Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Cap off an incredibly stupid week of people getting mad at a kid with the Greta Thunberg Helpline

Photo: Johannes Eisele (Getty Images)

Modern cultural and political discourse, especially as it takes place on the internet, is awful. And yet, despite years and years of witnessing dumbasses yelling at each other online, the angry responses to Greta Thunberg—a 16-year-old environmental activist—are difficult to even believe exist. From the American president through to far-right dipshits and armies of Twitter wastoids, Thunberg has been on the receiving end of a torrent of attacks inspired by her appearing at the United Nations last Monday and giving a rousing, outraged speech about the failures of world leaders to address climate change.

Comedian Mark Humphries and a production team, capturing the specific surrealism of this moment in time, have created a commercial that imagines a fictional (but somehow necessary) Greta Thunberg Helpline where “adults angry at a child” can vent through the phone.

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The sketch is a pretty straightforward exploration of that premise: An inspirational piano soundtracks a guy giving his testimonial from the viewpoint of a “a middle-aged man with an embarrassing problem” that involves getting “irrationally angry at a Swedish girl who wants to save the planet.” We’re shown a call center where employees field the concerns of a man upset that Thunberg makes “the end of the world sound like the end of the world” or another who thinks she’s lying about caring about renewable energy because “she doesn’t wear one of those baseball caps with the solar panels and the fan on the front.”

“If you’re a grown adult who needs to yell at a child for some reason,” a narrator says, “the Greta Thunberg Helpline is here to tolerate you.” Later, it adds: “It’s okay. We understand that children acting like adults can make adults act like children.”

Thunberg herself has retweeted the video, which is noteworthy, mostly, because it shows she’s somehow managed to stay on Twitter, making jokes throughout this hell week.

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The absurdity that’s inspired this video’s creation is still enormously frustrating of course, but it’s good to remember that not everyone is reacting to Thunberg’s work like social media’s very worst. The past 24 hours have also seen Thunberg win the Right Livelihood Award (or “Alternative Nobel”) and become a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize, which, if won, would make her the youngest recipient to date.

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About the author

Reid McCarter

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.