2.5)

Two movies in two years with millions of eyeballs in ‘forward to a friend’ buzz makes this media method one to watch.

It could take “cause marketing” to a whole new level for nonprofits with the pocketbooks to pull it off.

This time they’ve integrated marketing beyond the movies and forums, extending media reach and follow-through by partnering with Participate, Participant Productions, and tie-ins with Sustainable Table.

They’ve included a ‘call to action’ to see the film, blog about it, and do ‘dinner and a movie’ by downloading evite invitations to enjoy organic, locally grown fare nearby.

Important work all around. Very, very, smart.



  1. You are on to something here for sure. I too have noticed a direct connection between social activism and social media. A book I recently (World Changing: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century) goes as far as to say that Wiki’s may be the best tool for reuniting the left. Imagine determining consensus amongst everyone for environmental policy, social justice issues and economical conundrums using a wiki application!?!? What an exciting time!

    I wrote a review for this book, Check it out.

  2. Checked your site review, the book intrigues.

    Just blogged about the potential of 3-D virtual reality for collaboration toward positive change as well.

    Shaping Youth is nonpartisan, inviting all views to engage in creating a more upbeat worldview for kids using media, so their ‘Global Kids Digital Initiative’ particularly appeals.

    I think I’ll ask Santa for that book for Xmas! Thanks for the lead.

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