Everyone loves to bully Michael Jackson. Add online animators to the list.
The pop star and headline maker is no stranger to late-night talk show stabs and tacky tabloid accusations. Now he’s being speared in a series of online animations from an Internet company that has made a business of pop culture sucker punches.
Intermix Media, a Los Angeles-based company behind megapopular Web sites such as MySpace.com and Flowgo.com, is jabbing Jacko over at MadBlast.com, their outlet for mature humor and, well, total time suckage.
“We’re creating a place for you to smile,” counters Marco Ilardi, Intermix’s senior vice president of business development.
In the latest lampoon, Jackson — featuring his infamous mug shot face on a cartoon body — does the “Sound of Music.” Titled “MJ’s Favorite Things,” the short shows Jackson chasing children, including a “Home Alone”-era Macaulay Culkin, over a hill while singing to the tune of “My Favorite Things” about his affinity with “shopping for noses” and “lightening my skin tone.”
Other online cartoons featuring Jackson include “MJ’s Back in the ER Again” and “Michael Jackson — Black or White?” Ilardi said despite the crude humor, there’s never been a complaint about an MJ ’toon.
Britney gets the cartoon treatmentJackson isn’t the only star to get MadBlasted. Britney Spears’ belly was recently revealed in “Britney is Pregnant!” In the animation, baby bodies topped with the faces of Kevin Federline, Justin Timberlake, Fred Durst and Spears’ Chihuahua Bit Bit dance inside an ultrasound. Jennifer Aniston, Brad Pitt, Paris Hilton and Martha Stewart have their MadBlast animated moments, too.
“It’s stuff that people are thinking but don’t necessarily say,” says Ilardi.
These seemingly amateur, just-for-fun animations are created by Intermix’s full-time staff of 10 to 15 professional songwriters and animators for the company’s ad-driven Web sites. The creative process takes anywhere from a week to a month. For every one giggle-worthy hit, Ilardi says, five are duds.
The animations, usually one minute or less, are created with Macromedia Flash, which has become the standard in online animation. Like a disease, the Intermix toons thrive on viewers passing them on and on and on again. Each toon ends with the option to e-mail the link to a friend.
Not all the animations focus on celebs — the most popular ones are political, and many others feature babies, which are apparently great sources of humor. At press time, “Redneck Baby!” (who sings atop a trailer park picnic table) was the No. 1 toon on MadBlast.com. “MJ’s Back in the ER Again” was No. 2 and “Fastcar Baby” was No. 3.
“We follow the trends and what people are talking about,” says Ilardi. “Whatever people are interested in, we’ll create more and more of that.”
Although the Jackson molestation trial is still raging, Ilardi says no more Jackson-themed toons are on the drawing board “unless something big comes out in the news.”
“If he is convicted,” Ilardi says, “we really have to be sensitive about the issue at that point.”