A few minutes into Bo Burnham’s Netflix special, Inside, filmed in a single room in his house over the food of the pandemic, the comedian launches right into his second number, concerning the purpose of comedy itself. “The people is changing,” Burnham croons at his keyboard. “The planet’s heater up. What the f*** is walking on?” The song turns right into a retreat of the critical year — the protests, the drought. “The more I look, the more I watch nothing to hoax about,” the goes on.
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Then an angelic chorus from over sends Burnham on one ironic mission: “healing the world with comedy” since “the world needs direction.” “From a white man like me,” Burnham juts in. “Bingo!” the ethereal voice says.
Burnham’s genre-defying one-of-a-kind is much much more than a comedy, however. It’s a social commentary top top the precarity of life in the 2020s, specifically online life. It starts with (sort of) lighthearted music videos in Burnham’s style, formed in YouTube videos shot in his childhood bedroom in the mid-aughts. Yet the songs in Inside, parodying the standard photos you check out on white women’s Instagram accounts and chronicling the risks of sexting through emojis, coexist v explorations of major topics. In one song, Burnham’s amount say puppet says, “Don’t you know? The people is built with blood! and also genocide and exploitation!” near the beginning of Inside, Burnham claims that he embarked on the project “to distract me from wanting to put a bullet right into my head.” end the course of the show, month in isolation and the load of the world problems begin to wear on Burnham, who ends increase sobbing top top camera.
Critics and regular world alike love Inside, according to Rotten Tomatoes. Slate referred to as it “one that the many sincere imaginative responses to the 21st century for this reason far.” That could seem like unexpectedly high worship for one eccentric, disturbingly self-aware one-man production where the one man spends a great chunk that 80 minutes dancing in his underwear. (You need to see that to gain it.)
Inside isn’t really about the climate crisis. That an exploration of exactly how to it is in a decent human being in one indecent world, while facing up to her own role in it. Burnham, for example, skewers the performative nature of social media and points out exactly how the net is break everyone’s brains, while in ~ the very same time performing because that the internet. Yet the overheating planet is a recurring template for a reason. For Burnham, that serves as a touchpoint because that doom — it’s there, haunting girlfriend in the background, even when your mind is bouncing in between a million various other things. There’s solid time to understand the enormity of it, permit alone do much about it, especially if you’re everywhere as depressed together Burnham.
In one jaunty tune, “Welcome come the Internet,” performed as if it were a movie villain theme, Burnham explains how the web overstimulates you and inflames your inner demons, offering “a tiny bit the everything every one of the time.” later in the show, the lyrics of “That Funny Feeling,” v Burnham playing acoustic guitar, show up to be a jumble of disjointed topics — until you think about that he could be relenten the emotionally numbing rollercoaster the scrolling through social media. Seeing news around civil wars next to tweets from Kentucky Fried Chicken and also Bugles? The location junxtap of catastrophes and also fluff feels for this reason “funny,” perhaps, because all of these things room packaged as “content,” flattened into our newsfeeds, and also presented with equal weight.
In his offbeat way, Burnham manages to capture a cultivation disaffection v online life — and how these new patterns present a danger to well-being. A scientific paper out this main in the Proceedings that the national Academy of scientific researches sums up exactly how the internet has actually radically restructured how we communicate in a couple decades, v the chief score of maximizing “engagement” to sell ads … instead of, friend know, do the efforts to assist people or enhance the world. The algorithms that recognize what people see online, according to this collective behavior experts, “are typically designed come maximize profitability, with often insufficient impetus to promote an informed, just, healthy, and sustainable society.”
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Burnham contrasts digital reality, wherein you deserve to find and also believe anything friend want, v physical truth — including the unrelenting development of worldwide warming. “The whole people at her fingertips, the ocean at your door,” Burnham sings in “That Funny Feeling.” “The live-action Lion King, the Pepsi Halftime display / Twenty-thousand year of this, seven more to go.”
That “seven years” line shows up to recommendation the Climate Clock, a type of ticking-time bomb counting down the years until the planetary apocalypse. The project gives humanity a attributed of 2028 “to enact bold, transformational transforms in our global economy” come prevent an international warming from reaching “a point of no return that scientific research tells united state will do the worst climate effects likely inevitable.”
Burnham’s doom-and-gloom offer a double purpose, speak to both the climate crisis and also his own depression. “All eye on Me” is the climax of the show, an auto-tuned banger about coping with tension — in the center of it, the takes a rest from to sing to describe that he quit live comedy because he kept having actually panic attacks on stage. Yet it’s likewise a song around coming to terms through where the civilization is heading (“We’re going to go wherein everybody knows, everybody knows”). The third verse:
You speak the ocean’s rising favor I provide a shitYou to speak the whole world’s ending, honey, it currently didYou’re not gonna sluggish it, sky knows friend triedGot it? Good, now get inside
There is a minute of clarity in the track where Burnham transforms off the autotune and starts yelling in ~ the viewer, “Get up. Get up. I’m talking to you! gain the f*** up!”
It’s a jarring wake-up call, and also a reminder: This can be a comedy special, but Burnham is no joking around the climate apocalypse.
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