I don’t get it. I really don’t get it. I really really really don’t get why Annoying Orange, a quasi-animated series that debuted on YouTube in October 2009, is currently, according to Visible Measures, the most popular web series online, with approximately 580,000 subscribers and 82 million total upload views on its main account. I just know that it makes me sad.
Annoying Orange uses the Syncro-Vox animation technique popularized by Conan O’Brien during the 1990s to give life to the titular Orange and his friends, who are mostly other fruit and vegetables animated in the same fashion. The formula is simple: Orange meets someone new and pesters them until their untimely demise (most often at the hands of an unseen knife-wielding human, who seems unaware of the anthropomorphication of his/her produce).
To be fair, you get warned going in that Orange is annoying, and wow this series delivers on that promise. If I were to draw a guess at the target audience for this show, it’d be the kind of 10-year-old kid who likes to follow you around repeating the same knock-knock joke over and over again. Why? Because I think that same kid is the one who writes this.
Okay, that’s not true — series creator Dane Boedigheimer of Gagfilms, known as Daneboe on YouTube, does not appear to be an annoying 10-year-old. In fact, he has a long list of credits to his name, mostly in the short animation department, and first gained YouTube notoriety with the short film Screaming Eggs in 2006.
The production is fine, though on a directing level the pacing never really manages to get a momentum going, and if I were to say I liked anything about this series, I would say that the slightly macabre tone keeps it from being a completely infantile exercise. But that’s not enough to make up for the deliberately grating voice work and the weak jokes. Just take one example: In an episode where Orange encounters Mario from the video game Super Mario Brothers, he fires the retort: “Super Mario? More like Stupid Mario, am I right guys?” The bulk of the writing is on this level.
Maybe it is because I am old, maybe it is because I have read books and seen plays and experienced the richness of life, maybe it is because I am a snobby snob who likes to hold web video to a higher standard, but not only do I find Annoying Orange deeply unfunny, I find its success to be unsettling. All the great interactivity and unique storytelling web video has made possible, and this is what is getting watched?
Boedigheimer has collaborated with a wide range of well-known YouTube creators, including iJustine, Bobjenz, Shaycarl, The Fine Bros, and Charles Trippy, and has definitely succeeded in building an audience for his show and engaging with the community. I don’t mean to detract from that success, because it is so difficult to penetrate this world and get noticed. I just hope that as Annoying Orange‘s audience grows up, the show does too.
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