April 2024

 Dr. Robotnik’s Lobotomy: The Return Of Pingas 

An Interview With Twitter’s Gabe And Cake About Why YouTube Poop Is Trending Again

Pingas with a CapCut effect.
(Source: Twitter / @chronakey)

Why Pingas? Why Now?

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Brain rot, lobotomy, post-irony, hood irony, whatever you want to call it, this recent era, of chaotic video, intoxicatingly stupid, ever-changing, increasingly absurd (Join us, brave one, they attest; Join us, stupid one, they beckon), their creators want us to understand that they possess the joke. It’s in a garbled language, but if you bang your head a few times, it sounds like poetry.

We’ve gotten so used to registering a new joke. We see a chaotic visual motif and automatically see a joke. It’s a jelly bean, being pushed into the folds of your brain. (You don’t feel it. It just slides right in.) Pushed via text-to-speech voices, CapCut transitions, and TikTok captions (all modes that seem inherent, commonplace, to a modern shitpost-viewer). Then, an interjection: “Pingas!” you hear in all its glory. And a thousand dumber memories come flooding back.

In the current landscape of Twitter users are a few who (chalked up to stream of conscious nostalgia) have brought back Pingas, an early YouTube Poop sound that early internet veterans and truthers alike are familiar with.

The context is this: there’s an episode of the animated series Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog during which Dr. Robotnik recites the line, “Snooping as usual, I see,” directed at his robotic underlings, too meek to respond. In YTP fashion, some genius (a YouTuber named Stegblob (who was actually interviewed by New York Mag in 2020)) heard “penis” in the phrase’s syllables, cutting and splicing it to fit their naughty joke.

Reupload of the original “Robotnik Has a Viagra Overdose.”
(Source: YouTube / youtubepoops)

See, in their ethos, YouTube Poops are “poops” meant to clog up YouTube’s search results, tricking noobies who think they’re clicking on an actual recording of SpongeBob but, instead, they get shat on, with a flow of nonsense, intoxicatingly stupid, ever-changing, and increasingly absurd. Then they’re hooked. They were baited, and now they’re hooked.

At some point, there was a line drawn in the poop, when YTPs became old and “lobotomy, brain rot” content became new and fresh. While “hood irony” was also originally meant to trick—in that, hood irony disguises itself as “hood content” only to devolve—the genre eventually morphed into the all-encompassing sludge that it is today, veering itself away from the parody of “hood” memes and into the parody of all short-form video content that exists. Think ASMR, self-help videos, sigma grindset, Reddit stories, and Family Guy clips. Subverting all of these understood genres by way of deterioration, akin to visual snow and peripheral hallucinations, is the new ethos of “brain rot,” designed to rot the brain of its viewer like YouTube Poops before them.

In the currently viral and ephemeral TikTok realm, this new YTP language called brain rot is written in different, more advanced and polished editing softwares. Pingas, somehow, has had a revival in this new world. Somehow, translating into the new language.

The two main culprits of the Pingas revival are named Gabe and Cake, who go by @chronakey and @NintendoGCN on the site formerly known as Twitter. Since December, the two have been on a Pingas tear. Their videos have spread across social media, seeping into the feeds of both normies and non-normies alike who, on their lunch breaks, scrolling through their apps, are being exposed to Dr. Eggman’s famous misquote. Why? Because it’s still somehow funny, inherently. (Or, at least, for Gabe and Cake, and the rest of the video creators in their Twitter clique, the humor of Pingas is inherent and evergreen because they’re nerds with well-flawed senses of humor.)

“Bro done lost is pingas” video.
(Source: Twitter / @chronakey)

On a Discord call last week, I talked with them about what’s happening, trying to understand, What's your relationship with Pingas? Do you have a first memory or a bond with it?

Cake laughed, “I’m sorry. That’s just a funny question.

Gabe agreed. He said, “I mean, I remember the first time that I saw Pingas. Some kid in the second grade told me that Pingas meant ‘dick.’

