I'm a misanthropic prick. I won't deny it. It might be a good idea for me to acknowledge that right off the bat in the hope of maybe stemming the inevitable tide of criticism in the same vein that's sure to follow what I'm about to say. And what I want to say is this: That woman now internationally known as "Chewbacca Mom?" Yeah, her fucking 15 minutes can't end soon enough.
Now I probably need to make something else clear and that's that I have nothing personal against Candace Payne, the woman who just last Thursday donned a ridiculous electronic Chewbacca mask she'd picked up at her local Kohl's and was so thoroughly entertained by it that she just had to post a video clip of her laughing her ass off about it to Facebook's new live feature. So she's easily amused. No crime there. I'm also going to cross my fingers behind my back and state unequivocally that I don't find any fault with the thousands of people for whom that clip apparently represents the pure "joy" for which their lives have so desperately longed. If your existence is empty enough to where a cackling woman in a Chewbacca mask makes a difference in it, even for a few seconds, the last thing you need is mockery from a pissy little online asshole.
No, the issue here is one of saturation. Because there's no spontaneous event or sensation that can't be appropriated by our larger media culture and shoved down our collective throat until we choke on it. It was bad enough when every person in America's mother was posting Chewbacca Mom to Facebook along with the smiley-face emojis she just learned how to use and the caption, "THIS MAKES ME SOOOO HAPPY!!! HER LAUGH IS SO INFECTIOUS!!!" But now that it's the most popular Facebook Live offering to date, with more than 140 million views, the reach of this thing and the person at the center of it has moved well beyond the confines of the internet (which admittedly isn't really all that confining).
Within a couple of days of Chewbacca Mom's post, as it began really picking up steam, Kohl's of course rode in to capitalize on it by dumping a cornucopia of Star Wars merch on Payne and her family. Then predictably came the traditional media, with treacly Late Late Show host James Corden putting Payne in the driver's seat of his show's relentlessly irritating carpool karaoke segment -- because apparently Jimmy Fallon's flip-cup card was full for that evening -- only as an excuse so she could once again don her silly mask along with Corden and, God help us, J.J. Abrams. Now as we reach day-six in the America Held Hostage by Chewbacca saga, there's Payne visiting the Facebook headquarters at the request of Mark Zuckerberg and giving a "surprise" command performance in which she rides around on a bike with -- wait for it -- Chewbacca.
Look for Payne to be signed to her own sitcom tomorrow and, maybe the day after that, to either marry Khloe Kardashian or visit the White House, where she'll be named the new United States ambassador to Kashyyyk. Then, of course, after being completely run into the ground, this whole thing will vanish back into the ephemera from which it came, to reappear only in late December for all those 2016 retrospective montages.
Now look, I get that I'm actually contributing here to the cycle of instant fame in the age of the internet. It goes like this: event, viral sensation, traditional media blitz, inescapable saturation, and, of course, backlash (followed by inevitable evaporation). It's shocking that whereas this cycle used to take weeks or months, now it can all happen in a matter of days or even hours. That's the speed of the media these days. Maybe I'm the tip of the spear when it comes to the backlash against the Chewbacca Mom phenomenon -- again, not Candace Payne herself, the phenomenon, and one now being artificially proliferated by clever opportunists -- or for all I know I really am the only person in the world who looked at a woman laughing hysterically in a Chewbacca mask and went, "Really?" Maybe I'm the only one conditioned to assume this whole thing was an ad for Kohl's and/or the new Star Wars movie from the very beginning. Maybe I'm the only cynical, joyless dick out there.
Or maybe not. Maybe this thing was always kind of dumb. And now, of course, it's fucking everywhere.