Tuesday, March 21, 2006

YTMDWTFBBQ

Having passively wondered what the holy hell http://www.ytmnd.com/ is for a while now, I've finely come upon an explanation:
 


You're the Man Now Dog fascinates me. I'm hesitant to even mention it because if you flip over to the site and start poking around expecting to be entertained, you're going to think I've lost all sense. Most of what up on the top rated list and the hall of fame list is going to be inexplicable to the casual reader, like showing "All Your Base" to someone who's never heard of video games. That, in fact, is what fascinates me about the site. YTMND is, in essence, a massively multiplayer online in-joke. Even the title is an in-joke, a reference to a single line from a relatively obscure Sean Connery movie. If I was still in college I'd be tempted to write a paper following the threads of the in-joking, culminating in a gloriously confused topographical map of the site. But here's the short version: There are a number of "seed" gags on YTMND, sites that are amusing to one extent or another, in and of themselves.

For instance, a techno song about Captain Picard or a clip of Adam West's Batman set to a bizarre music sample. These seed gags are then taken up by the YTMND community and combined into new jokes. Jokes that are in essense parodies of the originals. There are several sites which pit Batman against Picard, for example. Eventually, the contributors start combining the parodies of the gags into new parodies, pulling in other jokes the way you pull hair into a French braid, until you end up with inexplicable spirals of self-reference. Of course, the next step is to reference the fact that YTMND references itself with sites such as YTMND for Gameboy. (Warning: many of the in-jokes at YTMND are racially, culturally, or otherwise insensitive. Check them out at the risk of your own immortal soul.) Now, I would have figured that would be the end of the cycle. How much further can you go than making jokes about making jokes about making jokes about making jokes?

Apparently I lack imagination. At some point -- it's unclear from the history but it appears to have been a couple of weeks ago -- someone postulated an alternative YTMND universe, one in which the site is named after a different Sean Connery line and is called PTKFGS.com. So now the entire community has started contributing alternate universe versions of all the jokes they've already combined in every possible permutation. Instead of Batman, we have the Joker and instead of Picard you get Sheridan. In other words, they've started over. I'm not sure what happens when they reach the same level of saturation with PTKFGS as they did with YTMND. I'm a little afraid to find out.

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