“TheRubber Exposed”, Exposed
NEWS/OPINION — TheRubber is Merely Doing Now What SCP Authors Have Been Doing for Years.
A couple days ago, the above thumbnail (watermarked) caught my eye. I am always down for some hard-hitting journalism, and “exposed” is quite the clickbait. The gist of the video was easy enough to anticipate prior to an actual watch: there are low-fidelity, pseudo-parasitic content creators that ride the coattails of other people’s more earnest work. This is a time-old battle that art unfortunately inherited from biology.
I remember watching a nature video where a 700 lb tiger gets a quick and cheap meal by snatching a 10 lb piglet right out from under its mother. It did this easily, and the piglet didn’t stand a chance, nor the parents reacting to it. In the cover of the dark, night vision cameras record the tiger casually lofting the squealing piglet up into some nearby cliffs, into a cave, and forever out of the reach of the confused, shrieking parents. Truly a terrible and gut-wrenching scene that I am sorry to share with you.
What was carefully crafted, nurtured, tended to, and reared with the costly love and attention of something’s whole world was undone in an instant by a predatory force with no qualms or moral sensitivity to the effort discrepancy. It was a quick, easy, cheap, and most of all, guaranteed meal at the expense of a defenseless, less-developed creature. The unforgiving mandates of nature ensured that on a long enough timeline, something like the tiger would take advantage of the situation.
An unspoken consensus existed in the earlier years of the SCP Wiki, arguably until about 2018 or so, whereby artists strived harder than they needed to in order to produce the most shining product possible in the genric pretense before them. The unfortunate, obverse side of this laudable struggle against entropy is that it creates a predatory opportunity to the extent that it is successful, and upheld through someone else’s blood, sweat, and tears.
For our purposes of this video coverage, TheeSherm is a TikTok cringe-fringe educator (“there is no such thing as ethical food consumption in capitalism”) doing the poorly-edited, extremely-short-attention-span thing. I thought there was something very wrong and unflattering with his camera set up, but then I realized that his medium is geared exclusively towards TikTok (even his YouTube videos, like this one), and so it’s just the fault of the vertical-video format. When things went widescreen in the late 1920s, it was considered an advancement and big improvement, but I guess the sweet, sweet social media goodies of TikTok are worth sending video production back a few decades. This is an immediate irony for a video accusing a YouTube channel — its videos in landscape orientation — over quality-regressive content.
Also, I bet this video is re-tikked (re-tokked?) by the official SCP Foundation Wiki account there, which TheeSherm has been appointed to help run. I don’t know for sure though; I can’t get into TikTok because I have an attention span greater than that of a gnat.
Damn, I looked and sure enough:
In the “exposé”, TheeSherm supercuts through publicly-available information about TheRubber’s parent company, Brainy Entertainment, making this less of an exposé and more of a deconstruction of his own presumptions about the channel. He repeats numerous times in apparent shock that this isn’t an indie content creator, like it’s some kind of mic-drop le epic ownage moment no one had considered yet. It is anyone’s guess as to why he assumed this to begin with, or why that even matters.
To be clear, an exposé is “a movie or piece of writing that reveals the truth about a situation or person, especially something involving shocking facts.” It insinuates that things are brought out into the light that were hidden or intentionally kept from public knowledge. Shermy blasts through cut after cut of “evidence” found from an “investigation”, such as the fact that the company’s main site has a loading .gif of TheRubber character. It doesn’t seem like Brainy Entertainment is trying to hide that TheRubber is a subsidiary, or any of this information presented for this fact (as opposed to say, djkaktus making statements in the relative concealment and confidentiality of #site12, or Rounderhouse doing the same about using SCPD solely as a clout-chasing avenue in #rogetbox). TheeSherm is effectively arguing against his own imagination.
Thankfully, he picks up on the hypocrisy of bad-mouthing an organized, entrepreneurial effort to create internet content based on SCP. That is exactly what his stated goals for Site-42 include, “a fan-funded, online, film studio that makes high-quality SCP Content, stuff like the Live-Action Adaptations that we all keep talking about wanting to see… The kind of quality I want to make requires hiring people, and hiring people requires money. I’ll be the guy that puts it together…” (source). And in the video; “I’m going to need a lot of people.” He attempts to differentiate his company — if he has an actual company, I don’t see any proof of incorporation or LLC partnership anywhere — from TheRubber by calling them a content farm and saying that this term is derogatory. Maybe TheeSherm likes to use both “company” and “content farm” with equal amounts of arbitrariness and meaninglessness.
