A video of a harbor seal slapping its fat belly to the beat of a face-melting heavy metal riff has divided the Motherboard staff. Is this heavy metal remix of an otherwise innocuous video Good or Bad?
The original video, uploaded in December, is brief and simple: A harbor seal slaps its blubber super-fast, looking extremely pleased with himself. The video slows to show his chubbiness ripple with every smack, as serene and timeless as the ocean tide.
Per a cardinal-rule of 21st century internet culture, any video with a cute animal and a noise resembling a beat must be remixed into music. But must we continue down this path, or does the madness stop here? Writer and professional internet talker Jason Koebler and phone licker Samantha Cole present their cases.
Jason Koebler: 'Seal Metal' is BAD
Look at this poor seal. Decontextualized from its natural habitat, its moderately entertaining belly pats turned into milquetoast content by some dude named Vladimir with a YouTube channel and a PayPal account. Unwittingly linked in gchats and Slack rooms by bored office workers 'round the world, clicked on by teens, shared by your well-meaning aunt.
Viral animal videos are the lowest common denominator of internet content, but it has become a mark of sociopathy deign to call them unentertaining, boring, or a waste of time. If that's what I am, so be it. 'Seal Metal' is basic. Safe. I do not blame the seal. I blame the decidedly bland wholesome internet movement. I blame professional computer farmer Emanuel Maiberg for sending it to me. Do not show me an animal video unless it is viciously killing something.
Samantha Cole: 'Seal Metal' is GOOD
I've seen a lot of viral animal videos. If the plight of the ocean sunfish and the glory of the spliff slug have taught me anything, it's that the creatures who end up on the receiving end of our clicks always hold a deeper story. In this case, harbor seals use a variety of slaps to display aggression, including a body slam move and the belly slaps we see here for courtship and communication. Their blubbery girth hitting the sand actually produces seismic waves that scientists can study. That's goddamn metal if you ask me.
Jason's take is, as usual, incorrect and misguided. These videos are one of the few pure forms of entertainment left on the internet. Viral animal video remixes are inspired. Look me in the eyes and tell me you don't start jamming as soon as you hit play —even without the metal backtracking. The baby seal scream at the very end of the video? Transcendent. I applaud the artist. This beat slaps.
Jason Koebler: A Brief Rebuttal
Sam cheated and wrote her take after reading mine, which is against GOOD or BAD rules. I have just one thing to add: Viral animal remixes are only good when being used to make fun of humans, who are almost invariably bad. Goat Taylor Swift is the only good viral animal remix.