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“Not angry. More disappointed”: Harambe speaks via a telepathic animal communicator

Twelve months later, how does the gorilla feel about his life, death, and status as a meme? 

Harambe died just one day after his 17th birthday. On 28 May 2016, the Western lowland gorilla was shot and killed at his home in Cincinnati Zoo. Moments before a single rifle shot ended his life, Harambe had picked up a three-year-old boy who had climbed a fence and fallen into his enclosure. Though there was no sign that he would deliberately harm the child, officials took the decision to act quickly.

This Sunday marks the anniversary of Harambe’s death, and yet his memory has barely even begun to fade. Almost immediately after the killing, Harambe became a posthumous meme and in the last 12 months has been featured in collages, videos, jokes, and even – in the case of the 2016 American election – ballot papers. Figuratively, then, Harambe’s spirit lives on.

Oh, and also literally too.

“Telepathic animal communicators” are individuals with the ability to communicate with animals living or dead. After Cecil the Lion was murdered in July 2015, animal communicator Karen Anderson spoke with him and revealed to VICE that the Southwest African cat was “finer than ever, grander than before”. Inspired by this – and my series Living the Meme, which finds out what happens after people go viral – I got in touch with Harambe.

He is not happy with humans.

***

Animal communication is a surprisingly saturated market. Yet although I reach out to a few different communicators, I immediately face problems. One – from Kentucky – wants $500 (£391) to speak with Harambe; another has been advised by her lawyer not to talk to animals from zoos after she was sued by a carriage horse association. Another still refuses involvement when I relay that I would like her to ask Harambe for his opinion on the social media trend, “Dicks out for Harambe”.

Pea Horsley, an animal communicator who runs the website www.animalthoughts.com and is the author of The Animal Communicator’s Guide Through Life, Loss and Love, does agree to speak with me – and Harambe. She immediately communicated with the gorilla after his death in 2016, and says she will be able to provide me with his verbatim quotes about how he feels now.

“I used to be a theatre stage manager for 15 years, very successful, and it gave me the training of listening, especially to words,” she explains.

“Which in turn makes me good at listening to the electromagnetic energy which get translated into thought forms. Animal communication is a non-verbal universal language across species. If you read any of my books you'll be able to see what I mean.”

***

According to Karen Anderson – the lady who first spoke to Cecil, who is a lion – Harambe was initially very confused about his death. “I had to explain what happened to him several times,” she wrote in a Facebook post at the time. Nearly 365 days later, is he more at peace?

Pea sends me over what Harambe said to her in a Word document, which I have copied verbatim here.

“My message to those who know my name.

I am just like you,”

he begins.

“If you had been in a cage.

And a baby gorilla fell in.

And a lot of adult gorillas were screaming, shouting, fearful and anxious above…

What would you do? What?

Imagine yourself there.

Just for a minute.”

***

Harambe explains – via Pea – that he felt threatened, scared, protective, and defensive during the incident. After being shot, he felt “Confused. Let down. Bewildered” but not, Pea relays, angry.

“But no – not angry. More disappointed,” are his words.

More than anything, the gorilla wishes for quiet and family, and is distressed and confused about humanity’s disrespect for “all species”.

“The planet cries,” is his powerful message. 

“I feel immense, deep sadness when I observe the world I left behind. I wish life was different. Honourable. Kind. Compassionate. Gentle.

“When will humans start to love again? Love each other? Love themselves? I wish to see this.

“Here, I am peaceful now. I wish to bring in more peace with my message.

“I love you.”

***

On his meme status, Harambe only has one thing to tell Pea – and he is very humble. 

“I am myself. Not special. Not a celebrity.” 

Seeking further answers, I reached out to Charles Peden, an animal communicator and psychic medium. Despite his tight schedule, Charles agrees to speak with Harambe and ask specifically how he feels about being a meme. I hope that getting two animal communicators to speak with Harambe in one day is not too bothersome for the gorilla who, after all, deserves peace.  

“Harambe does not like the publicity and he has no way to be in peace.”

Charles's personal assistant relays the results of his communication with Harambe - and it's bad news for meme fans.

“He is irate and is saddened that they would take his tragedy and turn it into a joke,” she says. Of herself and Charles, she reveals: “We both feel his answer and then some.”

For those who meme, Harambe's reponse may be disappointing - but his message certainly isn't. The gorilla in life - and now in death - reminds us all to seek a more peaceful world. 

“Living the Meme” is a series of articles exploring what happens to people after they go viral. Check out the rest in the series here.

To suggest an interviewee for Living the Meme, contact Amelia on Twitter.

 

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.

Troom Troom via YouTube
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The unnerving, absurd, and surreal videos of Troom Troom

Who – or what – is behind the eerie YouTube channel with five million subscribers? 

The blue-eyed girl is eating a raw sausage. I don’t know her name – and nor do the 69 million other people who have watched this YouTube video. Entitled “14 Weird Ways To Sneak Food Into Class”, the video features two women doing just that. These women are nameless, referred to by their traits (“the blue-eyed girl” and “my friend”) by a faceless narrator, on a channel known only as Troom Troom.

