Being an avid Twitter creeper (I don’t tweet as much as I creep), I saw the freeze-frame of the “Damn, Daniel” video about thirty times before I decided to stop scrolling and watch. My sixteen-year-old cousin had retweeted the video multiple times, and I figured that if it was worth multiple retweets, then it must’ve been worth my time, right? Wrong.
One friend complimenting another friend’s clothing in a weird voice was not as intriguing as everyone said it was. I neither cracked a smile nor mustered a laugh. Sure, Daniel is cute and has some hip outfits, but when I learned he was a freshman in high school, I was mortified that I had found him attractive. Being seven years his senior, I don’t even think it’s legal.
It didn’t hit me until days later, when I was trapped in a group message about the video, that I was no longer “in” with the hip teenage community. I am no longer cool. Being twenty-one, you’d think that I would have realized long ago that I’m not still a teenager. But, like Donald Trump trying to pretend he’s not balding, I try to pretend that I’m not edging ever closer to the fringe of the pop culture nucleus.
The first sign of my growing disconnect with trendiness was when the “What are those?” video came out. It was simply a guy making fun of his grandma’s Crocs. It’s not the original video, but it’s the one that went most viral. Brewster from the movie “Fired Up!” said it’s okay to wear Crocs if you’re a baby at the beach or an old lady gardening, so why was the guy in the video making fun of his grandma? Well, the obvious answer is that Crocs are the herpes of fashion. Nobody likes admitting that they used to have some. But Brewster was right, babies and old people are immune to the disgrace Crocs bring upon their owner. Hence the inanity of the video.
Soon, the “What are those?” meme went viral, and it quickly had too many spoofs to count. The worst part about these renditions is that despite their various differences, the one thing they share in common is that they’re all mean. What’s worse, Crocs are no longer the sole butt of the joke. Instead, average people with average shoes are taking the heat.
I remember when the trend was at its peak, I was picking up the kids that I nanny from their school bus stop. We started walking home as the bus passed, when a little boy leaned out the window, pointed to my red-checkered vans and yelled, “What are thoooose!?” He ducked back into the bus and was greeted with a sea of laughter. Well, kid on the bus, these are my damn shoes. I bet he wouldn’t have liked it if I pointed to his Heeley’s and yelled, “What are those!?” He probably would’ve cried and his mom would’ve sued, which is the only reason I didn’t get him back.
With the nightmare of “What are those?” playing again and again in my head, I feared that something similar could happen to the “Damn, Daniel” video. Many remixes have surfaced since it’s initial release, and all the versions either A.) Make a spoof of the “Daaaaaaamn, Daniel!” line or B.) Make a spoof of the “At it again with the white vans” line.
The thing these renditions have in common with the original is that they’re both equally funny. Meaning, they all suck. What does “At it again with the white vans” even mean? Of course he’s at it again with the same pair of shoes; people don’t own a million pairs of shoes. What it boils down to is that if you find the “Damn, Daniel” and “What are those?” videos funny, you’re still cool. If you thought neither of them were worth even half a star, then you’re about as cool as zebra print (which is not cool).
So if you’re like me and want to know if you’ve lost touch with pop culture, here’s how you can find out if you’re still “in.”
You’re back at it again with the white vans. Or any shoes for that matter. Basically, if you’re wearing the same shoes you wore yesterday, you can be considered cool.
If you walk on a pool deck with a sort of swag limp, you’re a shoe-in with the cool club. Get it? “Shoe” in.Because white vans? Never mind.
You’ve yelled, “What are those?!” while pointing at somebody’s extremely normal shoes. Not only are you a potential asshole, you’re also the coolest kid on the block.
You think the remixes of “Damn, Daniel” and “What are those?” are just as funny as the original. Basically, you have no sense of humor. Who needs humor to be considered cool? Not you!
You knew about the “Damn, Daniel” video the day it came out, and your first reaction was to watch it again and again, then retweet, favorite, reblog, forward and send it to everyone and their mom.
You’ve taken the “Damn, Daniel” phrase and inserted your friend’s name in the place of Daniel’s. For example, my friends yell “Damn, Sara!” at me all the time. By “friends” I mean my parents, and by “all the time” I mean when I drink all the wine on Christmas. (Disclaimer: This only applies to humans. Yelling “Damn, Snuggles!” at your cat doesn’t count. It puts you further out of the loop than me.)
You know where the “What are those?” video originated. The same can be said about the “Damn, Daniel” video. You also know whether the chicken or the egg came first.
If any of the above applies to you, you’re officially savvier with the teenagers than I am. You’re also at risk of becoming a public nuisance.
If none of the above relate to you, don’t worry, there’s still a chance! I recommend being irrationally obsessed with pizza and using the word “lit.” Being a vegan who still calls things fun, my cool ship has long since sailed. But while it’s too late for me, it might not be too late for you.