I like the toy. I like the hands on the toy.
August 30, 2014 8:31 AM   Subscribe

It’s as if every child under age 5 in the United States has seen it. Four times. The New York Times Magazine explores the world of unboxing videos and boggles at the appeal of DisneyCollector, an anonymous and seemingly independent female toy 'reviewer' who may be earning over seven figures. Are the videos' popularity connected to ASMR?
posted by bq (95 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
Every culture creates the pornography it deserves.
posted by The Whelk at 8:32 AM on August 30, 2014 [37 favorites]


I don't understand it, and I don't have kids who understand it, but I goddamned approve. The internet is constantly weirder than William Gibson ever imagined, and what a treat!

Keep on unboxing, well-manicured person with soothing voice!
posted by barnacles at 8:39 AM on August 30, 2014 [17 favorites]


I feel a little broken because I don't get ASMR at all. Unboxing and related genres are completely, utterly baffling to me.
posted by desjardins at 8:40 AM on August 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well...I'm opposed to boxing, so I guess I ought to be in favor of unboxing, right?
posted by yoink at 8:41 AM on August 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


It always seems to me that many ASMR videos try to invoke a kind of primal emotional memory from early childhood of being protected and soothed to sleep by one's parents. In retrospect maybe it's not surprising that actual kids are into ASMR-type stimuli.

Hopefully there are some fMRI studies of it soon, I think the results would be interesting.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 8:54 AM on August 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't get the ASMR response at all but I love these kinds of videos. Lately I've been especially taken with a few youtubers who make candy videos with these intricate gummy sets Japan has.

I've actually had a text file open on my work desktop all week to compose an FPP highlighting a particular channel I love that specializes in toy and toy food maker set unboxings and test runs, but I got distracted by kittens game and neglected to actually post it.

I've tried to figure out why I like these so much since on the surface it makes very little sense. I think it's the rush of getting a new thing (which is always fun! new stuff!) and getting to see how it works without having to think about it at all or having to clean up afterwards.

I love them.
posted by phunniemee at 8:57 AM on August 30, 2014 [11 favorites]


Amusing how the writer can understand the impulse to watch luxe unboxing for things she might be vicariously interested in ($5000 handbags) but not for things small children might be interested in ($1.99 surprise eggs). Most probably the kids don't care about the handbag vids either.
posted by chavenet at 8:57 AM on August 30, 2014 [16 favorites]


The other thing I would like to know is. how does something go viral among three-years-olds? Do they like tell each other about this stuff at day care and then Google it from the iPad when they get home? Are they like messaging the links to each other or something?
posted by strangely stunted trees at 9:01 AM on August 30, 2014 [33 favorites]


Maybe this is similar to watching game play videos. Which had not occurred to me before or I would have found some links to include.

My kids just stumbled across them - YouTube serves up recommendations after your video ends - you get 12 suggestions for Cookie Monster or Peppa Pig stuff after your Umizoomi video is over.
posted by bq at 9:04 AM on August 30, 2014


My 4yo son is entranced by these videos. It's super fucking creepy.
posted by ColdChef at 9:04 AM on August 30, 2014 [14 favorites]


how does something go viral among three-years-olds?

Yeah. I'm less baffled by unboxing videos than I am by parents who apparently let their toddlers surf random internet videos.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:07 AM on August 30, 2014 [30 favorites]


What Sys Rq said.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 9:08 AM on August 30, 2014


Viral is an incorrect term for this stuff. It isn't viral, it's addictive and constantly available. If you watch many of these (my daughter 'graduated' from DisneyCollector to Disney Car Toy Club, which has more storylines and play after the unboxing), you'll notice that the creators always suggest you subscribe, and often ask commonly known questions, like "What's the name of X character, I can't remember?" and ask the viewers to leave a comment to help them remember. It's all very clever and honed YouTube marketing. Maybe kids are telling each other about these, but it's more a meme than a viral piece of content. Once they're in, they're hooked.

Who wouldn't want the experience of playing with a dozen new toys an hour, forever? Would an iPad style device from Mattel that just played unboxing videos of their other toys be their best seller of the year? If there had been a TV show or channel in the 80s that was just unboxing videos like this, I wonder if it would have become mega-popular, too.
posted by jeffkramer at 9:10 AM on August 30, 2014 [12 favorites]


Maybe this is similar to watching game play videos.

