I can distinctly recall the mixture of cringe and amusement that washed over me when Weezer’s music video for “Pork and Beans” hit the scene back in 2008. Little did I know then that this video would become a cherished symbol of a simpler era on the internet.
Rivers Cuomo, the lead singer of Weezer, penned this song as a defiant response to pressure from their label, Geffen, who were seeking more commercially appealing tracks. With lyrics like “I’mma do the things that I wanna do, I ain’t got a thing to prove to you,” Weezer aimed to defy stereotypes and conformities. Surprisingly, the song turned out to be a catchy commercial success.
The music video for “Pork and Beans” artfully tapped into the emerging concept of viral internet fame. Released during YouTube’s infancy, the video embraced a host of early internet icons, many of whom are now forgotten. Who could forget Chris Crocker, the “Leave Brittany Alone” sensation, singing along with mascara-streaked cheeks? Or Gary Brolsma, the Numa Numa guy, guiding us through the song just as he did in 2006? Even Tay Zonday, known for his hit “Chocolate Rain,” made a cameo appearance, standing in front of the now-iconic yellow curtain that propelled him to stardom in 2007.
By featuring these meme-turned-prop celebrities, Weezer attempted to appeal to a broad audience. However, as someone immersed in the internet culture of the time, this blending of mainstream music and memes felt forced to me. It seemed Weezer was trying to normalize internet culture when it was still an underground phenomenon.
Fast forward to January, and I stumbled upon the video once again, this time on Reddit. Titled “The Original YouTube Rewind,” it perfectly encapsulated the wave of nostalgia that washed over me. I had completely forgotten about the song, but as I clicked play, a flood of memories from a more innocent internet era overwhelmed me. And apparently, I wasn’t the only one.
“This has aged surprisingly well,” exclaimed one Redditor. Another, going by the name YachiyoTodoroki, expressed both surprise and respect for Weezer’s collaboration with the meme stars of a decade ago. “And shit, I won’t lie, I felt some nostalgia,” they confessed.
In a 2008 interview with People magazine, Mathew Cullen, the video’s director, expressed his desire for the video to evolve and morph within the internet landscape. In his words, it was meant to be a “living thing.” But as time has passed, it has transformed into something else entirely. The “Pork and Beans” video has become a time capsule, preserving a slice of internet history that can never be duplicated. And that’s perfectly okay. This video deserves a place in the internet’s virtual museum, where it stands as a powerful and revered artifact, surpassing even the band’s wildest dreams.
Perhaps it’s because today’s memes have such short lifespans, or because internet culture has become inseparable from our daily lives. Alternatively, it could be Weezer’s enduring presence in the music industry that evokes feelings of nostalgia. Regardless, watching the band perform amidst a Diet Coke Mentos experiment will forever hold a special place in our hearts, symbolizing a better time on the internet.
So let us cherish the Weezer “Pork and Beans” video as a testament to the bygone internet age. It serves as a reminder of a time when viral videos were still a novelty, and artists dared to blur the lines between mainstream and meme culture. Though the internet has evolved, we can always look back fondly on the days when the digital landscape was uncharted territory, and the words “Pork and Beans” conjured a sense of rebellious camaraderie.