It was an odd thing watching someone who uses other people’s Wiki content to make second-order YouTube videos, podcasts, and TikToks complain and moan about how someone is using other people’s Wiki content to make second-order videos. It would be one thing if TheeSherm were the type to shun those more degenerate focuses of social media pursuits, such as view count, likes, comments, subscribers, or if he didn’t put a lot of stock in his own social visibility. Take me for example. I’ve decried and pointed out the love of upvotes on the SCP Wiki — something like an emperor long without any clothes — since 2019, and while someone may cleverly say this is my own way of being jealous, I have a few points of actions speaking louder than words to back me up:
During my time at SCP, I never did an “.au” via IRC or crom on myself. Not once. I defy anyone ever to find an instance of me, on sites, forums, or Discord channels, anywhere, gloating about an upvote milestone, though I could have made many. I have a track record of distancing myself from would-be social media spoils, such as declining to have a personal Twitter, leaving sites with overt social media pitfalls like SCP, and preferring to write in quiet places like this secluded blog.
In my years at RPC, I hid every one of my articles’ rating modules in a collapsible, there to this day. I decided to leave behind my CuriousCat despite enjoying a more steady pace of questions and out-of-the-gate popularity than most in the space have or would have, because I caught myself checking it too often; the social media dopamine addiction was creeping in and becoming evident, so I pulled that plug and never looked back. I promote a culture of minimal shilling in my own stomping grounds, such as in the Society for Containment Fiction Discord, which quarantines self-promotion to a dedicated channel that people can avoid if they desire. I have come to terms with the fact that some self-promotion must be done, a la DrGears’ “just announce it so people know”, but this amounts to one-time shares of my released content in that dedicated channel (this blog post included). Even this minimal amount of self-promotion grates against my soul and makes me feel slimey.
So my absolution from hypocrisy or the sting of “you are just jealous” comes from actions over the span of years that I or anyone can point toward to have them speak for themselves. I’m content to be what I am; the nearly-faceless drummer, not the spotlit frontman. As my SCP author page quietly states in small font at the bottom, “I don’t need to be the sun, I don’t need to be the moon, I’m content to be the light in the corner of this room.”
However, TheeSherm isn’t the type to shun this way of operation, but rather revel in it, and as much as any other selfie-soaked millennial in the rat race for social media based self-esteem. This makes the entirety of his video starkly hypocritical. He is the sort to dismiss the observations of this essay by virtue of his video’s view count and upvotes, while simultaneously saying that those same metrics aren’t an indication of quality or being right, as in the case of TheRubber. For example, on his Twitter:
And the self-congratulations can be seen in a line from the video:
“I’m using MY new-found TikTok fame to get live-action shows and films in the SCP universe made.” (source)
Humble guy. These are the clinical signals of a brain turned to pudding by social media dopamine delivery systems.
TheeSherm couches his artistic disliking of TheRubber’s hack-style of content production and marketing as a moral failure. This is disingenuous, and a little frighting, as if too religious. The more intellectually honest take here — that art can’t really be done in a wrong way, just in a cheaper, less-fidelitous way that one can deem stylistically inferior, but not morally so — is either ignored or not observed at all. He goes on to clarify for the audience that “if you’ve enjoyed TheRubber… I’m not saying you’re a bad person. I myself enjoy cheap fast food from time to time.” The implication is that while the consumers of TheRubber aren’t immoral, TheRubber might be. Even later, Sherm questions the working conditions of the company with admittedly no evidence, simply based on their schedule of released videos. If this is not a morally-charged accusation, it is not stated or clarified by TheeSherm in this video.
That brings me to the most important note here; how backwards the TheeSherm’s proclamation is that cancel culturing TheRubber is protecting and nurturing the community; that TheRubber’s bad art is “hurting the SCP community”. This is a very bold and challenging claim to back up, and I don’t think he comes close.
Firstly, while TheeSherm’s philosophical concerns are I think sound on their face — that bad art can inspire more bad art, and that someone sufficiently popular can derail an art form from its foundational principles — it’s not clear how animated videos on YouTube have the mechanics to travel upstream the internet content pipeline and reach (and significantly impact) the actual site’s content, or its authors. These low-hanging cartoons in no way stifle creative capability on the SCP Wiki itself. Low-fidelity, poorly-written, cheaply-constructed articles that sacrifice artistic integrity for mass appeal on the Wiki damage the site’s quality, yes. They do so by encouraging mimicry among other authors. The animated video equivalent does not.
The poor quality content of TheRubber can only speak to and as far as its own medium. Its success can encourage other derivative video content makers to cheapen their works in hopes of a slice… at least, the ones without their own solid artistic vision and integrity. But it does not damage the SCP Wiki community in the same fashion as poor articles, because (1) the primary content creators of the Wiki and of the outer fandom operate in different artistic mediums, and (2) these cartoons are at the anus-end of a long pipeline of content creation. It’s a one-way thing.
