In the ever-evolving lexicon of lolspeak (the first human language to evolve from captions given to funny pictures of cats and other animals), subtlety is often lacking — things are either epic or lame, WIN or FAIL. And the capacity for failure is immense online, a medium perfectly suited to sharing the disasters created, inadvertently, by others.
Enter FAIL Blog, a site entirely devoted to cataloging the epic fails that naturally occur in our chaotic world. The blog began initially as a repository for LOLcat-style photos of notable failures, but in June 2008 the site began adding videos of uncanny bits of disaster to both the blog and its own YouTube channel. While the photos on the blog are captioned for ultimate hilarity, the videos are free of any additional commentary — enabling the viewer to enjoy them in their most pure state. It’s essentially America’s Funniest Home Videos for the online video world, except without the cloying Bob Sagat voice-over and fewer hits to the groin. Instead, FAIL Blog celebrates more human moments of failure, enabling hilarious catharsis for viewers.
Despite the appearance of politicians and other public figures, though, FAIL Blog is mostly apolitical — the closest thing it has to a point of view is an eye for the ridiculous, such as Explanation Fail, in which an Australian politician explains that no, the front of an oil tanker isn’t supposed to fall off. Most of the clips featured by FAIL Blog are viewer submissions that haven’t gotten much play before, though there are a couple of notable exceptions — Best Man Fail had gone viral before being appropriated by FAIL Blog, and of course the clip of Sarah Palin being interviewed in front of turkey slaughter was on the landscape well before being aptly labeled Interview Location Fail.
Because most of the clips are anonymous in origin, there’s no real schadenfreude here — what most FAIL Blog clips actually inspire is sympathy — combined, of course, with the relief that whatever just happened, it didn’t happen to you. My favorite remains Shopping Cart Fail, in which an entire truck full of shopping carts emptied by the laws of physics — watching the carts fall like dominoes is a beautiful sight, and it’s made all the more beautiful by sheer virtue of the fact that you’re not the one who had to clean it up.
Sure, the repository of videos curated by FAIL Blog isn’t the sort of highbrow collection that the Smithsonian will make a point of preserving for future generations. But it brings a much-needed human element to the I Can Haz Cheeseburger empire, giving us the one word we need to label the scenarios that defeat even the best of us.
This review, along with more details about the show, can be found at NewTeeVee Station.