Jonathan Rozanski is a prolific, neurodivergent animation reviewer from Chicopee, Massachusetts. He originally started off on YouTube with a channel he called Brovania wherein he attempted to perform let’s plays of all the titles mentioned in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die. However, he eventually grew disillusioned with the project. In addition to the book’s myriad factual errors, he had problems with its glaring omissions of certain classic games and inclusions of decidedly unimpressive titles. Mr. Rozanski chose to end the project prematurely, saying after the fact that he hated the book.
It was in 2013 that he found a new calling: reviewing animation. Thus, on February 20, 2013, he reemerged with a new alias: The Mysterious Mr. Enter (stylized TheMysteriousMrEnter). Mr. Enter started his new career by reviewing the series premiere episode of the popular show My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. He originally stuck to discussing episodes of that show before moving onto another project in July of 2013 he called Animated Atrocities. Living up to its self-explanatory title, it was a show in which he would review pieces of animation he considered to be of a subpar quality – the first to face his wrath being the SpongeBob SquarePants episode entitled “The Splinter”. Citing Doug Walker of Channel Awesome as his chief inspiration, Mr. Enter approached the subject with all the sarcasm and vitriol one would expect from your typical, contemporary Angry Critic show host.
Animated Atrocities was intended to be a placeholder series to tide his audience over in between seasons of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Said series ended up taking on a life of its own when it became a smash hit with fans of the Angry Critic genre; his first episode eventually amassed over 900,000 views. Even better, he enjoyed making these reviews, claiming it provided much catharsis to tear into something truly heinous. As a result, Animated Atrocities became his flagship series, allowing him to build a career on the platform. Following a rough childhood and a period of adult ennui wherein he had zero prospects for the future, it seemed that things were finally looking up. He got off his Social Security disability program, and now had a lucrative job as a YouTube content creator.
And then, nine years after he started his Animated Atrocities project, he would become the internet’s laughingstock when his bizarre take on Domee Shi’s Turning Red went viral. So seismic was the reaction to his take that it caught the attention of mainstream news outlets – most notably, Forbes.To say the least, he didn’t take it well.
From this, it’s evident that, despite the bravado he displayed, he was, in reality, unsuccessfully coping with the situation by getting the embarrassment off of himself and onto his detractors. The oddest part about all of this is that he insults people for wanting Twitter points only to later hold up his trending on Twitter as a proud accomplishment.
Naturally, his attempts to shame his detractors had the opposite effect, which was exacerbated when he insulted a former editor during his tirade despite supposedly wanting to create a better world.
Eventually, he couldn’t take the heat and proceeded to delete his Twitter account.
Despite his social media rant having been borne from a truly impressive amount of coping, I feel compelled to play the devil’s advocate for a second. Before I set foot in this metaphorical courtroom, I want to make one thing perfectly clear: I myself believe Mr. Enter’s take was indeed awful. While I cannot personally answer the question of whether or not it warranted such an enormous backlash, it absolutely deserved criticism.
Because so many people have responded to his take, I will just summarize his worst points. He heavily criticized the main character’s mother for her behavior, claiming he was extremely uncomfortable whenever she was onscreen. Removing her from the film would have destroyed any sense of conflict the narrative had. On top of that, the narrative itself doesn’t take her side. He also lambasted the show’s animation style for its Japanese influences, claiming anime was only a niche interest in 2002 when the film is set. That is objectively untrue with the anime boom having started in the 1990s. In fact, one of the shows that inspired Ms. Shi was Ranma ½, an anime picked up by Viz Media in 1993 and one of the first to be dubbed into English. Either way, it’s a completely pointless thing to complain about; by that logic, no media other than literature should be set in medieval times.
And then, of course, there was the bad argument heard ‘round the world when he claimed that the film was ignorant of its own time period for not addressing the aftereffects of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. This is in spite of the film taking place in Canada and being from the perspective of preteens who wouldn’t be interested in geopolitical conflicts. Countless people have already eviscerated him for that one, so I have nothing more to add.
This is the kind of bad-faith review you get from somebody who has already decided they don’t like the work going in. It’s the reason why his grievances are completely arbitrary. He never brings up any substantive problems he had with the film, and his talking points center around personal baggage or non-flaws he pulled out of thin air. He doesn’t even pronounce the protagonist’s name properly. It’s ironically fitting that he was apprehensive making a video about the film, believing anyone who didn’t trip over themselves praising it for its social message would be labeled a misogynistic neckbeard, only to receive a backlash anyway under wildly different circumstances.
Despite all of this, I do think that, in Mr. Enter’s social media tirade, he does bring up one valid point. I wouldn’t exactly call it a good point, or at least not good in the way he thinks it is, but it does make for an effective springboard to my central thesis. In his rant, he criticizes the internet for drawing the moral line at his criticizing Turning Red and not for the countless other indiscretions he committed over the course of his career. Taken at face value, this is completely correct; it is not the worst video he ever made. Even if you discounted his early videos that he has since disavowed, I don’t even think it would make the bottom ten. If there was some kind of scale for offensiveness, this video would probably rank in the upper-middle portion of the scale at worst. Which is to say bad, but not even close to approaching Jeremy Hambly levels or anything.
For that matter, I would go as far as saying it’s not the worst take on Turning Red out there. Even ignoring the reactionaries who hate anything that features a non-white, non-straight, non-cis, non-male protagonist, Sean O’Connell, writing for the web outlet CinemaBlend, wrote a far worse review of the film, which has since been deleted.
“I recognized the humor in the film, but connected with none of it. By rooting ‘Turning Red’ very specifically in the Asian community of Toronto, the film legitimately feels like it was made for [director] Domee Shi’s friends and immediate family members, which is fine — but also, a tad limiting in its scope.”
This review was also hit with a backlash. According to Zack Sharf writing for Variety, rather than admitting his opinion had been malformed, Mr. O’Connell posted the following passage on social media, doubling down on his opinion.
