by 99 Seats
Okay. Now watch this.
A few weeks ago, I was kind of fascinated by the tamtampamela story. In case you have, you know, a life or something and don't want to click the links (actually, I really don't recommend clicking the first one, seriously), the story goes something like this: for a few months, this young woman was posting videos on YouTube as a fundamentalist Christian of the Fred Phelps stripe, condemning various groups and people to hell for relatively small offenses. She would hit message boards, claiming to be sincere and trying to get other sympathy from other Christians. After the earthquake in Japan, she posted the video linked to above, thanking God for the destruction and death in Japan, taking it as a sign of His power and a sign to the world to wake up. Obviously, there was outcry. If you do watch the video above, you might get, like me, a strange sense of dislocation. She seems so sincere...and yet, there's something off about it. But the sentiments are so disgusting...but are they that surprising? Fred Phelps protests military funerals saying that the soldiers died because God hates homosexuals. Is someone saying earthquake happened because of our secular ways so much more upsetting? But there's still something wrong.
In the end, tamtampamela turned out to be a troll, a fake Christian trying to make a statement. But her statement was close to reality, it was indistinguishable.
Around the same time, I saw the Forts and the Inbetween video above and I was introduced to Donald Glover's rap alter ego, Childish Gambino. And I felt some similar feelings of dislocation. Watch that Forts video and tell me that it doesn't look and feel like something Lonely Island would do on SNL and we'd all laugh about. But is it sincere? Whoever posted it, whatever their intent, as soon as it started to go viral, they pulled it down. It seems like it was actually sincere. And so is Childish Gambino. Donald Glover isn't doing a parody of a rapper, he is a rapper. But he's a funnyman, right? How do I take this seriously? Is the misogyny serious?
I don't often get into the whole world of "these kids today just ain't no damn good" or "the internets are taking our society down with them in their tubes." But I do wonder about how sincerity lives in a world like this? How do recognize real sincerity and earnest feelings in a world of cringe comedy and constant irony? As a writer who actually like sincerity and tries to write with it, I often find people laughing at things I meant honestly. Sometimes I don't mind. But sometimes I wonder, is there a point where we've seen too much parody of emotion and our ability to recognize actual emotion is stunted?