Animal Crossing: New Horizons is both a good game and a bad game, a salve for our “troubled times,” and a dystopic reflection of labor conditions, whether you’re working in service to a money-hungry Tanuki god or your average boss. But beyond imbuing unnecessary meaning on the game, Animal Crossing is also a hotbed of creative ingenuity, a bountiful landscape rich with playthings for the bored and isolated.
Case in point: Earlier this month, Reddit user kazoo-E uploaded a recreation music video of Mariah Carey’s “We Belong Together,” created using an in-game tool called Harv’s Island–a relatively creepy feature where an older photographer invites young villagers in to pose an assortment of animals however they please. The video soon birthed others, Ariana Grande’s “Thank u, next,” Britney Spear’s “Oops, I Did It Again,” D12's “My Band,” and even Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.”
It takes a particularly deranged, once-in-a-generation mind to think up something this spectacular—the cuts, the use of in-game animations to mimic Gaga’s dancing, the almost beat-for-beat production design! Is my own brain so broken that the jerking, 720p villager—with tiny ball fists and a plastic bowl for hair—actually reminds me of a corporeal human? Probably. (I’ve also been playing too much Animal Crossing as of late, I think.)
Obviously, kazoo-E’s mystifying music videos were bound to spawn increasingly demented copycats, like Youtube user Tracy Kennedy’s imitation of Britney Spears’ “Toxic.”
Animal Crossing Twitter, a fearsome place full of similarly deranged and genius weirdos, has mimicked the trend, recreating scenes from The Office and RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Meanwhile, I am still plodding away, tending my various flower gardens, wondering if I will ever pay back the $120,000 I owe Tom Nook for giving me a bedroom to sleep in. I might not be as creative—or interesting, really—as any of the geniuses above, but I did make an altar at which my villagers can worship the lizard god who rules over our island, and pay him in blood when he demands it. That has to count for something!