The Fifth One

There was something to say about amateur horror webseries, and more than “haha they’re so bad.” I also assumed it would have been only one of these cursory posts in this blog, to serve an end, and then I’d move on to more important and grown-up subjects.

It has come to my attention that if I bring up the possibility of a writing topic, I will be pestered often and continually until it is written about. And then if I do not post it publically it cannot be accepted and dropped, in spite of reason. Months later, here we are again.

So here you go, Jerkface. Despite winning the bet, now I will attempt to shut you up just a little bit more.

Piffs: The Shameful Journey Continues

Piffs use YouTube as more than a publishing method. They are usually stories about internet videos told through internet videos, and have been repeatedly about Slenderman.

The “Big 3” Slenderman piffs are…

– “Marble Hornets” – A guy learns the truth about a friend with whom he has lost contact after he is given the wasted footage of a student film project. (2009-2014, over 80 million total views.)

– “Tribletwelve” – A guy learns the truth about a cousin with whom he has lost contact after said cousin reportedly kills himself. (Ongoing since 2010, over 5 million total views.)

– “EverymanHybrid” – Three guys start to make an exercise blog but something is amiss. (Sort of ongoing since 2010, over 6 million total views.)

All three of these series are part of the “Slenderman Mythos” which is defined as “Slenderman shows up in the story”…but, like anything else, success breeds imitation!

And they excel in different ways…

– “Marble Hornets” – Using general filmmaking skills in a newer medium, finding weirdly decrepit locations (and being the first of its kind).

– “Tribletwelve” – Digital effects, animation, pluckiness (and, initially, being a clone of “Marble Hornets”).

– “EverymanHybrid” – Incorporating a wider variety of content, focusing equally on character friendships and a broad, meandering plot (and lasting the longest).

I hate and enjoy many aspects of all three, and they each have fairly big and involved fan bases, especially the one-time Legionnaires of MH and THAC (now FWAN).

MH was so popular that its producers’ comedy channel, THAC (Troy Has A Camera), had once earned a guaranteed $700 a month on Patreon, and that number had gone way down (and has continued decreasing since, though apparently renamed and started anew as “Fish With A Nose”). Their viewership had basically been cloven in three in those recent months and they have since semi-canceled their follow-up series called “Clear Lakes 44”. But for the most part, fans found CL44 to be slow and underwhelming, and if THAC wasn’t making it, I’m not sure if anybody would have even cared about it at all.

thegunscenesarestillstupid

Because Marble Hornets, again, is considered the best by most. I liked it after sitting through its eight hours and three seasons…then I watched an analysis of it, for some reason, and now question everything about my old opinion.

While permitting quite a number of interpretations, there are “better” and “worse” ones, as in “If this means this, then that’s pretty neat, but if that means that, well…this could all be shit.” It’s interesting how that can happen.

(Can I just say that it’s possible that MH could be a story solely about white male film students doing terrible things to one another?)

(And then compare that to the THAC breakup?)

eat-shit-at-joes

I used to think Florida-based “Tribetwelve” had earned the distinction of being the worst and wondered if its only appealing attribute was the fact people finish a series and tend to want more of the same.

To me, it originally appeared to be a purposeful replicant of “Marble Hornets”. The first T12 video was released almost exactly a year after MH started, the openings are both called “Introduction” (with T12’s having a subtitle), and the next videos are also similarly titled with number symbols (MH uses “Entry #1” and T12 goes with “Submission #1”, all that).

“Hey, Milo…how was ALABAMA? (Like the place with the hornets that may or may not be made of marble?!)”

themostrecentonewasataddisappointing

But after a while, the person I usually call Tribetwelve Guy starts to come up with stuff of his own, using personal skills of his own, just like how all piffs all break away from using Slenderman as their only source of evil and menace.

Two of the most recent episodes of “Tribetwelve” have been two of the best videos in any piff, in my opinion, and once a person gets over the seemingly homage-like opening, the series constantly offers something the others sometimes fail to provide—evident effort.

