Two of the most popular stars on YouTube are Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla, a couple of overgrown teens with potty mouths and boy-band haircuts. You likely wouldn’t recognize them in a lineup, but their YouTube channel, Smosh, has more subscribers—eight million-plus—than any other on the platform.
The Smosh boys have been churning out installments since 2005, and in any given video, you can tag along as the 25-year-olds bound wide-eyed through a world of their own pointless creation, hamming it up for the camera. And kids these days just love it.
“What’s this?” Mr. Padilla says in a video posted late last month, titled “My Stupid Dying Grandpa!” “It’s my stupid grandpa,” Mr. Hecox replies, shoving his old relation through the kitchen on a gurney. “I have to take care of his dying ass.”
Other videos include such gems as “Pokemon in Real Life!” (32 million views) and “Stuck in a Toilet!” (nearly 13 million views).
Pity the parentals: They don’t just have to make it through the terrible teenage years, but now the Internet exists to make everything worse. According to a new report from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, the most common worry isn’t stranger danger or cyberbullying or even embarrassing Facebook photos. Parents are worried about advertisers.
Once you notice them, they’re everywhere: teens dressed in black T-shirts emblazoned with neon zodiac symbols. When they gather together, they’re an unnerving sight, with their gray full-body paint and orange horns, and a faintly evangelical gleam in their eyes.
What’s instigating all this? An obtuse, weirdly drawn little web comic called Homestuck, which follows four adolescents who begin playing a videogame called Sburb, only to discover that it has world-altering implications.
Created by a Western Massachusetts comic artist named Andrew Hussie, Homestuck is as dense as Community, as mythos-laden as Lost and as addictive as FarmVille. The “Homestucks” are so devoted that some 20,000 of them have raised over $2.1 million on Kickstarter, in order to fund a video game based on the comic. Although Mr. Hussie has left details of his plans vague, the campaign zipped past its $700,000 fund-raising goal in just two days. The meter continues to tick upward, as Mr. Hussie continues adding new rewards for stragglers who might consider donating.