A Deep Dive Into 'Mr. Six,' The Nightmarish Six Flags Dancing Mascot
Nobody in the world is better at making genuine horrors come to life than advertising agencies. For some reason, they just have a knack for tapping into things that will stick with us, no matter if that costs innumerable mental anguish and the insertion of a cranial tapeworm into the nation just to sell their product. There was, perhaps, no greater advertising tapeworm unleashed upon this nation than Mr. Six, Six Flags' dancing geriatric that prompted most people to want to see an actual, live death on their television screens every time he popped up.
Mr. Six is one of those advertising characters that may (hopefully) never come back, but it doesn't matter. He's done his damage. He's a leaky nuclear reactor; once that shit oozes out into the world, it's there for good. Seeing Mr. Six just one time on your screen shared the same meltdown side effects, where I'm pretty sure you could grow a third eye if you stared for too long. A third eye that would always be looking towards the advertising agency that created this monster, like the Eye of Sauron, burning with hatred and fueled by an insatiable quest for vengeance.
We, unfortunately, will not be finding any vengeance here today, but maybe in this deep dive of all things Mr. Six, we can have our own collective therapy session to come to terms with this heinous creature as one equally affected group.
The Origins Of A Monster
Though it may seem like a drunken caricature artist stumbled onto the tracks of Superman and was hit with so much force that he wasn't instantly evaporated but sent directly to hell. Where he went on a vision quest with the devil to come up with the worst monster they could unleash on Earth and stepped back into the Six Flags with Mr. Six in tow, the creation scenario was far less forgivable.
As with most terrible things, Mr. Six was conceived within the walls of an advertising agency. Sometime in the early 2000s, the Six Flags brief fell across the desk of some creatives at Doner Advertising. A moment that has me reconsidering what my time travel moment would be, perhaps willing to take a detour on my noble quest all the way back to 1991 to be able to see Point Break on the big screen, I might have to plug in 2004 and snatch that assignment right off of their desks before this could have ever happened. I don't care if it set off a chain reaction that altered the course of humanity, and it turns out Mr. Six was the glue that kept us from starting another Cold War; it would still be worth it.
But I can't, and the project moved forward. One has to assume that he was created by a committee. A committee of some of the world's worst tastes were all converging together, like a Megazord of the office's laziest ideas. Someone in the meeting room tosses up a pen into the air with the first salvo, "I mean ... we could just do a guy who dances? A dancing guy?"
Boom. It's on the board. Brilliant. Riding the high of this absurdly loose room where bad ideas are nurtured and cared for like the last remaining nest of an endangered hawk species, another idiot raises their voice. "Yeah, and what about if he's old? Like. Dancing is cool. But old people dancing, that's funny, too." That man is instantly given a promotion to the head of the company because all they do is reward mediocrity, and he's now running the meeting, where he calls on the next participant of this hell session.
"But, like, he's old. For sure. But what if he's also young. What if he is played by a young person so that he can move and dance around like someone in their 20s, but we'll just pretend that he's old and never acknowledge this."
The room lights up, and before that person can be promoted to head of advertising for the entire world, another chimes in." And to make him look old, we're going to get the world's shittiest prosthetics guy. Like, I mean, he is going to look old in the way that would only look like an actual old person with that foggy film of a fever dream, but when you're awake, he'll just look like a horrific tortoise that was yanked out of the burn unit." The meeting room starts raining money through the overhead sprinkler system.
One last employee steps up, ready to drop the hammer. "And to cap it all off… we get the Vengaboys, baby. He dances … to … 'We Like to Party'." The building goes full supernova of the energy of a team rallying behind a truly awful idea and explodes, leveling the city until nothing remains but an ashy Mr. Six rising from the rubble.
Hell Is Unleashed
In 2004, the campaign debuted on television screens across the nation. In it, an idyllic, yet bored, suburban neighborhood lays dormant. Unbothered. Just kind of relaxing on a nice weekend day when a bus shows up. Out steps an "old man" in a tuxedo, rimmed glasses, and looking like an alien has visited and gone to a B-Movie prop house in order to find a costume that just slightly approximates the human form. They look on as he walks in front of them, assuming he's a lost pervert there to try some nonsense with their kids; they're (rightly) ready to kill Mr. Six already.
Then, he goes and makes it fully legal to do so by blasting an instrumental version of "We Like to Party." Then proceeding to dance in a way that will not just make you uncomfortable but will make you wish a polio vaccine was never invented for this generation. Somehow charmed by this gyrating young man in a blatant old person costume, they fall for his bullshit and hop aboard and head for the nearest Six Flags park.
The second commercial is more of the same. Another unsuspecting family is harassed by this roaming demon bus carrying the worst cargo of all time. He shows up, he dances in their faces, and they go, out of some kind of obligation more like they're under a spell, and certainly not because this perverted creep actually made a compelling offer.
With these two spots, a sensation was born. It was born because this country is full of absolute idiots. Of course, this took off. Nothing is more predictable than this being a success with our national audiences. We feed off of garbage. Mr. Six sticks because he's exactly what we deserve.
