By Ethan Bloomfield, Staff Writer
Does anyone remember the “The Ultimate Showdown” video? The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny, of course. “Old Godzilla was hoppin’ around / Tokyo City like a big playground”? This 2006 gem captures a snapshot of the attitudes of pop culture in that year.
“LOL XD” randomness was in full swing and EBaumsWorld was still as hot as ever. This was the year when YTMND launched their new layout, and a year where Nyan Cat was but a glimmer in Christopher Torres’ eye. Life was good. GIFs were even better. More so than that, though, “The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny” showed something important about internet culture: that it is infectious and can easily bleed into entertainment at large to great effect.
Sites like Bandcamp, Soundcloud, and Youtube are places where the modern musician can thrive; releasing their music in a low-cost, high-reward environment. With this new wave of musical ability and low-impact distribution, a higher volume of music is made, posted, loved, hated, and cast into the abyss every single day. In this column, I intend to highlight the albums that lived and died on the internet, for the internet, BECAUSE the internet. Like “The Ultimate Showdown” before it, I feel like no other album encapsulates this spirit like social justice whatever by Chris†††.
Sitting at just over 11K views on Youtube, social justice whatever seems like just another vaporwave album. It is housed on both the channel of Chris††† and the “Vapor Memory” channel, which is where other popular vaporwave releases can be found. After pressing the play button, though, it is clear that this album is anything but normal vaporwave.
If there was one overused trope that could be used to describe this album, it would be this: memewave. This album begins with the sounds of a computer humming to life, and immediately, the year is 2009 and you’ve just been rickrolled. Darude Standstorm, Gangnam Style, Friday by Rebecca Black and so many more echo-mashed together, chopped, and distorted through this 33-minute adventure through an internet-meme hellscape.
In the track, “lossless loss”, “mmm whatcha say” rings the ears with heavy reverb as a funky organ solo leads into a clip of the viral “64 bits” Angry Video Game Nerd video. Believe me when I say that this album will make you feel like Nyan Cat and the Helios head from the Macintosh Plus album cover are beating you to death with a couple of IBM Model M keyboards. It is both as bewildering and entertaining as it is awful in the most genuine capacity.
It was at that point when I thought to myself “Wait… this album cover is a rage comic face!” Its grip on me was just beginning. On the song “get rekt”, “My Hope Will Never Die” immediately transitions into “Running in the 90s”, which then again transitions into a heavy metal cover of “Hedwig’s Theme”, only to then transition into the tactical nuke noise from the Call of Duty franchise. To top it all off, a slowed-down version of “All Star” over the “happy feet, wombo combo” meme plays triumphantly for the audience. They really do start coming and they don’t stop coming – it is a thing to behold.
This isn’t Chris†††’s only album though, and his others — like the much angrier and darker No Lives Matter — make it very clear that this music could have ONLY ever existed in one place. It is an homage to the ghosts that linger the forums and discussion boards to this day, almost like a sendoff to what started with “The Ultimate Showdown” and so many other impactful cultural moments — it is the signal for the end of an era. In this respect, it is beautiful.
Often when I force myself to listen to social justice whatever, I think to myself, “Why does this exist?” The answer isn’t clear. Is it a commentary on the disposability of meme culture? Is it some statement against the way culture online is progressing? Is it just a massive 33-minute long joke? The one thing that is clear is that it is a meme come to life; it is the natural progression of word-of-mouth ideas and phenomenons manifested. Social justice whatever, from “never log off” to “soulseek”, exists Because the Internet.