Did you happen to come across the strange video showing a fish fetching like a dog in the past week? There was an even weirder one that showed a cat feeding a bunch of baby birds by throwing up into their mouths. Not only did these things start popping up on YouTube starting on June 21 from the username sillyrabbit1983, but they even popped up on websites like Yahoo! and the Huffington Post as legit news.
If you’re one of the many people glanced at the videos and yelled out “FAKE!” you’d be right. But it turns out that these videos are more than just a clever prank from someone with too much time on their hands.
So what in the world are these videos all about? Let’s take a trip down memory lane—all the way back to March of this year. A video was posted online that turned out to be a commercial for the company Phoenix Biogenic, “where humanity’s very brightest minds are given more time to fulfill their potential.” Several outlets have since linked this video as a part of the viral marketing campaign for the psychological thriller “Self/less,” a film that follows an old man (Ben Kingsley) who has his consciousness transferred to a younger body (Ryan Reynolds) in an attempt to prolong his life.
Now let’s go back to the videos I mentioned at the top. Most outlets showed the 38-second version of the video, where there was no title card of any sort. If you go to sillyrabbit1983’s YouTube profile, you’ll find extended versions, and in these versions, you’ll see a label at the bottom left at the beginning of the video. As you can see, the label has Phoenix Biogenic right there at the top. Also of note is the description of the video:
“Fish plays fetch with researchers at Phoenix Biogenic after brain swap/shedding experiment.”
Sounds a lot like the synopsis of the film, doesn’t it? These are intended to be taken as preliminary animal tests on the process that Ben Kingsley’s character goes through in the film. The dog in the video has had its brain swapped with the fish, and now it fetches.
A very, very strange set of viral videos, to say the least (look at the size of the head on that fish!). Where the first viral video had a very clear “I am a commercial for a fictional company” feel to it, these felt a little more grounded feel—at least grounded enough to fool a couple of outlets into covering the false story.
The plot synopsis for “Self/less” is as follows:
“An extremely wealthy man, dying from cancer, undergoes a radical medial procedure that transfers his consciousness into the body of a healthy young man. But all is not as it seems when he starts to uncover the mystery of the body’s origin and the organization that will kill to protect its cause.”
“Self/less” hits theaters on July 31, 2015.
What do you think of their viral marketing campaign? Is it cool, weird, or just plain corny? Let us know your thoughts below!