Speaking of good for the community, TheeSherm likes to point to his charity drives, which are streams that raise money for a variety of good causes, such as LGBTQ+ rights, or awareness over the Russia trademark scandal. However, he offers zero transparency or methods of accountability regarding the raised funds. While it’s great people donate, and I think it’s also true that he is unlikely to take advantage of this, the awkward fact remains that donors do so blindly, TheeSherm gives, as far as I am aware, no proof or even evidence that the donations have ended up where he says they will. Offering a bit of fiduciary stewardship and transparency of the donated funds is the minimum he could do, especially if he is going to leverage the act as moral high ground. Providing any insight whatsoever for donated funds has never been SCP’s strong suit, including sums of over $160,000. So certainly TheeSherm doesn’t have any role models to look up to there and can’t be held to any relative standard among his immediate peers.
Secondly, steeped among influential people and power figures in the SCP Wiki’s inner circles, TheeSherm has decided to expend his investigatory energy and time into a media product that only concerns the outer-most rim of the community. Meanwhile, at the heart of the community, there are scandals of underage grooming, sex abuse, unjust power abuses, and — when it comes to the articles — a similarly appealing and mass-successful erosion of content quality for the pursuit of raw, quantitative, community-disinterested metrics. We may forgive TheeSherm, as he is clearly bothered only with events that are happening in his own neighborhood.
But something particular about this individual and his recent history denies any absolution into nimbyism. It is the underage sexual scandals that most violently recoil in the face of TheeSherm and his braggadocios “exposé”. In December 2021, notable genre author and long-time Backrooms Wiki administrator Etoisle was ousted as having encouraged & shared fetishized sexual content with a community minor. This was well documented and commented upon. To quote:
The abuse in question concerns Etoile engaging in grooming behavior with a 17 year old when ze was at the time an 18 year old. Etoile has posted on Twitter admitting the allegations were true, ze had done terrible awful no good things without fully understanding the consequences of hir actions. Etoile has also said resigning would be better than trying to fight the allegations and embroiling the BR/TS community in even greater turmoil.
TheeSherm was one of the very few individuals — maybe the only one — who staunchly defended the behavior. On his Twitter he wrote:
“A lot of people just learned about some bad stuff from Etoile’s past, and a lot of people are linking that to other drama in the community. As someone who cares deeply for this community, this is my perspective on the matter.”
He attached an essay on the issue about why this was something everyone should just forgive or outright overlook. A self-supplied tl;dr reads, “In 2019, Etoile did bad things. That has been acknowledged, repented, behavior changed, and not repeated. The later AHT Ban is being used to justify ‘continued toxic behavior,’ and I don’t hold to that.” The community members don’t bite:
“2019 was barely two years ago, and I can’t help but feel like you’re trying to take the best possible view of someone to minimize its impact on you and your community, not cleaving to the truth of their behavior.”
“Besides the fact that this thing is only in the past if you look at it funny, I’m struggling to see this as anything other than an effort to protect someone you like at the expense of others’ safety.”
“This isn’t something you can just walk away from and expect to be welcomed back into a community with open arms.”
“What I see in that document is someone who knows their behaviour is wrong and carries on doing it. I’m not doubting that etoisle has changed hir ways but someone has been seriously harmed by this.”
“sherm, i think you’re a good guy, but it’s also my obligation to say i really do think that you’re in the wrong here and i don’t know if i’m comfortable supporting your ventures in the future”
“the fact that there is clearly a pattern of behavior that lines up is deeply disturbing. it’s one thing to fuck up. it’s another entirely to fuck up, then continue a pattern of behavior that is wildly inappropriate to others… people are surprised and disappointed.”
TheeSherm was virtually ratio’d on his Twitter for this post. He replied to each of these, justifying why the offender is still welcome in his community. This is a courtesy that is not extended to those performing more benign and legal offenses; people such as myself, or anyone know to ever have been on the Kiwifarms SCP Thread — people who will call out sex pests like AdminBright, and groomer apologists like TheeSherm, and who are not fearful of in-group retaliation or, conversely, their virtue points. (For people who think Kiwifarms and its SCP Wiki thread of all places is some alt-right racist shithole; we have been the only ones calling out sexual abuse of the most marginalized and vulnerable population possible; minors.)
Conversely, the people who committed serious crimes, felonies even, are welcomed in TheeSherm’s community. His type of social group is the sort that will memory hole his criminal-apologism, and see him fail upwards: interestingly, it was around the same time TheeSherm was defending a notorious groomer with a fetish for scatology, piss, and AB/DL — someone also long-since AHT-banned on-site (the sort of mother-of-all-villains list to this community) — that he was made a staffer of the official SCP Wiki TikTok. It is astounding and anomalous that his community hasn’t been canceled and his “business” sunk over this alone, given the hypersensitivity of the SCP community to anything politically or optically problematic, especially of the sexually inappropriate and underage sort. Goddamn we live in bizarre times.
This should be bad enough PR for TheeSherm, but is made worse by the underage grooming scandal that shocked the same community only a year and a half earlier. AdminBright, Eskobar, and Gabriel Jade — all power players at the SCP Wiki — had been outed as rampant sex pests (by the evil KiwiFarms). Some participated in illegal sexual behaviors with minors under their social media influence. Not only were TheeSherm’s journalistic skills completely absent in the work it took to expose this festering, deep-seeded boil on the heart of his own community, but there was no video made after the fact on the dangers of idolizing AdminBright, using the lovable likeness of his character Jack Bright, or how issues such as these could potentially damage and stifle the community.