That makes sense, because both unboxing and game play videos do nothing for me. Less than nothing, really -- I'd rather do anything other than watch them, but they are both clearly popular and are scratching an itch that a great many people have.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:13 AM on August 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't understand what these toddlers are doing on the internet anyway.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:15 AM on August 30, 2014 [10 favorites]


watching these videos, especially the cookie monster one, maybe it's so popular because if three year olds actually had this playset they wouldn't have the coordination to use it so perfectly and they would mix all the colors together and everything. i think I remember it being tough to create those play-doh garlic press pasta-snakes! it's like an idealized version of playing - serene, simple, bright colored background, peppy music, cheery young person who knows just what to do with the thing but isn't pushy about it. she isn't being like your mom or dad, or arguing about the toy with a sibling, or teaching you what to do and making you 'get it.' but it's not quite a commercial - it's not saying BUY BUY BUY it's just saying, just have a look at this cool thing I got and come play with me!

it's cute.

(but I guess not actually as physically and neurologically useful as actual playing?)

phunniemee PLEASE do a post of the toy food videos! like those crazy build-it candy sushi sets and stuff? that would be awesome.
posted by ghostbikes at 9:16 AM on August 30, 2014 [8 favorites]


desjardins: "I feel a little broken because I don't get ASMR at all. Unboxing and related genres are completely, utterly baffling to me."

It's pretty useful compared to the typical written review for products but only if you're extremely to devoted the hobby. Otherwise, it's still faster to just read the entire review on a site than sit and watch anything from a 5-15min video which may or may not be a relevant to your needs.

I like to use the YT reviews to compare the product if I can't find it locally or too expensive to check out on a lark.
posted by chrono_rabbit at 9:24 AM on August 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


The other thing I would like to know is. how does something go viral among three-years-olds?

The "related videos" sidebox on YouTube, combined with the ability of a 3-year-old to watch the same thing over, and over, and over, and over....
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:33 AM on August 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


"Come for the hands, stay for the fingers."
posted by Fizz at 9:38 AM on August 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I expected to be confused and bored by the egg unboxing (shelling?) video. Instead I ended up completely hypnotized. It just hooked into my brainstem somewhere and twenty seconds later I was an upside-down chicken. That is some weapons-grade snow crash right there.
posted by phooky at 9:51 AM on August 30, 2014 [19 favorites]


> I'm less baffled by unboxing videos than I am by parents who apparently let their toddlers surf random internet videos.
My 2.5yo son is sitting in my lap right now, watching The Gruffalo on his iPad after a pretty active day. I don't think it's a big problem if I can keep an eye on what he's doing, and, contrary to my initial anxiety, he's not really found anything objectionable. He typically just follows links rather than searching - YouTube will recommend similar stuff to what you've already seen, so he can see a steady stream of unboxing videos and nursery rhymes and Peppa sodding Pig. To an extent, I think the virality amongst toddlers is driven by the recommendations, and becomes self-reinforcing for the popular ones.

I initially thought my son's taste for unboxing videos (including the DisneyCollector ones) was a personal quirk until I found parenting forums full of folks who'd seen the same thing.

Other unexpected consequences of early iPad use: he can fluently read (and, increasingly, write) English, with no prompting from his parents, and is now working his way through Russian - despite the fact that nobody in the household speaks Russian, there's a bunch of very cute videos on YouTube, and he just chugs his way through them.

