Watch as Spambots Take Over Drones in This Waggish YouTube Short

Director Mitchell Rose's cheeky commentary on the tech of consumerism. Rose Films

What if our spambots took over drones, or at least grew fixed wings?

That’s the question director Mitchell Rose poses in a new short video, “Targeted Advertising.”

In this grim 2023 fairy tale, Rose mashes ‘80s synth-future aesthetic with Mad Men, via Orwell: In the future, data-driven advertising is alive and even more sinister. (Perhaps the seductively Huxleyan spam — or at least that of the curiosity-gap breed — opted to inhabit our sexbots rather than Predator drones.) If the premise is the stuff of implausible Federal Aviation Administration nightmares, the voiceover could be ripped straight from any unmoderated comment section, customer survey, or the display ads of a cash-strapped web-based publication or spam messaging that finds its way to your inbox: Weight-loss miracles, Russian brides, Nigerian princes, discount-pricing on Michael Kors clothing, and more.

Rose has a deft hand at corralling a herd of dancers into a clever premise — it’s the spambot drones, save your wallets! — but tongue is glued firmly to cheek. (At the risk of fun-sucking over-analysis, augmented reality spam as showcased in Minority Report or Google Glass parodies, would be the cheaper and safer way to invade our eyeballs.)

As if to emphasize this is more about adverts than technological prognostication about the future of UAVs, Rose simultaneously released a making-of video in which a cellphone tower defeats his camera-toting RC helicopter.

What Rose gets right is that algorithms know a lot about us — and we can laugh, he suggests, but maybe we shouldn’t relax.

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