Instead, we see TheeSherm leveraging the avatar of sex pest AdminBright, DrBright, for views and likes on his TikTok:
Throw in the added irony that the community of groomers at SCP favored and passed around a kid who was an illustrative artist, and Sherm’s claims about having the best at heart for the community and its artists begin to smell of rotting corpses.
Oddly enough, I actually agree with most everything TheeSherm says in his video about the YouTube channel TheRubber. I simply think it’s hypocritical for these comments to be so eagerly applied to such low-hanging, thoroughly-molded fruit, and the arguer be 100% oblivious to the same thing happening closer to home, at the very spigot itself.
So let’s take a moment to extract all of the claims made by TheeSherm that are also, unaware to him, a pitch-perfect commentary on the current SCP Wiki writing culture. We’ll do nothing other than simply change things like “money” to “upvotes”, and “TheRubber” to “Neo-lolFoundation”. This last term is a stand-in for djkaktus, Rounderhouse, HarryBlank, PlaceholderMcDoctorate, et al’s writing philosophies. I’ll also give a timestamp in case the reader wants to listen along:
- “TheRubber is a lot of people’s first exposure to the works of the SCP Foundation. However, many long-time fans and SCP authors are not happy about that.” (0:17)
This encapsulates my general attitude towards the modern SCP Wiki fairly well. I’ve been calling out the low-effort, hyper-consumptive, and mass-appeal content from authors in a particular school of thought on the SCP Wiki for a long time.
- “TheRubber stands accused [??] of churning out cheaply made, inaccurate accounts of what the SCP Foundation is, and taking advantage of YouTube’s algorithm in every dirty way, solely for the money, artistic integrity be damned, to the detriment of other SCP artists.” (0:27)
Translated to the concerns of the actual SCP Wiki, we see a good criticism of the meta-content, procedural exploitation that leverages Discord servers, Twitter accounts, and other cross-platform advertisements to boost their article views and ratings:
- “[Neo-lolFoundation] stands accused of churning out cheaply made, inaccurate accounts of what the SCP Foundation is, and taking advantage of meta-content, procedural exploitation in every dirty way, solely for the [upvotes], artistic integrity be damned, to the detriment of other SCP [authors].”
In support of this, I can simply copy-paste a recent djkaktus quote:
“People sometimes within this community kinda get hung up on the idea of articles being a certain way and I think it is more important, especially when you are talking about, you know, writing for an audience that you have to remember, you are trying to entertain people. Right? Like you are trying to do something creative in a way that provides a benefit to an audience. And, for my money, if I think I can do that more effectively with a story that doesn’t fit within the boundaries of the format, then I don’t give a shit about the format. It is more important to me that I’m able to tell a story that is cool and that people like, than it is that I tell a story in a way that fits within a certain set of rules.”
Furthermore, it is not just TheRubber’s fault for exploiting the algorithm well, it is also YouTube’s for having such an easily gamed one. YouTube has long divested itself of the independent content creator, and has been trending towards curated, corporate, and on-demand-streaming style producers for years, openly. TheRubber is a symptom but not the etiology of this; while this is a local concern, it is more a global issue that speaks to the greedy, incompetent, and misguided managerial decisions of magnate social media CEOs that only care about their tier and class. Again, the similarities with the SCP Wiki Staff and power-user caste are clear, and this is why I have been so aggressive and argumentative over this with the Staff as well as with authors, going on 3 years now.
- “[TheRubber] just does not care if they get the stories right. Sometimes they screw up important plot points so the story no longer makes sense, or they cut out the emotional arc of the story, so there’s no heart, just another spooky monster. Details are missed regularly. Characters names are wrong, POC characters are white-washed, LGBTQ characters are straight- or cis-washed.”(2:06)
TheeSherm misses the easiest way to pin degeneracy on TheRubber here. TheRubber and animated content creators extract the traditional story elements from SCPs and throw away the actual genre. Think about it; what from the format of the SCP Wiki — its core — is represented in a video from TheRubber, or DrBob? The SCP number? The truth is, the reason why all these animation channels are so popular is because they take what is an advancement in literary technology, containment fiction, skin it alive, and drag it back to be puppeted as the same way to tell stories that the past has. The process literally and literarily removes the soul from the works; it is not the genre of containment fiction any longer, but a classical story with tired but reliable points of appeal.
