Just when that song had finally gotten out of your head, PBS Idea Channel ponders how Too Many Cooks is a good pivot point through which to examine the absurd meaningless of existence.

Let’s back up: PBS Idea Channel uses current pop culture trends and stories to expound on the deeper cultural, societal, or philosophical implications of these artifacts. By using these touchstones as jumping off points, host Mike Rugnetta shows the multiple levels that could be occurring (either purposefully or not) within many songs/TV shows/Internet memes/etc. that most would see as disposable fluff. Using an assortment of videos, GIFs, and memes, Rugnetta examines how these bits of cultural ephemera are either descendants or examples of various schools of thought or parts of academic debates. He poses a question at the beginning and then goes through a crash course in the ontological element of the week and how it ties into that new trend.

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Of course, for many Too Many Cooks is not a new trend and certainly many people have already gotten sick of it. But that’s the point (argues Rugnetta)! In the video, he posits that not only is the content in the viral video a prime example of Camus’ theory of absurdity and lack of true meaning in life, but that the way people consume it is also a continuation of those very same themes. The quick discovery, consumption, gluttony, and disgust by which people latch on to various memes is itself an extension of the need to define purpose and meaning in a life that is otherwise rudderless and devoid of such things.

It’s an interesting thought exercise that also manages to rope in both the theater of the absurd and that “Alex From Target” meme. Although most would agree that the homicidal maniac stalking the cast of Too Many Cooks bears a closer resemblance to a weird troll version of Terry Gilliam than Slavoj Zizek as a creepy uncle—so therefore the entire argument is invalid.

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