♥ Tin Del Cano ♥
If you have spent a lot of time online, you probably know about Poppy.
Here’s how I found out about Poppy.
I was working on one of my midterm requirements (mehehehehe) when I saw the post of a former student which featured a pretty girl in a pink dress. It was captioned: “when you’re trying to reach the word count on an essay”. Behold, the transcript:
Somebody gave me this pink outfit to wear. It is very comfortable and I feel very pretty in it. This is a pink outfit. I’m wearing a pink outfit. This is what I look like wearing a pink outfit. This outfit is not orange or blue; it is pink. This pink outfit is a pink outfit. Now, I will show you how the entire outfit looks like. Please admire this pink outfit.
Here’s the video:
I found it too relatable that I had to share it with my classmates. Nonsensical, but it quite captures the feeling of one who seems to make no more sense when trying hard to reach the appropriate word count. Of course, that’s a meaning some other people have put on a totally different context.
Anyway, since Facebook shows links of related posts, I saw another video where this same girl is watching a “Kids React” video from the Fine Brothers Entertainment page. Well, particularly she was watching “Kids React to Poppy”. Hence, the video I watched is “Poppy Reacts to Kids React to Poppy” (you get it). The first video they reacted on was “I’m Poppy” which, they were told, is actually 10 minutes long. In the video, this girl just says “I’m Poppy. I’m Poppy. I am Poppy” over and over, with shifting camera angles and her filmed in various poses. The kids then watched some other videos of Poppy and expressed how creeped out they were. What’s disturbing is how she mimics her own self while watching the kids react to her videos. Towards the end of the video, she stares blankly at the camera, the lights dim after a few seconds, then she steps out of the frame. Ang CREEPY, bes. Try watching. 😛
Days after that, I heard some of my students saying “I’m Poppy”. I couldn’t believe at first that my kids know about her… until it dawned on me that Poppy is in fact really popular online. I asked them about her and my class of 17 was practically saying something about her. Almost all together, if I may add. This made me question what kind of impact this girl has on the online world.
This blog assignment became the perfect excuse to watch Poppy’s videos, in spite of me. I checked out her YouTube channel and searched for that 10-minute video. If you’re willing to waste 10 precious, go ahead and watch this.
(Hint: After 1:20-ish, the same clip loops).
As of the moment of writing, the video above has 5,070,799 views, making it most viewed among the 168 videos in Poppy’s YouTube channel. “Why on earth would people watch videos like this, actually?” I thought. Then, my attention was directed to the number of YouTube subscribers she has… which, for some reason, I could not see. I thought it would be visible when I subscribe. So I did, and voila, NOTHING. Yep, no one could know how many actual subscribers she has. Poppy is, in the words of Mr. Ollivander, curious, very curious indeed.
I can honestly talk about how much Poppy freaks me out, but I might exceed 5000 words (hahaha no) so let me give you some fast facts about her:
- Poppy’s true name and age are undisclosed. In all the social media accounts linked on her website, these details could not be seen. In her interview with Racked.com, she said she does not want people to talk about her age, rather, about what she does. Although, with proper stalking, one would find out that her real name is Moriah.
- When asked how she came up with her name “That Poppy”, she responded differently. In an interview with TTF Magazine, she said that a friend of hers coined the name “Poppy” because it’s similar to a cartoon character’s name and it just stuck; “That”, in her name, was for some spice. In an interview with 92.3 AMP Radio, she said that the name descended from the heavens, onto her lap, and she decided to go with it. (Uh, what?)
- Sometimes, Poppy refers to herself using the third person POV. The interview with 92.3 AMP Radio proves that. In other interviews, she talks about herself and her art in a rather typical pop star manner.
- Poppy is a legit recording artist signed with Island Records, the same company producing records for Demi Lovato and Fall Out Boys.
- All her videos are directed by Titanic Sinclair who produces content in his channel eerily similar to the ones Poppy make.
- Her online following is probably that of an average online celebrity, considering that she has 76,770 on Facebook, 101K+ followers on Twitter, and 337k+ followers on Instagram. As I mentioned earlier, the number of Poppy’s YouTube subscribers is not visible on her channel. On her VEVO account, however, she has 298,069 subscribers.
- There are A LOT of conspiracy theories surrounding Poppy, one of which is that she is an Illuminati puppet (see videos below) and that she is a replacement for another artist named Mars Argo who Titanic used to collaborate with.
- For some, Poppy is a parody of pop stars. Random as her channel’s content may seem, some of her videos are interpreted as a mockery of celebrities and pop culture. In this video, she is interviewed by the mannequin Charlotte. She appears frequently in her videos and also has her own channel, and – get this – VEVO. The doll apparently represents the “plastic” press people asking typical questions, and Poppy responds with the most unpractical answers, as if, to make fun of the whole thing…symbolically, at least. Some even think that the name “Poppy” in itself is parodic of pop culture.
