On Feb 12th, 2015, Youtube superstar FilmCow released its final installment of the notorious webseries Llamas With Hats. As such, I was compelled to stop working on my analyses of Lost Highway (coming soon?) and Puddles’s Pity Party (coming eventually?) so that I might explain it to all of you, before someone else mucks it up. It is absolutely imperative that I put this out as fast as feasible (or AFAF, to those in the know).
Like all of my analyses, I will be assuming that you have experienced the media at hand. Obbiously.
Since November 22nd, 2014, Filmcow has been cranking out episodes of Llamas with Hats (herein LwH) with unusual speed, driving us through a story arc that has managed to leave even its most jaded viewers upset and unsettled. This strange deviation in publishing pace and overall tone led to immediate and very serious speculation–in the YT comments section, of all places!– as to what the meaning of this series was.
From episode 7:
Excerpt from user GabrielSyler33:
However it is not until Episode 9 that a particular interpretation of the series began to gain a foothold among fans…
This sentiment then grows in popularity in the comments for episodes ten and eleven, leaving everyone on edge for the finale, which creator Jason Steele announced would make the entire story arc clear. Was the entire series (after episode 4) just a large “Fuck you” to the fans constantly screaming for more of the same series, at the expense of originality?
This tension, to me, culminated in this comment in Episode 11:
So just what IS the evidence for this theory? While it is entirely reasonable to think that this may have just been the wishful thinking of some poor soul who’s subjected him/herself to the hell of Youtube comments sections, an unhealthily obsessed Filmcow viewer (e.g. me) will see that there is more evidence here than one might think.
First, let us look at the progression of the series in the context of the real world interplay between author (Filmcow) and audience (audience).
The very first Llamas with Hats was released on February 19th, 2009– almost a full six years before the finale. Despite the fact that FIlmcow (then SecretAgentBob) had already achieved YT fame with the dark viral hit Charlie the Unicorn, most of those initially exposed to the video were appalled and shocked, much like Paul (then the unnamed Brown Llama). As common as it is now, the comedic style of the shocking non-sequitur was only just coming into vogue at the time, with the notable exception of Family Guy.
Episodes 2-4 were then released roughly once every six months after that. Typically, what one wants from a good sequel is the same formula, on an increasingly grand scale, but still somehow surprising. And boy did LwH Deliver. Despite knowing what to expect, we were always morbidly surprised at whatever horrors Carl delivered to us. After the Nuclear Holocaust/Face party in Episode 4, however, it seemed apparent that the series could go nowhere else. FIlmcow appeared to confirm this by not publishing any additional installments…. At least not until more than 3 years later.
Llamas with Hats 5 was– even on its own– clearly self-referential. Paul starts off by stating the tropes of the series, then subverts the audience’s feeling underwhelmed with his own:
CARL: I may have created a crack in space-time… through which to collect millions of baby hands.
CARL: What do you mean, ‘Huh’?
PAUL: I think I was expecting worse.
CARL: Worse? But this is totally fucked, bro!
Paul is very clearly reacting the same way much of the audience did, myself included. Knowing how in-tune Mr. Steele is with the minds of his audience, how can we not suspect that he is using our expectations and demands to screw with us? This idea is bolstered in the minds of Filmcow subscribers who see demands for more LwH on comment threads for videos published years after the fourth episode had aired.
Llamas with Hats 6 then seems to wrap up the series by having Paul move out and having Carl complete his meat dragon. While the episode is mostly in service of this plot point, there is a one-liner in it that I think is worth noting:
PAUL: All you do is kill people, Carl!
CARL: That’s like saying ‘All Mozart did was write songs’.
Now I had just written this off as another clever quip which is so common in this series, but look at it in the context of the AvsA theory. If Carl is the creator and Paul is the audience, then this could very well be a complaint about those who treat the FIlmcow crew as though they exist only to entertain them. Mozart was did not just write songs; he slept. He loved. He ate. He drank himself to death. He was a real human being. And a real hero. This isn’t all that unlike Jimi Hendrix’s frequently yelling “I’m not a jukebox!” at concerts.
By Llamas with Hats 7, it is undeniable that the series is being dragged out to serve some larger purpose. With each installment, a higher proportion of viewers relayed that the series was played out, whilst others still prayed for more and separate fanboys brayed and parlayed “CAAAAAAARRRRRLLLLL” in a frayed display of…. malaise….. (nailed it)
Looking at the episode itself through the AvsA lens, we can see that Paul (the original/true audience) has truly moved on and been replaced with a babbling sheep. A sheep.
