Loot Crate: Unboxing Mystery

Loot Crate is a subscription based website that each month ships a themed mystery box of geek, gaming, and pop culture gear. They send out boxes of merchandise that companies give them as promotional items. These promotional items range anywhere from different kinds of clothing, toys, and candy; and are from some of the biggest brands in the business. One of the biggest trends in the Loot Crate community is their “unboxings”. Each month, as people receive their crates, they videotape their reactions and upload them to YouTube. Some of Youtube’s most prominent users from the geek and gaming communities participate in Loot Crate unboxings, such as Markiplier, Mortem3r, and Egoraptor.

Loot Crate never asked for this response; Not at first, but as people started to get their packages, they wanted to share feedback about what they received. Every Loot Crate box is identical, but every “Looter”, as they have been dubbed, has a different opinion about what they got that month. Jack Lule said in Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication:

“Historically, popular culture has been closely associated with mass media that introduce and encourage the adoption of certain trends. We can see these media as “tastemakers”—people or institutions that shape the way others think, eat, listen, drink, dress and more. Similar in some ways to the media gatekeepers discussed above, tastemakers can have huge influence.”

In a way these people are becoming tastemakers. As they show what they got this month, the people who watch decide whether or not to buy into Loot Crate.

While unboxing videos are done for almost everything these days, Loot Crate seems to benefit from the free publicity. The unboxing videos are probably Loot Crates most effective advertisement. When they started, they asked a few prominent YouTube users to showcase what was in their Loot Crate boxes and talk about the company to their followers who would have fit their demographic. After this, people who subscribed started doing the same. Lule goes on to say, “ along with encouraging a mass audience to keep an eye out for (or skip) certain movies, television shows, video games, books, or fashion trends, tastemaking is also used to create demand for new products.” These unboxers help create demand for this product; for Loot Crate and all of the brands and companies that supply merchandise for them. I learned about Loot Crate from a few different places. I heard it mentioned on podcasts and by friends, but really didn’t think anything of it until I saw my first unboxing. The unboxing showed what everyone got, how they felt about each item, and I saw it from one of my favorite YouTube channels. The videos caught my interest like no other medium did and I found myself wanting everything that these people got in their Loot Crate boxes.

Although I don’t have a subscription to Loot Crate, mainly because of how unreliably my packages are delivered, I still watch unboxings from all my favorite YouTubers to see what they got and how they felt. People whose opinions would normally go unheard are becoming influential as viewers continue watching their unboxings. I imagine Loot Crate will stay around for a while, while the “Subscription box” fad is still popular, but I think the unboxing of items will stay around well after that. From now on, as long as there is a box, there will be an unboxing.

Inside a Loot Crate

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The Book of Life Brings Life to Diversity

Book of Life movie poster

The Book of Life was a movie that came out last Halloween, directed by Jorge R. Gutierrez and produced by Guillermo del Toro. The Book of Life is an animated feature film about the journey of a young man named Manolo as he struggles with whether to follow the expectations of his family or follow his heart. The movie is a classic love/coming of age story, taking place during the Mexican holiday The Day of the Dead. The Book of Life encourages us to celebrate the past while looking forward to the future. The director, Jorge R. Gutierrez’s animations are intended to bring the Mexico he grew up with to the masses, and to get rid of harmful and inaccurate stereotypes. That being said, it took Gutierrez 14 years to get The Book of Life produced. Producers and studios had no interest in the film previously, and it was turned down everywhere it was proposed. The movie boasts a very diverse voice acting crew and most of the main cast is of Mexican or Latino descent. The movie is a refreshing change to how “white” the industry has always been. To Hollywood, having such a diverse cast, and a story about Mexican culture, sounded like financial suicide. It was far too big of a risk to make 14 years ago. So why does the movie work now, and how did the public react?

After the movie debuted, conversations about diversity exploded online.  Linda Holmes said, “The utter lack of importance of the underlying subject, in fact, is exactly what tells you how close to the surface and at how high a temperature these conflicts are simmering.” Even something like a cartoon can make people talk about what they are thinking; diversity, and representation of other cultures, is important.

Recently, the internet has become a very powerful tool in bringing people and ideas together . The internet gives us a window into the world that we haven’t always had. People are coming into contact with cultures they never would have without the help of the internet and are different because of it. Diversity is becoming a must-have for movies today. Just look at the disaster that Exodus: Gods and Kings turned out to be. The movie was panned hard by Twitter followers, as well as the rest of social media, over it’s lack of diversity, and the “whitewashing” of the main cast. Hollywood is finding that it’s audience wants diversity, and proper representations of cultures and ethnicities, and they want it now.

Excerpt of cast for Exodus showing the poor actor choice

 

In regards to The Book of Life, websites like Tumblr and Reddit brought up discussions about  the “whitewashing” of stories and lack of diversity and representation of other cultures on tv and in movies, cartoon or otherwise. People spoke up about how they wanted to see more accurate portrayals of different nationalities, and to see more roles led by people of color. They talked about stereotypes and tropes that were offensive to the cultures being portrayed, and how we could change this in Hollywood. Above all else, they talked about how much they loved The Book of Life, and how they looked forward to seeing more like it.

Even though The Book of Life came out months ago, people on social media still use it as reference for what movies about other cultures should strive to be. The topic of diversity and representation will always be a major concern for a culture such as ours, and The Book of Life is a good show of things to come. As we become more in touch with the people around us, this topic won’t be going away anytime soon.

The Land of the Remembered