Remember in Minority Report, when Tom Cruise’s character tries to lose some pursuers in a crowded mall, but the sophisticated advertising technology of 2054 keeps identifying him by name and trying to sell him things? It’s a funny gag, and a useful plot point, since it means he can’t go anywhere without wall-holograms ratting him out to his enemies. But it’s also meant to be the sign of a dark future dystopia, where privacy has disappeared, and facial-recognition scanners and complicated algorithms target consumers individually.
The team behind the hit Netflix series Stranger Things has been taking us a step closer to that dark future lately, with a series of short Twitter “spoiler” videos aimed at calling out prominent individual fans of the show, and giving them tidbits about the next season. These micro-ads offer tailored reveals for single sources, like Nerdist’s Chris Hardwick:
Or The Last Fall director Matthew A. Cherry:
Or former Onion writer and Modern Family producer Megan Ganz:
Or Teen Wolf’s Max Carver:
Spoiler: the videos aren’t actually particularly spoilery. The Chris Hardwick one basically just promises the show’s second season, arriving October 27, will feature new 1980s slang. The latest video, aimed at Star Trek: The Next Generation veteran and all-around science fiction nerd idol Wil Wheaton, consists entirely of one of the series’ creators holding up eight fingers.
But even if no one seeing these tweets needs to live through the nightmare of having the show spoiled for them, they still might feel like they’re moving closer to some kind of dark dystopia. Between Google ads watching our email and targeting marketing accordingly, and browsers remembering every site we visit and urging us to go back, we may already feel like the internet is coming to get us personally, and demand we buy, support, and watch everything we’ve ever shown any interest in. Advertising is coming to get us, and this time it’s personal.
Except that the Netflix marketing team misspelled Wil Wheaton’s name in his special branded video. At least we have the relief of knowing our future ultra-targeted personal marketing still probably won’t know us as well as it thinks it does.
Edited October 18, 2017 to add: The marketing team did eventually figure out they’d misspelled Wheaton’s last name, and pulled the video and the tweet, though you can see the original text in the screencap on this post. Here’s the reposted version, with the proper number of H’s in his name, and some extra ones in the tweet by way of apology. Still dystopian, tho!