“Some Pixar films are made for universal audiences. ‘Turning Red’ is not. The target audience for this one feels very specific and very narrow. If you are in it, this might work very well for you. I am not in it. This was exhausting.”
It especially didn’t help that Mr. O’Connell claimed Toy Story and Monsters, Inc. were more universal, which had the truly unfortunate effect of making it seem as though he has an easier time relating to sapient toys and monsters than he does the Asian community of Toronto. It was for these reasons that readers rightly decried the review as both racist and sexist. Personally, I don’t think it speaks well for the CinemaBlend editors that such a take was allowed to be published on their platform in the first place, although Mr. O’Connell did later apologize for it.
Even so, his terrible review ensured that it would be the first thing most people found after typing his name into any search engine – on top of being most people’s introduction to him. I can only guess that Mr. O’Connell must have been truly grateful when Mr. Enter came along and drew all the negative attention away from him. A “hold my beer” moment as it were.
So, if Mr. Enter’s take on Turning Red isn’t the worst out there, and one couldn’t even reasonably consider it the nadir of his own canon, why did the internet dogpile on him specifically? The answer to that is actually rather complicated. You see, this backlash was several years in the making and a monster entirely of Mr. Enter’s own creation. It came about due to a nasty combination of him refusing to evolve from his now-discredited roots, unwisely pivoting himself to an audience he could never capture, and soldiering on despite having squandered away his goodwill. These factors culminated in the perfect storm of bad that ensured he would go down in internet history not as a neurodivergent animation critic who overcame so much to create his platform, but rather “the Turning Red 9/11 guy”.
Because of the situation’s complexity, I feel it is best break down each factor one by one to better understand why, of all the awful takes on Turning Red, this is the one the internet made infamous.
Propping a Dead Genre (After Killing It)
The reason I’m even writing this essay in the first place is because I used to be a fan of Mr. Enter. I discovered his Animated Atrocities series back in 2014, and while he did have his shortcomings, most notably his lack of editing skills, I liked hearing what he had to say – even if I didn’t always agree with him. He wasn’t afraid to go against the mainstream consensus, and usually backed up his arguments with really sound logic. Given how many times I have expressed opinions on art that go against the critical consensus, I think, on a subconscious level, I saw a bit of myself in him. If nothing else, it was amusing at the time to watch somebody blow their stack at bad pieces of art.
However, by 2022, the Angry Critic genre was dead. Therefore, his continuation of a genre that everyone else had moved on from was like when Mötley Crüe and other hair metal bands tried to remain relevant without changing their image after Nirvana and other grunge bands banished them from the charts.
So, what exactly led to the downfall of the Angry Critic? The most general answer you will hear is that tastes simply changed. It was something amusing for people to laugh at in the late-2000s and early-2010s, but then it overstayed its welcome. If you want a specific moment that killed the genre, the most commonly cited one occurred in 2018 when the revelation of numerous scandals involving Channel Awesome was made public in the aptly titled Not So Awesome document. These scandals went far beyond a few bad apples creating a hostile work environment; among other things, the higher-ups ended up covering for a sexual predator. The release of the Not So Awesome document was thus a good chance to call time on the Angry Critic, as Doug Walker’s subsequent fall from grace discredited the genre on a wide scale.
However, I feel that the genre was already in its death throes by 2018, and the Not So Awesome documents merely marked the moment when people collectively moved on from it. Harking back to my rock metaphor, popular history will tell you that grunge killed hair metal when in truth, the latter was already passé by 1991. Grunge didn’t kill a thriving movement; it euthanized a dying one. If grunge is considered the slayer of hair metal, it’s because it lent a face and unity to a backlash that was already in progress. Guns N’ Roses’s stellar debut album, Appetite for Destruction, was arguably more responsible for the death of hair metal given how thoroughly it deconstructed the vapid, hedonistic lifestyle associated with the genre.
The same basic principle applies to the Angry Critic in relation to the Not So Awesome document. So, if that document didn’t kill the Angry Critic, what did? And when? Outside of the Not So Awesome document, you will hear that the Angry Critic began to die in the mid-2010s due to the genre being overexposed and perpetuated by people significantly less talented than James Rolfe. While true enough, such an assessment would be taking the path of least resistance, and where’s the fun in that? So, I feel compelled to grab the bull by the horns by arguing the event that killed the Angry Critic occurred in 2014 as a result of the single most reputation-destroying moment in the history of the online geek community: Gamergate.
I won’t discuss the exact details of Gamergate or its political implications because that would take far too long and the reactionaries behind the movement are not worthy of my attention. Ian Danskin has already made an extensive series of videos covering Gamergate and the reactionary movements it spawned, so if you’re interested, check his channel out. All you need to know for the sake of this essay is that it was perhaps the single most spectacular way a group of people ever managed squander their mainstream acceptance. Before 2014, nerds and geeks had presented themselves as eccentric, yet harmless. It was a significant improvement over their depictions in popular media in the late twentieth century in which they were usually punching bags – often victims of prevailing hypermasculine, homophobic attitudes at the time. That image was then completely atomized when these geek communities revealed a nasty, heavily bigoted side to them that they could no longer hide.
The Angry Critic saw its inception within the gaming community – James Rolfe and his Angry Video Game Nerd show being the progenitor of the genre. It was conceived as satire of nerds freaking out over trivial matters, but the joke became a lot less funny when we learned many of them really were just that angry. It only got worse when far-right pundits who otherwise didn’t, and still don’t, care about video games began exploiting the anger present in these communities. And just like that, these pundits had a new crop of attack dogs they could now easily sic on liberals, feminists, minorities, intellectuals, the LGBT community, and anyone else they considered the out group.