It's like The Diamond Age, but with added twee background music.
posted by doop at 9:54 AM on August 30, 2014 [43 favorites]


and is now working his way through Russian - despite the fact that nobody in the household speaks Russian, there's a bunch of very cute videos on YouTube, and he just chugs his way through them

That's amazing. Are these Russian-language instructional videos for children, specifically, or just videos that happen to be in Russian?
posted by escape from the potato planet at 9:56 AM on August 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty susceptible to ASMR, at least Bob Ross, Japanese speakers, and The Orb's "Little Fluffy Clouds." As far as ASMR goes, one nice thing about these DisneyCollector videos is that, unlike a lot of Youtube ASMR videos, she doesn't whisper or spend too much time crinkling cellophane, which at least in my case miss the mark, ASMRwise. Dental and palatal stops are key, in my experience (lacking the randomized, controlled, double-blind MRI studies), irrespective the vocal range of the speaker.
posted by flechsig at 9:59 AM on August 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


Are these Russian-language instructional videos for children, specifically, or just videos that happen to be in Russian?
They're for children, e.g., this one.
posted by doop at 10:02 AM on August 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


I feel a little broken because I don't get ASMR at all.

It could be worse - ASMR makes me scared and angry. It's the same feeling I get when people eat with their mouths open.
posted by winna at 10:03 AM on August 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


What cracks me up is when the unboxer decides to stay off-camera, for the most part, and let the product speak for itself (Tory Burch unboxing). It's like some kind of consumer pantomime.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 10:04 AM on August 30, 2014


Also it seems the Hermès unboxers prefer to remain anonymous.

Perhaps it's considered gauche to do an unboxing video if you're in that tax bracket.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 10:09 AM on August 30, 2014


OK, that voice sets my fucking nerves on edge.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:10 AM on August 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


This is definitely one of those FPPs where it's utterly fascinating to read the comments / linked article before you actually watch one of the videos. From the descriptions and ASMR talk, I was expecting something akin to "Music From The Hearts Of Space reviews Disney toys," which is...not what these videos are, to say the least.

Also, my pre-roll ad was for a whiskey.
posted by Ian A.T. at 10:10 AM on August 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


On the other hand, the content is no more banal than average pre-K television programming, so I guess I don't really have an issue with this, as long as I don't have to watch it.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:14 AM on August 30, 2014


I just got a work related call on Saturday morning of a supposedly "long" weekend, the contents of which will serve to stress me out with little means of relief until work starts again on Tuesday morning. And I don't make between 2 and 13 million a year by a long shot. I read articles like these and just find myself filled with uncontrollable jealousy that I didn't think up this idea first.
posted by The Gooch at 10:16 AM on August 30, 2014 [8 favorites]


Fascinatingly, surprise eggs — oblong plastic casings holding tiny trinkets usually destined for the garbage — are the powerhouse plaything in children-oriented unboxings, the videos that seem to really go viral.
I would guess when you see a surprise egg, maybe you are curious what is inside. Because it is a surprise, after all. And then she opens it, and surprise, it's a toy! Or surprise it's candy and stickers!

Now I'm wondering if I should start a video series that's just a view of a slot machine as I pull the handle again and again.
posted by RobotHero at 10:17 AM on August 30, 2014 [11 favorites]


Now I'm wondering if I should start a video series that's just a view of a slot machine as I pull the handle again and again.

I feel like that would go over really well, especially if it was some kind of interactive flash CYOA thing where the person clicking "controls" the handle pull.
posted by elizardbits at 10:20 AM on August 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


On yet another hand, I now wish I didn't know that things like the adult Hermès and Tory Burch unboxing videos existed (the first Hermès video gets a pass because cat).


Although, I would like to see a Fabergé unboxing video that gets interrupted by angry Bolsheviks midway through.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:21 AM on August 30, 2014 [9 favorites]


Next step: an "adult" version where someone plays The Simpsons: Tapped Out and narrates the moments where they unlock characters / buildings / decorations.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:22 AM on August 30, 2014


chrono_rabbit: "It's pretty useful compared to the typical written review for products but only if you're extremely to devoted the hobby. Otherwise, it's still faster to just read the entire review on a site than sit and watch anything from a 5-15min video which may or may not be a relevant to your needs. "

The entire point, IMO, is to see exactly what is in the goddamn box, because written reviewers rarely cover that. For example, I wanted to know if the Wii U Deluxe bundles came with physical games. The Zelda one did not, the Mario one does. No review mentions this, but was kinda important to me; digital downloads erode the right of first sale but aren't any cheaper.