Which is true. “Pingas” is a synonym for “penis” in the original video, but to Gabe’s point, by the end of its saturation, “Pingas,” as a word, had lost all its meaning, reduced to a guttural sound.

I just grew up—we both did—watching a lot of YTPs,” Gabe said. “And as we got older, around 2017, 2018, me and Cake joined the same YTPMV community. So we just started joking about Pingas a lot because we thought it was funny. Now, it's just interesting to bring it back because… Stuff that you find funny when you're young can still end up being funny now. And I feel, like, it’s always the stupid kind of funny, honestly, that lasts.

“aww look who can’t say PINGAS” meme.
(Source: Twitter / @selectwario)

Cake added his own thoughts to the prompt: the ridiculous idea of having some fond bond with a word that means “penis.” He said, “I watched a lot of YouTube Poop as a kid. Pingas would always come up. In Gabe and mine’s YTPMV community, we’d just always bring up Pingas.” He admitted that, “For some reason, it was half irony, but also half, no one's talking about it. Why not talk about it again? And for a few years, before now, no one really mentioned Pingas unless they were being ironic.

Except for one man, apparently, who was a Pingas revivalist before the two I was interviewing, a direct catalyst for Pingas’ return.

There's this one guy on Twitter,” Gabe said. “His name is Anthony, @KirbyCheatFurby, and his tweets would always just make me laugh because he mentions Pingas in the most random things.

Yeah, he was one of our favorite accounts,” Cake said. “Because he would always tweet about Pingas and no one else would embrace it, but then we would read it and be like, ‘Oh my God, is this a real tweet that we're reading?’

After searching “pingas from:KirbyCheatFurby” on Twitter, it’s true. The madman has no filter and no threshold for what constitutes as a Pingas reference, translating the nonsensical impulses of the original YTPs into tweet form. The man seems hilariously haunted, seeing Robotnik’s mustache’d face in his breakfast plate.

“i got the pingas meal” tweet.
(Source: Twitter / @KirbyCheatFurby)

I noted to them that the continuation of Pingas, long after its supposed death, is similar (kind of) to how Big Chungus remains in the zeitgeist, ironically, expressed best through Tony Zaret's skits and fucking one’s “chungus life.”

Exactly!” Cake exclaimed, “but…” He retracted, mostly because Gabe recited a reluctant, “In a way…” as a response to my comparison, slightly skeptical of the resemblance.

Cake continued, riffing on his friend’s hesitance, “But, for Pingas specifically, I feel, like, it's more honoring it, because, 15 years later, and it still makes people giggle. I think that's pretty impressive.

I thought about it, and revised my comparison because, it’s true, Pingas is a much more monumental meme than Big Chungus. Pingas is emblematic of YouTube Poop which directly changed, and started, the trajectory of video meme content, building the framework for how faceless editors can make people laugh without speaking.

In contrast, Big Chungus is a picture of a fat Bugs Bunny. It’s remained in memes only because it’s infamously unfunny which (to its credit) is also (likely) the reason why it’s one of the most known memes because, it provokes the question, at the heart of many memes, why did this go viral? It’s much easier to honor Pingas and degrade Big Chungus because unjustness was always at the core of Big Chungus as a meme.

“Bless my ethereal chungus life” tweet.
(Source: Twitter / @midsmoker34)

To clarify something, “YTPMV” (as in, the “YTPMV community” that Gabe and Cake are a part of) is an abbreviation for “YouTube Poop Music Video”: a subset of YTPs that splice-edit the sounds of obscure source videos to remake famous songs.

I feel like it's more of its own thing,” Cake said on the subject.

Yeah, there's definitely two sides of the YTPMV community too,” Gabe said. “There are people who take it more seriously; they try to cover songs as accurately as possible. And then there's the other side, who just try to make goofy stuff, where more of the ‘YTP humor’ comes from. Even though we make more cover-based stuff, we still love our fucking goofy shit.

