Feb 09, 2011, 05:58AM

Licorice Cigar Freakout

One mentally-challenged Swedish man, one piece of licorice...

I can't decide if "pro-retardation" is ironic, kitschy, or campy. Or why I derive so much satisfaction watching this clearly mentally challenged Finnish person completely lose it over Skipper's Pipes licorice candy. I keep thinking of the aesthetics of amateur videos that feature some nutty character, whether it's collective empathy or cruelty that makes me/us so fascinated. Or maybe it's more simple: we've all become a little YouTube-stupid; or (bear with me) maybe—like an accident on the freeway where you want to see dead bodies on the road—we, perhaps with anthropological curiosity, have a perverse desire to see the bottom of humanity, the gross mistakes or negligence of a supposed God, one who could create both this sad person and the indescribable vapidity of his life which licorice is somehow able to fill.

The camerawoman is presumably the mother; one wonders if she's filming with sentiment for her son, or to collect evidence for a psychiatric evaluation. Then there is the case of the original uploader of the video, how he obtained the footage, and if this implicates any triangular narrative of these people's lives. The Internet makes the world smaller, and we're peeking into horrendous homes. Voyeurism is now legitimized. The public narrative of viral videos begins with the assumption, or passive acceptance, that these videos simply exist, out there for us to consume, to comment, and judge. There is a performance aspect and narcissistic element of most viral videos (like "Double Rainbow" and "Gingers do have souls") that interests me less. The Finnish guy—why I love him so much—transcends the ethos of YouTube's democratic campaign for self-made fame, for he is completely unconscious, perhaps even insane.

Or, maybe it is conscious—a brilliant rogue marketing campaign for Skipper's Pipes; not only is the item now seared into my memory, I'm thinking of ordering some online. That this is a fake clip is highly unlikely, but given the growing phenomenon of corporately sponsored scripted ads veiled as amateur YouTube uploads, it is not completely absurd. It barely matters what he's saying, though a translated version is inevitable. Speaking of retarded, the comments are a glimpse into the stimuli-ridden cruel psyche of Internet enabled ennui. Their meanness is boring. I'm tempted to call our Finnish friend's experience profound, an existential orgasm induced by licorice. I don't know what's wrong with his nose, or his mind. His taste buds though, are doing just fine.


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