- Quite a number of YouTubers have tried to decipher Poppy. Here are some of them:
Despite all these conspiracies, Poppy’s work is art in its own respect. Yes, much of her content appear to not make sense, but it takes a certain level of creativity to produce what seems to be mindless mutterings and minimalist techniques. Whether or not there is any actual sense in what Poppy does or symbolism embedded in it, only those behind her channel can say.
Poppy is foremost an internet character. Apparently, Poppy is a character being played by that girl with peroxide blonde hair and big brown eyes. An article from Racked.com explains the mystery that Poppy’s art is.
You can spend a lot of time analyzing the videos — they’re definitely art, but how deep does the social commentary run? Am I missing out on the joke here? Is that the art? Is the intimacy of watching someone eat Pop Rocks the art? — but Poppy says she doesn’t like to over-explain them.
Titanic Sinclair, in the same article, was said to have described Poppy’s art as “a combination of Andy Warhol’s pop accessibility, David Lynch’s creepiness, and Tim Burton’s zany comedic tone”. I suppose all these enigmatic elements that surround Poppy make people view her videos and want more from her. Poppy said it herself in the article previously quoted: “People, especially nowadays, are so obsessed with knowing everything. They’ll have to invest their time in finding it.”
Poppy’s content seems random, but they do have a pattern. Having seen many of her videos, here’s what’s most common about them:
- Poppy either stares straight at the camera or at a very particular angle, as if talking to someone. She would look very spaced out. In some videos, like this, someone with an unusual voice does seem to talk to her. In other videos, like this, her words are echoed with seemingly auto-tuned voices.
- Poppy usually wears clothing unconventional for an ordinary American. In an interview with TTF Magazine, when asked to use three words to described her style, she used BARBIE, KAWAII, and CHILD. Kawaii is the Japanese term for “cuteness” and also related to a specific fashion that seems to emanate that of a doll. Poppy does show kawaii aesthetics in her clothing, especially in her music video “Money”.
- Her background is always minimalist. It’s either off white or any other pastel colors, which could very well represent her style as she described it.
- She usually pauses before she continues what she was saying. The catch is, sometimes, what she says next may or may not be related to what she previously mentioned.
- Poppy does not follow a specific theme like other YouTube artists. She literally uploads whatever.
- Her voice is mostly high-pitched and emotionless, only to be complemented by her bland facial expressions.
- Her background music, though not exactly the same in every video, are quite similar to binaural beats and sounds used for meditation, concentration, or sleeping.
POPPY THE IDIOT (?) AND NEW MEDIA
Still, for many viewers’ eyes, Poppy does not make sense However, she does make people want more from her because of her ambiguity. In my case, I and my brothers check out her channel regularly because we want to look for clues on what on earth she really is doing on the internet. Why she is a phenomenon despite the apparent lack of meaningful content may be best described by Olga Goriunova’s New Media Idiocies.
Goriunova describes idiocy as a mode of living that explores the true through the false. She specifically draws the line between stupidity and idiocy. Whereas stupidity is a base, idiocy is craftsmanship and is primarily about gathering and crafting ‘rubbish’ that does not give answers or that has direct access to truth, but that enquires and stages encounters with the real through its force of insignificant, false and preposterous doings. Goriunova further writes:
Deleuze writes about Dostoesvky’s idiots in the following manner: ‘They bear witness to…the most extraordinary play of the true and the false which occurs not at the level of answers…but at the level of the problems themselves – in other words, in conditions under which the false becomes the mode of exploration of the true, the very space of its essential disguises…the pseudos here becomes the pathos of the True’ (Deleuze, 2008: 132).
New media constantly paves the way to new and more forms of individuation, a process by which things and people are identified as distinct from any other. Social networkers create other selves online, whether or not they are consistent with their offline selves. Like many others, Poppy have taken advantage of online platforms for purposes of self-expression or probable mockery, as others speculate.
SIMPLICITY. Poppy does nothing complicated. She just talks about anything or does anything. Goriunova explained that simplicity is the certain naivety that allows a non-professional to speak. Poppy’s content is simplistic, but the mere fact that YouTube theorists and other patrons interpret her videos in their own terms must mean that there must be some depth into it.
HUMOR. Nope, Poppy’s posts are not mainstream humorous. For others, her work contains meta-jokes, which means jokes about jokes. I mentioned a few videos and paragraphs ago that Poppy’s uploads are considered by some as a mockery to pop culture: nonsensical, repetitive, emotionless. Specifically, in Goriunova’s three-fold humor, Poppy falls under the parodic category, depending on her viewers’ perspective. Her video interviewing a plant is apparently a joke towards vegans, although Poppy is a vegetarian herself. This humor, however, depends on who is watching.
