Let’s Revisit ‘2 Girls, 1 Cup’ Reaction Videos

Internet Nostalgia

Welcome to part 9 of our Internet Nostalgia series, which looks back at phenomena that captured the imagination and attention of the internet for a fleeting moment and then vanished as everyone moved on to something else. This series looks back at those olden times, and what they told us about the internet, and ourselves. If you have a suggested topic, email me at [emailprotected] Last week, we looked at The Numa Numa Guy. This week: ?2 Girls 1 Cup.?

Date: 2007.

The story: There is something about the internet that always feels like touching a hot stove. You know you shouldn?t do it. You know it?s going to burn you. But you can?t stop touching the stove. Maybe this is the time it isn?t hot? Or maybe, just maybe, we like the pain. Whether it?s digging into the comment section even though you know it?s going to be a nightmare, or clicking on an idiot?s hot take that you know is going to be idiotic, or watching anything Donald Trump Jr. has ever done, there is an inherent masochism to being on the internet. We know it?s bad for us. But back we come. Sometimes I wonder if we?re staring into the maw just to see how long we can take it.

There has been no phenomenon more indicative of this streak of self-hatred that the internet brings out in us than the ?2 Girls, 1 Cup? video from 2007. I?m not going to go into the details of what is in the ?2 Girls, 1 Cup? video because you surely already know, and also life is too freaking short. I?ve also never actually seen it. But I don?t need to because I, like everyone else, have already watched countless ?reaction? videos of other people watching it. Their horror is all I need, thank you very much.

I could give you the backstory on what the ?2 Girls 1 Cup? video initially was, but why? I ask you, why?

Pop culture crossover: Remarkably, the ?can you watch ?2 Girls 1 Cup? challenge?? was a massive crossover moment. It was parodied on Family Guy, like everything that has ever existed, but also by John Mayer, Amy Schumer, and even Conan O?Brien.

For God?s sake, Esquire showed it to George Clooney.

What we?ve learned: You remember the Hottest Pepper Challenge? The one that almost killed those two poor ladies in North Carolina? Well, there was a stretch 14 years ago when it was common and normal for a challenge like that to be about a Brazilian fetish porn video. Maybe the internet actually isn?t getting worse.

There is almost certainly an incisive and enlightening essay to be written about how our internet culture?s attitudes about sex and pornography and fetishism and have changed since the ?2 Girls 1 Cup? video became such a figure of wide fascination. But I sure am not going to be the one to write it. Just thinking about this moment in Internet History makes me want to go hide under something dark and heavy. You know what? Sometimes it?s really okay to just not touch the goddamned stove.

Will Leitch writes multiple pieces a week for Medium. Make sure to follow him right here. He lives in Athens, Georgia, with his family and is the author of five books, including the upcoming novel How Lucky, released by Harper next May. He also writes a free weekly newsletter that you might enjoy.

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