Tribetwelve Guy does what he does, and after he opened his Patreon, his content has somewhat improved. MONEY WELL SPENT!

ahybridforeverymanandamanforeveryhighlybred

“EverymanHybrid” sets itself apart by being the only piff to do anything close to referencing ARGs or horror YouTube series with ARG elements. (The retooled “Stan Frederick”, which I hadn’t heard of while first making this post several months ago, seems to get a little close, but not quite to the level of really effective satire. But Piff fans are easily pleased as long as a person gives them certain types of…tonal stuff. Anyway, Everymany Hurburb…)

A masculine health vlog turns into a trick-within-a-trick—their series is actually…okay, hold on.

So what is supposed to have happened is they were “pretending” to make a Slenderman series but the “authentic” Slenderman ends up intruding on them, but it’s also possible they were “pranking” their viewers as a one-or-two-time thing in their “real” fitness videos. But I don’t know when they actually say that.

I’m still a little confused about this part and since it’s a piff, I might as well stay this way. Regardless, it’s easy to either miss the gag or miss them explaining it, but I’m pretty sure they never quite clearly serve up an answer for this point. (Horror and frights.)

Detailing everything in the story of EMH would not be a great thing to do because I want to go to bed before tomorrow afternoon. I guess I could have done that, looking at it now.

The only thing I’ll note is that the adventures of Evan, Vinny, and Jeff feature the best piff-puzzles and the series is the mostly likely to be a Pure Advanced Reality Game.

Those three are only the biggest ones.

Piffs: Placing Potentials in Particular Personal Presences

EMH and T12 have made a few videos together and their stories affect the other somehow. The neat thing about them is that they (except for MH) have also made videos with and cameos in less-well-known series for built-in “YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY”!

EMH characters show up in “MLAndersen“, an older piff with a story about brothers who are not bros. Tribetwelve Guy visited the New Jersey-based “DarkHarvest00“, which is probably a little under-promoted for how good it gets and features un-bros bein’ bros and stickin’ up for each other.

One of the EverymenHybrids makes a quick appearance in the female-oriented, young-motherly “TJAProjects“—this series is actually the reason I expressed the offhanded thoughts I was writing about in a blog.

TJAP is mostly good and unique until it gets to the point of an odd choice regarding included content. I don’t feel bad for ignoring the greater internet when a piff uses the live audio of a rabid dog being shot and the discussion can be described as such.

[User 1] — I can’t believe they put that in there. Pretty tough to watch. Isn’t this a fictional series?

[User 2] — Shut up! The dog was rabid! It needed to be put down don’t you understand how the world works what are you PETAchan?!

[User 1] — What

[User 3] — I agree that it’s weird and off-putting, but maybe them shooting a dog will be important to the story!

[Mods] — KEEP OOG STUFF OUT OF THIS THREAD

And then I would say “I hate unfiction” but this was four years ago. (And the previous sentence is from early July.)

TJAProjects, aside from that, also showcases “5zer02“, yet another Slenderman series and one YouTube commenter succinctly points out “Man I just finished 8 Slenderman ARGs now I have 8 more”…no eyes, always recommending. I didn’t finish “5zer02” but its final two videos are over an hour combined.

But my favorite Slenderman piff might be “Keratin Garden“, the story of a girl named Story.

The series is the only one to have ever scared me, more than just making me appreciate the attempt. Maybe it’s because I can more relate to its protagonist, or whatever, but I think the eventual decline was mostly based on a lack of viewers. I could be wrong. But she started the series back up a few months ago, so I might start following it again. Still might.

The weird thing is that the YouTube comments for “Keratin Garden” at which I’ve looked were mostly statements of in-character support, like “We’re here for you, Story Parker!” and all that. I get it. They’re just playing along. But when the series presents puzzles to solve and then the response is “You’ll be okay you’re not alone!” without an attempt to find the solution…for some reason I, who has no stake in the matter, get frustrated. Then again, turning off comments and not putting videos into playlists is considered a best-bet in the world of piffs because Marble Hornets did that.

Keratin Garden is still neat and if I care about piffs again it’ll be the first one I follow. The Nightmind Bump™ will actualize itself, too. Sometimes all someone needs is a little recognition for their stuff to get better and better.

Piffs: More Than an Alien in a Suit

Like I have said before, the number of lesser-known entries and series could be in the hundreds. But aside from Slenderman are other piffs.