The duo has been making YTPMVs since 2016, posting them mostly to Twitter and on their YouTube channels thesupremegamer and snooPINGAS during the timeframe. In this sense, they’re late-arc YouTube Poopers whose careers bleed into the modern landscape of hood irony brain rot which started sometime around 2017 on sites like Instagram, iFunny and Reddit.

So, why, out of all of the YTP tropes, does Pingas works so well in the current meme landscape?

Actually, I don't know how to answer this one,” Cake said.

He thought about it for a moment, Gabe as well, who eventually said, “I think it's because it’s just a very short and catchy-sounding word, to be honest. It sounds like ‘penis.’ It rings out. Also, I mean, it's linked to Sonic, which is one of the biggest franchises ever.

The way he says it too,” Cake added. “It automatically sounds like it's pasted in the middle of a voice clip, which is strange, and people giggle at it. Also, everyone who grew up with YouTube Poop, people our age, they might have forgotten about Pingas. And then hearing it, it will bring back memories. It's just nostalgic, I guess.

(To clarify, Cake and Gabe are both mid-tier Zoomers, roughly 19 years old, both in college or college-aged, just working on their meme pages when they’re bored.)

The point Gabe made about Pingas being related to Sonicone of the biggest franchises ever” is important. For YTPs, the usage of recognizable subcultures from the ‘90s and ‘00s was important because it automatically accessed a group of people who would understand it and enjoy it.

In contrast, the source videos and references that brain rot content uses are far more obscure and abstractly general. Think of Silhouette Irony which creates an abstrusity from the universal understanding of walking. People (who obviously know what walking looks like) want to be in on the strange joke, so, they lean in, and become part of the “in” group by laughing at the gobbledygook, automatically registering it as “funny” due to irony-poisoning.

Silhouette walking greenscreen from hood irony memes.
(Source: YouTube / Savvas Karampalasis)

This is how “post-irony” works and it’s the current meme landscape that Pingas is being revived into. Therefore, akin to what these two said, the “stupid funny” nature of the guttural “Pingas” works in this new landscape because, even without knowing it means “penis,” it can automatically be perceived as a joke to be in on.

[If you want to know more about post-irony, check out my piece on Casino Irony. And if you want to know more about post-post-irony, peep my interview with Realeaterforever.]

Is that the term for this genre, like newer videos, ‘lobotomy?’” Cake asked after I brought it up. I was trying to spark a discourse about the “new landscape.”

Gabe thought about it, and then said, “I feel like a lot of the ‘Adam’ AI videos, the format that a lot of new Pingas videos are following [“Adam” as in the most widely used male text-to-speech voice available in CapCut] is the most akin to brain rot, AI, TikTok type shit… It's just something that me and Cake, and a lot of other people on Twitter, have picked up because, I don't know, it's very, I guess you can say it's flexible.

He continued on the idea of flexibility, saying, “You can say whatever you want, whereas in YouTube Poop, you can say whatever you want, but it's limited by what clips you use and stuff.

Cake added to the thought, saying, “I think YouTube Poop has a very distinctive style. It's not really easy to explain. With this new ‘slop content,’ it's a whole different landscape. You hear the ‘Adam’ voice and the very specific font for the captions, and you're like, ah, it's this kind of video. And then your eyes are glued to the screen.

The duo’s use of this “flexibility” is evident. They take a lot of liberties when crafting a new Pingas video that the old splice-editing of YTPs can’t achieve, akin to the level of control they’re allowed to wield in the “brain rot” landscape, comparatively.

For instance, one of my favorite videos of theirs was posted by Cake, going over the “Pingas mediation” strategy. The Adam voice allows Cake to fully dictate the narrative, all the while, subtly flexing his control over the seemingly route output by pointing out the difference between the AI’s pronunciation of “pingus” vs. “pingas” with the latter sounding wrong: an over-pronounced “aaah” is uttered by the ignorant Adam. Plus, Cake flexes his YTPMV skills in the background audio, pointing at the joke of the video; that the sound of “Pingas” is an “auditorial bliss” that will “engulf you,” alleged to cure all woes.

