[2012-2013] Super Mario Dance Bros., Irony, and My First Semester of College

This is not a 2010s video. In fact, everything about it reeks 00s—All-American Rejects, Windows Movie Maker, 3D modelling and animation done by a teen in the pre-Gmod, pre-Blender era, and that overall since that a video like this could only ever have been created while George W. Bush presided over the U.S.

But Super Mario Dance Bros., one of the all-time greatest videos on Youtube, is part of the 2010s Retrospectives Series not because its own creation because of what it created in me.

Watch the video for yourself and watch what happens to the rest of your life:

I actually remember exactly how I came across this video. Toby “Radiation” Fox used to have an active and fun Tumblr blog where he posted music sketches, dumb memes, and most importantly, media recommendations he found interesting. I discovered media like Big Giant Circles’s album Impostor Nostalgia, the surprisingly great NES Godzilla Creepypasta series, and, at some weird point in 2012, Super Mario Dance Bros, as well.

It became an instant classic among my friends and me. At this point we were already well-versed in the realm of ironically liking bad things; Big Money Hustlas had become a good source of entertainment, and I created things like the trol seasson rock oprah with glee. But Super Mario Dance Bros. struck a nerve unlike most anything else I’d ever encountered.

Only recently have I really begun to figure out why. I love me some soulless, comically inept corporate products like Ratatoing or The Ultimates 3. But Super Mario Dance Bros. isn’t like that. It’s terrible because it was made by this little kid who was really excited to learn software and wanted to make something as cool as possible, using popular game characters and a popular song to maximize the appeal. And he didn’t succeed whatsoever, with noodle arms and putty faces, with… with those fingers, y’all, those fingers… It’s hilariously bad, but even moreso, it’s so incredibly earnest and genuine in its attempts to be a fun video that it’s endearing.

The creator of this video was a kid practicing computer software to make a music video. That kid could have been me. That kid, essentially, WAS me if I hadn’t been so invested in sprite comics at the time. Part of the reason I love this video so much is because, for how perfectly comically timed it all is and for how dorky the entire thing comes off, it reminds me of my own childhood and all the dumb projects I tried out. And unlike those projects, Super Mario Dance Bros. was actually completed, actually released, actually became a viral sensation on Youtube (Also the creator became a producer on the Ellen Show so he has that going for him).

It’s the kind of video where, hard as you may try, you can’t replicate it when you’re an adult. Nobody over the age of 18, or maybe even the age of 15, could create something like this on purpose. It takes genuine excitement, the drive to try new things, and just-above-novice skills to make anything even resembling this, and adults simply don’t have all three of those anymore, not truly. An adult can come close, but it’ll never have that special spark that a dumb kid can bring.

Super Mario Dance Bros. is inspiring. It inspired me to try new things and try them badly (albeit on purpose) so I could mess up without fear of failure. And it’s a good lesson for anyone who watches: Stop worrying about yourself so much. Have a little fun, and maybe if you play your cards right, you can make something that sucks in a funny way too.

This seems like a good place to end the post.

However… I have one more Super Mario Dance Bros. story to tell.

The video became extremely important to me and my friends over the next few years, one of the absolute classics of the internet. It had gotten to the point where I staked so much of my identity on this video that I once declared jokingly that this video would be a litmus test, a final judgment on any friendship, and relationship I held.

Then, in my first semester of university, I started to hang out a whole lot with a girl and began to consider asking her out. But it didn’t matter. One day, lounging around in my room, we finished up watching some random DVD and before she went back home we somehow got on the topic of bad Youtube videos. The spark in me exploded and I showed her—no, I HAD to show her—Super Mario Dance Bros.

And just…

Nothing.

I stopped watching the video and watched her instead. Her static, vaguely annoyed expression. “Okay, are we done yet?”

“N-not yet,” I probably replied.

“Ugh.”

We watched the rest of the video, and then she left. But something within me was stirred. If this woman didn’t appreciate Super Mario Dance Bros., if she really thought this video was nothing more than a silly trifle rather than the epitome of all bad art, was this really someone worth spending so much time with?

Not long after, we got in a fight over something petty probably, I don’t know, I don’t really remember, and stopped hanging out or even talking much at all. Who knows, it’s that dumb young adult melodrama they like to make books about. But what I do remember with extreme clarity in my mind is that she didn’t like Super Mario Dance Bros., and soon that was that.

From then on, I really have used this video as a litmus test for partners and friends. Hating it is the ultimate dealbreaker because it means our hearts simply aren’t compatible.

Let’s watch the video one more time and let Luigi throwing Mario into the screen wash over us. We’ve earned it.

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