A large irony exists in that TheeSherm — someone who is nominally closer to the SCP Wiki community than I am — misses that modern SCP authors are already doing that same exact extraction in their SCP articles. Over the years, and particularly recently, SCP articles have increasingly adopted narrative, characterization, front-and-center emotional arcs, and a sacrifice of in-universe believability. This can be observed in the popular modern mantra of “the anomaly exists to serve the narrative”, which treats the anomaly and the format as a blank canvas or vehicle to tell and get to older forms of storytelling. In this way, modern SCP authors are enacting a cheapening and regression of containment fiction that is almost 1:1 analogous to something like TheRubber. Said in another way, the gap between the heart & soul of containment fiction and what modern SCP tastes instead trend towards is identical in shape and size to the gap between TheeSherm’s content and TheRubber’s.
By the time you sacrifice the strictness and standards with which the early and best authors of containment fiction operated, you are no longer working in the genre, only a cheap imitating of it. Some articles, even celebrated ones like SCP-6500 and SCP-5999, are only containment fiction because they slap the SCP letters and a designation on it. As luck would have it, TheeSherm is credited as a contributor to SCP-5999. These mega-group articles, coalitions not at all unlike the “big business” conglomerates that Sherm contrasts his YouTube meekness and small-batch charm to, are glorified fanfics and the strongest attempts so far to contort containment fiction into another form of media, in this case a video game. More solo authors like Rounderhouse break the concept of containment fiction in order to justify one-liners that punctuate what should be -J articles, but for some reason, aren’t. A wanna-be like HarryBlank makes an absolute mockery of the entirety of the Foundation so that he can feature dialogue and situational comedy fit for a live studio audience in a 90’s TV network, complete with beckoned laugh tracks. For these false variants of the genre, there’s “no heart” anymore, as TheeSherm states. It is by no coincidence they enjoy a similar reception and memetic popularity.
While I can humor TheeSherm regarding the differences between his content and TheRubber’s, they are split hairs from where I stand; both of them are in the business of diluting what makes the writing genre unique, and force it into a more digestable, consumer-friendly package. I see something like Neo-lolFoundation the same way TheeSherm sees TheRubber, and I see him the same way he sees someone in his comment section trying to argue in favor of TheRubber’s quality:
- “Next up, using non-SCP characters in thumbnails and videos as clickbait… Adding these algorithmically famous characters, whoever is hot right now, to SCP stories is low, and kinda shady when you remember that they’re copyrighted and SCP is a creative commons community.” (2:39)
Has TheeSherm read SCP-5167? Does he know about the follow up SCP-5761? That second article states “This anomaly and 5167 are two drinks from the same well.” Does he not see how his criticism applies to the unapologetic incorporation of Among Us and the sus character into SCP articles?
Guess he has. It seems even the author acknowledges full well the “low” tactic at play here:
There is a second tier of application here that makes me question TheeSherm’s attentiveness to the deeper cultural issues, ones present on the actual SCP Wiki, not the more mainstream and viewer-fertile soils of YouTube and TikTok.
While not crossing the copyright-Creative Commons line, modern SCP authors constantly inject “algorithmically” popular SCP characters from other people’s works into their own in a similar attempt to repurpose the characters’ popularity. djkaktus is probably the most reliable example of this. His SCP-1730 (“What Happened to Site-13?”) is predicated upon a site containing past smash hits, culturally dispersed Series 1 SCPs such as Bobble the Clown, The Deer, and many others. SCP-073 and SCP-076 (Cain & Abel) are pivotal to his 6K entry, with the author going so far as to newly depict Cain as a fashion-model-like adolescent in a picture. (This picture now claims the Fandom wiki article slot; take that community artists!) The same article also features the verbatim reassignment of SCP-4000’s green Fae text and other well-known SCPs (e.g SCP-343, “God”). Drs Jack Bright & Sophia Light, Tilda Moose, and Dr Everett Mann appear in djkaktus’ 5K entry, as well as Donald Trump, and a host of other flashpoint political figures. The same is true of his 4K entry, then with George Bush and Al Gore. Followers of djkaktus do the same; Rounderhouse’s SCP-6000 casts Tilda Moose so centrally, it is in the title.
In these and more examples, characterization comes from pre-existing, plug-and-play figures that are well-liked, and mainly by the satellite fandom. Someone would be hard pressed to argue that the inclusion of these fan favorites wasn’t a highly-conscious move, or that they had nothing to do with their widespread commercial reception. Talk about “low”.
- “Speaking of which, TheRubber was called out for not linking or crediting the original stories that they are making videos of.” (3:03)
This is a real issue, but one that is larger than TheRubber. Recently, as TheeSherm is aware, even community-friendly people like Markiplier made bombastic use of SCP Wiki material without proper attribution. Of course, everyone copying and commenting on something like this also didn’t attribute correctly; an exponent to the problem. Take as an example this online article by Dextero.com… it is all about Markiplier, no attribution whatsoever. Non-attribution like this caused a stir in the SCP Twittersphere around this time, raising awareness to the endemic legal infringement and unfair treatment. So why is TheRubber targeted, as if unique in this fact? It is a valid critique, but feels like a bit of a paste-on intended to bolster TheeSherm’s attempted moral high ground.