At first glance, it sounds as though Mr. Enter fell prey to bad luck. He struck oil with his Animated Atrocities series only for the Angry Critic well to dry up just a little over a year after he got his big break. However, I posit that while it may seem like exceptionally bad timing, Mr. Enter is not a victim of circumstance; in fact, he himself played a significant role in discrediting the Angry Critic genre.
The biggest factor Mr. Enter has against him is that he simply doesn’t have the acting chops or charisma required to make a show like James Rolfe’s work. He doesn’t emote well and lacks comedic timing, typically running his jokes into the ground à la Family Guy. Both of these traits are detrimental if you want to retain an audience’s attention for a significant period of time in what is intended to be a comedic series. The one emotion he has no problem conveying is anger, which you might think is beneficial for the host of an Angry Critic show, but at best, it turned him into a one-trick pony. At worst, it presented him as an immensely hateful person.
While I did enjoy watching Mr. Enter’s videos back in the day, I did find myself disconcerted with his outbursts even at the time. For example, whenever he ranted about fictional characters, he frequently addressed them directly. Although it was a common gag in other Angry Critic shows, the unstated joke was that the hosts were pathetic for doing so. Mr. Enter’s unironic, overly serious attempts to do the same just came across as extremely unhinged. I can imagine more than a few people believing he needs therapy after watching his reviews.
Conversely, whenever Mr. Rolfe raged in his Angry Video Game Nerd show, he was clearly playing an over-the-top, goofy character. He may have included bits and pieces of his life’s story in his show, but the line between the character and his creator was made very clear. This is primarily because out of character, he showed proper respect to creators and fans. It’s the reason why, even with the benefit of knowing the Angry Critic is a dead genre, his show is still watchable today – though I wouldn’t blame newer generations for not understanding what the fuss was about.
If Jonathan Rozanski wanted to similarly present Mr. Enter as an exaggerated version of himself, he blew it in his very first episode of Animated Atrocities wherein he called for the writers of “The Splinter” to be “fired immediately and blacklisted”. In a later installment, he appeared to issue a death threat to the writing staff. You can’t claim you’re playing a goofy character while also calling for a group of people to lose their livelihoods – or their lives – simply because they wrote an episode of a television show you didn’t like. On top of being unbelievably petty, these are the kind of comments you can only make when you haven’t worked a day in the entertainment business. Or any kind of non-internet job, really.
If his rhetoric was so obviously flawed from the outset, how did he amass such a dedicated following? It’s because back in 2013, creators were these out-of-reach figures who generally did not put much – if any – stock in what random people on the internet had to say about them or their work. Because of this clear divide, you may as well have been shouting these insults into a thunderstorm. I must admit I myself didn’t think much of his indiscretions because while Mr. Enter had no business doing what he did, his outbursts were only marginally worse than what you would hear from other Angry Critics at the time.
The Angry Critic became much less palatable as mainstream creators began to have a social media presence. Sites such as Twitter and Facebook created a leveler playing field, and while creators still had a higher level of prestige than their audience, it was easy, through the advent of parasocial relationships, to see them as peers. From there, these creators would be subjected to the causal ribbing one would expect internally from a group of friends, yet comes across as extremely rude when performed against strangers.
Mr. Enter himself demonstrated how badly the Angry Critic gelled with the social media age in a review of another episode of SpongeBob SquarePants entitled “Pet Sitter Pat”. That was the first time his vitriolic attitude landed himself in hot water. In that review, Mr. Enter revealed the Twitter feed of one of the show’s writers, causing his fans to inundate the latter with insults and death threats. Even at the height of the Angry Critic’s popularity, this was indefensible.
To Mr. Enter’s credit, he did eventually realize his mistake and apologized to the writer whose Twitter feed he revealed. Even better, he seemed to sincerely learn his lesson when later reviews were significantly calmer and lacked any personal attacks on writers. Unfortunately for his long-term prospects, the damage was done. It’s very difficult to singlehandedly take down an entire genre, but if Mr. Enter’s calling for the writers of SpongeBob SquarePants to be fired and inadvertently inspiring his fans to harass them on social media didn’t kill the Angry Critic outright, it did inject the genre with a slow-acting poison.
The death of the Angry Critic was thus seen as a call for many content creators to reinvent themselves. People such as Lindsay Ellis and Quinton Kyle Hoover would pivot away from their angry videos in favor of levelheaded, long-form critiques. These newer videos were much more well-received due to covering a wider array of content and offering unique perspectives. Mr. Enter should have followed suit, and he certainly had the potential to create more pensive videos. Alas, it wasn’t to be, and he would continue to make Angry Critic reviews well into the 2020s in what I consider to be one of the greatest failed attempts at selling out that I have ever seen.
Preaching to the (Nonexistent) Choir
When discussing Mr. Enter’s downfall, a lot of people single out one video in particular he created in 2020 entitled “How the World Ended”. Filmed during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, this single video cost him a significant portion of his fanbase. To avoid going off on a wild tangent, I won’t dwell on this point for too long, but it was bad. Really, really bad. In the video, he criticized governors for locking down their states, claimed masks were ineffective, and blamed Black Lives Matter protesters for spreading the disease – all while downplaying the virus’s severity. Far from the rapturous praise he was likely expecting for speaking his mind, he found himself losing countless watchers along with the support of an editor. The backlash was so severe, he wound up deleting his DeviantArt account, which had millions of views by the day of its cessation.
To say his video was tone deaf would be a grand understatement, as it saw its release two months after the murder of George Floyd at the hands of now-former police officer Derek Chauvin. His thesis conveniently overlooks that the Black Lives Matter protesters were almost universally masked up and practicing proper social distancing measures. Meanwhile, their right-wing opposition, towards whom Mr. Enter showed more sympathy, were convinced COVID-19 wasn’t real and protested unmasked. Three guesses as to which group proved a larger vector for the disease, and your first two don’t count. Better yet, this was all after making a video in which he claimed healthcare isn’t a human right.
