That, daydreamers, is an invitation from Forts and the InBetween, a group of 20/30-somethings that I can most accurately describe as a fort-building charity(?) campaign(?). Made up of 21st-century hippies (or "hipsters"), the group wants donations so they can drive across the country in a van and build forts with people. Their goal is to help others "listen, interact, engage, give, explore, teach, create, share, grow, ask, act and empower," which is just a verbose hipster's way of saying "spread peace, love and understanding." They explain all $25,000 of it in their video, which can be viewed here.
Depending on how far you got into the video, you may have heard a guy say "kweshun" a lot, and you may have seen a bunch of people jumping off a hill with glee(?). Some of them roll down, some step off and one fucking leaps -- his name is Wes. It looks painful and quite frankly, he shouldn't have jumped so damn far because he easily could have died. The whole video/concept is pretty ridiculous, but my reaction to it was not to make fun of their lensless glasses or hilarious moostaches, or even the basic silliness of their fort idea, but to make the following Alternate Ending:
A hopeful leap off a short hill for poor Wes. May he rest in peace.
Shortly after the Alternate Ending was uploaded, the original 5-minute video was posted on The Daily What, along with a link to Wes' untimely splatter. Several hours later, the original video was taken down from Vimeo and the FIB's Kickstarter fundraiser page had been canceled. The Kickstarter video can be viewed, but not downloaded.
Side Note: If you're looking for something else to donate to in FIB's absence, feel free to give what you can to my new daydream project, "The Bullshit Factory," thanks to which we will run a lemonade stand and watch David The Gnome all day. For the sake of peace, love and understanding, of course.
I couldn't help but think that I was somewhat to blame for the cancellation of the daydreamers' daydreams. The founder's "roommate" sent me an email the next day, I assume in mid-dream. The email confirmed that, yes, I was partly to blame. It was very polite and had a lot of good vibes, but it also pointed out that my "digitized murder" of his friend had in fact caused some ...
Despite the fact that "cook you a real nice meal" sounds like they planned to poison me with good intentions or poison, the last paragraph speaks volumes to their general view on life.
My immediate reaction was about halfway between "Aw, hell no" and "Oh no you di-in't." They were the misunderstood ones? Building forts was still a good idea? I was confused, and aggravated. These aren't the stereotypical, hyper-ironic hipsters who listen to Neon Neon and grow dumpster vegetables because they think it makes them seem interesting. No, they are not your Internet's hipsters.
Hipster Hipster: You've probably never heard of it.
Wes and Company are hipsters in the truest sense of the word: they're hippies. They are the heir to the hippie throne, only instead of songin' and bongin', they're building forts and bonging. The product of a different generation, but still basically all the same type of person. In the hippie-est of ways, they very seriously think that they would have done some good by using people's money to drive cross country and build temporary miniature circus tents of imagination. A waste of money and time and people and forts, probably, but an act of positivity nonetheless. It's more than can be said for half of people, let alone the Internet, which oftentimes seems hellbent on tearing other people down in order to feel better about its collective self. Since the posting of the alternate ending, I have received many emails from people asking me if I have a copy of the full five-minute video, so they can make their own parodies. I do still have a copy. It would be simple to just upload it to YouTube for download, but I don't want to throw these people to the internet, for more than one reason.
No one wants to be a meme, it just happens. Sometimes it's for the better (still waiting for that second Rebecca Black hit "These Are All The Things In My Backpack"), and sometimes it's absolutely horrible (still waiting for the Star Wars Kid prequels). Wes and his crew, their daydreams and forts crushed, are definitely on the horrible end of the spectrum. Misguided? Maybe. But they do mean well. Conan O'Brien once said "Work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen." Forts and the InBetween may only have the "be kind" part down, but I think they at least deserve to have no things happen. Maybe it's a good idea to start just being mean to mean people.
And to Forts and the InBetween, if you're reading this: I have a formal apology for you ...
Dear Forts and the InBetween,
As your invitation states, you started Forts and the InBetween "with hopes of growing and sharing in a bigger story". It may not be the story you wanted, or how big you wanted it, but you have accomplished at least half of your goal already. You now share a story with the Internet, and the Internet is, excuse the metaphor, a fort in some way or another, probably. So if you want to try to build forts for a living, go ahead. You know what I do for a living? Tell this story. That's just as ridiculous as your ridiculous fort idea, if not more so. If I ever happen to be in San Diego, I'll hit you up and accept your real nice meal, on the condition that one of you takes a bite of it first. If you're ever in my neck of the woods, I'll let you make me a real nice meal or I'll buy all of you McDonald's, or a McDonald's equivalent.
I am very sorry for whatever negative attention the Alternate Ending brought to your project and your life. I will never post the full version anywhere, and we can all avoid a Lonely Island "I'm In a Fort" parody. I've decided to not take the Alternate Ending down, though, if it's all the same to you. I hope you don't take much or any offense to that, because it was not at all made to mock or offend you or your project. It was made to make a much more important point that I think can actually help you fulfill your hopes of growing.
You see, at some point, someone or something really dropped the ball and forgot to tell you that when you're an adult, you can't change the world by acting like a kid. This playtime feelgoodery is your passion, though, and I admire that. It's kind of wonderful, in fact. I wish I still had that childlike whimsy and disconnect from the burdens of adulthood, because I wish I was a less cynical person. You, on the other hand, don't have to make the effort, because cynicism was never even introduced to you. So shine on, you post-modern hippies. Shine wherever you'd like, because I think you can fulfill your invitation's destiny, and grow in this shared story. Just watch the Alternate Ending a few more times until you realize that at some point, someone or something really dropped the ball and forgot to tell you to not jump off hills like that, because you easily could have died, man.
Dr. Mister Apology,