Miracle on Brookhaven St.

Also: memory card voyeurs, cyber-vigilantes, and the ban on time travel.

Miracle on Brookhaven St.

EX is a research report about where culture is headed. You can learn more here. This week, the Christmas spirit gets all over everything as EX tries to stick to the bad news that audiences crave.

1. Car actors push their gaming chairs to the limit


He wasnt paying attention 😭 #funny #gaming #beamng #jadenwilliams #carcrash #fake #comedy #beamngcrash #gamer #games

♬ original sound - GamingJadenWilliams

There’s a lively corner of TikTok devoted to car acting: streamers who play driving games mainly to crash and hurl themselves out of their seats for comic effect. Maybe it’s a normal impulse when you spend all day sitting in a racing chair. Maybe physical comedy and screaming are just the shortest path to views on short form video. But after watching streamers like Jaden Williams, zeuz, and coolkidfrmbx bounce off the walls of their TikTok boxes throughout 2023, it feels like there has to be a greater virtual stage than City Car Driving waiting for them. Similar streamers like Mack Falcon and chrisquitsreality have been exploring the potential for full-body flailing in VR settings, but are hampered by huge HMDs that hide their faces. Could the Apple Vision Pro’s upsetting Sunken Place Eyes feature solve this in 2024? It’ll give everyone a new prop, at least.

2. One of the great internet humorists returns

Carter Amelia Davis (@sweetstench on Twitter), who made the two greatest videos about life on the forums, returned this week with the live-action “Having Fun with Cords” and the queasily animated “Cave Video 1,” her first uploads in more than a year. Davis’s micro horror-comedies often juxtapose the comforting nerd habitats of the internet with the mutations and formless evils that seem to emerge from cyberspace; “Cords” continues in that vein, and feels like her most absurdly dark creation yet.

3. Fake news for people who love bad news

Sick of all the good news you keep hearing? Tune into the channel New Newspaper Today, which has been busy making up disasters for those who can’t get enough of them. The NNT formula is simple: cook up an AI-generated thumbnail of a Roland Emmerich-scale climate catastrophe to astound gullible viewers, edit together old storm footage from around the internet, and add an apocalyptic description (“Earth's pain will cleanse the Planet of humanity.”) It’s a bit like Deceased Actors Hollywood, a classic fake news channel EX mentioned back in September. Bad news is some of the cheapest content there is — it’s not hard to see why clickbaiters want to manufacture more of it.

New Newspaper Today was highlighted in a recent video from scam-hunter Scott Shafer, who pointed out that the channel racked up millions of views before being demonetized, which led its creators to decamp to a (now-deleted) second channel. They’ve since moved to yet another new channel — “New Article” — which seems to be republishing the same old yarns about Brazil being swallowed by the Earth.

4. The cost of arguing on the internet keeps getting higher

@JoCat105 on Twitter

This week, a beef between comedy podcaster Hesse Deni (of Seeking Derangements) and the animator JoCat ended with the latter publicly withdrawing from the bruising world of content creation. On December 12, Hesse quote-tweeted JoCat’s reddit-core “I Like Girls” video for her followers to cringe at, saying “Just made this video. Let me know what you think!” She was soon flooded by angry JoCat heads (“I Like Girls” has 11M views) who either thought she was really trying to freeboot the video or was bullying their unproblematic fave. JoCat responded with exasperation at what he saw as endless harassment over the 2021 video, more rabid fans piled into the comments, and both creators tried to de-escalate, with Hesse briefly setting her account private. Ultimately both sides declared defeat and JoCat said he was taking a break.

Galaxies of discourse have spun off from this event (who’s allowed to be horny, who’s allowed to be mean, who’s got the worst fans, etc.), but the real takeaway is that arguing on the internet isn’t worth it anymore. Interest in netizen drama ballooned this year as rising YT drama channels like Internet Anarchist and Austin Green joined the old guard of j aubrey, Patrick Cc:, Turkey Tom, and SunnyV2, feeding the drama-hungry audience that already hung out in places like r/LivestreamFail; at the same time, “mods permanently asleep” platforms like Elon’s Twitter and Kick gave bad actors free reign to threaten and dox. The old problem of context collapse (which JoCat’s note points to) is now amplified by creators who profit from fanning the flames. If you feel the eye of the larger internet settle on you, it makes sense to do what Hesse and JoCat did — yank the ethernet cord out of the wall.

5. The biggest little channel on YouTube

Sean Seanson’s latest two-hour-plus upload opens with a rude observation: creators who make “worst games” lists always regurgitate the same well-worn titles and complaints. It’s no surprise that his video doesn’t. The hallmark of Seanson’s many sturdily built “long videos to fall asleep to” is that he always does the work and gives everything a fair shake, whether he’s playing licensed shovelware or every game Squaresoft made for the Playstation. His videos aren’t Big Idea essays or straightforward recommendations. Instead, they’re work-intensive, digressive chapters in an insane project to map the entire landscape of PS1 releases in his head, with special attention given to odd old studios like Cryo Interactive.

6. A stolen cache of Christmas movie gold

Important Cinema Club podcaster and Gold Ninja Video owner Justin Decloux recently ran a 12-hour “Holiday Mind Melter” movie marathon. His list of picks is an excellent resource for anyone seeking weird Christmas stuff they’ve never seen before. It includes the 1984 Hong Kong comedy Merry Christmas, the Chicago-set Die Hard ripoff Christmas Rush, the Korean farce Femme Fatal, the dark comedy Bad Christmas, and the 30-minute anime Oruorane the Cat Player, the source of this magical clip.

YouTube Thumbnail of the Week

ROBLOX Brookhaven 🏡RP: CHRISTMAS 2 🎅🏻🎄: Poor Blind Boy's Last Wish | Gwen Gaming Roblox” by Gwen Gaming Roblox

Chum Box

That’s it for this week. Next week we’ll be figuring out what, if anything, we learned in 2023.