It might surprise TheeSherm to be reminded that the SCP Wiki itself is guilty of non-attribution and has stolen work from past users against their will. The most famous example is when they removed attribution of over 300 articles (> 3.5% of all SCPs) away from the original author, against that author’s wishes. All these attributions now exist in the following manner:
Among others, the SCP Wiki Staff also plagiarized my work, and on a staff-operated page. They gave no mention that they had pulled it. Let me detour on this little story because I haven’t told it here on this blog yet:
I was really into the SCP and writing for it during the 4000 contest. I created a code that kept track of all 4K contest entries and a lot of auto-generated details, like date of creation, author, upvote count, total votes, total number of comments, and relative ranking in the race. I used the data I got from that code to create and post a set of trivia & post-contest consolation awards that nodded to other entries’ achievements. (This product was rejected by Staff, who eventually told me they would post the results to the 4K contest page if I submitted it to them, then didn’t when I did.) Lo and behold, the SCP staff done went and ripped the entire thing for the 5000 contest, and the two who did it —including Elenee FishTruck (now a high-ranking Staff member on the Licensing Team) — took credit for it! No mention of where they got it from or that it was copied:
Featured on the 5K Contest page (bottom):
Staff announcing it (bottom):
Staff’s 5K awards on the left | My 4K awards on the right:
You get the idea, it goes on like this. The footnotes in the 5K version are almost verbatim. Granted, since I deleted this account by the time the 5K contest came around, the Staff have some plausible deniability in knowing who exactly to attribute the idea to, but they damn well knew they ripped it from someone. They also know damn well from where. On top of that, they’ve also been made aware of this and continue to have no excuse to not know:
Back to TheRubber “call-out” video, it is as TheeSherm says; attribution here“is legally required in the SCP’s Creative Commons license.” I appreciate the flattery and hope this becomes a regular thing for _K contests, but this is a stain on the SCP Wiki’s purported legal blamelessness, and is why a legal and moral argument from attribution becomes flawed to the tune of overt hypocrisy.
- “Overall, their frequent errors and lack of accountability show that they do not care what the SCP community itself thinks about them.” (3:21)
I agree with this. TheRubber clearly does not care what people like TheeSherm thinks of them. Take for example someone from TheRubber’s camp who left a spicy comment on TheeSherm’s video:
I would go a step further and argue that the claim suggests that people involved in or adjacent to the SCP Wiki community should care what people think of them. This is a bad mentality of group-think and wrong-think that has been weaponized ad nauseum by the major political figures of the SCP Wiki, giving ultimatums to those who participate in other containment fiction writing projects and communities, and applying petty shame. While I think it’s good and morally right to pay homage to the content you are using and to give it a faithful representation, I don’t think the threat of group-based social extortion should be the pressure point that an argument against it is applied to.
TheeSherm also attempts to shame TheRubber here for disregarding the wants and desires of “the people who make the free stories that they make their money adapting.” Does TheeSherm consult any and every SCP Wiki author he adapts a work from, and asks them if they wouldn’t mind it be on TikTok? I don’t know the answer, but if it is “no”, then this is likewise hypocritical, because he is doing the same thing. All it would take is one author who is not OK with their work being dumbed down for a TikTok audience, or limited to relatively bite-sized works in his 5-minute-average podcast versions of SCPs, and TheeSherm would be obligated to take it down by his own ethical posturing here. Something in me doubts that is or would be the case.
- “On top of all that, their animation quality is just not that great. Compare with other YouTube animators… and you’ll see the vast difference… The teams animating TheRubber basically just stick a couple static pieces of art on screen and wiggle them around.” (3:30)
Absolutely, TheRubber’s quality is terrible. I lol’d at the “couple static pieces of art” quip. But what happens when we apply the same quote to the current trends on the SCP Wiki:
“On top of all that [Neo-lolFoundation writing] quality is just not that great. Compare with other [SCP Wiki authors]… and you’ll see the vast difference… The [Neo-lolFoundation authors writing Neo-lolFoundation articles, tales, and -Js] basically just stick a couple static [pictures/CSS themes] on screen and wiggle them around.”
Yet, when Sherm’s argument is applied to content on the Wiki itself, the community tends to strongly disagree with it. For example, take this recent SCP Wiki forum thread, which takes the recent trend of low-effort -J articles (it mentions SCP-PL-KOT-J by name), and makes the same point as the above quote. In fact, this is one degree worse, because unlike TheRubber having relatively worse animation quality, SCP-PL-KOT-J has a complete absence of writing. It’s a picture; writing quality can’t even enter into it to be compared with better articles.
In this forum thread, the consensus reaction from the interior SCP Wiki community members seems to average at “if the rating module and community says they like it, you just have to deal with it” and “this is essentially a you thing”:
Humor is incredibly subjective- what one person views as low-quality trash another can view as one of the greatest jokes ever made. Right now this proposal is more your personal dislike of certain recent -j’s and not finding them funny rather than a proposal intended to address a sincere issue on site.
