“Naturally, there’s infighting among the Poppy Seeds. Fans regularly split off on Reddit, Discord, and Facebook when they don’t agree with the rules set down by the original group—or if they don’t think that the leaders of that group are true Poppy followers. ‘I once saw a thread that asked ‘What do all Poppy fans have in common?” writes Unexpected_Gangsta. ‘The top answer is that we are all crazy. That is probably correct!’
That fervor is the very reason many enjoy engaging in the community. SamisSimas (offline, he’s Sam, a 21-year-old physics student), who runs the main Poppy subreddit, says the project first appealed to him for its ‘early-2000s surrealist YouTube humor and kind of nihilistic attitude.’ But the further down the rabbit hole he went, the more profundity he found. “Over time the project seemed to grow into more of commentary on modern internet celebrity and pop star identity,” he writes in a message via Reddit. ‘But most interestingly to me is the commentary on how fandom works. Watching how people react to Poppy’s content, especially the more hardcore fans. The project seems very manipulative and intended to create a sort of false sense of meaning.'”
–Pandell, Lexi. “Poppy’s World.” Wired. June 6, 2017.
First I’ve heard of Poppy. Manipulative is a good word. I was prompted to consider whether her video, “Delete Your Facebook” might be a better call to action than a reasoned appeal to do the same, such as my post on quitting Facebook. Yet, I didn’t much care for being on the receiving end of a manipulative subscription appeal in Gravity that was doing the same thing.
As interesting as the meta-narrative might be and all the possibilities Poppy’s viewers might bring to the interpretation of a work that leaves so much room for any viewpoint, the trouble with this little bit of performance art is that it is about creating an avid fandom and profiting from it. It’s fine to make money, but if the “Church of Merch” is the central idea of your aesthetic, you’re just bringing L. Ron Hubbard into the information age.