This evening, my friends, I delved a bit too deep into the YouTubes. I plumbed the depths of YouTubery, looking for something beyond LP, something beyond narcissistic self-referential cacophoners (see Markiplier) and I believe I hit bedrock. I found The Markiplier YTP Collab on the obscure channel NationofOranges696 and I absorbed 2,461 seconds of mashup methamphetamine. My initial impression of this was that of Dante Alighieri:
“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here!”
While, at first glance, the collaborative pooping on Markiplier seems to be little more than impish lampooning, a closer inspection reveals some well-thought out structure. The YTP vacillates between Markiplier beats — dousing himself in a tub of icewater, running a typical LP, VO’ing an animated version of himself running an LP, thanking his fans for another received accolade. And while each of the segments is cut and warped to render each meaningless individually, the pattern of repetition it establishes is a very conscious effort at creating ‘game.’ There are callbacks in this piece, there’s almost a full narrative structure. Beyond that, there are even a few buried social commentaries: the cut where Markiplier is edited to complain of “WASP problems” followed by a montage of sports cars, implies he’s amassing a warchest of YouTuber wealth that mocks the lives of his subscriber vassals. Having watched all 2,461 seconds, I’m inclined to call it an improvement upon the source material.
So, what is this mysterious pooping phenomenon? Where does it come from? What is its purpose? Some background may be necessary. A YouTube Poop, (YTP or Poop), according to Wikipedia is,
a type of video mashup made by editing pre-existing media sources for the purposes of humor, entertainment, shock, and/or confusion.
A YTP isn’t just a mashup, it’s a nightmare-scape, designed to disorient, mock, and lay bare the subconscious of the creator.
While a new phenomenon on the Tubes, the YTP is not a totally unrecognizable creature. A quick YTP genealogy:
Source material #1 Ronald McDonald Insanity. A very early viral mashup of a Japanese McDonalds commercial featuring a repetitive and overtly demonic Ronald going through an infinity gauntlet of calisthenics.
Source material #2: David O’Reilly: A genius in abstraction, O’Reilly animates his own work in its entirety, so while not a mashup, it does present some of the non-sequitor, stream-of-consciousness elements that are the hallmarks of YTP.
Of course, we can take the roots of the YTP back much further than the Tubes. In his 1924 Surrealist Manifesto, the father of Surrealism, Andre Breton, defined his child as such:
“[Surrealism is] psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express — verbally, by means of the written word, or in any other manner — the actual functioning of thought. Dictated by the thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern.”
In his manifesto, Breton goes into an extended defense of the dream as a perfectly justifiable mode of thought. Surrealism, and its predecessor Dadaism were attempts to break the logical rationalism of a colonial elite that was thought to be responsible for the Great War. Surrealism was designed not just as a pastime for artists, but as a political movement to up-end conventional thinking and reasoning that had lead humanity to a particularly dark period.
Is it possible that the YTP has a similar raison d’etre? Is it possible that the YTP represents a burgeoning movement to deconstruct the traditional digital media that we are bombarded with to a greater extent than ever before in human history? Can the YTP ask questions that a linear and sequential piece cannot? Food for thought. While you’re chewing, I’ll leave you with the parting shot of Mr. Breton in his manifesto:
Surrealism, such as I conceive of it, asserts our complete nonconformism clearly enough so that there can be no question of translating it, at the trial of the real world, as evidence for the defense. It could, on the contrary, only serve to justify the complete state of distraction which we hope to achieve here below… Surrealism is the “invisible ray” which will one day enable us to win out over our opponents. “You are no longer trembling, carcass.” This summer the roses are blue; the wood is of glass. The earth, draped in its verdant cloak, makes as little impression upon me as a ghost. It is living and ceasing to live which are imaginary solutions. Existence is elsewhere.