Getting drunk and buying stuff from the internet is a favorite pastime of mine, but for maybe the first time ever, I bought something I actually needed the other night. After a few Crispy Bois™, I subscribed to Means TV and now I’m most definitely on a list somewhere.
Diarheha And A Boaner
Today’s meme landscape is saturated with content that was originally posted to Reddit that then made it’s way to Twitter that then showed up as an Instagram post. After that, it’s compiled into a BuzzFeed list, where it finally dies and is reincarnated as a self-referencing post on Reddit. Towering above this internet hellscape, though, is online anti-hero @TeenageStepdad.
I’ve followed Teenage Stepdad for a number of years and then his original content always got a chuckle out of me for multiple reasons; the absurdist humor coupled with the not-so-subtle jabs at American commercialism and consumerism are utterly unique. I mean, what the hell is this stuff?
Obviously the person creating this material is incredibly skilled and wildly imaginative. These aren’t your little brothers memes, man – these things are deep. Subversive. Occasionally, they’re also gross.
Through sheer perseverance and a will to grind on Photoshop like a proletariat dog, Teenage Stepdad grew his #online following to astounding numbers; by early 2021 each post on Instagram was gathering tens of thousands of Likes. Having seemingly conquered the world’s most popular social media platform and filling it to the brim with propaganda, diarheha, and boaners, Teenage Stepdad did what everyone in his shoes would do:
He joined the world’s first worker-owned, post-capitalist streaming service and created his own show in a garage.
Means To An End
Teenage Stepdad announced his show, Seize The Memes, on his Instagram platform on April 20 (naturally), and that was the first time I had ever heard of Means TV.
Debuting on 6/9 (naturally), Seize The Memes seemed to take all of Teenage Stepdad’s vintage vaporwave aesthetic and bizarro sense of humor and distill it into a new medium: the online show. The only issue: they were behind the mysterious Means TV paywall.
What is Means TV?
I found my answer the other night by diving down the rabbit hole. As mentioned previously, I succumbed to the temptation and finally got behind that paywall by buying a one year subscription, and as soon as I #LoggedOn, my eyes were opened to a wonderful world of content. On its site, Means TV describes itself like this:
Means TV is the world’s first worker-owned, post-capitalist streaming service.
Means TV has a library of films, documentaries, and shows with new programming added all the time. We also have live weekly shows covering news, the working class, gaming and sports. All available to subscribers for $10/month across desktop, mobile and smart TV devices like Roku, Fire and Apple TV.
No advertisements or product placements. No corporate backers or VC cash ever.
We’re entirely funded by people like you.
Together, we’re building a long-standing, worker-owned media infrastructure that reflects and empowers the 99%.
So it’s a Co-Op, but for media! And it’s run not by the Left, not by the Right, but by the people FROM UNDER! Like Teenage Stepdad! It makes perfect sense!
Upon signing in, users are treated to an online catalogue that features documentaries, full-length films, web series, and more, all neatly organized into their appropriate categories. Netflix it is not, so while there aren’t thousands of hours of content, the layout of the site is nice and clean, and the material held within looks compelling as shit:
And of course:
Means TV seems like a perfect platform for Teenage Stepdad’s brand, and having now watched the first several episodes of his show, I can tell you that it’s amazing. It’s insane, irreverent, surprising, and it made we want to get up and make something. Here, in parody, I will now post some images from his show that surely will not get me into copyright trouble:
Here we have the title card for Seize The Memes – notice the Full House-esque typeface along with the tasteful use of “69” on the simulated Windows 95 desktop. If that’s not art, I don’t know what is.
Episode One of Seize The Memes is called Make Your Own Propaganda and we get a nice lesson on the definition of propaganda from our host as he sits inside of a bubble somewhere deep within the intertubes.
Look hard enough at the code and you will see hidden messages. Me? I don’t even see the code, all I see is blond, brunette, redhead…
Teenage Stepdad is also my new fashion icon.
While I’ve not delved down the Means TV rabbit hole, I’m excited to dig into their catalogue and see where it goes. Rather than reinforcing an existing worldview, it’s great to finally see a unique and fresh perspective in the media I’m consuming. Watching, listening, playing, and doing the same old bullshit can only go so far – I want to feel alive again! To hell with tropes! Rather than trod down the same dusty ole roads, I want to be surprised by my media again!
Means TV feels exciting!
Am I On A List?
Means TV and the content they carry obviously comes with a stigma baked into the concept: buck the system. Much of the material in Means TV vault makes its hay dunking on our specific brand of capitalism, our culture, and our people. This can draw the ire of many who would perhaps see Means TV as an extremist platform that promotes “unAmerican ideals.” Of course, Fox News already did a segment on Means TV:
As an American, I was taught from an early age that bucking the system is a good thing. After all, where would we be had the colonists not told King George eat shit? “Challenge authority,” they told us! “Well-behaved women rarely make history,” that whole thing. In that spirit, I think it’s perfectly healthy to take a step back and sometimes ponder whether the way we do things is the best way to do things.
I tend to question authority in my career, which is one of the reasons I’m a blogger: I get to be my own boss online! But in the real, non-digital world, I feel compelled to question why things are the way they are, and see if we (the company) can do things better and more efficiently. This hasn’t always gone well for me, I admit – I’ve been fired, let go, and “laid off” more than a few times – but that’s how my brain is wired! It’s tough to recognize that a system is broken, or has cracks, and say “well, that’s the way it is.”
Means TV does this as a media platform. It’s true that the way we consume media is perhaps broken, and if their goal is to help push us in the right direction and ask those tough questions, then I’m happy to be a subscriber and I’m excited to see what they have in store. Moreover, I’m excited to see how the Means TV message contributes to the cacophony of media voices that clog our devices.
Dumb, Weird, Stupid Bullshit
As a blogger and Citizen of the Internet, I find Teenage Stepdad’s Seize The Memes to be oddly compelling and electrifyingly inspiring. Take for instance this passage from Make Your Own Propaganda:
“One of the added benefits of putting your own propaganda out there is that it’s not just a political thing, it’s like an emotional and therapeutic thing. We live in a fucked up world, and it’s really easy to feel isolated in that. In fact, I think that’s kind of programmed into the structure of it. But if you can put yourself into a piece of art, and somebody responds to that, that’s gonna make them feel less isolated, and it’s gonna make you feel less isolated.”
As I mentioned in the very first post on this here website, the key to being passionate about creating stuff is to enjoy the process. The goal isn’t to get discovered, or to go viral, or to make money – it’s to just do what you love. When Teenage Stepdad encouraged us to make stuff and put it online, even if it’s just “dumb, weird, stupid bullshit,” I felt that. And I hope you felt it too.