DIY AESTHETICS. This, I think, may be the biggest reason of Poppy’s fame, next to ambiguity. Like Nalitch’s Guitar, Poppy’s videos have this home-made feel to them because of their minimalism. At times, it could feel like she is just thinking out loud. HLet’s just say that what she says can get as random as the thoughts in our head, a woman’s, at least. Nonetheless, what she does may be replicated by others. Her videos, in fact, are reminiscent of those produced by Titanic Sinclair with Mars Argo in grocerybagdottv and more so, with Titanic’s videos on his channel. In essence, it is possible that when people watch Poppy, they could connect with her either because she speaks the way people think or because they can do what she could do without much effort.
Poppy’s work is idiotic, following Goriunova’s points, not only because of the three elements above. At some point, its being nonsensical but replicable is reminiscent of the You’re the Man Now Dog movement, which, according to Goriunova, revealed about creativity concealed in so-called “creative practices”:
It does not develop us into freer and happier individuals, nor does it bring us towards a better society or political system altogether. It is a creativity that is processual and performative and as such it does not have to culminate in outstanding achievements or a product of any kind. Such creativity has an individuating, subjectivating function.
Goriunova describes new media idiocy as something produced through craftful participation, a participation that is not summed up by one or two clicks but is compositional, conceptual and performative itself. Poppy maximizes new media for her agenda or the lack, thereof. Her content is idiotic, but strangely satisfying at some point.
It must be understood, however, that Poppy is a character – a persona – being played by a girl we can only know has the name, Moriah. Poppy’s presence in new media could be a means for more people to follow her lead of portraying a character to send a message or just simply to have fun. Goriunova wrote about the prevalence of a Mr. Trololo subculture inspired by the performance of a song by Eduard Khill. There is an impersonation of the idiot and it is a form of participatory craft. Goriunova further writes:
Performing the idiot here evokes creativity as an integral part of the process of individuation, something that has always been technical but that is taken to a new degree of technicity with social networks and participatory platforms. Idiocy as a mode of living is always a network of becoming, of subjectification. New media idiocy manufactures modes of living, manners of individuation as a performance and a craft, and it is through joining in, taking part in its production, through re-enaction of the performances of idiocy that individuation occurs.
If so, Poppy as a character may actually be impersonating a culture – possibly, celebrity culture – with her expressions blank and intentionally stupefied. Or it could totally be something else, as Poppy can really be too vague for words. As writer Emma Garland asked in her article on UK-based Noisey: “The question is: Who is Poppy? Is it a joke? And if so, is she in on it? Are we?”
Poppy’s phenomenon will most likely live on for a while since people pick it up and over-analyze. As long as online citizens find her either artistic, odd, or a mix of both, they will watch her videos, share her content, and even make memes about her posts, placing it into different contexts. Poppy’s nonsense would pervade more netizens’ space, should this sharing goes on, and as long as the people behind That Poppy’s channel produces the same kind of material.
- INTERVIEW: Who Is That Poppy? | Everything You Need To Know: https://www.iheart.com/news/interview-who-is-that-poppy-everything-14443732/
- Parsing the Aesthetics of That Poppy, Pop Singer and Internet Enigma: http://www.racked.com/2016/4/11/11394848/that-poppy-interview
- Moriah Poppy’s VK Account: https://vk.com/club43596937
- That Poppy Explained: http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/that-poppy
- Film Theory: Poppy’s Hidden Conspiracy EXPOSED! by Film Theorists: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqdE2EKhJG4&feature=youtu.be
- THAT POPPY Hidden ARG? (Theory) by Inside a Mind: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LdMRpBgtMc&feature=youtu.be
- #GIRLTALK: Official interview with singer That POPPY by BEAUTY COCKTAILS GIRLTALK: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8XSVlDkhPQ
- Meet That Poppy by 92.3 AMP Radio: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cl2u4fsQjWA&t=68s
- THAT POPPY: EXPLAINED YOUTUBER CONSPIRACY THEORY | ALLY HARDESTY: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAf3-7RN-X4
- Who is Poppy? by Night Mind: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmXQKMjEC8E
- That Poppy: Explained by YouTube Explained: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzJxAVhhuDk
- Poppy’s website: http://impoppy.com/
- Poppy is the Internet’s Biggest New Popstar, But Is She Actually Real?: https://noisey.vice.com/en_us/article/poppy-is-the-internets-biggest-new-popstar-but-is-she-actually-real
- Poppy’s Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/That_Poppy
- Olga Goriunova’s New Media Idiocies