virtual children by Scott Warnock

Forget love, CrazyRussianHacker will keep us together

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All my kids are teenagers, so there’s a gap there now. Sometimes it’s a wispy, barely discernible need for space that they express through body language. Other times, it’s an overt, intentional shout for Space!

I suppose I can fight it, and I know those who have, but I think the only reasonable path is to accept it as the natural order of things.

I do still love them, although I realize the limitations of love and reason in situations like this, so I have to seek ways onto their turf.

Enter CrazyRussianHacker.

I suppose this is somewhat generationist of me, but watching YouTubers seems to be a pastime of the young. In my brief, unscientific polling, most of the young people I’ve talked to know who CrazyRussianHacker is. Most older people don’t. So your age may determine your interest going forward here.

CrazyRussianHacker is this YouTuber who reviews products, discloses “life hacks,” and conducts wacky science experiments. His usually straight-faced review of fascinating gadgets, or “gadjicks” as he unfailingly calls them, are astounding in their simplicity. He’s complimentary and amazed by these weird things. He regularly finds them “so cool!” and “awesome.” If the “gadjick” is less than great, he just tells the viewers to make up their own minds. Sometimes he even includes his dogs in his videos.

Look, this is not my genre, the YouTube short, but these videos are addicting. They look like they’re simply made, production-wise, but CrazyRussianHacker has a natural talent for delivering lines, mangling prepositions and syntax brilliantly as he goes. He, and perhaps his being Russian makes this better, finds for review fodder various strange consumer devices that are emblematic of our society of excess — but after you see the improved apple slicer or steering wheel tray you may well wonder how you ever got by without one.

Oh, and I discovered this guy a couple weeks ago, but he has 10 million subscribers and has made over a thousand videos.

So here are I am, hanging out in my middle son’s room watching CrazyRussianHacker, crossing the father-son gulf with YouTube videos. As we watch, they both look at me with anticipation to see if I get the jokes, if I think his enthusiasm is funny, if his giggle when he feeds his dogs expertly shredded chicken is amusing.

I don’t want to ruin it with a bunch of treacly anti-“Cats in the Cradle” stuff, but it’s pretty satisfying.

My boys are of their time. They look at screens more than I wish they would. These screens have caused no end of aggravation to me. There’s so much dumb, mindless stuff there (sayeth the English professor). I come downstairs on a work-at-home-day, and I’m certain they’re like, “Sigh, here he comes, all a-rant.”

Now I’m not only on board but am trickling the Hacker outward to my circle. I exposed one of these videos to my ever-smart colleague Dan Driscoll. Observing a person who announces a review of “five products” while the video title says “Six” or who says, “Look how neatly this cuts” when there’s a sloppy sandwich on the plate, Prof. Driscoll immediately noted the reason it works so well: irony.

I told the boys this and tried to explain it. Whether they cared or not, there I was on a weekday night, trying to get myself off to bed, and they kept dragging me in to watch one more video. Watch from about 3:20 of the 4 Beach Gadgets Put to the Test (and keep in mind this guy is supposed to be a world-class swimmer), and you’ll get the value here, I think.

So there I am, watching at night the screens I decried all day. Joined with my boys around the damn things, and laughing despite my rants.

Now there’s irony for you.

Scott Warnock is a writer and teacher who lives in South Jersey. He is a professor of English at Drexel University, where he directs the University Writing Program. Father of three and husband of one, Scott is on two local school boards and coaches all kinds of youth sports.
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2 Responses to “Forget love, CrazyRussianHacker will keep us together”

  1. Not ironic, but rather, good planning that you released this on Sat of Labor Day weekend.

  2. So very true… my sister bonded with her (now 38 year old) son at the movies – they now watch them “together” via FaceTime since he lives in Cali and she in NJ. I tried to start the the same with “Friday Night Movies on the Couch Nights” but it has evolved to YouTube on my bed since he never sleeps any way… We laugh, we discuss every topic imaginable (even GASP! dating!) Any pathway in to a teenagers mind is invaluable. And I can just fall asleep when I can’t keep up any longer.

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