And Nintendo isn't exactly excited to make that distinction clear, so no amount of viewing paid advertising will cut it. In a way it's a counter to the various corporate forces that produce gigantic boxes and bags full of air, or the hamburger that never even comes close to the one on TV. But in the same way one cannot make an anti-war film, an objective unboxing is usually going to sell more than it dissuades. I don't subscribe to unboxing channels, but for large purchases I'd rather not be surprised.

40 million views sounds like a lot, but I figure these toys have a global reach. When combined with the data scientists at Google, a video that converts children watching sesame street into cookie monster purchases at amazon seems like a winner you should be pushing heavily under Related Videos.
posted by pwnguin at 10:22 AM on August 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


Never heard of ASMRs, but from the description, I get them all the time, tens of times a day at least under normal circumstances.

Opiates seem to suppress them completely, which might be why I still have almost all the considerable pain medication I've been prescribed over the last twenty years.

I get them from listening to music, seeing modern dance, looking at nature -- and art to a lesser degree, thinking about my partner, poetry and even pithy turns of phrase, delving far down into childhood memories, food, etc.; and I get them from contemplating mysteries of all kinds when I think I see an illuminating but unexpected connection. When I used to work on math problems that were hard for me, I often got a powerful one about 5-10 seconds before I saw a solution, but I was plagued by false crescendos; I once spent all afternoon trying to prove something, had four strong ASMRs, and ultimately failed to make any progress whatsoever.

They are extremely pleasurable, but a bunch of them in close succession are exhausting, even prostrating, and if, as I suspect, mine are tied into my other weird problems, I doubt I could ever pay anybody enough to take them off my hands.
posted by jamjam at 10:34 AM on August 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


These Disney and Hermès videos seem to be working by the same play book, judging by their about page.

What I mean is, no human being would care about either of their about pages. There is some SERIOUS search engine optimization ninjutsu going on that has bubbled them to the top.
posted by Yowser at 10:37 AM on August 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


It is very weird to watch a video of a calm adult woman with a soothing voice playing with a talking elmo play-doh mixing toy that is anything but soothing. I want to break elmo.

What struck me is the contrast between her demeanor and a lot of kids advertising, which is very LOUD NOISE EXCITE YOU WANT THIS LOUD EXCITE YEAAAAHHHHH!!!!

I get an almost teacherly vibe from her.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 10:38 AM on August 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Previously
posted by barnoley at 10:41 AM on August 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't think I understand what AMSR is. Is that the same thing as "frisson"?

[edit]
ah, apparently not.. says so on the reddit page I linked.. well now I'm confused.
posted by unknownmosquito at 10:42 AM on August 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


It feeds both of curiosity (I wonder what's in the box) and the sense of opening presents (ooh, shiny).
posted by Old'n'Busted at 10:42 AM on August 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh man, new word for the win! Abtruse: Difficult to understand, obscure.
posted by buzzman at 11:11 AM on August 30, 2014


I get AMSR pretty easily, most often from task completion. Another weird reaction I get is like an electric shock from my lower back down the back of my legs when someone describes a really bad physical injury. Pictures, video, the written word, or even actually witnessing or seeing the result of injury don't seem to bring it on, but if someone describes the breaking of an arm or leg or other traumatic injury, especially in the first person, I get that shock.
posted by gimli at 11:31 AM on August 30, 2014


You know ASMR if you have it. It's powerful and sedating and prickly and shivery and intensely pleasurable (but not at all sexual) and, in my experience, unfamiliar to 95% of the population.

Youtube videos don't give it to me. But watching someone paint, or listening to a cat grooming itself, or the rhythmic bang of a hammer... I'm in a trance.

Gimli, isn't that electric shock feeling (when hearing someone describe an injury) pretty common? I feel it like an icy cold down the backs of my knees...
posted by artemisia at 11:35 AM on August 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, frisson and pain empathy are different things from ASMR. I get frisson, especially from music, and it's pleasurable, like a mini orgasm. Pain empathy, like what gimli describes, is not pleasurable. I'm told that ASMR is relaxing rather than exciting, like frisson.
posted by desjardins at 11:43 AM on August 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ten years ago all the teenagers high on weed used to watch the Teletubbies. Are we absolutely sure that this is a case of toddlers watching this 90 million times?
posted by Pyrogenesis at 11:50 AM on August 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


Also, my pre-roll ad was for a whiskey.

