Fashion

06.13.13

MySpace Rallies for a Reboot With Ryan McGinley

MySpace has hired the famed indie photographer to direct a commercial celebrating its relaunch. But the campaign has more to do with being a hipster than the actual Internet itself.

Trying to accomplish what’s seemingly impossible, MySpace is gunning for a reboot—one that now boasts Justin Timberlake as minority owner. And as a ploy to lure back the millions of millennials (who in the last 10 years have decamped for Facebook’s less primitive pasture—one that now treads on privacy invasion), MySpace has tapped hipster poster boy and photographer Ryan McGinley to create a campaign celebrating its relaunch, which debuted on Tuesday.

If hiring McGinley (a photographer best known for taking nude portraits of severely underage-looking legals) weren’t enough evidence that MySpace is trying very hard to regain its “cool” quotient, then look at the roster of negligibly underground faces that join him in the commercial. Pharrell Williams, model Erin Wasson, beauty blogger Emily Weiss, singer Sky Ferreira, Ciara, and others bop and hula-hoop to The Orwells’s “Mallrats (La La La)” with mussed-up hair and cans of spray paint, wearing overalls and Saint Laurent stilettos, while doing little more than boasting their status as indie stars.

Video screenshot

Most conspicuously, "This is Myspace," as the commercial is titled, features very little technology. There is only one cellphone sighting—one that doesn’t even involve connecting to the Internet. Actually, the Internet is not included in the commercial at all, effectively doing little to explain what the new MySpace is about. But that may be the point—to try and get the Internet-savvy to ultimately sign up and see what the new site is about for themselves.

MySpace’s hiring of McGinley will certainly draw an eye roll or two from within the inner depths of Bushwick’s cool-kid communities, as it did right here in The Daily Beast's offices. Plus, his resulting commercial lacks any of the authenticity that it desperately tries to achieve. But when juxtaposed with Mark Zuckerberg’s own marketing instincts (ones that have long felt detached from Facebook’s original, youth community-oriented premise), MySpace’s route, feels sadly a lot more on point.