“How could someone who started a channel reviewing My Little Pony episodes entertain far-right talking points?” you may ask. To begin with, people like Mr. Enter are popular targets for the far right to indoctrinate. Owing to their fragile mental states and difficulties socializing, these people often seek out groups who reassure them that their misfortunes aren’t their fault. As Gamergate demonstrated, it allows right-wing pundits to easily direct that negativity at targets of their own hatred.
Mr. Enter was always an incredibly bitter person given that his first episode of Animated Atrocities had him say the writers of SpongeBob SquarePants didn’t deserve jobs. Despite this, I don’t believe Gamergate had anything to do with Mr. Enter’s sudden political shift. Instead, I feel the singular moment that caused Mr. Enter to make his hard turn to the right can be traced back to his pet project, Growing Around. Mr. Enter was inspired by a segment on the anthological series Shorty McShorts’ Shorts called “Flip-Flopped”. The basic premise is that humans in this universe age backwards, meaning kids are in charge while adults are effectively children. Mr. Enter criticized the segment, but saw great potential in the premise, feeling that somebody else should run with the idea again.
He later decided to do it himself and, in 2018, revealed an Indiegogo page for Growing Around – an animated show set in a world in which, as he puts it, “kids rule and adults get schooled”. More specifically, it’s set in a world wherein kids are in charge of everything while adults must attend school. It seemed as though Mr. Enter was finally going to move on from his controversial past. He had written a novel set in the Growing Around universe two years prior as a proof of concept, but this show would be his definitive artistic statement.
Sadly, it wasn’t to be when he failed to meet his crowdfunding goal. Not helping matters was that his lack of experience managing a project of such a scale torpedoed his chances from the word go.
The nonexistent show itself was, in a word, problematic. The worldbuilding lent itself to many horrifying implications in that adults are completely subservient to kids the minute they reach their eighteenth year. So, why would anybody have kids in this universe? Mr. Enter once suggested in a Q&A session that adults who don’t have kids are put in orphanages, thus ensuring there is no escape from this terrifying reality. And the longer you think about it, the more likely you are to think of a question you simply do not want the answer to.
It’s worth noting that Mr. Enter grew up with abusive parents in an apathetic school system, so a premise in which adults are enslaved by their offspring is essentially a way for him to relive his traumatic childhood as the one holding all the cards. Consequently, the entire project comes across as a form of personal, unrelatable escapism for its author than it does a piece of art intended for mass consumption. It’s entirely possible to convert your hang-ups and personal demons into art, but Growing Around is what happens when you lack the maturity, restraint, and self-awareness necessary to make the results palatable. I won’t go into further detail to keep things on topic, but if you want to know more, a writer by the name of Meg Tuten performed a great analysis on why the franchise couldn’t work as Mr. Enter presented it.
I can believe Mr. Enter read the writing on the wall after Doug Walker’s fall from grace because he announced his Indiegogo page shortly after the Not So Awesome document surfaced. He had been tossing these ideas around for awhile – having published a book in 2016 set in the Growing Around universe entitled Growing Around: Party Panic, but in the shadow of the Not So Awesome document, he knew he needed to go full tilt on his flagship franchise to avoid going down with his former idol. But then, his project fell apart immediately thereafter.
On top of that, his novel was universally panned by those outside of his fanbase, turning only a modest profit and eventually earning itself a spot on TV Tropes’ “So Bad, It’s Horrible” page where it enjoys the dubious company of other misbegotten YouTuber vanity projects such as Onision’s Reaper’s Creek and Bob Chipman’s Super Mario Bros. 3: Brick-by-Brick. After his artistic aspirations failed to bear fruit, he needed to do something to remain solvent – and fast. He was convinced right there and then he had only one option left: continue doing what created his platform in the first place.
There’s the old cliché of critics being failed artists who take their anger out on those more successful than themselves. It’s honestly not true for most critics, but with the exception ofalumni Chris Gore, I can barely think of anybody who personifies the cliché better than Mr. Enter. It’s impossible to know for sure, but I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to conclude that his unsuccessful attempts to launch Growing Around as a franchise took an immense toll on his mental well-being. To some extent, I sympathize with him; even if Growing Around operated on a fundamentally broken premise, it is not fun to pour your blood, sweat, and tears into a project only to be met with negativity.
Nonetheless, his decision to continue making angry reviews would be his undoing.
With an assist from Mr. Enter, Gamergate poisoned the Angry Critic while the Not So Awesome document performed the coup de grâce. However, there were at least two notable exceptions that allowed the Angry Critic to thrive in some way beyond 2018. The first was James Rolfe himself. Having started the genre and, in retrospect, reading like a deconstruction of the archetype he spawned, Mr. Rolfe was allowed to continue making Angry Video Game Nerd episodes without an immediate loss of viewership. Also helping his cause was his ability to stay out of internet drama – a skill many of his contemporaries took for granted. This allowed him to retain his popularity even after continuing to work with the now-controversial Doug Walker.
Not to put too fine of a point on it, but Jonathan Rozanski is no James Rolfe, so he had to look elsewhere for inspiration. Unfortunately, the only other people keeping the Angry Critic mantle alive were the very far-right degenerates who either thrived during or had been inspired by Gamergate. The Angry Critic genre was discredited because people began to realize how many of the hosts gave their critiques in bad faith and, as Mr. Enter demonstrated, occasionally resulted in toxic fans swarming the subjects discussed. It therefore stands to reason that the few continuing to make videos in such a fashion were those not bothered by the genre’s weaknesses. Were their takes written in bad faith? Did their fans swarm creators of media they don’t like? To those who are unconcerned with the truth and want liberal creators to stopping making content altogether, these are features, not bugs.
