Anyone likely to be reading this knows that this video exists (say no to drugs version) and the sustained reaction over it. Ideally this post would build from an earlier one about Retsupurae in general, but that doesn’t exist so I’m writing it now in the interest of striking a day after the iron was hot.
The fact that PewDiePie’s fans are vocal about the video isn’t surprising, and most of their points aren’t either, but some reactions are just baffling. Let’s take a look at someone clearly dedicated to the cause. That’s a whole lot of words by someone who missed the point by a mile for each of them. Quantity = Quality has never been defended with so many paragraphs and so little self-awareness. I’m about to say something provocative that will easily be taken out of context but who cares, nobody reads this anyway: I don’t give a shit about my audience.
I’m not actively hostile to y’all… much… anymore… but your opinions don’t really enter into my mind until after the work is done and out there. I care about the work itself. I want to make something that I can look back on with pride in a year or two, and if that creates an audience anyway it’s more likely to be the kind of audience I’d want in the first place. What Mr. Longwinded calls caring I call pandering, and I think we’re better off without it. In fact, dumping truckloads of dogshit into the open mouths of your viewers is something I’d consider less than respectful.
What really surprised me is how vocal people got about questionable content; the rape crutch in the source material and the suicide gag in the video itself. While a lot of people are attacking the rape content because rape is a horrible thing to joke about and trivialize [the official position of chipandironicus.com is that rape is a very bad thing] the RP crew initially attacked it as a failure to be entertaining, there’s no double standard in the video. Presenting a well-worn joke is hardly the same as attempting to shock an audience with the same thing over and over. Maybe the fans are only pretending to laugh like PewDiePie pretends to be scared? “I’ll rape anything” is not a joke anymore than “a Rabbi walks into a bar” is. There are missing parts, and if rape is one of them then the rest better be top-shelf.
The fact remains that millions of people dig this stuff, and after a bit of reflection I think I have an idea why. His childish persona is the secret. His fans are admitted kids, just entering the period where they first face responsibility and consequences for their actions. That’s a pretty rough time in life. Meanwhile the little box in the corner shows a guy who can do whatever the fuck he wants and nothing happens. He screeches like a banshee with its balls in a vise but mom never tells him to turn the racket down. He can tell people something’s a joke even when it isn’t and they still laugh anyway. The novelette linked above had one thing right: the camera does increase the emotional connection. He also gets to pull faces without the consequences of looking like a spaz, cementing his appeal. Since so many of his ‘jokes’ are simply a kid saying something shockingly naughty, is it any surprise he sounds like a South Park character? Living the consequence-free life resonates with children and the childish.
That’s the genius of “Adults React…”. It rips the lid off that safe space of gleeful idiocy and exposes it to the sun. What could have been a fan’s highlight reel becomes a devastatingly effective critique as soon as you put someone shaking their head in the corner. Welcome to reality, where screaming like an idiot gets you treated like an idiot. Here in the world of 9-5 and grocery bills you can’t treat the word rape like punctuation.
This is where most people would feel obligated to say something negative about RP fans, or positive about PewDiePie’s charity work, in order to look nonpartisan, but I’m not going to. Peter Pan was more adult than PewDiePie’s persona. Being a fan of his is like turning off a coming-of-age film at the end of act 1 because the rest is stupid. It’s a shallow escapism that denies any sense of reality or growth. The good news is there’s a whole world of Let’s Play that isn’t very much like that at all, and we still use naughty words too!
At least a few are also creatively bankrupt. I can only imagine how this will turn out, but smart money says it won’t exist. If it does, it won’t be satisfying, and neither will most of the responses to it. Ouroboros Reacts to the End of All Things and in turn Their Beginning (it’s my joke, I get to seal it).