MakeChai has always enjoyed many of Bo Burnham's songs and has been interested in analyzing in at least one of his works.
Like many artists, Bo Burnham has shared several things running through his mind during the pandemic and he did so through what he does best, through comedic songs. And before anyone else questioned what he was doing, Burnham already asked it in his second song, “Comedy”.
“Should I be joking at a time like this?” is definitely not the same as “read the room when you’re trying to joke” as he emphasized throughout the special. And his comedic use of irony to deliver the implied truth while singing it was something he always did before this special. Because after all how else will you get people to listen if not through music and dark humor.
"How the World Works"
Using the classic sock puppet usually seen for children’s learning and entertainment, Burnham uses it as a more direct way of teaching the privileged how the world works. The metaphor he points out is that Socko (minorities) is used for Bo (privileged) to feel morally good, or what was mentioned as “self-actualization. By letting Socko exist and be seen by the audience for him to talk about the real problems, Bo finds a chance to be the heroic figure to change something in the world. The situation hasn’t changed since the power imbalance is still present and the one who has the higher ground did for themselves.
"White Woman's Instagram"
Instagram, compared to other social media platforms, is known for the content that is filtered and “easy-on-the-eye”. And in that case, discussed in “White Woman’s Instagram. The song is not the mockery of women on Instagram as I’ve seen many people thought. It is a mockery though, specifically a mockery on the “white”. It’s how white women would share aesthetic content and things about themselves to the world. Some of the aesthetics showing themselves as cultural appropriation of dream catchers and misquotation of Martin Luther King. And it doesn’t seem like they are able to see the world past the things that look pleasing or past their comfortable lives. Meanwhile, non-white women, in comparison would use the power of social media to share their more serious realities that occur in a sociopolitical spread.
This 34-second song is simply about capitalism and how many workers are insufficiently paid despite being overworked. The more intricate detail of the “Unfair Intern” is how Burnham went into a seemingly neverending loop of reacting to the song then reacting to himself. As the loop continues, there is less content left that he can think of. It leaves him to look more critically at his prior reaction to the original video, playing "Unpaid Intern", and even at the song itself. The more he watches the previous loops, Burnham finds his opinions differing from what he initially said before. It becomes pointless and frustrating for him.
Having to realize how the normal things we do are actually far from what we subconsciously intended throws us into a loop. And it begs the question of how much society enforces how we think and act that it takes isolation with ourselves to snap out of it.
In the context of “Unpaid Intern” and how workers are forced to work long, busy hours every day for a small remittance without the ability to complain, when do you think people started to be frustrated and count the unfair system as pointless? It’s frustrating for a reason, and that is because capitalism has existed for a while and many people today still suffer from it.
"Look Who's Inside Again" | "Problematic" | "30"
If I were to describe quarantine with two songs, they would have to be “Look Who’s Inside Again” and “30”. There’s regret in letting time pass by so quickly. There’s regret in wanting to see the world differently from where you were to finally grasp the concept that the world doesn’t revolve around you. Bo Burnham explained that a more specific type of regret in “Problematic” and how the “inside” in the other song was a parallel 15 years ago when he first made content on the internet, which he now considers offensive. He made jokes out of boredom, only to regret it, realizing how awful the world is and how insensitive they were. After all, ignorance is bliss.
In the song "30", he reminisces his childhood or any good memory he had from before he was turning 30. Because now there is there's societal pressure to be mature and successful in life with a family at that certain point. Aging after the supposedly significant milestone becomes detestable when you're not really there yet.
"when you're a kid and you're stuck in your room, you'll do any old **** to get out of it."
"Welcome to the Internet"
Like “Welcome to the Internet”, the internet is just as overwhelming of information, forms of entertainment, communication, transactions, and just about anything else found in the real world. The complexity spans to how the internet is also the source of people’s insecurities or a way for people to express aggression and put themselves in the center of everything they see. There are so many things for everyone that provides them a special place to be comfortable with and build their esteem on, and no wonder people have been engrossed with it.
The second portion of the song narrates the start of an era of the internet when supposedly it seemed a glorious thing of innovation brought by technology. It brought hope to the next generation to change the world with it, but then again, all of it was just for the profiting of consumerism to which the privileged can enjoy.
So, welcome to the internet! Did you like this article? Here is a meme to accommodate you with all the seriousness.
"That Funny Feeling" When-
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