A sheep. Do I have to explain this one?
But the signifiers don’t end there. The sheep wears the mask of Paul, trying to inhabit his role. But it is clear through the sheep-speak that:
- The sheep is clearly inferior to Paul
- It does not take its role very seriously (sitting down, etc)
- It isn’t very articulate
Carl exclaims at the end “I don’t even know who you are anymore” and proceeds to throw the sheep into his “blood canal”. Carl/Steele has nothing but contempt for the sheep and so it/they are sent to suffer. This Llama must have the real Paul as we soon see in…
Llamas with Hats 8— Carl’s Swan song
Here we see Carl’s last chance to save himself. He approaches Paul and tries to win him back. His reason for needing Paul back is to see his “grumpy face” (read: he desires to shock people as he once did). But Paul is not moved; he is too jaded to give Carl another chance. We as the audience, receive a brief spark of that old magic when the Swan piano crashes in, and Paul cries out accordingly. But it is not enough. And Carl has nowhere else to go.
Llamas with Hats 9 confirms this suspicion with Carl merely going through the motions of the series’s formula. No ingenuity, no real shock. Just Carl, talking to himself, pretending to have an audience. This is the inevitable result of the creator forcing himself to do the same thing ad nauseum, no matter how great the original idea was. Eventually however, the pseudo-audience comes back. Now without even the sheep to fluff up the visage, Carl is stranded with the façade of an onlooker…. screaming. Screaming “CAAAAAAARRRRLL” with no impetus and little meaning, not unlike the comment section just below the video. Twisted, Insatiable, the mask pushes Carl to keep going– to finish his work.
Hoo boy. *sigh* OK. A few more and then we’ll be done…. with this section… of the 1st part of this blognalysis.
So! Llamas with Hats 10 through the EYES OF THE SELF-DEPRECATING FAN is a continuation of 9, with the mask still screaming and Carl still falling deeper and deeper into a pit of despair (as well as a pit of gore). As the mask wanders off to find rope, Carl reminisces for the… well…. innocence of the series’s beginning. When every one-liner was a treasure and all it took was a murder to upset his onlooker(s). Notice how the mask announces towards the end that Carl needs to do everything himself, then goes right back to screaming. Not just screaming, but demanding implicitly that Carl play out the tired exercise again. It doesn’t matter if Carl doesn’t want to do it, anymore; the show must go on.
Llamas with Hats 11
CARL (to the mask): When I find the real Paul, I bet he’s going to be the most mad at YOU!”
“OK”, you might say. “So you managed to shoehorn your head-canon into this series, so what? If you look long enough for something, you’ll find it whether or not it’s actually there.” you’ll continue, and then conclude.
“Yes, that’s very true.” I may respond. “In fact, that’s an argument I make all the time in these types of discussions. It’s like you’re inside my head or something!” I might retort with too strong a taste for “meta” humor. “That’s why I’m ending this piece with evidence from THE REAL WORLD FILMCOW HIJINKS AND COMMUNICATIONS.” I would finish, with a sexy flair.
At this point, perhaps you would shut up and listen.
Filmcow has a rather extensive history of chewing out its fans who try to to control what they do, either by blindly demanding more of what they love or attempting to crack down on their less-viral creations.
A prime example from the semi-hit non-cartoon Hit it with a Car: Cakes on an Ironing Board:
This kind of blowback is particularly common to the Hit it with a Car series (From HiwaC: Tea Party)
Seems like pretty compelling evidence of Filmcow’s disdain for their audience, right? Wrong!
A few off-handed comments are nothing, compared to what I am about to show. I hereby present to you…. Charlie teh Unicron!
……….. OK, you might need a little more explanation than that. Let me give you the description from CtehU Episode 2.
Executive producer of both CtehU and LwH Jason Steele has created an entire webseries dedicated solely to showing how stupid the suggestions he gets from internet people are. Hours, nay DAYS were spent organizing these terrible, terrible suggestions and bringing them painfully to life. And he did it not once, but a whopping four times! Expressing contempt is now an art! And its muse has made sweet, saccharine love with a Cow. A FilmCow.
Knowing all of this…. let us now take a look at Llamas with Hats 12–the Series Finale.
The top Comment (and a response):
So there you have it. A powerful, post-modern narrative involving two llamas and their zany hats. There isn’t really much else to be said, unless of course….
this interpretation is completely wrong.
Next time– On Al’s Anal Analysis.