Timestamp 4:45 is when this song gets real.
Not that it wasn’t real before, that’s not what I mean. This whole song is real. But when it really gets real, it…you know what, wow, look at that super fancy lighting in the thumbnail, let’s just listen to the song, shall we?
We’re in SPOILER territory now. Keep your eyes on the video until it’s done, like this is a dangerous rollercoaster where you must keep all limbs inside the ride until it’s over…STAY IN THE RIDE, PLEASE.
The abruptness of the ending made me go “what?“
The sheer contrast between Pringles/Burritos and talking about mental health made me pause the video in goosebumps.
The lighting, the way the voice-echo effect is used…ugh I can’t get into it all, so I’ll just talk about my top 2 moments of this song/video.
“A part of me loves you. A part of me hates you. A part of me needs you. A part of me fears you.” (Timestamp about 5:20)
He flat out says these words to his audience, about his audience. “A part of me loves you”–the autotune pushes his voice higher. “A part of me hates you”–his voice drops lower in contrast. “A part of me needs you”–he holds that “eee” like a desperate child. “A part of me fears you”–his voice goes low again like a deep secret.
This…just… As a baby little blogger, as someone who’s writing books and looking for a way to publish in the future…this straight up rips my heart out.
Dear audience, I love you, what I do is to entertain, to inspire some emotion, and to help you see the world with new eyes.
Dear audience, I hate you, I hate my dependence on you, I hate how I must please you in order to get attention.
Dear audience, I need you, I need your attention, I need your votes and likes and reads, otherwise what I create may as well not exist.
Dear audience, I fear you, I fear your opinions of me, your thoughts. I fear my creations not existing.
I love you, for your existence, for your art, how you love in this world and make it better.
I hate you. I want to do whatever I want to do, but I must answer to you, I must give you what you want, or risk fading and being forgotten.
I need you, I’m trying to be successful and I can’t do that without an audience. I need your love to fill me up like a water balloon.
I fear you, I fear telling you that a part of me hates you. While writing these words I think that the people must think of me “but you’ve never even had success, what do you know about an audience expecting things of you?” I fear your criticism, you, I fear what you would say if you ever met me.
Timestamp about 6:30.
Bo’s just been singing about his declining mental health and how people are staring at him and he can’t handle it.
Then he goes back to singing about burritos.
And the crowd cheers.
Because apparently they missed that this is not in fact a comedy act, it’s Bo spilling his guts.
Then within the next 20 seconds, Bo makes a point that he can say anything as long as it’s funny, and if people don’t get it, he can just say it again.
And the people don’t get it.
The excruciating irony.
How can you laugh, and not understand, that this person is spilling their guts to you?
Let’s just ignore that 5 years later, Bo Burnham is like “I was having panic attacks on stage.” Let’s just ignore that the phrase “I can’t handle this right now” refers to a panic attack, right now, and he can’t handle it.
Let’s just ignore the double-edged blade of “I hope you’re happy” at the end.
Let’s just ignore the declining mental health, and the “AAAAH” shouts, and the self-deprecation. Let’s just ignore the whole 4 and a half minutes dedicated to knocking you off guard. Let’s just ignore the blatant honesty. And the intense music. And the genuinely good performance.
Let’s just ignore “laugh as he attempts to give you what he cannot give himself.” Okay?
Those two moments broke me.