Say What: Popular videos a lesson in self-deprecating humor

“This smells like roofies,” says a big, muscular guy in a blonde wig, haphazardly dangling a red Solo cup. His voice, high-pitched and squealing, is the perfect mockery of how the clichéd sorority girl might sound.

The “S*** Sorority Girls Say” video has recently gained tons of Internet fame, nearing 2 million views on YouTube. And rightfully so; the quotes are gut busting and the main character is absolutely ridiculous in his quest to make fun of sorority girls.

However, “S*** Sorority Girls Say” is just one example of the many viral videos just like it. The trend started with “S*** Girls Say,” a video full of common stereotypes about girls. The video’s popularity soared and led to lots more. According to a recent article in the Daily Illini, “everyone and their mother are creating YouTube videos that stereotype what specific genders, ethnicities and sexualities say.”

These videos are hilarious, there’s no doubt about it. But why? What exactly is it about the “S*** People Say” videos that draw us to them?

The best theory comes from Sallyann Price in her article for The Loyola Phoenix. For her, it’s all about proximity.

“These videos only get funnier and more intensely relatable the closer they zoom in on our specific lives,” she said.

Her theory makes sense. I mean, I’m not going to watch “S*** New Yorkers Say” or “S*** Middle Eastern Girls Say.” I’ve been to New York once, and I’m most certainly not of Middle Eastern descent, so those videos make little to no sense to me.

Conversely, my favorite videos are the ones that I can relate to. “S*** Girls Say” is hilarious, because I am a girl. I am guilty of saying silly things like, “I know, riiiiight? I’m not even joking right now!” or “TWINSIES!” Plus, I always, always wonder if I locked the door or not.

“S*** Chicagoans Say” hits even closer to home, especially when discussing the Sears-turned-Willis Tower debacle. (For the record, it will always be the SEARS Tower.)

And then, of course, there is the aforementioned “S*** Sorority Girls Say.” As a sorority girl and a firm believer in the health benefits of fro-yo, I can totally relate. Although I don’t necessarily say the things in the video, I still laugh. Because I’ve heard it, and I’ve seen it. Because I understand.

The “S*** People Say” video phenomenon is remarkably similar to the psyche of “Seinfeld,” the popular ‘90s sitcom about nothing. We laugh at Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer because we get it. We’ve had awkward breakups with people. We’ve forgotten where our car is in a parking garage. We’ve been there, and so we laugh.

Perhaps Price sums it up best: “These videos mine the humor in everyday life — from the ugly truth of the profoundly personal to a resonant message from one social group to another. We laugh because we see our friends, our roommates, ourselves reflected in rapid-cut montage.”

The more personal the videos get, the funnier they are.

But some people squirm under the spotlight. To them, the videos are offensive and stereotypical. Naima Ramos-Chapman is one of those people who is mildly disgusted by the “S*** Girls Say” phenomenon. In her article for The Huffington Post, she described the videos as being “seeded with sexist ridicule.”

Those are bold words to label such a wry form of entertainment.

In the end, it really comes down to whether you can appreciate self-deprecating humor or not. When the jokes hit close to your world, your school, your life, will you be able to laugh at yourself?

Trust me, as soon as “S*** Daily Illini Columnists Say” goes viral, I know I’ll be the first one laughing.

Melanie is a freshman in Media.