Everything is Terrible! and You Should Know About It
The Blog to End All Blogs
Everything is Terrible! may sound like a phrase that describes a viewpoint of the world shared by many, most of them radically religious or cynical about everyone's motives, but they are the exact targets in this satirical group. Made up of three video-gatherers, retaining their anonymity for legal purposes as well as admirable mysteriousness, Everything is Terrible! started out as a small blog that's grown considerably since then, going from a blogspot.com domain to their own everythingisterrible.com.
There may have been three original contributors nicknamed Future Schlock, Commodore Gilgamesh and Ghoul Skool--each of them based individually in L.A., New York City and Chicago--but the contributions have expanded since, with anyone allowed to send video after video to the team. The original three started out by collecting “terrible” videos from thrift stores in these three main cities, such as old infomercials and instructional videos, and sending them to each other, and they later decided to make a showcase out of it. One of the members recalled working at a video store and seeing an “Everything is Terrible!” logo at the end of many of the videos, and so they gave themselves this title, even adding the very logo at the end of just about every one of their clips as a watermark.
Everything is Terrible! describes perfectly every video the group's gathered in the few years they've been doing this, with the videos themselves serving as biting satire on American culture mostly beginning from the eighties and onward. The only thing the team does is edit these videos, condensing them to pronounce the commentary further, and maybe adding effects for comedic value on occasion. A couple of my favorites include “Knives Vs. Cops”, which is a compilation of an eighties cop instructional tape whose narrator treats criminals like animals, and also “Ballad of Vincent”, which shows a series of news clips showing a Chicago native named Vincent who in the late 90s dressed in a new suit for nearly every news show and danced for the cameras.
Most of Everything is Terrible! 's videos are about religion and the fear and relentless paranoia spawned by it, teaching kids to be “obedient slaves” or otherwise, as well as instructional videos which treat their customers like inept idiots and make sure to repeat product names exhaustively. Many of their videos are also brief summaries of terrible films, a short series called “3 Minute Videos”. Not every video is meant for satire, but more for the sheer “terribleness” they represent.
discovered this blog in early 2009 when they were just
beginning to develop a viewership. They had tons of videos and added
more and more on YouTube, and I became addicted to the terrible.
Since then, they've actually gone on tour throughout America's major
cities. They still do, and I've managed to see them twice at two
different venues in Chicago, at The Hungry Brain bar and the Music
Box Theatre in Wrigleyville. I even own a T-shirt, which they sell
online. What was really inconvenient for the group, though, was when their main YouTube account was taken down due to copyright infringement, and unjustly so, in my opinion, as their videos should be protected by the parody clause.
The group continually posts videos, never seeming to run out, and many of them connect to my childhood like their “Kidz Bop” or “Pokemon” videos have. If their videos don't only target the idiocy of the people involved in making them, they display the gullibility of the people the videos themselves target. Just the name of a product being repeated endlessly in a video teaching a purchasing customer how to use the product is humorous enough to entertain me, and the EIT! team has produced two DVDs containing hour-long “movies” showcasing the many videos the group has collected, and each features at least another hour or so of bonus clips to hold you over.
Unfortunately, many people don't seem to get the purpose of EIT! , not understanding that maybe there isn't a full-blown message about how awful our society is, but rather do it by simply showing the videos and the actors or even real people in them. To me, it's a dry brand of humor that's originally unintentional, and to me is a kind of comedy that keeps me engaged alone.
There is a novelty trend the Everything is Terrible! team has started as well, which they mention on every one of their tours, the collection of Jerry Maguire on videocassette. The reason they ask for people to send them their Jerry Maguire tapes is simple: it is the single most mass produced VHS in history (at least this is what they inform everyone of at the venues they attend) and so they want anyone who doesn't want them to simply donate their copy to them in pursuit of the largest Maguire collection they can gather. If I had a copy, I'd send it to them.
At every one of their tours or interviews (they've made it on news networks) the main three members (as well as a couple others) are always seen dressed in full customized costumes as tall long-armed aliens with trunks on their faces. They even put the effort in disguising their voices to sound deep, quivery, and alien-like. Sure, the main reason they may do this is to keep from getting sued by the companies whose videos they've edited, but they have fun with it, and I respect them for what they've done.
Every time they tour, the group shows their films, but they also put in the effort to make a show out of it, adding fog effects and perhaps even little entertaining guest shows beforehand as warm-up (a cute performing cat show was one). They add somewhat of an “underground” feeling to what they do and it's entirely fun to experience, so I'd definitely advise anyone to see their shows if you're down for a cheap way to have a fun night and possibly have a few drinks while watching a late-night movie.
The group also generously advertises for the businesses they purchase their VHS tapes from, one of which is Odd Obsession in Chicago, a store I'd personally like to venture to one day just for the sake of looking around. They'll even allow the business owners to request donations from the customers at their shows, and personally it's something I'm willing to participate in.
Sure, Everything is Terrible! may basically be just another blog, but it's developed into something more, something that's real fun to experience with other people, and it may be one thing about the Internet I'm proud to say has benefited society in a small way. EIT! really feels like a fun little nostalgic wake-up call into how messed up and yet hilarious this world can be, even if it doesn't want to be, and it makes me believe that if there is a God, it'd most likely have a sense of humor about everything featured in Everything is Terrible!. Their show dates are always posted online and they can give you opportunities to purchase tickets online as well, depending on the venue. They're really too fun to not miss, even if the chief audience you may find (at least in Chicago) falls into the hipster crowd. And if all you're willing to do is watch their videos online, at least you'll be able to enjoy most of the “terrible”.