There’s more culture online than anyone knows what to do with, thanks to the perpetual content machine. The most perplexing of the internet’s 2021 leftovers can be found here.
The chin-strokers of the world have been preoccupied with the concept of “high” and “low” culture for at least a century, nearly two: poetry vs pop, ballet versus B movies, opera versus a reality TV show in which people are compelled to marry individuals they’ve only just met. While there has been a (much-needed) backlash against such snobby delineations in recent years, there is also a case for a third category—one that exists outside of the “high” and “low” continuum: “overflow” culture.
It’s difficult to exaggerate the amount of content created, modified, and uploaded to the internet nowadays. The content cup is overflowing, and much of it is perplexing and bizarre: a lady dousing herself in oil and swinging her body into a wedding gown, a man carving his silhouette into a mattress for a prank. Despite the fact that each of these films has over 100 million views (and at least one of them took a significant amount of money and effort to create), no one talks about them and why should we? What else can I say?
We dismiss the content machine’s utter lunacy and insanity because it usually appears as a one-second flash in front of our eyes before our finger flicks on. By definition, culture writing must examine some aspect of culture, yet these films aren’t culture at all—they’re stuff. We mostly ignore overflow culture; we have grown accustomed to the churn. While journalists all over the world now cover digital creativity, and while some overlooked aspect of the content machine occasionally becomes weird enough or big enough to provoke mainstream coverage (think Elsagate or 5-Minute Crafts’ “bigger than before” egg), we mostly ignore overflow culture. However, there are occasions when we must pause and assess our situation. Here’s a look back at some of the things that attracted eyeballs, if not attention, in the year 2021, for the benefit of future historians.
‘Girl versus. Boy’ is a game in which a girl competes against a boy
People have been wondering one nagging, burning, overpowering question since the invention of pizza and the following invention of pizza-cutting implements: Who slices pizza better, boys or girls? Two films of a “female” and a “guy” slicing a Margherita pizza are juxtaposed side by side in this stolen 35-second TikTok published to the YouTube channel VS (regrettably, the original TikToker is not credited). The slicing techniques on exhibit are nearly identical; the film concludes without a punchline.
Despite the fact that the YouTube video has over 50 million views (7 million more than Justin Bieber’s most recent music video), the question of which gender is a better pizza slicer remains unsolved. Or it could have been a piece of performance art meant to highlight the futility of gender preconceptions. Do men and women not slice similarly at the end of the day?
‘She had no idea!’ says the narrator
It’s not that a YouTube video showing a man hiding inside a human-shaped hole in a mattress, covering himself with bedding, and surprise his (likely-in-on-the-joke) girlfriend isn’t entertaining—how could it not be, with so much time on our hands and so much empty vacuum to fill? It’s the video’s logistics that fascinate me: Was it necessary to buy a new mattress just for the 58-second clip? How did the Woody & Kleiny YouTube channel’s proprietors get such a clean incision into the mattress? Is it true that someone was hired to complete the job? The inquiries continue. After that, how was the mattress disposed of? What is the prankster’s justification for such waste? Was it all worthwhile? Was it all worthwhile? Was it, in the end, worth it?
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‘She Flew Away!
Despite the internet’s rising uniformity, Facebook material is remarkably unique. For example, in July, a video surfaced on the social network in which a woman named Adley poured oil down her neck while screaming, “This is my final resort, because I can’t return that,” in reference to a bridal gown held in front of her by two unidentified accomplices. After liberally spraying the lacy material with Pam nonstick cooking spray, our heroine drives herself forward on a swing set and leaps into a dress that she could have easily fit into without lubrication or a children’s playground.
‘Wife Cheats! Husband Caught!
Fake CCTV footage and videos purporting to show husbands walking in on their unfaithful wives are popular on Facebook. This video, which was released by the Facebook page Sarcasm and features a cartoon Chandler Bing as its logo, is set to tense music and features large red circles and bright yellow text. Despite the video’s staggering 410 million views, no one in the comment section appears convinced of its veracity—possibly because the man the “wife” is cheating with decides to hide by lying down beside the couple’s double bed (why didn’t he think to hide himself inside the mattress?). “Notice: All videos on this page are for entertainment purposes only,” says Sarcasm’s disclaimer on Facebook. All of the characters, events, and concepts are made up. They are satires and should not be attempted in real life.” You’ve been given fair warning.
‘It’s So Good That I Make It Almost Every Day!’ Amazing Chicken and Potato Recipe!
Combining the tingling joys of ASMR with the traditional pleasures of a cooking clip is nothing new, but the emphasis on the squelching and squishing of raw chicken in this 4-minute, 20-second video is frightening. Unlike the internet’s intentionally inflammatory food films, this recipe is simple and inoffensive (the ingredients list is even mentioned in the video description!). Even if it flies on the YouTube account Lieblingsrezepte (“favourite dishes”), the squelching isn’t something you’d expect to be approved by executives at a TV cookery station. In the most recent video, “If you prepare chicken this manner, you will be shocked by the result!” things only get worse. (Spoiler alert: a hairdryer is used.)
‘She’s a Tricky Girl,’ says the narrator
A lady and a girl sit at a table, each with a bowl of sliced hot dogs and pasta in front of them; the woman requests that the girl give her a drink, and as the child leaves, the woman snatches the hot dog slices from the girl’s bowl. You—and 224 million other viewers—might believe you’ve figured out her ruthless reasons, but hold your horses! The woman then switches the bowls so that the girl has more hot dogs than she does—true selflessness. But hold your horses once more! The woman searches about in the spaghetti bowl in front of her, uncovering two full-size, non-chopped hot dogs. There is no way to compose a concluding statement because there is no conclusion to reach. The content simply comes to an end. After that, there’s another video.