Was it for this?
posted by strangely stunted trees at 12:04 PM on August 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


I've never seen these before, but my sister and I are addicted to the gummy candy video person - no narration, just the pleasing crackle of things being opened and stirred and carefully placed. They're very soothing, although I don't get any sort of prickly pleasurable feeling out of it. For that, I actually need to have my scalp scratched.
posted by PussKillian at 12:08 PM on August 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


I get ASMR from male voices of a particular tone. I had no idea it was a thing until a few years ago. I'd describe it as a nice little body high.
posted by MillMan at 12:12 PM on August 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


First thing that came to my mind: HOWTO roll a joint.
posted by bukvich at 12:14 PM on August 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


FWIW, I seem to recall a FPP about the japanese gummy candy food already :/
posted by sexyrobot at 12:32 PM on August 30, 2014


ASMR triggering videos make me break out in full pre panic attacks because I don't trust people trying to calm me down and I associate gentle, comforting speech with DENTISTS and THIER HOOKS AND SCRAPERS.
posted by The Whelk at 12:52 PM on August 30, 2014 [9 favorites]


I get ASMR from the first few listens of "moving" music or when I help someone and they express gratitude. I didn't know what it was called till this thread. So thanks!
posted by Twain Device at 1:25 PM on August 30, 2014


FWIW, I seem to recall a FPP about the japanese gummy candy food already

I did one about butt pudding.
posted by elizardbits at 1:37 PM on August 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


I can't help but feel like ASMR is in this weird category of experiences that people get really fixated on, like umami taste and synesthesia. I can't put my finger on what relates them except a longing for something more than everyday life.
posted by the jam at 1:37 PM on August 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


every time I see "ASMR" it reminds me of lord of the flies
posted by elizardbits at 1:39 PM on August 30, 2014 [10 favorites]


I second ASMR to The Orb's "Little Fluffy Clouds."
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 2:01 PM on August 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't get it I don't get it I don't get it
posted by Navelgazer at 2:26 PM on August 30, 2014


I feel a little broken because I don't get ASMR at all. Unboxing and related genres are completely, utterly baffling to me.

Hmm, I thought maybe that is the sensation I get sometimes from music I would describe as "soaring," but maybe that's frisson instead. As winna mentions up thread (but I would not have made the connection on my own), it is rather similar to the feeling I get when I am discovered doing something deeply shameful...though not exactly.

I don't get any of that from unboxing videos, which have always struck me as gross consumption porn and pretty much the dumbest thing ever.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 2:40 PM on August 30, 2014


Yeah, with the adult ones, even Narcissus just pulled his head out of a pond to say, "You know, I think that's a bit much."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:05 PM on August 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


The sensations that I get from "soaring" music (yep, get it) or pain empathy (ugh, get it) are completely different from ASMR. ASMR triggers me in a way that immediately relaxes my muscles and my brain...it is totally strange how it works, but it works. It's like being in a pleasurable trance while pleasant, slightly ticklish sensations spread from the base of my neck and top of my skull to my shoulders, back and legs. My eyelids get very heavy and my brain sort of hyper-concentrates on the cadence, volume and pitch of the voice I'm listening to. To the exclusion of any worrisome thoughts, etc. It can put me to sleep very quickly, even if I'm tense. My husband does not get it, but my daughter does. It's an odd way to relax, but it works for me and no need for a sleeping pill, so, win! Some unboxing videos work for me, many don't. The item has to be pretty generic and uninteresting for it to work for me.
posted by jeanmari at 3:18 PM on August 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm happy to see that my daughters are at least no more crazy than all the other toddlers. We limit their Youtube time, otherwise they'd be watching these for hours. Some are insufferably boring, but if they bother putting people/narrators in the video or doing any editing/fx then they can be fun sometimes.

Regarding Japanese videos, this is my daughters' favorite Japanese channel - not a candy making one though - just toys usually.
posted by p3t3 at 4:05 PM on August 30, 2014


I watched the video linked in the article. It's basically Mister Rogers. Soft voice, uncomplicated.

Also, the linked video is the shortest, which probably explains why it's the most watched.