As their campaign’s name implies, the far-right degenerates behind Gamergate saw their inception in gaming communities. Nonetheless, they were interested in infecting non-gaming spheres with their rhetoric, and they found a perfect opportunity to do so in the form of the Star Wars sequel trilogy – the first installment of which, The Force Awakens, was released in 2015. Two years later, its sequel, The Last Jedi, saw its silver-screen debut. Professional critics loved it, but the far right absolutely despised it due to its progressive themes and inclusive cast.
Shortly thereafter, said far-right Star Wars fans formed a loose collective they called the Fandom Menace, an expectedly uninventive play on The Phantom Menace. Despite their hosts possessing minimal talent or media literacy, these channels performed extremely well at the time, regularly getting hundreds of thousands – sometimes millions – of views on YouTube. And with those views, the proprietors of these channels were able to maintain careers on the platform insulting writers much like how Mr. Enter did when he started.
In turn, Mr. Enter would begin injecting far-right talking points into his videos – likely in an attempt to capture the so-called Fandom Menace’s market share. Although he was racially insensitive in several of his assessments, he proved especially hostile to feminists. I will say that his first few political takes weren’t too bad. They weren’t exactly mainstream, but they did offer an interesting perspective – particularly in how men could be victims of injustice in courts. Sadly, he fell down the same rabbit hole as countless men’s rights activists, starting off by criticizing systems that cheat men only to falsely conclude feminists want to keep them alive when a core tenant of toxic masculinity is that these injustices are the result of archaic, patriarchal attitudes which enforce rigid gender roles. Eventually, anything with a feminist message or even just a female main character had a very good chance of being lambasted by him. It’s why, even before I watched the film for myself, I knew Mr. Enter would not like Turning Red. The odds of a film in which the protagonist turns into a giant red panda in what is a clear allegory for puberty getting a passing grade from him were practically nonexistent.
He displayed much ire for the reactionaries’ popular targets from the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot to The Last Jedi despite having shown little to no interest in the properties before they became hot-button topics. In time, he kept a mental checklist of franchises supposedly ruined by feminism he would rattle off – often apropos of nothing.
His hostility was especially pronounced when he followed up his review of “Homer Badman”, an episode of The Simpsons that criticized the sensationalist nature of the news media, by saying he would rather be raped than falsely accused of rape. His reasoning? The latter would ruin his life while the former would “merely” make him a laughingstock. It’s every bit as ignorant and insensitive as it sounds. If a liberal wanted to convince a skeptic that white, male privilege is totally a thing, all they would have to do is show them some of Mr. Enter’s videos.
Watching Mr. Enter deteriorate was a surreal experience because, starting around the time his Indiegogo campaign failed, he seemed to mentally age ten years for every one year of real time. By 2022, he had the politics of an eighty-year-old white man who was mildly progressive back in the day only to “learn the error of his ways” and become a born-again Christian in his thirties. It would explain why his assessments tend to feel so prudish, puritanical, and, most of all, old.
It is here that, for the sake of my next point, I must risk a controversial opinion. When Mr. Enter released “How the World Ended”, many were quick to accuse him of having far-right sympathies, which he was quick to deny. The man once described himself as a centrist and a firm believer in the horseshoe theory, which posits the far left and the far right have more in common with each other than either do with the center. The theory is a beloved staple of people the internet labels “enlightened centrists” but is roundly criticized in academic circles for oversimplifying two very different political ideologies.
In either case, I don’t believe Mr. Enter is the centrist he thinks he is. The targets of his wrath are invariably left leaning in their messages. On some level, it does make sense that he would primarily discuss left-leaning works, as any art actually worth discussing seldom – if ever – comes from the right. This is primarily because liberals are the most adept when it comes to grasping abstract and subjective concepts, which is vital to creating good art. Conservatives can boast impressive technical skills, but you need liberals around if you want your work to have any kind of artistic flair or staying power.
It’s not even as though this effect is dampened the further to the left or right you go. To demonstrate my point, try thinking of the number of good artists you know of who happen to be communists. Now try thinking of the number of good artists you know of who happen to be fascists. Notice how the former number seems to greatly exceed the latter number? In fact, I’m pretty sure some of you reading this can’t think of a single good fascist artist. If you did, I’m going to assume you picked someone who started off fairly liberal, but drifted to the right later in life and they have been in a flop era ever since. Alternatively, you likely picked a second-wave black metal musician who made it as far as they did more through their compositional prowess than the content of their lyrics – which isn’t a large pool given such people are a minority in what is already a very niche group.
Regardless, I assure you it’s no coincidence. Communism has faced much criticism over the years, a lot of it deserved, but it doesn’t actively and deliberately choke creativity out of a society the way fascism does. This is why, as an aspiring artist, Mr. Enter’s pivot was especially unwise; nothing will kill your creative drive faster than far-right sympathies. As long as he continues to foster them, we can comfortably bet on Growing Around not budging an inch anytime soon – if ever. In the miraculous event the show does get made, it, like his book, will probably be panned.
However, Mr. Enter’s realignment proved unwise for another reason. When you examine the statistics, you will notice that while members of the so-called Fandom Menace had little trouble getting attention, Mr. Enter’s own attempts at mimicking their style failed. The reason for this is straightforward enough: they were an audience Mr. Enter had no chance of capturing. Far-right types have many contemptible qualities about them that go well beyond their aforementioned creative sterility – such as the fact that they are notoriously ableist, seeing the neurodivergent as burdens on society. Consequently, a neurodivergent individual such as Mr. Enter was never going to make it far in their circles unless they needed a useful idiot around to prove they’re inclusive. However, even if they did need a useful idiot, they wouldn’t have picked Mr. Enter.
Shortly after he obtained notoriety, Mr. Enter found himself a victim of several extensive cyberbullying campaigns on various hate forums, having been branded a “lolcow” – an often ableist term for a person with an eccentric demeanor who can be “milked” for laughs. These campaigns went well beyond spamming his social media accounts or livestreams; the perpetuators would dox his former editors, attempt to get dirt on him from former acquaintances who had no online presence, and phish his email address, using it to send terroristic threats to countries abroad, which resulted in the FBI knocking on his door. And this isn’t even getting into the fact that he has had at least two cyberstalkers who lusted for him despite his identifying as an asexual aromantic.
