#4. eXtremeness: Enter The Yo Zone -- X-Treme Yo-Yo
The first time someone in the '90s thought to put on sunglasses and stand in front of graffiti, Satan laughed and said, "That's exactly how I'm going to greet that guy when his filthy black soul arrives." The trend that doomed individual invented was called eXtreme, and it became the driving force behind every marketing campaign of the decade. Extremeness opened our eyes to radical new truths like how every Mountain Dew drinker is a spazzy piece of shit with nothing to live for. It turbo-charged the eXcitement of products we already loved and gave us a Dorito flavor that a human colon could actually pass.
The Yo Zone is exactly what it looks like: a desperate grab at "cool" by people who spent their social development years practicing yo-yo tricks. It's more of a campaign to convince the viewer that yo-yos are rad than it is an instructional video, and it fails at both. If your doctor wrote a note to your PE teacher that excused you from climbing the rope until your groin rash cleared up, it would be less socially awkward than this video. I don't approve of what bullies do, but after watching The Yo Zone, I understand why they do it.
The stars of the video are Kate, YO-HANS and Julius. I know this because they start every segment with a brand new introduction. I have no goddamn idea why because if it was possible to forget the name YO-HANS, World ProYo Master, I would. Maybe the producers were worried that the brain would start randomly deleting memories when exposed to an asshole in mom jeans and goggles doing eXtreme yo-yo. Or maybe this is an example of the first thing they teach in yo-yo performing school -- constantly use your first name in order to humanize yourself because people are about to want to kill you. "Hi, I'm Julius! I'm about to show you how to do a trick called Scrape The Uterus! But before I start, I'm Julius! I have a mother who loves me, you haven't established an alibi and several witnesses saw us leave together!"
Since I was 12, most of the products I've owned and eaten have been eXtreme, and I'm still not sure I get it. If I had to guess, I'd say that being eXtreme means you're a pussy but hiding it behind enthusiasm. My point is, it's a difficult emotion to express on your face -- especially when you're concentrating on yo-yo tricks that took long, sexless years to perfect. The faces Kate, YO-HANS and Julius make while they are performing are like nothing a human head has ever known. They're not silly, smug, happy ... they are simply violent expressions of nothing. These people make faces your fists have been waiting their whole life to smash into.
Besides making stupid faces, another drawback to teaching with eXtremeness is that you have to devote so much time to blowing your student's mind. Oh, did you have preconceived notions about the yo-yo? Well, then explain why this one is right up in your fucking face! For 30 straight minutes! To Canada's hottest unsigned synth bands! By the time The Yo Zone has wiped out everything you thought you knew about yo-yos, they barely have time to teach you any tricks. Like the back of the box says, "The yo-yo is back! But this ain't yo parents' yo-yo." You might have hired the worst copy-writer in Canada, Yo Zone, but I think you're right. If my parents had these yo-yos they would have been too busy asking my grandparents what sex felt like to ever break a condom together. Ugh. Even thinking about my parents playing with yo-yos is starting to fade me from existence.
#3. R&B: Wendy's Training Videos
In 1989, Wendy's produced a training video called Grill Skill that set the standard for all future education. In it, a Wendy's trainee gets sucked into his break room's television and taught to grill cheeseburgers by a rapping Duke of the Grill and singing meat patties. It's almost terrifying how awesome it is, and if you can win the battle for your own sanity, you will come out the other side of it knowing how to properly smash and salt a Wendy's burger.
Unfortunately, the rest of Wendy's training videos left behind the inspired insanity of Grill Skill and replaced it with a more pedestrian kind of strangeness. First was "Cold Drinks," something Paula Abdul would sing to you if you couldn't figure out how to get Sprite into a cup and she was a sarcastic bitch. Any theologist will tell you that if you need a 120 second song to learn how to distinguish between large and small cups, that's God's way of telling you not to handle food. Taco Bell's training video is less insulting than this, and it's a 10-minute rap about how to dig dog food out of a can without letting customers see you.
"Hot Drinks" is a lot better. This is exactly the song Billy Ocean would write if he knew the complicated procedure of mixing powdered Sanka with hot water.
So now you know how to grill burgers, pour a soda and put a lid on hot chocolate. You're ready to start your horrible job, right? Not quite. Do you know how to hand someone a cookie? Bullshit. You only think you do.
When I see that Wendy's included four lines of a song to something as simple as moving an individually wrapped cookie, it bothers me that not a single word is spent telling employees to resist the urge to put their balls in my food.