DisneyCollector has a pretty good idea of what people who are interested in toys want to see. These videos are the Sears Wish Book catalog for a new era.
posted by themanwho at 4:08 PM on August 30, 2014


Oh shit I've had ASMR for years (although fairly infrequently unfortunately). No idea it was a thing. I am definitely getting it from some of these videos.

Oh and hey, if you want to see some unboxing of decidedly more low-rent toys, check out Ashens (sorry, probably considerably less ASMR, but a much higher amount of hilariously shit pound-shop toys). He also eats really old or unusual food that people send him, with only minimal wretching.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:08 PM on August 30, 2014


I watched a little bit of one of them until she made play-doh toast that had a hair in it. EVERYONE KNOWS YOU TAKE THE HAIR OUT BEFORE YOU MAKE PLAY-DOH TOAST

Eerh. Now I'm all riled up.
posted by aubilenon at 4:17 PM on August 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Can't stop watching the Kinder Egg/"surprise egg" videos. All the fun of finding out what's inside the eggs, without the disappointment that you got a shitty figurine instead of something cool to build.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:26 PM on August 30, 2014


Maybe it's time to face up to the fact that the world's internet-enabled toddlers are forming a polylingual, superintelligent hive mind. In another five years they'll all speak twelve languages and know linear algebra, and our generation's only function will be to enact YouTube videos that please them, but we ourselves cannot understand cannot understand the purpose or meaning of.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 4:43 PM on August 30, 2014 [24 favorites]


Thank you unknownmosquito for introducing 'frisson' into my vocabulary. There's this sensation I get a lot - when looking at pictures of beautiful people, or particularly nice yarn or handbags or art, or learning something - kind of a tightening in my chest, intense but in a good way. The subreddit seems to be focused on music and videos, so I'm not sure if this is quite the same thing or not.
posted by Gordafarin at 4:58 PM on August 30, 2014


The other thing I would like to know is. how does something go viral among three-years-olds?

In the case of my daughter, who adores the egg ones and only the egg ones, we found them when she kept requesting "Eggy song" on youtube and "egg song" (or I suspect, anything involving eggs) throws up these wildly popular videos. From there, the "related videos" is the rabbit hole.

It turned out, we discovered she was talking about humpty dumpty, but the eggs have proved far, far more popular.
posted by smoke at 5:01 PM on August 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


The internet is an orchid that evolves for each new wave of visitors.
posted by b1tr0t at 5:35 PM on August 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


I think you mean triffid.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:50 PM on August 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


Maybe it's time to face up to the fact that the world's internet-enabled toddlers are forming a polylingual, superintelligent hive mind. In another five years they'll all speak twelve languages and know linear algebra, and our generation's only function will be to enact YouTube videos that please them, but we ourselves cannot understand cannot understand the purpose or meaning of.
posted by strangely stunted trees


Childhood's Beginning.
posted by jamjam at 7:29 PM on August 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


The crinkles of the packaging and amplification of each clunk, click and scrape, while seemingly part of the whole reason of these videos actually makes me want to freak out and run away. I can actually kind of get behind the whole "unboxing" concept as a way to indulge curiousity about a product, high end or not. Often the thrill of something new is woefully short-lived. This is almost the equivalent of carrying an item around the store for 30 minutes and then putting it back on the shelf. But augh! The crinkles!!
posted by amanda at 7:56 PM on August 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Seeing the hands close up and on each side, a toddler could easily imagine sitting on Disney Collector's lap, with her arms on each side of you...how safe, calming, and soothing.
posted by serena15221 at 9:13 PM on August 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


That makes sense, because both unboxing and game play videos do nothing for me.

Here's the thing for me about the differences between the genres: I love more than I can ever express watching people do something they're good at. But, two things: 1) everyfuckingperson everyfuckingwhere can open a fucking box, and 2) video games take skill and I only like watching them in person.

I mean, sure, once in a while I like watching a silly speedrun through something. But I really like watching someone who is good at a game master that game in person. An ex-slash-roommate was an amazing player... and even watching him optimize inventory in Skyrim was interesting, in person, where a video of same just isn't.

