This past Sunday, one of the greatest meme-fluencers of the modern era, @veryharryhill, posted the greatest ASMR video of all time. I realize that’s a big statement—and those of you who are versed in the touchy, crackly, chewy, slimy corner of the ASMR internet might disagree. But I’m willing to defend it until I whisper myself hoarse.
The video was not of a woman with fake nails tapping on glass, nor a close-up of her eating honeycomb, no, it was an ASMR rendition of the famous Bling Ring phone call. (Some background on ASMR if you’re not expert-level.) In the clip, the original audio—a medley of California-twanged shouting—is removed and replaced with a perfect lipdub of the conversation in sensuous whispers. And trust me when I say that hearing the hysterics of “You lied!” “Stop!” and “God Dammit!” (over an accusation of wearing Louboutin heels) in a scratchy sotto voice is so. fuckin. tickling. Pure internet titillation.
I watched it in full on the subway. Then I rewatched. I watched thrice. By the time I was done viewing, I realized I was laughing so hard tears were streaming down my face and my mascara was running. (I wish I could embed it here but it’s in some weird Tumblr hole that I found via the account filmaticbby, so you’ll have to go see it for yourself.)
Those of us who have chosen to burrow into the low art of reality TV will remember Pretty Wild, the one-season-wonder from 2010. Post-subway breakdown, I rewatched all four hours of it this weekend in the company of a weighted blanket and too many corn chips. Re-immersing myself in the lives of these over-indulged Hollywood Hills sisters and their over-indulgent mother felt like a (really bad) fever dream. But I powered through for the call—the pièce de resistance of the entire series and the moment that reached viral fame. Placed by 16-year-old Neiers to Vanity Fair editor Nancy Jo Sales after a damning article regarding Neiers’ involvement in the Bling Ring robberies, the call ends in shouts and tears. It is forever one of “those reality TV moments.”
It’s worth pointing out that the original appeal of this clip—the shocking extent of Alexis’s delusion—falls a little flat in 2019. Alexis has since become vocal about opioid and heroin addiction, both of which she grappled with during the time of Pretty Wild and has since recovered from. But the clip’s ASMR rendition works because Alexis is no longer the butt of the joke, the absurdity of the internet is. There’s something so delightfully (horrifically?) current about combining a dramatic viral reality TV moment—particularly one about four-inch little brown Bebe shoes—and ASMR, a.k.a. the spa of internet. The irony runs so deep you can’t help but laugh in spite of yourself.
In the past 5 years, ASMR fervor has exploded into territory I can’t even begin to understand, from girls trying to eat their Gucci pumps to hot knives slicing kinetic sand. But this, THIS, is ASMR I can fully get behind. Imagine all the good TV that’s ripe for spine-tingling murmurs?! Tyra screaming at Tiffany on America’s Next Top Model; Susan Hawk’s famous Survivor Borneo final speech; Jessica Simpson’s Chicken of the Sea dialogue; Shangela v. Mimi Imfurst on Rupaul’s Drag Race Season 3; Real Housewives of New York’s Aviva Drescher throwing her leg. The only video that comparably marries my reality TV obsession and ASMR is this one of Rupaul’s Drag Race queens silently sipping drinks in the Untucked Lounge. Gag-worthy. I maintain, though, that the potential is endless, and I am starving, nay, FAMISHED, for more.
What reality moment do you think would make for the most satisfying ASMR? I can’t wait to (quietly) hear.
Photo by Jim Steinfeldt/Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images.