i spent all day in a bus going south along the east coast of sweden. it was fun and amazing but i was too depressed to appreciate any of that. it would be nice if that could go away while i’m on vacation.
i just sat there filled with self-loathing and the occasional, painfully intense pang of sexual frustration because why aren’t i dirtyfucking colin firth right now oh my god i’m going to die
Twitter has seen a lot of surrealist poets emerge, and why not? It’s a good medium. Keep it short, keep it weird, and you can draw an audience. I like aRealLiveGhost, UtilityLimb and the now-legendary Horse_ebooks who are all different in a lot of ways but all could be considered absurdist, nigh-dada poets. Each one attempts to obscure its origins to become as weird as possible. And in the words of Achewood, unexplained experiments yield memes.
But NTS was different. Most of these say some weird things to intentionally be weird, but that’s about as much effort as gets put into it. The things Tilda said invoked a deep attachment to nature, to instinct and to human nature. You kind of get the idea that Tilda Swinton is a fey sprite, or a dryad of some kind, and is actively attempting to return people to a primal state. And the weird thing is, you can kind of see the real Tilda Swinton doing that.
And that’s all fine, that’s fun and interesting but nothing incredibly different. What was different was the time limit.
At around 104 tweets, she tweeted simply “104/200.” Later that night, she tweeted that she was at 133 of 200, and we knew suddenly; Not Tilda Swinton had changed the game.
By tweet 170 it was a frenzy. Articles being written, Ken Jennings and Patton Oswalt getting in on it, an explosion of retweets. Tilda had gone from “source of comedy” to “internet event” that people could gather around. And that’s a big deal; those shared moments of cultural internet tend to stick with us. Tilda was going to become this beautiful mysterious thing we could all share and love and maybe it would make us think a little more about being weird and playing with animals and being outside.
But, of course, it was too perfect to stay perfect.
At the end, the creators revealed themselves and that shattered everything. All of the sudden this beautiful thing kind of felt like a fame grab, even if it wasn’t.
Tilda said some things that maybe we have all wanted to say and think and feel, and maybe were too afraid to do so. Tilda wasn’t a And it’s sad that that honesty came from two guys who seem like comedy writers. It felt like you found something that spoke to you personally and made you feel good about yourself, and then you realize it’s a ploy to get you to buy Mountain Dew.
It’s the same problem with ARGs. You want that mystery. You want to solve this puzzle, or at least be pleasantly confused by it. You want to have this experience, but when someone exploits that pang in you and uses it to develop brand loyalty, it makes everything hollow. It’s a kind of betrayal that only exists in the modern day.
It feels like every time you reach the end of a rainbow now, instead of a pot of gold it’s someone trying to get you to buy something.