The people who effect harassment campaigns targeting individuals like Mr. Enter and throw terminology such as “lolcow” so freely don’t tend to come from the left – quite the opposite, in fact. This is what ultimately makes Mr. Enter’s lack of empathy towards the plights of minorities, feminists, and liberals all the more confusing. He knows firsthand how horrible it is to be a victim of far-right hate campaigns, yet he never connects the dots and insists on demonizing liberals – the very people who have the greatest chance of stymying the toxic behavior that leads to people such as himself being harassed. His glossing over the objectively real atrocities committed by the far right, many members of which actively conspire to make his life a living hell to this very day, is a clear case of an abuse victim adopting traits from his abusers as a maladaptive coping technique.
The far right is also not predisposed to admit when they make a mistake; once you’ve been added to their “lolcow” list, it’s very difficult – if not outright impossible – to ever come off of it. As such, Mr. Enter completely destroyed any chances of charming the mindless masses required to perpetuate the grift the exact second they decided he was an acceptable trolling target – an event that occurred years before the so-called Fandom Menace’s inception.
To sum things up, Mr. Enter’s rhetoric cost him his liberal and moderate fans, and they were quickly replaced by nobody because far-right reactionaries had zero interest in supporting him. This reflected in his viewership. Eighteen of the videos he created before “How the World Ended” amassed over one-million views. By 2022, his videos would be lucky to surpass 50,000 views. His Turning Red take did receive over 200,000 views, but his viewership dropped back down immediately afterwards. This suggests that the people who discovered him through Forbes and Twitter had no interest in sticking around. It’s incredible that a nine-year veteran with a quarter of a million subscribers would have such poor audience retention.
However, while his ex-fans may have been gone from his subscriber base, they weren’t gone from the internet. Many of them were biding their time, waiting for him to make a very specific mistake. One they could use to propell him headfirst into internet infamy. Or, more plausibly, they simply noticed his blunder out of the blue and decided it was as good of a time as any to dunk on him. Same difference.
Persisting With Zero Goodwill (And an Angry Audience)
A lot of people cite “How the World Ended” as the exact moment Mr. Enter hit rock bottom. While that piece is what cost him his fanbase and deserves a spot in his personal bottom ten, I would single out a video he uploaded one year later as the worst thing he ever created. It was an episode of Animated Atrocities called “The Wild World of Modern PSA’s”. Right away, the episode title is a red flag because this was a segment Doug Walker had been known for in his own flagship series. Trying to ape Doug Walker’s style in 2021 ensured the video was dead on arrival.
It gets worse when you actually watch the video because it quickly becomes apparent it’s not a commentary on the writing or the animation of the segments discussed, but a dumping ground for his awful, misinformed political takes. It sums up everything wrong what he has become in sixty-two minutes. Lowlights include claiming Doctor Anthony Fauci was a liar for not perfectly predicting the course of the COVID-19 pandemic within its first weeks, stating those in favor of lockdowns were fine with people committing suicide as long as they themselves didn’t get sick, saying the animated show Arthur should not have switched to Flash, and believing writing fiction about racism is pointless because the author is making stuff up.
There is so much wrong with this video that I barely to know where to start. First of all, it takes a truly impressive, nigh-immeasurable amount of hubris for a man with bad hygiene, appalling dietary habits, and dentition so poor that it took six months to fill in his cavities to think he’s a more credible authority on viruses than the world’s leading epidemiologists. And one of the reasons he has such bad teeth in first place? He hates the taste of mint. He called his old dentist an idiot for not providing Novocaine for his treatments, but even the most incompetent practitioners of the trade can tell you that cinnamon toothpaste is a thing. I imagine most of them would tell you that drinking nothing but soda doesn’t exactly do wonders for your teeth either.
His other points weren’t any better. The whole spiel about those in favor of lockdowns being alright with people committing suicide was a classic, Mr. Enter-style strawman argument that takes the bad things he may have heard some people say and ascribing it to all the liberals he hates so much. And this is assuming the people in question were real and not far-right trolls posing as liberals to discredit them, which is something that has been known to happen – just ask former Tumblr users. It also ignores the fact that, if anything, these lockdowns demonstrated how badly we needed to improve our mental healthcare systems.
It’s also quite ironic how a man who claims to be an animation fan can’t grasp that the creators of Arthur, a publicly broadcasted show, switched to Flash to save money. Once again, it’s a complaint you can only make when you’ve never worked a day in the industry. What was especially impressive about this segment is that the first Arthur PSA he discussed supported wearing masks, which resulted in him declaring us to be doomed as a species. He then proceeded to go on rant wherein he compared mask mandates to the internment of Japanese Americans during the Second World War. In addition to making him appear even more unhinged than usual, it raises the question of why he is making this video in the first place if he’s convinced humankind is doomed.
The way he began his rant against writing fictional instances of racism saw him trip over the starting line with an additional bout of misogyny. You see, one of the animated PSAs he mocked starred characters from the Barbie toy line – or as he put it, “the doll” [emphasis not added]. I took for granted how sexist attitudes make girls playing with toys designed for them arbitrarily worthier of mockery than boys doing the same, so I have Mr. Enter to thank for making me fully realize that.
And then he finishes his bigotry combo by claiming the authors were irresponsible for making up a fictional instance of racism to teach kids about how pervasive the problem is. By Mr. Enter’s logic, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird have no value whatsoever. I mean, sure, the former helped abolish slavery while the latter greatly assisted the Civil Rights Movement, but they’re made up, so they’re worthless. The best part? This was immediately after he condemned an Arthur PSA for alluding to the murder of George Floyd – an event not, in fact, made up by the writers. By his own criterion, he should not have had a problem with it.
