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The Out-of-Touch Adults’ Guide to Kid Culture: Is the Mario Movie Actually…Good?
April 9, 2023

The Out-of-Touch Adults’ Guide to Kid Culture: Is the Mario Movie Actually…Good?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Then, I’m going to order a quad burrito and have a mouse moment after seeing Barbie.

This week’s Out-of-Touch Adults’ Guide explores two of the main forces shaping young people’s lives in 2023 America: Corporate-created culture like The Super Mario Bros. Movie and Barbie, and grassroots expressions of shared humanity like TikTok’s ‘mouse moments’ and being shot in the stomach while making YouTube prank videos. Plus: ‘secret menus’ at fast-food restaurants, a stab at individualism within the corporate web.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie is apparently a love it or hate it thing

On Wednesday, The Super Mario Bros. Movie was released across the nation, and reaction has been mixed, but in a fascinating way. The critics are not enthusiastic: The animated film is sitting at 53% on Rotten Tomatoes. But the rank-and-file people seem to love it: the audience score for the animated film is at 96%, and it is projected to make $140 million+ over the holiday weekend.

This quote from Boston Globe critic Odie Henderson’s 1-1/2 star pan sums up the cinephiles’ opinion: ‘This isn’t a movie; it’s a checklist of fan expectations.’ Where the fans’ online raves go more like, ‘This isn’t a movie; it’s a checklist of fan expectations!

In other words, if you’re a Mario fan, you’ll feel serviced. The movie is true-to-the-lore in every way except for Mario’s voice, and will have you eating as many Nintendo easter eggs as you can stomach—provided you have an appetite for appreciating appearances by characters as obscure as Mario and Luigi’s boss Spike, who hails from 1984’s Wrecking Crew. If you’re not a fan though, it’s going to be a long 2 minutes of peeking at your phone.

Slang watch: What are ‘mouse moments?’

According to TikTok, if you’re stealing a few moments to yourself during the day to quietly snack, you’re having a ‘mouse moment.’ Inspired by this clip from British animated show Creature Comforts that features a cartoon mouse having a quiet time with some food, the trend points to an acknowledgment of tiny moments of self-care, and of our shared experience as biological entities who must consume nutrients in order to live.

Videos tagged ‘mousemoment’ have been viewed nearly 100 million times on the platform, and they are my new obsession. It’s so calming and poignant to watch other people eat alone, especially when the nibbling is accompanied by a plaintive little piano line and onscreen titles to give viewers some context. It’s a little sad, but also encouraging, because we’re all in this together, and what is life if not a series of mouse moments? I think I might start crying.

TikTok loves fast food secret menus

Judging by the billion or so views on the hashtag #secretmenu, TikTok users are very excited about special orders at fast food places and coffee chains. Examples include this neon-colored, berry and dragonfruit concoction you can get from Starbucks, a dubious ‘life hack’ for a free ice cream cookie sandwich that you can’t get at Chick-fil-A, and the ‘secret dog menu‘ at In-n-Out (the ‘pup patty’ exists, but it’s not free like the video implies).

I understand the illicit thrill of ordering something you’re not ‘supposed to’ order, the fun of being an quasi-insider and separating yourself from the lumpen masses and their venti latte requests. But as many commenters point out, it can be a pain in ass to the people who actually have to make the food. The barista at Starbucks might not actually want to create a 15-ingredient coffee/stew, even if ‘corporate’ says they have to. (Speaking of corporate, it probably isn’t a pain to the people who own these chains—this ‘quad burrito’ video has been played 20 million times, and I’m sure Chipotle doesn’t mind the free advertising.)

YouTuber shot while making a prank video

Internet fame is not without its dangers. In a story that seems about 10 years too late, this week video creator Tanner Cook was shot in the stomach while shooting a prank video. Cook, a member of Classified Goons on YouTube and TikTok, was creating some no-doubt hilarious content at the Dulles Town Center mall near Washington D.C. when the shooting occurred. Police charged Alan Colie, 31, with aggravated malicious wounding, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, and discharging a firearm within a building.

‘I was playing a prank and a simple practical joke, and this guy didn’t take it very well,’ Cook said from his hospital bed, The YouTuber vowed to keep making videos when he’s recovered from his injuries, and told the world, ‘I’m fine.’

As for the video itself, it’s evidence now, so we won’t be able to see it for a bit, and Cook hasn’t described the nature of the ‘prank’ that led to the shooting.

Viral video of the week: The new ‘Barbie’ trailer dropped

I couldn’t be further from the obvious target market for Barbie—I’m neither a little girl, nor the father of a little girl—but I want to see this movie more than any other. I’m apparently not alone, because the second teaser trailer for is blowing up, logging 10 million views in only two days. Unlike The Super Mario Bros. Movie, the extended Barbie-universe doesn’t have a lot of story beats or complicated lore to contend with. Instead, Barbie is 100% vibes. It’s all neon roller blades, smooth plastic, and everything pink. Judging from the trailer, the feeling of Barbie is captured. Like The Lego Movie before it, Barbie (directed by Oscar nominee Greta Gerwig and co-written by Gerwig and her own personal Ken, filmmaker Noah Baumbach) seems to be striving for an affectionate but self-aware milieu, something that kids who play with dolls will like, but that will still be amusing to the parents who bring ’em to the theaters. Whether white teeth and pink-everything can sustain a feature-length movie remains to be seen, but either way, we’re likely to be inundated with memes until Barbie hits theaters on July 21.


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