What non-fans of Try Guys need to know about the scandal

People think the Try Guys’ decision to fire Ned Fulmer for cheating on his wife is an overkill and the whole scandal is too overblown. Obviously, those people are not familiar with the group; if they are, they would know how Fulmer’s infidelity actually hurts the group, both on a professional and personal level.

First, the professional level.

Ned didn’t just cheat with a random woman, he cheated with Alex Herring, one of Try Guys’ producers… AKA Ned’s own goddamn subordinate! Regardless whether he coerced her or not, the power imbalance certainly makes the company extremely prone to litigations.

Ned is also known as the wife guy. He constantly bragged about how much he loved his wife Ariel, to the point where she becomes his brand; “My wife” quickly became his catchphrase. Therefore, his infidelity is also a professional failure and it has ruined the group’s relatively wholesome image.

If the scandal already puts the entire company in a perilous position, imagine if they refuse to fire him. Considering the fans’ fiery backlashes against him, the damage would not be temporary, it would be permanent. Their subscriber and viewership counts would decline drastically and recovery would require a miracle.

They also didn’t fire him impulsively. It took them weeks of consultation with the legal and HR departments, a tiring but necessary process which ensures they arrive at a judicious decision.

Now, on a personal level.

Ned was not just a colleague of the other guys, he was a good friend. Not only that, they are also very close to his wife and two kids. In fact, in a video where Eugene Lee Yang babysat Ned and Ariel’s firstborn Wes (two years before the birth of their second child), he explicit stated that he would murder anyone who dare to hurt the baby.

I don’t know about Alex Herring’s partner Will Thayer. But, if the guys are also close with him, then there is one more personal reason to be angry.

Basically, even when their careers are not at stake, his infidelity would still infuriate them.

And yes, believe it or not, the Try Guys are humans. They have the rights to feel emotions.

Oh, and for people who agree with Dr. Todd Grande’s advices….

Even if you know nothing about the Try Guys, you should know how condescending and outright stupid his advices are.

The Try Guys should do more serious topics? They have dwelled with them for many years. Health problems, insecurity about one’s own body and even racism. Serious topics that have affect them personally have been featured in their videos.

During the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes in the beginning of the pandemic, they even stepped their projects aside to make a one-hour-long humourless video about anti-Asian racism in the US. As public figures, they realised they had the duty to speak out.

Before you suggest someone to do something, make sure they actually haven’t done that before. But then, if you are a self-righteous person, you think it is okay to assume everyone else is not as thoughtful as you.

And making a video where they interview Ned and Ariel about his infidelity? How can anyone, especially a mental health counselor, think that is a good idea?

First thing first, making such video means they are monetising on their scandal. It makes tactless and exploitative content. It is not quality content that the world needs.

Second, if they want to make such video, they have to coerce Ariel to relive her humiliation in the public, prohibiting her from recovering privately, without even more judgments from judgemental strangers.

Third, it is an unnecessary learning experience. The Try Guys can learn from Ned’s mistake and Ned can definitely improves himself without any goddamn platforms. They don’t have any obligation to facilitate his self-growth. He is an adult, he must facilitate it himself.

And for those of you who defend the SNL skits….

Here is the thing: if you want your parody or satire to hits the spot, you have to be familiar with the topic in hand. You need to get the facts and full context right, ensuring you mock the deserving people and not making false assumptions about anyone.

If you know the facts and whole context of this scandal, not only you would acknowledge how a big deal Ned’s infidelity is, you would actually praise the group’s handling of the controversy. You would realise how nonsensical it is to mock the Try Guys and letting Ned off the hook.

So what if SNL is a comedy show? How does that invalidate the criticisms? Surely, it is reasonable to criticise comedians when their jokes miss the marks.

Oh, and it should be pointed out that Ned has a friend who works as an SNL writer. While the friend might or might not be involved in that particular sketch, it is still an important piece of information to divulge.

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Some people believe the guys had known about Ned’s infidelity from the very beginning.

That’s a possibility which Try Guys fans like me have to acknowledge. But, unless there are solid evidences to back such claim, it will stay as a baseless accusation.

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My thoughts about the Try Guys

Since I watched Shane Dawson’s conspiracies and ghost-hunting videos, I cannot help myself from judging the critical thinking of my favourite entertainers, including the Try Guys. Sadly, scientific scepticism is not their forte.

