Let’s take it way back to a time before YouTube, when viral videos weren’t yet called viral videos. You’re having a sleepover with a couple buds from the cul-de-sac, and after you pass the time with some Super Smash Bros Melee and gallon after gallon of Mountain Dew, your friend’s parents finally go to sleep. That’s when you strike. Your prepubescent crew sneaks into the family computer room and gathers around the warm glow of the desktop monitor to begin scraping the dirty underbelly of the worldwide web. Ebaum’s World. Newgrounds. Unfiltered Google searches of “boobs” and “porn.”
Some of the things you saw made you laugh. Some made you gag. Some gave you a strange, tingly feeling in your nethers (though I can’t share those in this article). Not all of the classics were raunchy or fucked up, but a lot of them were. Looking back, I have a newfound appreciation for age restrictions. Here are the videos that not only shaped today’s media world – they desensitized you to it.
Note: while the videos were re-uploaded to YouTube, all of them first made the rounds in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, except for “Two Girls, One Cup” (mid-2000s) and “Dancing Baby” (mid-90s).
1. Time To Bomb Saddam
People like to forget that after 9/11, everybody in America was all about fucking up some terrorists. For me, this crudely animated jingle was my first taste of political commentary via viral video (though calling it legitimate “commentary” might be a bit of a stretch).
2. End Of Ze World
AHHH MOTHERLAND! With residual doomsday fears from Y2K still lurking in our consciousness, everyone in ze world got a kick out of this early-2000s flash classic.
3. George Washington
Stupid. Random. Hilarious. This one still makes me swell with an irrational sense of patriotism every time I hear it. I also just noticed today that this was made by Brad Neely, who now has his own show on Adult Swim called, Brad Neely’s Harg Nallin’ Sclopio Peepio.
4. The Llama Song
This song is absolutely insane but never fails to make me laugh.
5. Schfifty Five
The YouTube description says it all: “A video describing the complexities of the number 55; back when the internet was good.”
There’s nobody else quite like Don Hertzfeldt, and the above video was the world’s first taste of his utterly bizarre and genuinely unique style. I still find myself saying, “My spoon’s too big,” when I’m eating cereal. The video serves as a reminder that if it weren’t for the explosion of digital video sharing, geniuses like Hertzfeldt probably would have remained undiscovered. You can see his newer, critically-acclaimed stuff on Netflix right now. Look up “World of Tomorrow” or “It’s Such A Beautiful Day.”
7. Two Girls, One Cup
Can’t link to this one. If you know what this is, I apologize for the painful memories. If you don’t know, keep in mind that it can never be unseen once you hit that play button. I had to include “Two Girls One Cup” on this list strictly for its historical significance. Not only did the video usher in an era of gross out videos like “Tubgirl” and the horrendous “Pain Olympics,” it was the first to kick off the trend of reaction videos, where people film themselves watching something.
8. Badger, Badger, Badger
I remember everyone in my elementary school class singing this aggravating viral hit. Then came the remixes.
9. Dancing Baby
This 3D animation of a baby dancing to Blue Swede’s “Hooked on a Feeling” first made the rounds via e-mail way back in 1996. It might be the first meme ever created.
10. Peanut Butter Jelly Time
You know what time it is. Everybody was singing this song back in the day. It even got its own parody on Family Guy.
11. Weee Song
This song captured all of our feelings of being kids who just wanted to go wee, but didn’t have drugs yet.
The stuff we share on the internet has completely changed. I don’t know about y’all, but I’d like to go back to a time when stuff like this was the norm. The internet used to be so pure..