Monday, February 29, 2016

YouTube Curation: Teddy Has an Operation

by Karl Fischer

There's a video called Teddy has an Operation, which you may have heard about. Its creator, Zefrank1, is best known for Sad Cat Diary, Sad Dog Diary, and the True Facts series, all of which are animal themed and comedic in nature. Teddy Has an Operation, which has the second most views of any of his videos, is something else entirely. 

In the video, a teddy bear undergoes an operation to fix whatever condition is ailing him. The doctor cuts him open one layer at a time and addresses each problem that he encounters. Meanwhile, Zefrank1 narrates the proceedings in his gentle, over-enunciated, ambiguously accented voice.

The first time I saw the video, I wept. I just blubbered uncontrollably, fat tears rolling down my face. It's worth noting that I was going through a profoundly difficult period at the time, but the sadness that the video elicited was almost sublime. So much pain and yet it was so goddamn beautiful.

While the video has generated almost 17 million views, the majority of its audience seems to have ignored any potential nuance and gone straight to, "Ewww, are those REAL organs?!" Yes, gentle Youtube simpleton, those are real organ meats that he is cutting into. Now shut the fuck up and let me explain why this is a beautiful portrait of anguish and not just shock fodder for your fucking reaction videos.

How about you just eat a big old bag of dicks instead, you fucking parasite
Teddy is a person rendered as a childlike object. His physical operation is an abstraction of the mental processes taking place. Teddy's Bonbon Layer, the source of his sweetness, is filled with "unhealthy" bonbons. His Play Pouch is almost depleted of sprinkles. What we have is a bear who self-medicates. His depression is running him ragged, unable to play, unable to truly enjoy things. The doctor can treat these symptoms by removing the bad bonbons and adding more sprinkles, but the underlying cause behind all this must be identified.

The veneer of the plaything is stripped away and Teddy's viscera is laid bare. We come to his Crotch Unicorn - the manifestation of his imagination and sexuality, which are intact. The doctor says this a good sign indeed, for Teddy probably has a significant other. Sexual dysfunction in a relationship where a partner is struggling through mental illness is no goddamn joke. Teddy's gangrenous Kidney Crayons are then removed, allowing him to experience empathy for others once again, instead of just feeling sorry for himself. His Courage Sack is opened and we find it riddled with fear. Teddy is afraid, and the only cure is to transmogrify this fear into a more helpful motivation - curiosity. It is here that the unusual juxtaposition of tone and imagery begins to crystalize, forming the portrait of a sick and anxious patient. It is not absurd, but melancholy, mindful.

The last thing we come to is Teddy's Heart. Before seeking treatment, Teddy likely doubted his own authenticity as a sensate creature. Irrational fear does horrible things to a person and can take on a life of its own. Backed by depression, anhedonia, and loss of empathy, relentless fear tells the mind that the good feelings it seeks are not genuine, that it has no love, that it never did. It was only ever a construct, one that was kept alive by coincidence and circumstance. And now, that circumstance is gone, says the fear. This is who you truly are and what you are meant to experience. Forever.  

Teddy's Heart is undeniable proof that the fear is wrong. "Look how big it is," says the narrator. "Look how much love Teddy has." Contrary to his fears, Teddy harbors an abundance of emotion. And at the center of all that emotion and love, his Heart's Heart, broken by a Bad Boy, as the doctor reveals. "What did the Bad Boy do, Teddy?" opines the narrator. "Oh, Teddy." The why of it all is not important, only that a catalyst was buried deep inside, left to fester and rot. In itself, the Bad Boy need not represent heartbreak, or even a person. Memories and thought processes build a tower inside us, and can grow crooked, sometimes losing support and causing great damage. Memories cannot be replaced, but the unhelpful thought processes which promulgate suffering can be, as is with Teddy when he is given a "new child" to love.

The operation is pronounced a success. We end with Teddy in a hospital bed, stitched and dressed in bloody bandages. The narrator says goodnight, sweet and sorrowful. Teddy will be alright and so will we.

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