"Properly managed, no brand need decay and die - immortality is within the reach of all."
- Peter Field, Hamish Pringle
The Mittani is dead.
Which is not to say that he's dead, dead. I mean, Alexander Gianturco, some-time lawyer and full-time bacon aficionado is, to the best of my knowledge, still among the quick. He is likely in Wisconsin, happily deep-frying cheese curds as I write this. But, while his in-game alter-ego persists in the digital sense, Mittens is no more. Not in the human sense. Oh, you might see tweets from The Mittani® or hear dire pronouncements by The Mittani®. The Mittani® might write an article or be interviewed here and there.
But that's not Mittens.
Mittens has been absorbed; assimilated into the larger The Mittani® brand. He's given up self-determination in favor of immortality. Even on those occasions when Alexander himself speaks or writes for The Mittani®, the voice you hear and the prose you see are the gestalt opinions, directives and insights of the collective behind the The Mittani® brand. The Mittens persona is only alive insofar as it is undead.
I know. Kind of creepy and science fictiony, isn't it; Mittens shambling about, sort of alive, but in reality driven by some all-controlling hive mind? It's all sort of Walking Dead meets Return of the Archons.
Being the insightful readers you are, you will of course want to know how I know this. There were two critical tip-offs.
First of all, if you track Mittens' Twitter posts, they've been nearly non-stop of late, going on all hours of the day and night. They don't often sound like Mittens at all. There's no tang of originality, snark or even remote malice in them; they are merely blocks of ad copy barked Turet-like into the ether, flogging the The Mittani® website, or some site administrator responding to tweets requesting new features. Obviously there are a number of hands behind the scenes tweeting in Mittens' name.
Secondly, go have a look at the The Mittani® logo on the The Mittani® website.
Do you not see what I don't see? Exactly. No chin pussy.
Now, given how dearly Mittens holds onto that chin full of pubescent scruff, I'm sure he pointed out to the logo's originators that his chin pussy was not properly represented in the The Mittani® logo. After some hemming and hawing I'm sure they explained to Mittens that, from a brand perspective, the chin-pussy is...undesirable. It breaks the logo's minimalist tone and clutters its clean lines and (well, lets be honest) is more creepy than it is imposing. Now, the Mittani I know would have handed said marketeers over to his minions to be jettisoned into space, cycled through the biomass recycler, forced to listen to Mittens' cover of Boyfriend, or some other equally horrific fate.
But no. The logo remains, sans chin pussy. And Mittens goes gently into that good night, quietly allowing his alter-ego to be so dispossessed in the name of the greater corporate good. Assimilation confirmed.
I'm sure Mittens still retains delusions of independent will. He may well believe he's in control and merely listening to the opinions of others as he decides what course to take. However, Mittens now represents a brand, and his words and actions and those of the The Mittani® brand are inseparable, each reflecting on the other. The longer that relationship lasts, the stronger the The Mittani® half of that equation becomes. His latitude will become increasingly circumscribed as the brand settles into its niche and The Mittani® becomes intolerant of off-script actions and statements by Mittens that might damage or misrepresent the brand.
Eventually Mittens will be subsumed altogether by The Mittani®; immortal but lacking any independent animus. The original voice behind the man astride the technetium throne will cease to matter. The Mittani® will join the ranks of Mario®, Micky Mouse® and Colonel Sanders®; a corporate mascot culturally pasteurized and purged of any qualities that might offend or off-put consumers of The Mittani® brand goods and services. The Mittani® will make appearances at conferences, theme parks, and shopping malls; shilling for the corporate overlords while being kicked in the shins by tots wielding plastic light sabres and wearing Rixx Javix® masks.
Personal branding is all the rage in the corporate world. Its siren song promises fame and immortality, and would lead one to believe that such things can come at no cost. However, the very thing that provides a brand its immortality by definition destroys the individuality of the person behind it. Icons, after all, do not define themselves, but are defined by others for their own purposes.
Trapped like a fly deep within the The Mittani® brand amber, Mittens will very likely survive the destruction of Goonswarm. He could even persist after the game of Eve Online itself ends; sold, traded and winding up in a dusty corner of some large multinational conglomerate's brand stable. He will be ageless. He will be immortal.
And, if you listen closely, you might hear the screams issuing from deep within.