But anyone can open a box. It's stupid and meaningless for me but I'm actually kind of fascinated by people for whom it is A Thing To Watch. Is it aspirational because they can't afford it? Is it aspirational because they can afford it but don't want to? What is going on here? What I'm saying is I don't want to watch said videos but I am enthralled in understanding why they exist at all. I get why they could exist for a kid; it's the adults I don't understand.

But I want to. I hope for more input from them here because I would eat every word. But I'm selfish so.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:05 PM on August 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


If anybody else gets ASMR the way I get it, download episodes of The Naturalist podcast with Bernie Wides, who for some reason sets mine going like crazy (I get a back-of-the-scalp sensation that is extremely pleasurable). And then please let me know what sets you off, because Bernie is not making them anymore.
posted by Camofrog at 10:16 PM on August 30, 2014


I went into this scoffing. "Eight-and-a-half minutes to take play-doh out of a box and mess around with it?" And she has an accent of some kind, I don't get it it sounds almost made up. Wait, the video has stopped, goddamn Internet connection is frozen hang on I'm at the END? I WATCHED A PLAY-DOH UNBOXING VIDEO FOR EIGHT MINUTES?!? So I'm not sure exactly what that means but basically this video made my brain turn off. Where is Enki with his nam-shub.
posted by um at 10:21 PM on August 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


Oh wow, there's a name for this? Yeah, I get the waves of tingling along the back of my scalp. From playing minecraft. Especially running through long tunnels. It's nice once in a while, but sometimes I have to take a break because the repeated sensation gets to be a bit much.
posted by ryanrs at 11:11 PM on August 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I inevitably wonder whether these rather slick media productions are a product of an organized group applying the latest research into mass psychology/mass control techniques.

It's not like the use of media to promote propaganda and direct the will/urges of the public is a new thing. There's no reason to think it hasn't become sophisticated and subtle. And it would be foolish of TPTB to not use every opportunity to control/inuence the masses. Simple self-preservation, that.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:16 PM on August 30, 2014


When I watch them with the sunglasses on I just see the word CONSUME.
posted by benzenedream at 11:32 PM on August 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I inevitably wonder whether these rather slick media productions are a product of an organized group

They're not that slick, not really, and they stink of stuff of interest to the collector or suoerfan and not the suit producers or money men care about ....and big media departments or agencies are so slow and lumbering compared to the super-fast cycle of Internet enemies and fads that I don't think that's even possible - give it another three years and maybe unboxing has a chance to being referenced or done by a legit Large Media Company, but right now I'd expect only much smaller organizations with nimble media teams ( like say, one person) putting together unboxing videos for thier own products. I'd be surprised if it hadn't already happened.

If nothing else, the kind of video created by Disney Collector is so thunderingly, mind numbingly dorky to your average suit or ad person that it can only be the result of a singular obsession.
posted by The Whelk at 11:42 PM on August 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


You know ASMR if you have it. It's powerful and sedating and prickly and shivery and intensely pleasurable (but not at all sexual) and, in my experience, unfamiliar to 95% of the population.

It was less than two years ago that I discovered there was a name for this thing that I've been experiencing since childhood. And I'm always on the lookout for more trigger videos.

Thanks Internet! :-)
posted by ambivalentic at 11:42 PM on August 30, 2014


I feel a little broken because I don't get ASMR at all.

It could be worse - ASMR makes me scared and angry. It's the same feeling I get when people eat with their mouths open


I have always had an intense negative reaction to people eating with their mouths open and smacking their lips. Much to my FUCKING CHAGRIN, at some point in the last few years, the popular wisdom that doing so was gross and rude was replaced by the assumption that the people who did not like being subjected to your eating noises were somehow broken and wrong and smeking and chawing and slurping were fine and acceptable.


I was recently in a car with an entire family of loud open mouth chewers. Last time I said anything about it I wad chastised. This time I squirmed in agony until I had to beg for headphones. Oh Weird Al, you saved my life the rest of the way to Des Moines.


I never had a name for it, but yes, ASMR. Some of the videos that are designed for it make me flop over like a cat. Some of them make me incredibly angry because of the emphasis on lip smacking, which is apparently a positive for some people but is severely uncomfortable for me.

