In October 2016, on the eve of the second presidential debate (the Ken Bone one), Mark Zuckerberg grilled some meats in his backyard. Facebook Live was initially launched in 2015, but was limited at first to celebrities. In early 2016, it rolled out globally and became available to everyone, and months later, Facebook’s founder would use it to “hang out with people all around the world” while waiting for his meat fibers to get smoked.
It’s been seen over 11 million times since then.
It’s a strange and strangely compelling video for several reasons—the green camping chairs, which seem at odds with the two fancy-ass barbecuing implements in the back; the use of “meat fibers”—but mostly because of the repeated references to Sweet Baby Ray’s, which occur with such frequency that it feels like a sponsored post. For all we know, it was, but there’s no hint of it elsewhere. He might just love Sweet Baby Ray’s. A lot.
The Sweet Baby Ray’s thing clearly also struck this animator and composer, who shares work on YouTube under the username ‘u m a m i.’ Here, for your viewing pleasure, is an animated take on Zuckerberg’s 32-minute live grilling experience, distilled down to two minutes and 40 seconds.
Before I say the following, let me present you with my credentials, such as they are: I’m a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Television Critics Association. I write about film and TV for several publications, including The A.V. Club. I spend a lot of time watching stuff and then writing about the stuff I watch. (Please watch One Day at a Time; The Florida Project was robbed.)
That brief video is a delicious piece of nightmare fuel and that is my goddamn professional opinion.
Some things to note: This is, of course, highly edited, and unflatteringly so. The meat-eating portion at the end is pure invention. The music is Louis Van Esch’s “Saviour, Breathe an Evening Blessing (Autumn).” And the floating “Like” bubbles are the secret sauce here. (Sorry, Sweet Baby Ray’s.) They connect this video to everything else we know about Facebook, and they make the Sweet Baby Ray’s mentions seem even shadier by making clear the connection between this casual backyard grill talk and the ways videos like this one can be used. Those little bubbles are people, and those people are being sold a bill of goods.
Or maybe it’s just the way Zuckerberg’s animated eyes are rendered looks creepy. Who the hell knows. Art is subjective. I’m hungry. Am I hungry? Is this all part of the plan? Have I fallen down a rabbit hole? If so, how am I still hungry?