These days we spend a lot of time talking about abstract concepts like toxic masculinity and rape culture, and whether discussing them in the realm of politics or in a more geeky way as we do on this site, we rarely spend any time defining these terms or arguing with people who say that these concepts aren’t real. Fortunately, for people who want to either understand these concepts a little better or who want real-world examples of how these concepts work, there’s the internet. Today’s web crush is for people who want to laugh and educate themselves on intangible concepts at the same time.
In this series, host Dylan Marron (of Welcome to Night Vale and Every Single Word Spoken By a Person of Color fame) offers a satirical take on the popular “unboxing” Internet video genre in which people unbox high-end technological products for an audience. Instead of unboxing iPhones and laptops, though, Marron unboxes intangible ideas and concepts like white feminism, internet harassment, and Trump’s America. The videos are snarky, satirical, and use props to bring the concept down to a real-world level. For example, in “Unboxing Mistreatment of Native Americans,” Marron brings out a globe, white-out, and a “blanket from white people” before turning the whole set into an animation to protest how Disney’s Pocahontas was used to erase the real crimes committed by early white American settlers.
A lot of these videos are great, particularly when Marron can speak to issues that affect him personally. This is done to fantastic effect in “Unboxing Identity Politics,” in which Marron discusses how minority groups want to share their own experiences, but are often shouted over by people who want to ignore them and thus say they’re “selfish.” “This product is for everyone!” Marron fake-gushes. “It’s only called identity politics when women, LGBTQ+ folks, people of color, religious minorities, and people with disabilities use it! For everyone else, it’s just called politics! Good to know!”
This isn’t to say that it’s a perfect series. For example, the video on “Unboxing Ableism” missed a lot of points that in fact speak to the host’s subconscious ableism. He doesn’t get into systemic ableism and the many problems with the Americans with Disabilities Act, he uses the ableist term “hearing impaired” to describe hard-of-hearing people, and ironically, he brings up the ableism of using auto-generated subtitles while using auto-generated subtitles himself. It just goes to show that while the work Marron is doing is great, there’s always more privilege to unbox — even if it’s your own.
While Unboxing with Dylan Marron doesn’t hit every mark, it’s still a great series that helps put a more practical face on many of the theoretical concepts that we often find ourselves discussing, and it usually does so in a funny, insightful way. You can find the series on its YouTube channel or on Seriously.TV, and you can follow the host Dylan Marron here on Twitter.