My favorite is mechanical voices, robot voices, the less human the better. I used to sleep to the mechanized weather station because the robot voice blissed me out so intensely. My entire head felt like it was vibrating, and my body felt relaxed. It wad similar to the feeling I get when I do something really good for somebody and don't say anything.

I was so sad when they changed the voice to sound more "human."
posted by louche mustachio at 2:31 AM on August 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


I just watched the Play-Doh video and can confirm:

grbhlgblghrlglrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.



Yes. It does the thing.
posted by louche mustachio at 4:19 AM on August 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


I just realized after reading fffm's comment above that there are two necessary components of a good unboxing video for me:

-- the product itself (I cannot get to the store to examine the product, either because of geographical constraints or because I'm busy, so seeing someone else examine it helps me tremendously if I want to purchase).

-- the personality of the unboxer. They've got to be interesting or funny or just so earnest about their excitement about the product that I actually want to spend time with them. Even a 2 minute video is too long if they're obnoxious or have some weird verbal tic (like going 'uh').

A big part of the unboxing trend is seeing all sorts of people squee about their new "toy".

I mean, the internet is all about connecting with people with similar interests, right? It shouldn't be a surprise that YouTube is used as another platform for this basic tenet of the internet.

(Disclaimer: I love me a good unboxing video.)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 8:07 AM on August 31, 2014


(That should read "it helps me tremendously *in deciding* if I want to purchase"...)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 8:09 AM on August 31, 2014



I never had a name for it, but yes, ASMR


No, that's just misophonia, the sensations are not really the same. ASMR is pleasant mild to serious sensations of sort of floaty humming relaxation. For me it's like a huge invisible hand is using one of those wire scalp massagers on the entire back of my body, very soothing and tingly. Misophonia is like the creeping horrors of impending norovirus except it's in your entire nervous system, not just your stomach.
posted by elizardbits at 9:24 AM on August 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


As mentioned, Ashens is the only unboxer I can stand. Mostly because his unboxings aren't presented as such. And he's a doctor. And he had a skit about being addicted to fake interventions. Man do I love me some Ashens.
posted by Yowser at 9:44 AM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Blucollection, Disneycollector, Blucollection, Disneycollector, Blucollection, Disneycollector, Blucollection, Disneycollector. Oh the diverse tastes of a 3yo.
posted by mnsc at 11:26 AM on August 31, 2014


No, that's just misophonia, the sensations are not really the same, the sensations are not really the same. ASMR is pleasant mild to serious sensations of sort of floaty humming relaxation. For me it's like a huge invisible hand is using one of those wire scalp massagers on the entire back of my body, very soothing and tingly. Misophonia is like the creeping horrors of impending norovirus except it's in your entire nervous system, not just your stomach.

The sensations are DEFINITELY not the same, but I'm sure the sensitivity is related. In fact, if I watch ASMR videos, I can go from bliss to howling rage in less than a second because someone mic'd their dry, smacking mouth.


Ah, yes, misphonia, I had forgotten the term. That came up a few years ago, and suddenly everyone decided that it was some kind of "disorder" and that meant it was OK to eat like a FUCKING WILDEBEEST. It is useful that it has a name, but it seems to imply that there is something horribly wrong with me, that I am somehow defective because I find these sounds distressing.

Well fine.

But chewing with your mouth open so all the world can see your food and making schlorping and smecking noises is still disgusting and rude and it is 100% within your power to CLOSE YOUR FUCKING MOUTH WHEN YOU CHEW.
posted by louche mustachio at 4:15 PM on August 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


wow, anyone have an ID on this song from the cookie monster vid? That's some seriously awesome 80s synthwave right there
posted by rebent at 4:21 PM on August 31, 2014


I both can't stand loud chewing AND am lately a loud chewer because of new bridgework and inside my head there is badness.
posted by elizardbits at 7:02 PM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


That sounds like something out of a horror movie.

Its bad enough when the noises come from outside.
posted by louche mustachio at 7:57 PM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


As a child of the 80s, I spent hundreds of hours poring over catalogs beginning from a very young age all the way up through high school. This seems like just a video version of that.
posted by SassHat at 1:15 PM on September 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


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