Meatsleep” or “Meat is Dead” or “Sewnkin” or “That one that deletes videos” caused a bit of a stir and was cut short when someone took things too far. I still don’t know what exactly happened since all I have found is what people have said and their shunning, though I haven’t really looked all that much.

But “Meatsleep” will be copied. Dungeon Master techniques shall be praised for being new, unique, and groundbreaking! Rest assured, piff fans who are not reading this blog, the advantageous many are selecting random numbers and deciding whether or not cannibalism will be featured, all at this very hour! (Perhaps they have already posted them by now!)

There are also a few coming up based around the open-source mythology (I don’t really know what that means) of ARKN (“Arr-ken”, I think). I’ve watched a few videos of a few series, realized it didn’t seem like it was up my alley, and I think there’s another free-to-use lore system about monster hunting. And then LonelyGirl15 or whatever.

Piffs will lead to more piffs.

It will happen as long as people want to make things and have a camera, and since feature films can be shot with smartphones, the world is widely open for ARGs and horror to explore the uncharted realms or just do the same stuff but with different people.

So if a canon is being made, all the crossovers and collaborations have lead to almost every piff being in the same “world” or “universe”.

I think this is why I have never seen a series reference the fictionality of other piffs or the genre itself. Any time one of them talks directly about another series, it’s something like “those guys are going through the same shit as we are!”

“The fuck is this?”

“We just want it to stop!”

It seems like an unspoken rule that if you make a piff, you have to play along with the others, all of them, at least to make a future collaboration possible, and I still don’t think “Stan Frederick” breaks the mold yet.

“It looks like you’ve attracted a secondary channel. Keep an eye on them!”

“Uh oh, you’re uploading stuff you don’t recall uploading! That’s a bad sign!”

Piffs: Turns Out I Never Actually Liked Them That Much

I’m not an expert on these videos, and I haven’t even seen them all. But I have certainly seen too many of them, haven’t a desire to make my own, and I guess the time needed to be used for something. That’s the motivation behind this blog which one person read and now I’m writing messages for him to read. For you to read.

These videos are just kids filming their friends and sort of acting, which is okay with me. Just kids, not professionals, filming themselves in the woods…not a waste of time or anything.

I like them more than let’s-plays. I can say that much.

Do you remember the American guy with a goatee, the one who lived in our building? He was a little bigger, taller, and seemed pretty jittery to me. His name was like William, or Kyle? Something like that. We spoke a few times by the entryway when I’d go out for a smoke. He told me he was making those game videos and that you and he had talked before. I think he must have moved or something because he hasn’t been around lately, or at least I haven’t seen him. Perhaps he just quit smoking.

And, unlike tobacco, I want to “officially announce” my intent to end my usage of this, my blog. It’s not because you were the only one who read it, which was expected from the get-go. No, honestly, I’m a bit sick of online publishing and online everything—including piffs and ARGs. I haven’t really paid attention to them since the summertime, when I first wrote this little “Review and Sampler” for you, somewhat in the hopes that we could watch them together. Now I don’t want to do that. So let’s not. I even tried rewatching Marble Hornets for background noise and discovered how much a repeat viewing felt totally pointless (almost as bad as posting about it in a blog) and further realized these videos, and maybe most everything else online, will only add to the growing gravel pit of crap, necessitating the multitude of self-aggrandizing aggregators to point at a certain thing and tell everyone that it is good. Like a priest.

This post is only going online because I thought about it last night and think it’d be funny to put it up while you’re still out of town rather than waiting for you to heckle me about it again—”Do this for me, won’t you?” Sound familiar?

In fact, I will do this now. You won’t know I have posted this until you read it. When you bring it up next week, or never, then I’ll just play coy and make you find this post for yourself, and, if you do, then you may just feel as if you have uncovered something all by your lonesome in this exponentially expanding field of overturned pines. Enjoy. Or not.

#fuckthewebs #carethnotsaysshewhohathcaredbefore #hashtag

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mooseinthemiddle

I'm from Minnesota. The YouTube channel called "Moose in the Middle" is not me. That is someone else and I should have checked, but that never happened.

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