NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Taylor Swift was named New York City’s Global Welcome Ambassador last month, but if you go to the website GlobalAmbassador.nyc, you won’t find her.
A group that the Village Voice described Tuesday as “pranksters” — writer-director Paul Bomba and comedians Tommy Ray and Brianne Berkson – set up the website as a parody of the Taylor Swift “Welcome to New York” site.
Like Swift’s site, the parody site features video clips featuring lessons about New York life. But in Swift’s place are three people portraying stereotypical New Yorkers – standing on a roof with a tar-stained chimney and coils of barbed wire at their sides.
“As you may know, there are some who claim to have the authority to represent this city,” Berkson as “Izzy” says in the video. Ray as “Thomas” continues, “I’m here to tell you we won’t stand for that.”
Swift has only good things to say about New York City in her official video.
“What makes New York City New York City is that it is unlike anywhere else in the world. It’s almost like the city has its own heartbeat,” Swift says in one of the five official “Welcome to New York” videos. “You can find fashion that inspires you; art that inspires you; humanity that inspires you everywhere you look. It’s impossible not to fall in love or be affected by something in New York City.”
Ray’s “Thomas” character is not quite so sunny and sentimental.
“Every day I wake up and I say, ‘Damn, why do I live in this dump?’” he says.
“Izzy” follows up, “My studio in Inwood is way more expensive than you would think is humanly possible.”
Adds Bomba as “Pauly,” “Everywhere you look, it’s impossible not to be affected by something, or someone in New York City” – only to have the characters go on to talk about crime.
Swift’s New York City vocabulary lesson is also lampooned in the GlobalAmbassador.nyc video.
Swift defines a bodega as “a corner store that’s open pretty much 24 hours most of the time; you can get almost anything in a bodega.”
The GlobalAmbassador.nyc characters instead say in sequence: “There are no bodegas in TriBeCa (where Swift lives.) If they aren’t speaking Spanish, it’s not a bodega. And since you’re only visiting Manhattan, you ain’t never going to see no bodega; never even set foot in one. So don’t worry about it; just go to the corner store.”
The group also outlines some practical advice on when it is appropriate and worth it to take a taxi – such as when one is running is late for a job interview, or when a subway line is shut down.
The actual “Welcome to New York” site featuring Swift invites people to submit their e-mail addresses so they can, “Stay in the know: get updates on everything happening in NYC, including exclusive news about Taylor Swift.
The parody site features a field with the same font and color scheme, reading: “Taylor Swift will never email you! Don’t bother, seriously.”
Bomba, a native of Gravesend, Brooklyn, told the Village Voice that all his friends were “incredulous” that Swift was chosen as the city’s global ambassador, so he had a Web designer put together a layout similar to the official Swift site and created videos that show the “real New York.”
Swift, who was born in Pennsylvania but moved to Tennessee at 14 to pursue a career in country music, is a recent New York City transplant. And while some have taken issue with the city’s choice of Swift as global ambassador, the city’s tourism office said she is a great choice to attract tourists to the city.
“We think this campaign is going to resonate in our markets around the world,” Christopher Heywood, Senior Vice President of the city’s global communications said.
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