Every year, the existence of the internet makes reality a more difficult, often more unsettling place to describe. How would we explain the arc of Logan Paul’s suicide forest video to someone born 150 years ago? Or the way Wendy’s has positioned itself as a fast-food burger chain that is also simultaneously your sassy Twitter best friend? Or anything to do with Fortnite? The time-traveling mind boggles.
Case in point: A new piece on BuzzFeed tonight, outlining the bizarre tale of YouTube children’s entertainment star Blippi, a cheerful weirdo whose previous online existence involved a high-profile viral video in which he literally shit on one of his friends for laughs.
To be clear, Blippi—real name Stevin John—doesn’t traffic in that kind of low-hanging fruit anymore; instead, his videos offer a sort of low-rent, free-to-stream take on Mr. Rogers, offering lots of repetitive content for kids to stare at and even, according to some anecdotal evidence, use to learn. He has a theme song; a high-pitched, shouting voice; even his own planned line of blue and orange distinctive sneakers. He teaches kids about shapes and colors, and encourages them to wash their hands. At no point does he poop on anyone.
Which, again, has to be seen as an improvement: As BuzzFeed notes, John lived a previous online life as internet comedy video maker Steezy Grossman, whose magnum opus was a video titled, fittingly enough, “Harlem Shake Poop.” This was back in 2013, mind you when “A Harlem Shake video where the jump cut involves shitting on your buddy” could, at least, be seen as somewhat fresh content, and it appears to have helped raise “Grossman’s” profile significantly, at least for a time. (The video has since been scrubbed from its original site at harlemshakepoop.com, if not from the memories of anyone who’s ever watched it.)
To be clear, no one’s intent here seems to be to shame John, or even to suggest that creating a scat-adjacent viral video should stop you from having a profitable career annoying the shit out of parents while keeping their children occupied a few years later. (His material might be irritating, but it’s infinitely preferable to those horrifying machine-generated kids videos some companies pump out.) It’s just weird, in a way that feels like it’s going to become increasingly common over the next few years, as the viral video stars of today become the senators, astronauts, and leaders of an increasingly surreal future.