Game theory in movies

Inkblot passwords

Hunting naked women: Fact or fiction?

I honestly can’t imagine a headline I’ve written more likely to get people reading.

Nonetheless, this is an actual proto-meme. Last week, MSNBC published the following article:

A paintball manufacturer, advocates for women and the mayor of Las Vegas are expressing outrage that a Las Vegas company claims to be charging men up to $10,000 to use the non-lethal but dangerous weapons to shoot naked women racing through the sagebrush. But a creator of the “Hunting for Bambi” game defended the enterprise as good, clean fun for “guys who thought they had done everything.”

Ahem. As you might expect, Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman was immediately up in arms. “As soon as I found out about this, I called for an investigation,” Goodman reportedly said. “Las Vegas is a place where anything goes, but this crosses the line if this is real.”

Ah, but is it real? According to an investigation done by the Urban Legends Reference Page — a site that, given the profusion of Internet rumors, may now be more culturally important than the New York Times — Hunting For Bambi is not actually offering this as an ongoing service. No, they’re just selling $20 tapes of some women getting splattered with paintballs — which plants them squarely in the increasingly seedy territory of Xtreme-reality-staged-to-look-as-if-it’s-gone-wild entertainment. One clue that we’d stepped past this Rubicon might have been the florid promotional copy on the Hunting For Bambi web site:

More shocking than anything you’ve ever seen before. Labeled by CBS News as a cross between Sex and Violence a deadly combination! Women are being hunted down like animals and shot with paintball guns. This Raw and completely Uncensored video is a cross between Bum Fights and Girls Gone Wild and is sure to be the topic of many Howard Stern Show fans. You will be completely stunned when you see some of the wildest, most outrageous moments ever caught on tape.

You can almost see the Rebus-like math at work here: Take Bum Fights, multiply it by Girls Gone Wild, raise it to the Howard Stern exponent and … presto! Shooting topless chicks with paintballs. Hell, we could have done the calculations ourselves and seen this coming. I predict that by the summers’ end we’ll have added the next few variables, and be swamped with videos of barely-legal Swedish girl scouts being shot by rocket onto the International Space Station and forced to play strip poker. By robots.

(Many thanks to Erik at CultureRaven for pointing this one out!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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