Within just over a decade, what is perceived as comedy has shifted dramatically. Previous generations have commented on how strange Generation Z (Gen Z) humor is in which older media is recycled to fit this new brand of comedy.
On June 16, 2006, a user named Michael Robinson uploaded a video onto YouTube titled "Agamemnon counterpart." The footage allegedly originated in 2001 as a submission for the New York-based art competition D2K1 (Destination Imagination 2001) and was created by artist Jason Kovac. The project features many unconventionally amplified elements, such as surreal cartoon imagery, a pale face with no eyes screaming, constant static glitching, distressing samples and flashing colors.
Many believed the video was cursed and even created a Creepypasta surrounding its mysterious nature in the following years. But recently, something rather unexpected has sunk its claws into it: people perceive the video as humorous.
This type of video is not an isolated instance. Over the last several years, there has been a radical shift in internet humor. This is in part due to Gen Z, a generation born around the time these videos surfaced on the web. Many members of this generation now push absurdism and nihilism to a new extreme in their humor. They use lightheartedness in a completely different way than millennials used it a decade before. Gen Z was born into a world experiencing historical events such as the Great Recession, 9/11 and the climate crisis. This type of humor is a way to cope with the ever-increasing anxieties surrounding Gen Z. It makes sense that scary and anxiety-inducing videos get stripped of their reputation to fit this new interpretation.
Take, for example, a video uploaded around a year before Agamemnon Counterpart titled "Freaky Soup Guy" (later nicknamed "blank room soup"). This video featured a man seated at a table in a blank white room with black censor bars over his eyes, eating a bowl of soup with a large spoon. With him, two figures in humanoid costumes approach from behind and creepily comfort him while he consumes his meal. Unlike the previous video, this one's backstory is significantly more convoluted. Many believe that whoever was behind the footage stole these costumes from Raymond Persi while on tour and created a snuff film that forced an unknown individual to eat the remains of their wife. Many have claimed that the video surfaced on the deep web. They claim it eventually made its way onto the clear web in 2005. However, this and the disturbing backstory are both fakes.
This video is creepy, right? Well, long ironic narratives in the video's comments flip its interpretation upside down. Beyond that, an even better example is a parody video titled "Blank Room Soup 2," uploaded by Nong Noc Music which uses spliced footage from mukbang Youtuber Nikocado Avocado. This video is perfectly timed to create a dark humor masterpiece.
With that, it's clear that humor has gone through an interesting evolution over the last several years, and these videos can serve as examples of it infecting media from the past. These two videos are just some of the ones that have found this newfound spotlight. Others such as "Who Wants to Gnaw on Human Bones" (2009), "Body of A Pig" (2007), "WPKEPKW" (2014), "Dining Room or There Is Nothing" (2006), "The Poughkeepsie Tapes (Scene)" (2007) and "I Feel Fantastic" (2009). This phenomenon will likely continue to increase well into the 2020s when looking at where humor is heading. Regardless, these videos are still considered legendary in their role in internet history and are a thrill to watch, especially around the Halloween season.