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Portraits Of Awesomeness: Internets Celebrities (Dallas Penn, Rafi Kam, and Casmir Nozkowski)

As one of the curators of Videocracy, I've developed a pretty high threshold when it comes to Internet-born video entertainment. I've watched too many "Me Singing…" clips of would-be American Idols putting their own spin on pop songs. (Yes, dear, that is you singing a song Kelly Clarkson sang better.) And I've seen too many would-be Kids In The Hall offer dreadful comedy skits. (I won't name names. But the worst rhymes with something you did at the front of a concert in the 1990s.) So rare is the clip that can break through my defenses.

Then one day, away from Videocracy, I saw this:



There's nothing casual about this video. It's born of a lot of thought and attention. Clearly these guys had spent a lot of time thinking about both the elements that go into a Big Mac, the prices of said elements, and the best way to game the system. Also: Their enthusiasm is infectious. Frankly, their "remixed" Big Mac looks foul but by the time the clip had ended, I'll have to admit I kind of wanted one, and I haven't eaten a McDonald's burger of any kind since I was 18.

So who are these new-economy gourmands? Dallas Penn blogs about sports, hip-hop, politics, and sneakers over at dallaspenn.com, a site a keep meaning to check out more often. Rafi Kam is one of the driving forces of the hip-hop site Oh Word, a site I read when it updates. (Love the Wu-Peanuts.) The clips are directed by someone named Casmir Nozkowski. Beyond that, and that they have a site together as Internets Celebrities, I don't really know much about them.

But I do know that their other clips are even better. And often a good deal more pointed. Take "Bodega," another trip into the world of economy dining that explores the terrible dining options available to those living below a certain income level in urban areas by establishing the Bodega Food Pyramid. (And who knew you could construct an entire meal from the "yellow food group"?)



The Internets Celebrities clips take place in the gap between the glamorous life promised by advertising and hip-hop videos and the reality of those who consume them. Other topics include the joys and perils of public urination, the many ways check-cashing businesses rip off consumers, and yet more ways to modify the McDonald's exeprience.

One of my favorite clips, is "Make It Rain," basically an outtake from "Checkmate," their check-cashing joint video:



As Nathan put it when I shared it with him, that's some "droll-ass shit." There's the joy you get from throwing your money away. Then there's the grim realization that that money's not coming back and whoever convinced you to throw it away was probably ripping you off big time. That's the moment the Internets Celebrities capture better than anyone else around.