So, a couple of weeks ago this thing happened. The stream was this spontaneous outpouring of support for a community and a charity that was targeted by a cadre of journalists, concerned parents, and one culturally irrelevant comedy writer. To sum up, YouTuber H. Bomberguy streamed the game Donkey Kong 64 to completion while raising money for Mermaids, a UK-based charity which offers support systems to trans kids. What followed was a 54-hour stream which included appearances from folks like Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, John Romero, Grant Kirkhope and other notable folks from around the internet. Beyond being just this great weekend in support of those who need it, the stream also gave me hope. Full disclosure, I’m a cis straight white dude. I won the privilege game so I don’t want to make it all about me. There have been some excellent Twitter threads about the stream and what it meant to the charity it was for and the community it supported. (@CaseyExplosion on Twitter is a good source for these, as she was a moderator for the stream and shared some good stuff post-stream). When I say it gave me hope, I’ve never hidden my politics particularly well. As time goes by, I tend to be pulled further to the left. Anyway, the stream was 100 times the success that H. Bomberguy anticipated as success. The stream was a group of people coming together to support a cause over an old video game. A spontaneous outcry of positivity and love in the face of those who would have us go back in terms of rights. It gave me hope that we fight the darkness as the climate apocalypse approaches. What I did want to talk about was the fellow behind the stream. H. Bomberguy.
I can’t recall exactly when I subscribed to H. Bomberguy. Looking back, I can recall the first video I was aware of. It was one of the earliest that resembled his current format. The video details the two figures in the Gamergate movement and mocks them heavily. The part that perhaps made me laugh the hardest is how H. Bomb completely loses his shit over the skull that appears in nearly every shot of one of the figures he is mocking. While almost crying from laughing, he wonders if there are multiple skulls or if he moves the one between shots, suggesting either a pathological love of toy skulls or a deliberate placing of the skull in the mise-en-scene. Either way, H. Bomb through mockery makes these two and their points not worth listening to. Mocking them showed me, a person who without much thought in 2014 might have fallen to the movement of Gamergate. I was exactly the angry little gamer boy that that movement could recruit and drive further right. H. Bomberguy in one of his first videos showed me that ‘all you can do is laugh’.
My next encounter with H. Bomb’s content came a few years later. He had developed as a creator. I had developed (hopefully) into a less garbage human being. His next video that I encountered was about the body standards of men and women in games. Years earlier, I would have made the false equivalence that this video disputes. I would have compared the beauty standards of male and female heroes and gone ‘job done, this idea merits no further exploration’. The video does explain pretty extensively the idea that male avatars in games are power fantasies and female NPCs or avatars are often objectified. It’s pretty straight forward but if you don’t do a deep analysis of your thoughts on these matters like I didn’t, you can miss these concepts and make a false equivalence. This video, perhaps more than the previous video I mentioned, taught me to reconsider some pretty misogynistic ideas I had by appealing to my love of video games and then explaining pretty basic literary concepts to me. Now, what video appealed to my interests and broadened my understanding next? If you know me, you will not be surprised.
Perhaps one of H. Bomb’s most popular videos is on the subject of Sherlock. The video details how the fourth series of Sherlock getting drunk and then shitting in an alleyway was not some unforeseen circumstance but was based on the very foundations of the way that Stephen Moffat tells stories. I’ve been very critical of Moffat in the past. Of how he ruined Doctor Who after I so enjoyed his early episodes under Russell T. Davies (which H. Bomb dissects in his video on the 2017 Christmas special of Doctor Who). My basic critique of Moffat is simple (kind of). He only knows how to tell one type of story (things happen in unusual order because time travel) and he never finishes a story arc satisfyingly. There is always another question to be answered that results from the previous season finale and it feels exhausting. Because there is never a satisfying conclusion. H. Bomb’s video on the subject traverses Moffat’s whole career and shows how they inform the contemporary stories we get from Moffat. It also lays bare how unsatisfying it can be to subvert audience expectations if that subversion has no weight behind it. The video showcases completely my frustrations with one of the most famous TV writers of the early-2010s. That’s probably why it’s so popular because it is comprehensive and cathartic.
Which brings us to H. Bomb’s more contemporary stuff. I’ve spoken before about his video on the internet meme Loss before in my Best of YouTube 2018 post. Earlier in 2018, H. Bomb released a video in his Measured Response series. A series that began with his discussion of those two Internet weirdos I mentioned earlier. In this video on the insult Soy Boy, he does what he threatened to do in his earlier videos and does a 40-minute rebuttal. The benefit of this is that he examines in detail the claim that soy contains phytoestrogens which must be feminising because estrogen. He debunks this pretty thoroughly, looking at sheep and the shape of chemicals. In a later video, H. Bomb dissects the works of H.P. Lovecraft. He talks of adaptation and speaks about his past as a smarter-than-thou figure who devoured Lovecraft and his transition away from that. Perhaps that’s why I connected with H. Bomberguy. We have somewhat similar origin stories.
I’ve often worried that I come off as condescending in my worst moments and people extrapolate that to my whole personality. As I begin to reassess my former days as the worst kind of person, it does sort of have an opposite effect. Perhaps my 2018 could be summed up as me dealing with my own mediocrity. I mean, this website, is a way for me to have my own sort of vanity. To pretend that my opinions matter any more than the next person because I write 1000 words of them on the Internet each week. This is probably getting away from the point. The reason I wrote this thing was pretty simple. This website wouldn’t exist without H. Bomberguy. You can see the influence in the way that both our platforms sprawl across an amalgam of topics and get vaguely more political as time goes on. In fact, there is a cadence to my words that was probably influenced in part by H. Bomb. All of this is to say two simple things, really. First is that if we want to engage people on serious issues, it can help to go where the people are. Talk about interests and the ideas they convey subtextually. Like with my Thanos and Elon Musk piece. I wanted to talk about the weird way in which we frame overpopulation and how you can’t convince ideologues that they’re wrong because their worldview is complete to them. Second, is that we mustn’t forget to laugh at the monsters. Chances are, the Ben Shapiro’s and Charlie Kirk’s of the world will do something ridiculous. Just people in laughing at these fools because sometimes it helps to think of these terrible figures as something to be laughed at.
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