If we had a more notched-up intellect, a greater collective national taste, then maybe we wouldn't be spoon-fed a dancing demon built to easily usher us to a day of spending 200+ dollars to stand in a line beneath a 90-degree sun and another few hundred figuring out the mystery illnesses we're leaving the waterpark with. It's just what we deserve. So then, in the span of less than a year, Mr. Six was absolutely everywhere.
Not Here For A Long Time, Here For A Bad Time. Here To Make Everyone Have A Bad Time
In the mid-2000s, when it came to things that blew up, it was the shittier, the better. The music of the time was maybe the worst our country has ever produced, Entourage was all the rage on TV, and everyone dressed like goddamn idiots. So it was pretty easy for Mr. Six to slide right in.
Because he instantly blew up, Six Flags jumped right on the popularity, plastering him all over the parks and even dubbing him the "Ambassador of Fun." Sit with that for a second. He's the best we can do. Our torchbearer towards fun is a young guy playing an old guy, dancing to a song that was already past its prime and telling us that the way to fun is Six Flags. This is, potentially, a true national low.
As is tradition when marking low points for our society, Mr. Six even appeared on an episode of Good Morning America. The place where, by the time you see something catching on with that audience, you know it's far too late to stop it. When it's hitting the middle-aged crowd at home with nothing better to do but watch that filth, you can be sure that it's something you don't want to go anywhere near. It doesn't matter if it's the thing you love most on this planet; if you ever look up and see it on Good Morning America, not only is it so far gone that you will never get it back, but you need to distance yourself from it and cut off all contact from there on out.
Six Flags jumped on the sensation and hosted a Mr. Six lookalike contest at one of their parks, inviting anyone to show up and put on their best moves for a chance at a few grand. In researching this, I hoped to find out that five, maybe six people showed up. Just there to try to get a nice little paycheck and forget that they ever participated in such a heinous thing. I was wrong. Around 200 people showed up to put on their best Mr. Six and further illustrate just how over this American experiment was long before these days when that reality is staring us in the face every day.
How do you not stop your loved ones before they can go to that? Your husband is there in the bathroom, getting his tuxedo and red bow tie ready. Doing his Mr. Six dance moves in the mirror. Your heart sinks. This is the man you've anchored yourself to for life. You want to run, to sprint to the door and to the car and drive until you're out of gas and never look back. But you can't. You've got kids. You've got kids with a man who would compete in a Mr. Six lookalike contest, and that reality hits you like a ton of bricks.
You begin to tell yourself that you deserve this. That you were the one dumb enough to fall in love with someone who could possibly participate in a Mr. Six lookalike contest. A wave of surrender washes over you, and you force a smile, tell him he looks great, and get ready to warm up the car. It was all too late; Mr. Six had already made his mark -- there was no going back.
He Burned Bright, He Burned Hot
One of the craziest things about the Mr. Six character is that, at least to me, it feels like it went on forever. Like this campaign lasted decades and, in some ways, I feel like it's still on. Turning on my television and bracing for him to appear, like a shell-shocked man returning to televised Vietnam. But, in reality, the whole thing really went on for a year.
In 2005, when notoriously bad human being Dan Snyder bought Six Flags, one of his very first missions was to erase Mr. Six from the face of the Earth. Think about that for a second. A guy who is a well-documented piece of shit still had the sense to know this guy had to go. It almost gives you hope in the human condition. In our ability to learn and recognize utter garbage, even if it doesn't happen right away. I can only wonder if you sat Mussolini in a focus group of any Geico commercial if even he'd be like, "Eh, this is simply too monstrous to unleash on the world."
As quickly as he did his violent dance of a drowning man into our lives, Mr. Six was out of there. Having left an indelible mark on all of us. By indelible, I, of course, mean the way he entwined himself into our soul like a branded genital wart that can never be removed.
But who was Mr. Six? Surely, that was not actually an old man in there. That much was obvious. If anyone over 60 tried those spastic moves, their bones would pop into a cloud of fine, visible dust like their body just did a gender reveal party. As with all things Mr. Six, the horror is ramped up when you find out that beneath all of that was actually a handsome, ripped young man.
Mr. Six (pack)
Wrapped up in a serious NDA at the time, it took years for Danny Teeson to be able to come forward as the real Mr. Six. In what had to be therapeutic for him, to be able to get that off his chest once and for all.
It just all goes to show how stupid these kinds of campaigns are anyway. Wouldn't it have been better for everyone if you just had this handsome dancing dude invite people to come dance and party with him at Six Flags, rather than actively make him terrifying to look at and be around before doing so? Of course, we aren't that lucky; it's the job of these advertising agencies to put us through hell and to come up with the biggest assault to our eyeballs that they possibly can.
There was even an attempt at a second round of Mr. Six torment a few years later when the character was briefly brought back. This time, though, the nation had finally wised up, and we kicked that hairless freak to the curb where he belongs. We know how this goes, though, all ideas come back, and there's no doubt he'll return again one day. We just have to be ready with a purpose-built rollercoaster that looks really high, so high that it touches the clouds, but we promise it comes back down, strap him in, and let him find out the hard way that thing isn't ever coming back down to us.