I can't speak for my co-workers at The Verge, but I've been waiting with bated breath for Mariah Carey's Game of War: Fire Age ad ever since her relationship with the notorious mobile game was announced in June. TMZ posted a cut of the trailer this morning, and I watched it with fingers over my eyes the way I'd normally watch a scary movie trailer or helmet-to-helmet NFL hit. I'm happy to report that it's a) extremely absurd and b) incredibly wonderful, which is the best possible outcome for the fruit of a marriage between a past-her-prime pop grand dame and a mediocre-but-profitable mobile strategy game.
Of course, Mariah only has about two seconds of screen time in a commercial that's a minute long — but it's an "Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross"-level cameo. Besieged by waves of enemies streaming in from all directions, two hapless soldiers keep turning to their iPhone for help. (Because how are you going to find the battle without a decent map app?) Their requests fall on deaf ears; the phone can only play the sweeping opening notes of the Elusive Chanteuse' classic ballad "Hero" as their position is further compromised. They're about to be roasted by a swooping dragon when BLAM —
Oh, blessed diva! Oh, imperfect angel! The fire of your mighty crossbow hath purified us! Mariah lowers her winged weapon and turns toward our useless protagonists, resplendent in golden mail. Her voice is like a cool wind on their bloody skin: "Time to be heroes, guys." And then she scampers away with sword held high, a little dash that's definitely real and wasn't rendered using any CGI whatsoever. Our renewed heroes lead a charge of unskilled idiots, one that'll certainly end in death, as Mariah reminds us that we can download and play Game of War for FREE from the App Store now.
To be clear, I think Mariah's video makes for a better ad than the game's ubiquitous, obtuse Kate Upton spots. Those commercials seemed mostly focused on getting Upton out of tubs, into revealing dresses, and merely adjacent to combat. Mariah's ad has characters, a story, and jokes, and it frames her as a powerful force rather than a trophy to be saved. They're just frivolous clips selling a sinister free-to-play farce, but it's still a welcome change. I'm not going to download Game of War anytime soon, but I'm happy to watch Mariah wield her crossbow during commercial breaks for months to come.