And it is ironic because Ned is a Yale chemistry graduate and he fails to bring scientific scepticism to the group (a good reason to not worship people’s educational backgrounds). There are some videos where the guys take the words of so-called experts for granted. But, I think the video that sticks out the most is the acupuncture one.

Admittedly, this is one of the most entertaining Try Guys videos, mostly because of how Eugene’s discomfort juxtaposes with the others’ comfort and the acupuncturist’s charm and wit. But, I am also annoyed by how quickly they accepted the validity of acupuncture.

They could claim they felt the qi flowing inside them. But, there is such thing as placebos. Just because one feels better, that does not mean one actually gets better. You feel better after the treatment because you believe it works.

Okay, I just watched the video again and I was wrong about Ned not being sceptical. He actually was, even though he eventually changed his mind. He and the others might actually feel something. But still, I doubt they were feeling the qi.

Even though I am no biologist, I do know our bodies have sensory neurons all over. So, when one gets stabbed by pointy objects, one ought to feel something; no sensations means one is medically fucked. The sensation they were feeling might be the acupuncturist messing with their nervous systems. But, all four of them failed to realise that which inevitably led to their acceptance of alternative medicine.

I also have another less consequential problem with the Try Guys. On Youtube, there are videos exposing how unfunny the quartet is. Even though I haven’t watched a single one of those videos, I do understand why some people think that way.

Sometimes, when they have guests on their shows, they don’t even bother to read the room; they clearly make jokes only for their online audience, not the one right in front of them. As a result, I often see the guests looking awkward; it somewhat reminds me of Rhett and Link, whose antics have been known to put off some of their guests.

I know I sound a bit too harsh on them. I make it sound like they are unfunny idiotic hacks. In actuality, I don’t believe they are.

Despite the presence of thoughtless jokes, there is also an abundance of wits. In fact, I notice the guys have become wittier as time goes by; they have been entertainers long before their fame, giving them many years to learn. Not to mention there are also guests whose sense of humour is in tune with theirs.

I also cannot be certain about their idiocy. Regarding their validation of acupuncture, it is hard to say if they were being sincere; they might try to not offend the charming and seemingly-nice acupuncturist. Or maybe, they changed their mind about its cogency after they recorded the video. Basically, we should never take people’s words for granted, especially if they are public figures who are known for carefully maintaining their images.

But, even if they are indeed easily duped by pseudoscience, I still refuse to call them entirely idiotic. I mean, they are content creators who maintain their success even after leaving a big corporation that can generously provide resources for their endeavours. If anything, I believe their quality increases after their departure.

In general, the content of their videos can be described as escapist fun with occasional bouts of seriousness; the seriousness often includes topics like health, gender, immigration and even the Try Guys’ own personal lives. They have been thematically consistent throughout the years. But, their professional independence does bring changes to their videos.

First of all, they have bent their definition of ‘trying things’, as shown by the time when they tried to make Eugene AKA Mr. Aloof to sit on Keith’s lap; despite its bizarre yet oddly wonderful pointlessness, the video -which some fans consider as simultaneously the best and the worst- lives up to the group’s name (kinda). Because of that one video, I am expecting more of such outlandishness in the future.

Second, fans have been noticing how the Try Guys have been more carefree than ever. The thing is Keith, Ned and Zach have always been exuberant and I never notice any notable increase in their carefreeness. But, when it comes to emotionally-reserved Eugene, I do notice the change.

Some fans believe the independence, no matter how stressful it can be, is a joyfully liberating thing to have in one’s grasp. Others believe he exaggerated his stand-offish personality just to make Buzzfeed videos more entertaining. I personally speculate that Eugene is happier because he felt he was constantly being used as a clickbait by his former employer.

It is also possible his increasing devil-may-care attitude has nothing to do with his professional life. Nevertheless, I cannot help myself from thinking how plausible those speculations are. Of course, as they are speculations, I must refrain myself from accepting them as the absolute truths. But, as much as I love seeing the goofy side of Eugene, there is a third change that I love the most: the videos’ durations and narrative chronologies.

