Karkalicious Captures the Essence of 2010s Internet Fandom

Karkalicious is great. You heard it here folks, I’m staking my position right here like the bold op-ed writer I have always been meant to be.

Karkalicious definition makes Terezi loco. No, I don’t do Kismesis.

It’s simultaneously actually kind of interesting while also being embarrassing to massive cringe-worthy levels. The Homestuck fandom, and by extension all those huge fandoms from the early 2010s, were just so ambitious. Fan art and fan fiction everywhere, of course, as expected. But fan games, fan animations, fan albums… Entire websites essentially conquered by fan content from one or two specific franchises.

You see it with a few game-centric fandoms today, especially those geared more towards kids. Undertale, Friday Night Funkin’, Five Nights at Freddy’s… Those are the ones I see just in my daily internet browsing that have that same kind of ambitious fan energy. Games, in general, seem to inspire that kind of thing more for some reason.

It’s no secret that Homesutck inspired fevered amounts of fan obsession. Including in me, specifically as a human. I worked tirelessly for a month or two when I was sixteen to help the [S] Rex Duodecim Angelus project take off, and that still-wonderful animation celebrates its ninth birthday today.

It’s insane to see how much time passed, and also how a bunch of teens and young adults were able to make so much weird stuff for a single comic. We were all trapped under Andrew Hussie’s spell, working tirelessly out of pure passion. Fandom always inspires awesome things when it’s not about people Discoursing and bullying. I love seeing cool cosplays and prop recreations and detailed analyses. But there was a magic here about the way that fandom was *collectively* creating great stuff.

Broadwaystuck is one of the most baffling artifacts of that period. A comic about teenagers over the internet playing a cosmic video game and fighting in metaphysical battles against omnipotent villains… is ripe territory… for pop song and musical covers??? Karkalicious?!


It’s so, so weird. But if you were on Tindeck back in the glory days, you’d be inundated in Broadwaystuck, fan voiceover memes, and just so much content. It’s niche to the point of mindblowing proportions. And that’s kind of the best part of it. The fandom energy was so intense, so all-consuming, that you could get an entire sub-fandom of fan voice actors, and within that a sub-sub-fandom of in-character singing. Those sub-sub-fandoms had their own lore, their own memories, their own central projects. The decentralization of it all really helped with letting these various niches grow and take shape, in a way that the impersonal social media platforms don’t really allow.

Yeah, that’s right. Karkalicious is a vehicle for me to complain about how it’s not like the good old days anymore. I’m officially old.

It’s not like I like Broadwaystuck or Karkalicious in particular. It’s that embarrassing teen shit that so many people quietly delete years after the fact. Some of Broadwaystuck is frankly awful. But I love the energy.

Y’know, one of my early 2010s Retrospectives articles was actually kind of harsh about the way fan projects end up fading away into nothingness over time. Remember it?

Recently, I feel like my views on that are changing a little. Maybe I’m annoyed when fan projects keep restarting and spinning their wheels, when creators spend so long on a project that their skills apparently improved too much and they have to go back and fix the early stuff, but then they never come back to the later stuff… Things like that. But I feel like the post may have been some way for me to write off long-running fan projects because “original is inherently better.”

I’m not so sure that’s even true.

But my feelings are complex. Karkalicious did not change these feelings. But my admiration for this stupid fansong might be a result of the ongoing shift.

Anyway, happy 26th birthday to Karkat Vantas-Strider.


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