Mr. Enter has a reputation of being immensely cynical, but in all honesty, such a label would be a disservice to cynics everywhere. Most cynics have some kind of consistent logic to them – however shortsighted and self-defeating many of them are. Mr. Enter flipflops so much, I’m astonished he can say half the stuff he says with a straight face. Sure, his actual conclusions are predictable, but when it comes to getting there, he’s all over the map. To wit, I knew he would not enjoy Turning Red well before I myself watched it, yet I wouldn’t have called him bringing up the 2001 World Trade Center attacks when trying to manufacture reasons why he felt it isn’t good.
One of the only things consistent about Mr. Enter is that whenever new information contradicts his theses, he completely shuts down. He claims conviction means sticking by your beliefs no matter what, but there’s a fine line between standing by your opinions and being a stubborn mule who is still convinced the Earth is flat after Eratosthenes measured the planet’s circumference circa 240 BC with remarkable accuracy. Considering he once said he wouldn’t change his opinions on the COVID lockdowns if he were on his deathbed from the disease, he falls squarely in the latter camp.
Finally, in what is easily his pièce de résistance, he finishes his video by claiming that antiracists are racist just like the so-called alt-right. His reasoning? Antiracists are still racist in the same way anti-villains are still villains. Antiracists see race everywhere, ergo they are just as prejudiced as actual racists. This is one of those arguments that is so obviously untrue, it sets the bar for wrongness lower merely by existing. Shocking though it may be to believe, it’s a logical fallacy that racists love to use in their attempts to discredit liberals, so perhaps Mr. Enter should have thought better of using it himself. On the other hand, if he did think, I wouldn’t have written this essay, so there is that.
And yes, I do realize he may have meant he was glad the alt-right was getting pushback, but the ambiguity of that line demonstrates his unwillingness to proofread, which is another constant problem in his videos. That and you need actual goodwill if you want people to give you the benefit of the doubt, and after indulging in the fallacious friend argument – another standby of diehard bigots, by the way – I don’t think it’s unfair to say Mr. Enter doth protest too much when it comes to claiming he isn’t racist. “If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck…” as they say.
Indeed, in alivestream session conducted one day after his Turning Red review blew up, he was asked who his favorite United States president was to which he replied, “William Henry Harrison”. For those unaware, William Henry Harrison, the ninth President of the United States, is notable for his extremely truncated tenure of thirty days, after which he became the first to die in office. Consequently, he accomplished nothing of note aside from indirectly spurring his running mate, John Tyler, into insisting that the Vice President becomes President as opposed to a mere Acting President, which, in turn, set a precedent for any future emergency successions. Again, it’s possible Mr. Enter was being flippant, but his answer makes it sound as though he prefers presidents who did nothing over those who made strong efforts to dismantle racist systems as Abraham Lincoln or Lyndon Baines Johnson. This sentiment would be consistent with his odd, yet palpable hostility to antiracist rhetoric and change in general.
But, entertaining his insane ramblings for a second, the reason they fall apart is because they assume both sides think about the systemic problem of racism for the same reason. To paraphrase a content creator who goes by the e-handle Thought Slime, saying racists and antiracists are both racist because they see things through the lens of race is exceedingly dishonest. The former sees things through the lens of race to continue oppressing minorities while the latter does so in order to fight racist systems more effectively. The Art of War famously tells its readers to “know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a thousand battles without disaster”; the same principle applies to dismantling racist systems.
Using Mr. Enter’s logic, “The Splinter” must be his all-time favorite episode of SpongeBob SquarePants because he had such strong feelings about it; being the impetus for Animated Atrocities is just an expression of his obvious affection. When he wanted the writers to get fired and blacklisted, he was really professing deep admiration for their skill. Whenever he makes videos about his detractors, it’s because he likes them so much, mere words cannot express it. Also, he loves his fellow man with all of his heart when he says we’re doomed as a species. You get the idea.
It is also his worst edited video to date. His earlier videos are worse from a technical standpoint, but they could be excused somewhat because he was just starting out and doing everything by himself back then. His PSA video, on the other hand, demonstrates how little he has improved – particularly with his continued inability to think through his implications. To wit, when discussing the murder of George Floyd, his avatar strikes a certain pose that, when onscreen at the same time as a photo of the deceased, creates a truly abhorrent juxtaposition.
I promise you that I did not doctor this screencap in any way. Because Derek Chauvin murdered Mr. Floyd through asphyxiation, Mr. Enter deciding to have his avatar make this goofy face that looks like he is choking is beyond tasteless. He then claimed the footage of the murder taking place “mired the situation quite a bit” and mentioned Mr. Floyd’s criminal past. In reality, the footage proved to be such decisive evidence, it took the jury ten hours to convict Chauvin – an unusually short amount of time for a murder trial that favors the prosecution. It should be noted that the trial was ongoing when Mr. Enter made this video, but I’m not inclined to cut him any slack after he mentioned Mr. Floyd’s criminal past, as it is an underhanded tactic employed by mainstream news outlets whenever something like this happens in order to downplay the severity of the officer’s crime or even make it seem justifiable. In other words, it’s a textbook case of victim blaming – yet another tactic racists use to justify their backwards worldviews. Had he read Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give or seen George Tillman Jr.’s film adaptation of it, he would’ve known that.
The worst part? I can’t dismiss this unfortunate juxtaposition as a product of apathy because it is not an isolated incident.
If Mr. Enter or any of his fans were to read this essay, they would assuredly accuse me of taking these images out of context. I would preemptively counter such an accusation by asserting these images aren’t any better in context.
