“If Y-E-S spells YES, what does E-Y-E-S spell” and “What’s 13 minus 50” with the infamous response “God Damn 47″: two of the most infamous questions and answers from the YouTube mini-series ‘Questions’ where host Dan Hilarious travels across the USA asking by-standers seemingly simple questions.
I found the show funny at first. The ignorance of the individuals who could not answer ‘What the capital of the USA was”, “what continent Paris was in” and “What the eighth month of the year was” allowed viewers to feel superior and laugh at the inability of the participants to answer basic general knowledge trivia.
Every American should know how many stars are on their flag right?
However, after conscious thinking and noticing a pattern in the groups of people who appeared on ‘Questions’, I stopped laughing and realised that Dan was doing more than just be inquisitive.
Comedy usually requires an individual or a group of people to be the ‘butt of the joke” and with Worldstar Hip-Hop, there is a pattern of the platform being used to ridicule the working class, drug abusers or homeless people who are shamed on the website for acting erratically, touting, fighting or getting arrested. ‘Questions’ did not stray far from the tactics of its creators.
Participants are asked to state their name and occupation when they are first shown on-screen. For the many who reply “in between jobs” or “nothing at the moment”, on screen edits of gifs are shown to depict disdain and mockery.
For those that are dressed in attire associated with the ‘ratchet’ caricature; head ties, slides, tight/ poor fitting clothing, Dan Hilarious is sarcastic and condescending in his address.
It can be said that everyone who appears on the show is aware of what they are signing up for: the chance to either appear intelligent and win $100 or the ill fate of being turned into an internet meme if they fail this challenge.
In spite of this, it must also be stressed that Worldstar Hip-Hop are exploiting these individuals for our entertainment. When we laugh at the girl labelled “God Damn 47” for her error, we are not just laughing at her poor mathematical skills but also her appearance, evidenced when the on-screen memes and gifs incite mockery before she has even been asked a question, an appearance which fits the “ratchet” caricature and therefore acts as a code of her lower class.
The most recent episode (see below) tried to be funny but instead came across as malicious.
An elderly black man was a guest on this show. My issue is not his age and vulnerability because of it. Instead, his vulnerability due to his clear learning disability and speech impediment.
The host’s body language, gifs shown on-screen and voice-overs all ridicule this man’s difficulty in articulating himself. Although it may not be crystal clear in other episodes, it is made obvious to the audience in this one that we are expected to laugh at this man, not at his incorrect answers. Something which is not fun and light-hearted like comedy should be but instead cruel and distasteful.
I cannot bear to watch another second of this mini series. I am sorry to hurt Dan’s feelings but his name is misleading, he become anything but ‘hilarious’.
As for Worldstar Hip-Hop, I have a simple question: When are you deleting your YouTube account?