 “I managed to sneak sausages into my art class, how did I do that?” says the narrator in this particular video. The answer is simple and painstakingly documented in the clip. To sneak sausages into art class, simply insert the sausage into a Ziploc bag, and seal this bag with a flame and a knife. Insert the Ziploc-ed sausage into a pack of wet wipes, and then decant some ketchup into a paint pot.

At the time of writing, Troom Troom’s videos total 1,462,673,770 views.

Is this a surrealist comedy channel? Are we all being trolled? Troom Troom describes itself as a channel for “Easy DIY ‘how to’ video tutorials” and its first videos were genuine DIYs. Over the last two years, the channel's constant quest for content means it has devolved into an accidentally-absurdist mess.

Many of its videos are labelled as “life hacks”, but each hack on the channel is a combination of 1) something people have never needed to do, and 2) something incredibly and needlessly difficult to do that 3) could’ve been accomplished in a far simpler manner.

In one video, a woman cuts a lemon in half, glues a zipper onto it, zips up the lemon, and places it into her handbag.

In another video, “22 Life Hacks That Will Save You A Fortune”, the woman in the video melts deodorant into a lipstick tube. In “24 Life Hacks That Work Great”, a presenter cuts off the dispenser from a packet of baby wipes and inserts it onto a bag of crisps. In “20 Banana Life Hacks” – recently mocked by YouTuber Cristine Rotenberg on the site – two Troom Troom presenters make a banana holster, fashion a Viking hat out of bananas, use bananas as dumbbells, and stick bananas in their ears to “protect” from noise.  

Troom Troom has 5 million subscribers, and the channel earns – at the very least – £27,000 a month.

If Troom Troom’s hacks are unnerving, this is nothing compared to the narration that accompanies them. Most nouns are companied with the word “the” so “a pillow” becomes “the pillow” and “nature”, “the nature”. Like a primary school teacher, the narrator uses inclusive pronouns like “us” and “we”, and collectively says “let’s” before embarking on a task. Unlike a primary school teacher, she discusses apartments, finances, and holidays, demonstrating that these videos aren't all aimed at kids. 

Stories are narrated alongside the hacks, so that after Troom Troom’s presenters insert a block of cheese into a glue stick, the narrator says: “My friend needs glue for her paper craft. Don’t take this stick, it won’t help. Smell it, there’s cheese inside!”.

In its “About” section the channel claims to be located in the United States, but there are a few glaring errors in the narration – golf balls have been referred to as tennis balls, lemons as limes.

Troom Troom hit a billion video views on 15 January 2018. The channel has an official Android app, Troom Troom DIY.

Alongside the narration, Troom Troom’s YouTube thumbnails are endlessly surreal. The thumbnail for “24 Life Hacks To Make Your Life Easier”, for example, is a picture of hot glue being poured onto a toothbrush. For “15 Back To School Life Hacks”, cold glue poured onto a lipstick. Unusually (and perhaps sexually?) a video entitled “17 Easter Life Hacks And Craft Ideas” is illustrated by a fried egg atop a cactus.

Troom Troom’s creators did not respond to a request for comment, and the three-year-old channel’s origins remain mysterious. Alongside the original Troom Troom channel, there are also German, Dutch, French, Japanese, Spanish, and Portuguese Troom Troom-affiliated channels. There are some rumours online that Troom Troom’s creators are Russian, but there is little concrete evidence for this.

Troom Troom is surreal, but is it sinister? In November 2017, the “Elsagate” scandal saw commenters express outrage at YouTube content featuring children’s characters in violent, sexual, and scatological situations. The scandal got its name because multiple videos featured Disney’s character Elsa (from the Frozen franchise) getting pregnant, giving birth, or being kidnapped. These videos were thought to have been generated in an attempt to best YouTube’s algorithms by including popular character names and keywords.

Troom Troom’s titles seem similarly algorithmically generated (“life hacks”, “food hacks”, and “funny pranks” are repeatedly used keywords, as well as the idea of recreating something in miniature, or extra large sizes) but its video content is far less sinister and far more stupid. In one Troom Troom video, a woman melts white chocolate and places a lemon wedge in the centre. This is a prank, meant to trick a girl known only as “red head” into believing she is eating an egg.

Instead, then, Troom Troom perhaps illustrates the pitfalls of allowing algorithms to rule our life. Rather than original, creative videos reaching the top of YouTube, the unnerving, absurd, and surreal videos of Troom Troom trend on the site. The thumbnails promise the impossible but are appealing with bright colours, pictures of women’s lips, and physics-defying tricks. Despite being clickbait, Troom Troom videos are still clicked, and comments sections show fans satisfied with the clips.

In “15 Funny Pranks! Prank Wars!” a Troom Troom presenter crumbles a chocolate cake until it looks like soil, then eats it out of a plant pot. Another woman sticks a beetroot inside of her friend’s box of cornflakes. “What do you think about a pineapple with a weird filling?” begins the next prank, in which a presenter scoops out a pineapple and fills it with French fries.

“Is it a pineapple? No! It isn’t! It’s French fries!” the narrator says.

Photos via Troom Troom

Amelia Tait is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman.