Equal parts absurdist comedian and cultural tastemaker, George Miller is one of the most recognizable faces on the internet. Some might remember him primarily as the creator of the Harlem Shake craze, which took the internet by storm in 2013.
For devotees of YouTube or meme culture, however, the name of Miller’s Youtube person Filthy Frank is sure to bring to mind images both nauseating and hilarious. A disclaimer featured on the “TVFilthyFrank” channel flawlessly describes the content therein:
“Filthy Frank is the embodiment of everything a person should not be. He is anti-PC, anti-social and anti-couth. He behaves and reacts excessively to everything expressly to highlight the ridiculousness of racism, misogyny, legalism, injustice, ignorance and other social blights…There is no denying that the show is terribly offensive, but this terrible offensiveness is a deliberate and unapologetic parody of the whole social media machine and a reflection of the human microcosm that social media is.”
Despite this forewarning, it is relatively simple to be offended by Miller’s brand of humor, and even easier to find the videos void of humor entirely. Akin to “The Eric Andre Show” of Adult Swim fame, the channel is an indescribable journey down the rabbit hole, full of racial stereotypes, actively mocking individuals with mental disorders, rampant homophobia and just plain disturbing behavior. However, there’s a method to Miller’s madness: Filthy Frank is social satire for the mean-spirited, a parody of the worst parts of internet culture synthesized into the psychotic ramblings of a single individual.
In addition to the Filthy Frank character, Miller has two albums and an EP under the moniker of Pink Guy. “Pink Season,” the second album created under the pseudonym, contains unsettling love anthems dedicated to Dora the Explorer and a near-three-minute skit detailing Goofy (yes, the beloved Disney character) on trial for committing a mass shooting.
The videos and music created under the Filthy Frank and Pink Guy personas are inexplicable at best. Nevertheless, the TVFilthyFrank channel holds 5,654,269 subscribers and over 708 million views to date, and “Pink Season” reached number 70 on the Billboard 200.
Serving as a direct counterstatement to Filthy Frank, Joji is not a character but rather the stage name of Miller’s somber and subdued musical project. This is the closest that listeners and fans of Miller have come to meeting the man himself. When asked in an interview about the transition, Miller answered:
“[The transition] was a fear for a very long time. People on the internet are mean…The Pink Guy music started at the same time as Filthy Frank. But, I just didn’t know if people would embrace the serious stuff. I wish I had the self-confidence to switch earlier.” Fortunately for Miller, his anxiety soon proved unwarranted. When he began releasing Joji’s music, fans of the Filthy Frank Show flocked to SoundCloud to find his latest project.
As Joji, Miller borrows from various genres of music to create a new style all his own. On his debut EP “In Tongues,” he combines aspects from lo-fi, R&B and trap to make abstract, ethereal songs centered around personal accounts of heartbreak and failed romance. The album is a far cry from Miller’s origins as a shameless Youtube comedian. However, the artistry is surprisingly genuine and the potential for further development shines.
Despite increasing his overall exposure, Miller has yet to reveal most of the details about his past. This mystery just adds to his strange appeal. Whether it is the perverted, mischievous hoodlum or the crooning, melancholy musician, the glimpses into the mind of George Miller are only as revealing as he wants them to be.
Is George Miller an artistic genius? For many it’s difficult to answer that question. Regardless of one’s personal opinion on his art, its influence is obvious throughout internet culture. While Filthy Frank showcases the unfiltered depravity of the internet, he also speaks to the endless prospects of that depravity as a tool for self-expression.
It’s not just a cheap tactic to create humor; it’s a resource whose potentiality should not be underestimated. YouTubers such as Miller who recognize this are revolutionizing this generation’s consumption of entertainment. With projects like Filthy Frank, these game-changing artists break the old guidelines and rules of media to make way for the brave new world of internet culture.
It is unlikely Joji’s music, however successful, will enjoy the same amount of influence as Filthy Frank’s antics. Nevertheless it seems that, with the arrival of Joji, the artist is saying goodbye to Filthy Frank for good.
On Dec. 29, 2017, Miller released a statement on his Twitter announcing his retirement of his comedy persona:
“The decision is final. I really can’t express just how grateful I am to you all, nor will I ever forget the relationship we had together.”
For those who have followed Filthy Frank from the beginning, it’s bittersweet to say goodbye. Still, this is only the dawn of a new chapter for Miller.