If you like games or anime, chances are good that you’ve seen silly videos floating around, where grown men enthusiastically tell you all about their favourite anime characters, and which “waifu” is the best one.
There are of course anime fans who say ridiculous things like, “if you’d simply open up your mind to moe, your heart will go doki-doki every time,” but it’s often in jest. But these men sound completely serious when they say things like that. They sound like they mean it. That’s what makes it so funny: it’s men being dramatic, nerding out about geeky things, in a way most people wouldn’t. The internet knows these men as “Tyrone” and “Rog.” You can pay them money, and they will say whatever you want them to on camera.
Results are… mixed. Sometimes, they will say hilarious things. Here’s a classic, where Tyrone tells you all about why Chie is the best girl in Persona 4. Someone paid him to say that, wrote out all the lines. Tyrone has probably never played Persona 4, but he’ll record himself talking about it all the same if you pay him. Funnily enough, someone also paid Rog to respond to Tyrone, resulting in a surreal back and forth between the two men that resembles a bad YouTube comments argument:
You’ll notice that, while some of it is funny, it’s also peppered with the sorts of offensive things that are a signature of 4chan culture — calling someone a “fag,” or “autistic,” and so on. That’s because 4chan originally discovered the two men, and proceeded to pay them to say all sorts of ridiculous things on YouTube. As a result, even though both men have said uncomfortable things for money, they both became internet famous.
The Verge has written up a profile on both the men, and it’s a fascinating read. Both men are middle-aged fathers. Rog is a motivational speaker whose real name is Roger Stockburger. Tyrone’s real name is Gordon Hurd, and he was a journalist who immigrated to the UK due to political harassment. They often have no idea what it is that people pay them to say.
“I was surprised to see people insulting each other,” Hurd told The Verge. “I was like, ‘Man, why are these guys so rude?’ I was really uptight and really worried. But once I started to get a ton of requests, I realised there was something I was probably missing.”
Nowadays, both men don’t do as many videos as they used to, but Hurd seems to have embraced his fame. Now he’s pretty much an anime personality, the likes of which you might see at an anime convention.
“These things are all transient,” Hurd reflected. “This isn’t a part of my life that’s written in ink, but it’s a significant part of my life. There are some videos that I’ve done now where I’ve encouraged students to do well in their exams, I’ve done birthday videos. This is something that might pass by, but it does carry vestiges that will live forever.”
And so the internet continues to be a strange place.