It feels silly to start a review explaining who George Miller is, but I realize there may be any number of people reading this today, tomorrow or years from now who won’t have the first clue about him. I first discovered Miller when he went by the alias Filthy Frank on YouTube. On a surface level you could say he was a comedy/sketch performer, but there was a subversive element to his skits that drew me in. Example — he’s do a stereotypical prank video, but the awfulness of the pranks and the fact he’d keep yelling “IT’S JUST A PRANK BRO” at everyone made it clear he was making fun OF the people who do prank videos. Most of his material could be understood in that way — he went viral by mocking the very idea of going viral.
Frank became (in)famous for this material and the fact he constantly blurred the line between his character and reality. There was never a moment you could assume everything was on the level, and this was only compounded by the fact he’d introduce spinoff characters like Pink Guy who had musical aspirations. The joke there was that Pink Guy would be even more offensive than the already shocking Filthy Frank, to the point that Miller has in hindsight deleted some of the most crass material from the internet (or tried). Good luck trying to find “White Is Right” these days. If you understood that he was mocking white supremacists with the lyrics great, but for Miller the possibility people would misunderstand the joke wasn’t worth it. Other tracks like “STFU” survived in tact.
“STFU” did something unlikely though — it tried so hard to be a bad song it actually became a good one? It has a catchy sing-a-long hook, a genuine trunk rattling bass beat, and absurd threats like “come and catch these hands boy” that are laughable. Miller also gives a half hearted apology for going too far in the track, and then cranks the temperature up and says “no I should have said more.” Unfortunately the “Tasty Treat Remix” from “Pink Season: The Prophecy” ruins the joke. It’s a fine electronic techno style mash up, but the lyrics are rearranged and incomplete, and the mood and the tempo are now a complete mismatch.
This entire EP exists in a really weird space. EDM artists like Borgore are as legit as they come musically, and yet they’re taking comedy songs like “Dumplings” and making serious remixes of it. I have to take this EP the same way I took a lot of Miller’s video — if it doesn’t make sense then that’s the joke. A grimy underground electronic dance club remix of “Dumplings” shouldn’t exist. There’s no reason for it to exist. That’s exactly why it exists. George Miller was constantly and consistently fucking with his audience at all times, and an EP of remixes was in itself just another “PRANK BRO.”
Ultimately having to keep up the act for millions of YouTube viewers became too much pressure for Miller to bear. It would be hard not to break down when people were writing entire Wiki websites about the “lore” of his various characters and their relation to and relationships with each other. It would be fair to say the audience was taking it more seriously than Miller himself, but his very success meant he HAD to take it seriously. He had to keep those view counts up and keep that YouTube ad revenue flowing in. I can’t blame him for having a breakdown and saying “fuck it” and retiring nearly every aspect of the career that made him famous. He returned as a quiet, soft spoken, lo-fi trip-hop artist named Joji. If you didn’t know this was TAFKA Filthy Frank you’d never believe it listening to him now.
To his credit the transformation has been a success — to the point I’d argue that “Joji” is not only better for his mental health but a more sustainable act than “Filthy Frank” ever could have been. Eventually the novelty of being purposefully shocking or “cringe” would have worn off and the view counts would have started going down. Perhaps they already had when he decided to call it quits. Either way Miller retired the persona at the right time and “Pink Season: The Prophecy” exists as a reminder of the pre-Joji days. It’s a remix that didn’t need to happen, but none of the Pink Guy or Filthy Frank shtick needed to either. It took off like a rocket and took him for a ride.
If there’s a “legacy” of sorts to these characters it won’t be this short EP. It will be the existence of “Harlem Shake” — a viral dance that was the exact opposite of dancing. Years after Miller and perhaps even his currently successful Joji persona are forgotten, there will be a whole generation of people who not only remember the Harlem Shake but made their own videos doing it just to ride that train. That’s not a bad legacy, really. Miller gave the whole world a chance to do something silly and pointless for fun.