“Pingas meditation” video.
(Source: Twitter / @NintendoGCN)

The mismatch is so interesting to witness,” Gabe said. “For us, it was more just sticking inside jokes into this modern format, but somehow it landed.

I guess the only word I can describe it with is pattern recognition,” Gabe continued. “When you hear the YTP sounds, you're like, oh yeah, I recognize that. Same thing with, I guess, the silhouette hood irony thing, or Adam. You see the silhouette of the guy walking and you're like, oh, yeah, that's hood irony.

Cake name dropped one of his favorite new-gen Pingas videos. It’s one where two guys are arguing but Gabe replaced all of the sounds with YTP tropes.

It’s a nostalgia thing,” Gabe said.

And it clicked with everyone,” Cake said, “Because that thing blew up. One reply under the video reads, “bro is speaking 2014,” so, they obviously understood the references.

Two guys with a Samsung YTP sounds video.
(Source: Twitter / @chronakey)

Utilizing nostalgia is something new in meme culture.

Something I’ve been thinking about lately is, oftentimes, I’m jealous of art, fashion, and music writers. For all of them, they’re able to pull from a casual history of each subculture that generally stretches back no more than two decades. Like, to explain why xaviersobased is special in underground rap, a music writer doesn’t need to start with Beethoven to explain it.

Memes haven’t earned the same treatment, simply because they haven’t been around as long. But in the 2020s, memes have been established for over 20 years, meaning that the field has just reached its own casual history to pull from without having to compare the power of memes to Dadaism or Killroy.

The “casual history” threshold also means that memes have accessed cyclical nostalgia. In fashion, for instance, alt kids generally queer what was worn 10 years prior. It’s the reason why phreshboyswag can wear leopard print skinny jeans or a designer like bishhhop can repurpose clout goggles or the Tapout logo in 2024 and it feels, right; it feels like, it’s time.

[If you want to know more about cyclical nostalgia in fashion, read my piece on Luke Blovad and camouflage-core.]

Cyclical nostalgia has entered memes only recently. A good example is the modern subversion of troll face which has been repurposed for ironic schizoposting. Rage comics, in general, earned their own revival, evident in newly founded Cereal Guy formats.

However, both of these examples subvert image memes. Video memes, like YouTube Poops, went viral after Rage Comics, further emphasizing why Rage Comics were subverted sooner.

“Soldier Of Christ Why Art Thou Hidden” meme with Cereal Guy.
(Source: Facebook / [Redacted]posting)

But now, evident in the Pingas revival, video formats are ready to access their rebirth and transformation, especially as short-form video content becomes the premiere form of posting, encouraged by every major platform in an effort to compete with the attention-span firing range that is TikTok.

I really don't like TikTok,” Gabe said.

Yeah,” Cake agreed. “And some people have been negative, because of the way Pingas was coming back, being associated with this kind of TikTok brain rot content. But,” rationalizing it, "I think it was just a normal reaction to anything getting popular.

Most of the reactions have been positive though,” Gabe said. “And I'm pretty happy about that.

For both Gabe and Cake, I feel like they’re fitting into meme history, regardless of how subjectively cringy the popularity of any new meme or format is. The two are utilizing their YTPMV prowess at an opportune moment and not thinking too hard about what they’re doing. Their stream of conscious energy, evident in the random videos they produce, are akin to the resurgence of Pingas in the modern language which, similarly, is something that’s just going to happen; it’s fitting into the first cycle of properly executed YTP nostalgia.

It’s just cool to notice and take joy in the start of YouTube Poop’s return, once again clogging the toilet of the internet and indoctrinating a new generation of internet-heads. Simultaneously, adding to the question, did YouTube Poop ever stop? With toilet symbolism through the roof, we really do just have our brains in shitter still, rotting away.

Gabe’s tweet about Pingas’ KYM update.
(Source: Twitter / @chronakey)

You can follow Gabe on Twitter at @chronakey.
You can follow Cake on Twitter at @NintendoGCN.

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