Low quality in your opinion. And the opinion of many others, certainly! But also, the voting system takes into account the slightly-larger amount of people who want it to remain on the site, as of writing. Of course a voting system isn’t going to cater to personal whims of tastes and quality — numbers are cold, and uncaring. The voting system depends on the opinion of the aggregate — and if the aggregate is divided, if most people don’t agree with you, there’s nothing you can really do about that.
These two comments, and the failure of this “hey, bad quality” argument here is enough to invalidate TheeSherm’s argument by his own camp. “The community” Sherm is constantly prancing around in this video clearly doesn’t care for subjective calls to assess quality, and instead, give the final say to the almighty numbers. (In fact, some here say that the numbers indicate objectively that the content can’t be bad!)
- “And when you look at their upload schedules, you can see why this is. Good animation takes a long time, it’s a lot of hard work. [Others] take a month or two to put out a single video. Meanwhile, Brainy’s teams are putting out one a week?” (3:46)
We can direct the exact quote towards the modern article style on the SCP Wiki, and watch in real-time as the point is lost on someone like TheeSherm. Take for instance author HarryBlank, who puts out something on the SCP Wiki at an obnoxious pace, sometimes multiple articles in a given week:
The author is not shy about this, and in fact, seems to find it a point of boasting:
Would TheeSherm apply the same assembly-line, mass-production critique to someone like HarryBlank? Probably not. As I alluded to earlier when trying to point out the attempted moral superiority in this video, TheeSherm uses the release schedule of TheRubber to question the employee work conditions there in Malaysia. I would suggest a similar inference on the mental conditions of HarryBlank, but again, would TheeSherm? Probably not.
- “Oh, and how could I forget the art theft? [Shows an example.]” (4:03)
Again, I agree that art theft is petty and awful. The worst examples of it we’ve seen around the SCP Wiki lately were the NFTs on OpenSea; just disgraceful. However, the image comparison that TheeSherm puts on the screen in defense of his “theft” argument doesn’t make his point and works in the opposite direction that he thinks it does:
This is not “art theft”. It’s not a copy, it isn’t even a tracing. This is a valid and legal derivative. Furthermore, the character in this is explicitly SCP-076, which means (for example, like all the new imaginings of SCP-173) the image must legally be released under Creative Commons as well. So, even if this was a verbatim copy-paste of the original art, it wouldn’t be legally objectionable. DrCimmerian does a good job of explaining the more intelligent and nuanced assessment of this situation here.
The only one putting talented artists’ images on screen without properly attributing them is TheeSherm here; he doesn’t take a minute to mention who this more talented artist is! We the viewer doesn’t know whose drawing is on the bottom of the comparison. This is a guy who is literally breaking the law by not attributing the image properly, while yelling at TheRubber for doing the same thing, but which they didn’t actually do. This is doubly-damning because by calling what TheRubber is doing “art theft”, TheRubber has a clear-cut and valid case of slander against TheeSherm that would be actionable in a court of law.
Maybe still the worst part about this, is that TheeSherm calls this particular example as “the most blatant one that I had on hand”. There are other YouTube animation channels that copy -paste others (CC) art verbatim, for example here. Even still, it is not theft; these are explicitly released by CC by virtue of their designation as an SCP item. I could go into a larger conniption fit about the philosophical chameleon-ism of the SCP Wiki on the whole, where they recognize the strict, legal terms as definitive whenever it benefits them, but will support the moral argument they just said was meaningless when it doesn’t… but this post is long enough, and I talk about that all the damn time anyway. The lack of any principals or standards on this topic frankly is sick.
- “And the saddest part to me? [TheRubber] are admittedly one of the best SCP projects on YouTube… they shaped how millions of people perceive SCP in a cheap and crummy way.” (4:13)
It is by no coincidence that the modern SCP authors who are most willing to dumb down their article content for the lowest-common denominator consumer are also the most popular and successful. Authors like djkaktus or Rounderhouse are “admittedly one of the best SCP [authors]”, as TheeSherm says. I too think it’s sad that most people — writers above all — believe the writing of djkaktus and Rounderhouse are something to emulate, as if a good definition of quality. The corporation-like marketing of djkaktus and Rounderhouse also shape how millions of people perceive SCP, also in a cheap and crummy way.
- “Channels like mine, DrCimmerian, The Volgun, SCP Illustrated — we can’t compete with these big companies swooping in and doing SCP content… It takes a lot of practice and work to make that kind of quality content, and when these companies swoop in and take all the search results and ad revenue and stuff like that, the people who actually care about the community’s growth is stunted.” (4:23)
This is why so many authors are fed up with the SCP Wiki, and is why I left too. The indie author has no niche there any more. To stand out from the crowd and gain any appreciation, today’s author has to whore themselves, construct elaborate CSS branding, and enact veritable multi-platform social media marketing campaigns… all those things that should be very tangential to writing itself. The pressures and demands are not unlike those experienced by YouTube, TikTok, and etc social media creators.
