I recently came across this Joke Anatomy article about Fred Delicious’ Breakdancing Cop Tweet:
I do not recommend it.
The article misses the point completely, treating the tweet as a mere joke when it is, in reality, so much more than that.
I will not discuss that article any more, as it pains my mind to think about it – treating such a brilliant allegory as a mere joke is inexcusable.
Instead, allow me to explain Delicious’ true artistry – the allegory of the Breakdancing Cop. It is extremely subtle, clever, and poignant once discovered – a meta-commentary on the people of Twitter.
"sir, can i ask why you're smoking TWO huge blunts?"
*turns to camera*
*cop starts breakdancing*
— Fred Delicious (@Fred_Delicious) June 18, 2013
The nameless man in the tweet, only ever referred to as “sir,” feels that he is inadequate, and he overcompensates by smoking two blunts at once. About what, you may ask, does this man feel inadequate? As there is no indication in the tweet – the answer is known only to Delicious himself.
The man also seeks validation from those around him. He looks to the camera for approval, boasting about the number of blunts he can smoke simultaneously, while making what he believes is a clever pun. These are the actions of a deeply disturbed man. A broken man. A man who has nothing left to live for but the meaningless approval of strangers.
His approval-seeking antics are acts of pure, blind faith: he has no idea who is watching the camera feed. For all he knows, there isn’t a single person watching. For all he knows, the camera isn’t even recording. For all he knows, he is alone in the world.
Evidently, this nameless character symbolizes the writers of Twitter. Our tweets, no matter how intelligent, artistic, or comedic they may be, are ultimately created to seek meaningless validation from the unknown masses. Until we press “Tweet”, we have no idea how, if at all, others will react to our creations. Yet despite this, we continue to do it, just as the man continues to smoke two huge blunts and craft unsavoury puns.
If the man is symbolic of the many writers on Twitter, then the cop is a symbol of the numerous people who read tweets. (While the cop’s gender remains ambiguous, I will discuss him using male pronouns for simplicity’s sake.)
Notice, first, the cop’s choice of language: he asks “why” rather than the more situation-appropriate “how.” This indicates confusion about the nameless man’s actions – a clear parallel with the many people who become confused by the often inane and abstract content that we, the writers, present on Twitter.
The cop does not seem to have any motivation to begin breakdancing – indeed, his dance begins immediately after witnessing the man’s joke, suggesting that it was instinctive; a reflex learned through repetitive experiences. He has been through similar situations before, though, as indicated by his asking “why” rather than “how,” he is still bewildered by them. In this way, he is very similar to the masses of twitter: the people who see many tweets and are confused by their eclectic nature – colloquially referred to as “randos in the mentions.”
Delicious has created a fully functional allegory in 131 characters (yes, even with all this, he managed to have 9 characters left over): the nameless man represents the writers of bizarre tweets, while the Cop and his reaction represent the readers of such tweets, and their reactions. It is a brilliant metaphor, and the people at Joke Anatomy are fools for not treating it as such.