During the Buzzfeed years, the videos have varied durations; some are as short as two minutes while others are over twenty-minutes long. But, I notice the less-ten-minutes-long ones dominate the playlist. The videos’ storylines are also predominantly linear.

After leaving Buzzfeed, their videos’ narratives have become more nonlinear and the durations have become significantly longer; most of their videos are over ten minutes long with the short ones being a tiny minority. While some may find these aspects too trivial to concentrate on, I think they have greatly enhanced the quality of the content.

More nonlinearity means less sluggish pacing and more enhanced conveyance of emotions, consequentially creating a more captivating storytelling. I also love the challenge (if one can call it that) of deciphering timelines of nonlinear stories without the help of time stamps and, thankfully, Try Guys’ nonlinear videos almost never have them; I hate the unnecessary usage of time stamps as it discourages the audience to take more heed of what they are watching.

More time span means more capacity to showcase more content (obviously); it prevents the feeling of hastiness, it does not keep viewers out from more interesting happenings and, most importantly, it allows the Try Guys to convey a wider range of emotions. I still stand to my earlier description about how their content is mostly fun and occasionally serious moments. But, thanks to the longer durations, there are more manifestations of grave emotions.

Buzzfeed Try Guys videos are like the typical American sitcoms; their seriousness is so rare that they are still considered as comedies. Post-Buzzfeed Try Guys videos remind me of Marvel movies; while light-hearted and may be seen as overrated by some, the mixture of jokes and emotional depths easily put them in the drama-comedy category (if drama-comedy also includes non-fiction).

Dramedy is one of my favourite genres ever. Light-hearted enough to not take itself too seriously, sombre enough to emanates and encourages thoughtfulness. It has the best of both worlds… and I fear the Try Guys will choose only one in the future. The fear comes from them being featured on Youtube Rewind 2018.

In case you don’t remember, Youtube Rewind 2018 is something that can only be described as Youtube’s shameless effort to embrace advertising-friendliness by the means of disregarding the real circumstances of the Youtube communities. If you were a content creator who had never expressed discontent against the establishment or whose content was never deemed controversial, you would be the platform’s golden children.

You would never experience involuntary demonetisation and suffer any consequences for breaking any rules, ensuring a constant stream of fame and fortune. Such privilege is encapsulated by being featured on Youtube Rewind 2018. Basically, the Try Guys haven’t offended the Youtube establishment. Yet.

Of course, I don’t see anything inherently wrong with not being openly anti-establishment. The problem is not being so comes with a lot of perks and those perks may discourage anyone from being more thoughtful and truthful. Frankly, I understand why anyone would keep their mouths shut, especially if one is a financially-independent content creator like the Try Guys.

As I have said multiple times before, their videos have no hesitance in embracing thoughtfulness. If they intend to stay as the establishment’s darlings, there is a possibility they will refrain themselves from creating meatier and riskier content… or worse, will remove the thoughtfulness altogether. But, at the same time, I am also glad they are Youtubers instead of Hollywood personalities.

One thing that I and many other fans love about the Try Guys is their embodiment of healthy masculinity. They are willing to try things many men will feel uncomfortable about, including wearing make-up, wearing women’s pants, getting nail extensions, naked wrestling, drag performances and wearing women lingerie. Their masculinity is anything but rigid (which really triggers Alpha-wannabes Youtubers). And, thankfully, Youtube allows this so-called gender ‘deviance’.

No matter how much you hate it, Youtube is certainly more socially progressive than Hollywood. On the website, members of racial, sexual and gender minorities can enunciate their own authentic and unfiltered voices, some members of the ‘beauty’ community (beauty does not refer to personalities) are men and, of course, male Youtubers are popular despite or probably because of their unorthodox masculinities.

Compare the situation to one of Hollywood, where cis-heteronormativity is still the law of the land, where the groundbreaking character Newt Scamander is considered a boring male lead protagonist for not fulfilling the gender stereotype; while the most outspoken figures are indeed progressives, many of the values imposed by the higher-ups are still very conservative and outdated. Hollywood still has a long way to go.

In the end, no matter how tyrannical Youtube can, it is still free enough for male Youtubers to express wholesome and undogmatic versions of masculinity. So, unless the higher-ups decide they want to impose puritanical gender norms on the platform, I will still love the Try Guys regardless.

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