The dominant styles in SCP lack sufficient variety. The voting class has been habituated to dogshit writing and by now barely has the ability to appreciate anything other than the article equivalent of fast food, it a guilty pleasure or not. The definition of what is good writing on the SCP is dominated by an economy of scales; in a context of increasing article saturation, where any given one has less and less room to be read, the large artists get more of the attention funneled their way. Commercialized and consumer-obsesssed authors like djkaktus and Rounderhouse are the equivalent of those big companies, their brands’ pull analogous to the swooping of search results and ad revenue. This definitively stunts the growth of the SCP Wiki and the people who actually care about the community’s growth. Those without the Lindy effect behind them lose faith, give up, become community antagonists, or just go somewhere else to write. All of this is done for the sake of those few Staff members & giga-author’s egos. To put it the way that you do:
“SCP fans want high-quality SCP content, and Brainy wants money, and nothing else.”
TikTok got an alternate video, but it makes the same bafflingly-unaware statements, made with zero wider application to the Wiki itself, statements such as:
“TheRubber is criticized for animating in a style that is very child-appealing, which doesn’t mesh well philosophically with the mature nature of the horror elements often at play in the SCP stories.”
TheeSherm; I know you don’t have the honesty or self-reflection to understand that you disagree with your own arguments when put into my mouth; when they are directed at your buddies. Take what you are complaining about, multiply it by 100, set it loose for 4 years in the heart of the community (as opposed to the periphery), and you are then at the state of disrepair and hopelessness of the modern day SCP Wiki’s standards. I am you, only angry not about TheRubber, but about your clique. Your social-media-minded type is what has ruined the SCP Wiki, in a worse way than how TheRubber might ruin SCP on YouTube.
TheeSherm swears that as a community, “we know a corporate cash-grab when we see it.” So given the glaring overlap with the current state of the Wiki, and that it has been this way for some time now, why only TheRubber? Why apply & stop these criticisms at the most afield audiences of the Wiki’s community, at the farthest reaches of the primary producers of the community? Where is this same concern with the actual community, the articles, the on-site writers and participants? Why is someone like TheeSherm incapable of seeing the same criticisms, nearly word-for-word, turned towards himself?
Someone can surely and should articulate the concerns with a hyper-pop content factory on YouTube pumping out low-effort derivative work, but it isn’t going to be this guy, who has minimal self-reflective qualities. He has not explained how TheRubber stunts the growth of the SCP community, as claimed, nor has he exposed anything other than what Brainy Entertainment clearly intends to be, and publicly so. Instead, he comes off as a hack and hypocrite extraordinaire. He seems to be discriminately targeting TheRubber, one of a host of other similar channels, all with the same angle and flaws. I have my guesses as to why.
Here is someone who thinks TheRubber is evil for making bad cartoons, but who won’t decry the red-flag, sexually predatory, and illegal behavior of a close social media pal Etoisle. It’s someone who uses the hashtag #brightcult on their TikTok. Shitty cartoons is where he draws the line? Not at whoring the fictional avatar of a person who sexually groomed underage kids for views, and with the word “cult” attached to it? He uses phrases like “respect the community” but is oblivious to the same hyper-commercialization rampant at the actual SCP Wiki. He is proud believing himself to be morally superior to a corporation, while apologizing the criminal behavior of his friends in the community he swears again and again to us through a camera he is respecting.
This, surely, is the sort of cut-teeth, self-interested journalism the community needs.
TheeSherm somehow combines all the worst traits of lying journalists, know-nothing celebrities, and ivory-tower academics. I’d say the influence he has is massively outsized to his capability to use it responsibly, but isn’t there a maximum IQ threshold to being an SCP social media influencer? (The meme about adults on tiktok is very true.) In this case, he weaponinzes his “new-found TikTok fame” to low-blow a competitor outside of the field of play and make legally-actionable statements of slander. It’s a really good thing TheRubber won’t give a shit about this dumb video.
His author page says that he and his company aim to make high-quality, live-action SCP film material. If Site-42’s video productions are anything like this “exposé”, I think we’re in for a disappointment. I hope they don’t shoot it all in portrait mode. But don’t tell him that; his teenage followers and fellow air-headed social media influencers have rave reviews, and promise to for a long time be a soft pillow, muting that little voice that politely asks one to self-reflect:
And again, to punctuate this using TheeSherm’s own words:
“And now, you see it too”.
If you would like to see a more detailed, moment-by-moment reaction and break down to the video featured in this article, visit my Twitch channel. If you are viewing this after it has expired on Twitch, see a lower-resolution version on the Lack of Lepers Vlog on YouTube. Tune on Twitch week-nightly at 7:30 PM CST for more reaction streams from yours truly, including future episodes featuring TheeSherm/Site-42 products.