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The Out-of-Touch Adults’ Guide to Kid Culture: Who Is Sneako, and Why Is He so Dangerous?
September 25, 2023

The Out-of-Touch Adults’ Guide to Kid Culture: Who Is Sneako, and Why Is He so Dangerous?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

There’s something ugly under the surface of popular culture, and I’m not talking about the Consumer Safety Commission’s new album.

There’s lots to learn about Gen-Z this week, so pay attention. Study questions: 1) Who is Sneako and why is he the most hated man on the internet? 2) What does ‘keep it lemon’ mean? 3) Does ‘copyright’ even exist in the age of YouTube? And for the extra credit: Which federal government agency dropped an album full of hip-hop and EDM songs this week?

Viral video of the week: Sneako meets his fans

This week’s viral video offers a look into a disturbing trend among Gen Z boys: misogyny, homophobia, and bigotry fueled by online influencers. The influencer at the center of the drama is Sneako, aka Nicolas ‘Nico’ Kenn De Balinthazy, a 25 year-old who found early fame on YouTube as a teenager, only to descend into online infamy.

Sneako’s early videos were benign and good-natured, and he was charismatic enough that he was noticed by YouTube’s king, Mr. Beast. Beast offered Sneako a job on his channel and all the internet fame that came with it. But something happened to Sneako on the way to YouTube celebrity. His gig with Mr. Beast was short-lived, and he started huffing the paint fumes of alt-right hate machine hard. He devolved into posting rant videos about the familiar targets of Right Wing nuts until his channel was banned, then he started hanging out with Nick Fuentes and Andrew Tate, posting on Rumble and incel message boards like reddit’s r/redpill, ultimately turning himself into a pariah to everyone but impressionable boys and young men.

In the viral clip, Sneako runs into a small gaggle of those young fans out in public. After posing for a selfie with their hero, one of the these kids (they can’t be older than 13) starts chanting ‘fuck the women, fuck the women.’ Sneako says, ‘No, we love women.’ The kids respond with statements like: ‘But not, like, transgenders,’ and ‘fuck gays,’ and ‘all gays should die.’

Originally posted on Twitter, the video’s been viewed 65 million times in only a couple of days. I think it’s being shared so widely partly because filmed evidence of indoctrinated kids being openly hateful is shocking, but also because of Sneako’s reaction. There’s a moment when he looks at the camera and says ‘What have I done?’ Maybe he’s mugging or trying to make a joke, but I read it as sincere. It seems like there’s a split second where something gets through the rhetorical wall of ‘irony’ and ‘it’s only jokes’ and ‘free speech’ that horrible people use to defend the indefensible, and he’s really questioning how his content is polluting these kids’ mind. Or maybe he’s just an asshole.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s secret album release

The Consumer Product Safety Commission shocked everyone this week by dropping a surprise concept album. We’re Safety Now Haven’t We features six original songs in styles ranging from EDM to K-Pop, all devoted to trying to keep kids from doing stupid things that will hurt them, like not wearing a helmet when they ride a bike or not starting fires when they’re cooking. Sample lyrics from ‘Protect Ya Noggin’ include ‘I’mma put my helmet on then go zoom, yea yea/Sitting flat up on my head real evenly/Low on my forehead, y’all ain’t seeing me.’ Bars!

The music and cover art has such a pronounced ‘we know this is corny’ vibe that I thought it would actually work, at least for ironically inclined teenagers. It goes so far into ‘How do you do, fellow kids?’ territory that I thought it would come out the other end at ‘actually cool,’ and maybe inspire a skater or two to put on a helmet. I was wrong.

I played it for my teenage son; he snorted derisively and said, ‘They’re 30 years too late.’ And added, ‘this sounds like the demo music that comes with Garage Band.’ Ouch. Anyway, you can download the album for free (your tax dollars paid for it, after all) or stream the whole thing on YouTube.

What does ‘keep it lemon’ mean?

The phrase ‘keep it lemon’ has been percolating beneath the surface of teenage slang for about a year, according to KnowYourMeme. It means something like ‘keep it cool.’ According to this TikToker, ‘keep it lemon’ originated with online Fifa players, then became popular among ‘charva’ or chavs—young louts in Great Britain who favor track suits and drum & bass music. Whether the phrase will catch on outside of a small subculture on a forgotten island remains to be seen, but I hope so. I like saying ‘keep it lemon.’

Is the creator of Skibidi Toilet targeting other YouTube creators with copyright strikes?

YouTuber DaFuq!?Boom!’s ‘Skibidi Toilet‘ series of weird YouTube shorts went from nothing to 30.3M subscribers and maybe a billion views in the space of only a few months, but with success comes controversy.

Animation channel GameToons recently reported that the creator of Skibidi Toilet targeted their channel with copyright strikes for posting Skibidi-related content. Judging from this twitter thread, people who care about this kind of thing are angry, mostly at the hypocrisy. YouTube’s strike system is designed to keep posters from stealing other artists’ work, but as GameToons points out in a public note on their channel, Skibidi Toilet uses characters someone else created for video game mod Garry’s Mod in the first place. Plus, the most well-known Skibidi music is a couple of existing songs mashed-up. So it’s complicated. To add complexity, GameToons pretty much exists to make unfunny ‘parodies’ using other people’s characters including lifts from Poppy Playtime, Rainbow Friends (a Roblox mod), Shrek, and countless other sources. Their content seems designed to catch the attention of small children who don’t know the difference too. Also: We don’t even know that GameToons really received copyright strikes—we only have their word for it, and the creators of kid-sticky, low effort YouTube content stirring up controversy by attacking a bigger rival wouldn’t be exactly surprising.

In other words: I spent way too much time looking into this today.


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