It’s from outbursts like this that I must reiterate the uncomfortable, yet unavoidable conclusion I hinted at earlier: Mr. Enter is a racist. Anyone examining Mr. Enter’s rhetoric would immediately conclude that he is a deeply misogynistic man, which is a trait likely exacerbated by having an abusive mother in his formative years and at least two female cyberstalkers in his adult life, but calling him a racist may seem a bit farfetched at first glance. And certainly, Mr. Enter doesn’t subscribe to the variety of transparent, weapons-grade racism you would normally associate with other far-right types. No, his brand of racism is of a much subtler – arguably worse – variety. He is bigoted in that, while he may say racism is a real evil in this world and could even genuinely mean it on a superficial level, his words are undercut by the myriad racist arguments and racist tactics he uses to discredit or outright slander the people actually invested in pursuing equal justice for all.
And had this been the only video he made on the subject, an especially charitable person could write it off as a man with chronic sociological illiteracy creating a monster by accident. His problem is that a majority of the bad arguments he makes in his PSA video had some kind of precedent. While he displayed questionable beliefs as early as 2016, the year he reviewed “Homer Badman”, I don’t think it’s a stretch to infer that his Indiegogo campaign stalling out in 2018 caused him to double down on them. Indeed, one video he created later that year, given the instantly dated title of “Everything is Offensive!” no less, had him claim the word “gyp” meant “to rip someone off” when he was younger and nothing else. He reacted with smug contempt for those who correctly brought up the word’s racist connotations against the Romani people when making a case as to why it shouldn’t be considered offensive. It’s a textbook example of a white man failing to understand that he can’t make the call about potentially problematic words or parlance when he isn’t a member of the group affected by them.
Now, it’s easy to dismiss Mr. Enter as a misanthropic doomer who hates everyone regardless of their race or politics, but if that were true, it doesn’t explain why his screeds against antiracists are always so pointed. He tends to excessively criticize people who try to fight racism; those perpetuating it tend to get off lightly by comparison. The fact he rolls with the premise that those denying racism’s existence are morons, but antiracist fiction authors are worse than morons is damning in of itself.
Those willing to defend him out of either loyalty or pity but can’t completely ignore these unfortunate arguments would likely make the case that his racist rhetoric is the result of him simply not knowing any better. I will concede that there are verifiably non-racist people who react like Mr. Enter when unaware of the concept of privilege, but ignorance alone can’t explain the sheer lengths to which he goes to discredit antiracists. Most people can be educated on the matter; Mr. Enter has a hard enough time accepting his proposed show cannot work as is, let alone entertaining the premise that his words are far friendlier to racists. DeviantArt users roundly criticized his racist beliefs, and it speaks volumes that his response to said pushback was to delete the page and retreat into his heavily moderated Discord echo chamber. He tested the waters and had plenty of opportunities to turn back, yet he elected to stick his fingers in his ears instead.
With these antics, Mr. Enter cemented himself as YouTube’s homegrown Amy Bouzaglo – complete with a self-destructive propensity to incessantly engage with trolls tempered by an utter inability to take any kind of criticism. I can only conclude that after losing the support of his long-time collaborators in 2020 thanks to his COVID videos, Mr. Enter assembled an ad-hoc team of yes-men to be his editors. Which is to say, they show up, do exactly what they’re told, collect their paycheck, and leave. I’m convinced that anyone who questions his creative decisions gets the boot because even the most lackadaisical editors out there would have stamped down these ideas long before they made it to air.
So, why is all of this important to know? It has to do with my statement about quantifying offensiveness. Based on such a hypothetical model, if there was any one piece that should have resulted in the monumental backlash Mr. Enter received for his Turning Red take, it’s “The Wild World of Modern PSA’s”. I can’t explain how it flew under the radar, but if I were to make an educated guess, I would posit that it’s because by 2021, Mr. Enter had already turned himself into a pariah thanks to his COVID videos. One of the most profound ways for a fanbase to turn on a content creator is for them to unsubscribe en masse, which is something an individual can only do once. Therefore, I am certain that if he made “The Wild World of Modern PSA’s” first, it would have been the video to kill his reputation instead of “How the World Ended”.
In many ways, “How the World Ended” was Mr. Enter’s equivalent of the Not So Awesome document. It was the moment when the public opinion permanently turned against him, and he began to fade away into background noise – still technically around, but completely ignorable. Consequently, all his PSA video did was confirm to former supporters that he was, in fact, still crazy. It did reasonably well for a post-2020 Mr. Enter video, but otherwise failed to make any waves aside from receiving a few point-by-point rebuttals from other content creators. Even with the comparatively muted reception, however, he was hemorrhaging goodwill at an alarming rate, and the negative sentiments shared by his former fans would reach a boiling point when he released his take on Turning Red.
The most interesting thing about all of this is that Mr. Enter’s situation is not unique. I have seen similar backlashes play out with other controversial content creators such as DarkSydePhil and Onision, and the narrative is always the same. These people gain a strong following on social media only to make a series of blunders that rob them of the goodwill they spent years building. They then continue to linger in online spaces while not admitting any kind of fault for their wrongdoings. Eventually, their ex-fans, concluding the content creators they used to follow shouldn’t be allowed to get away with their egregious indiscretions, proceed to ruin their reputation using the best, most efficient weapons at their disposal: memes.
Doug Walker had a similar trajectory when the Not So Awesome document surfaced. He simply continued what he had been doing as though nothing happened – albeit with noticeably less support. And then, in late 2019, he released his parody of Pink Floyd – The Wall. The backlash he received for his horrible take on this beloved cult classic arthouse film based on bandleader Roger Waters’s experiences growing up in postwar England engulfed the entire internet in a massive conflagration. Far more respected critics such as Dan Olson and Anthony Fantano proceeded to rebut the weak arguments and won handily. The latter went as far as calling the accompanying soundtrack to the review the third-worst album of the 2010s – only ahead of Lil Xan’s Total Xanarchy and Corey Feldman’s Angelic 2 the Core. It was poetic in a way. The decade began with Doug Walker and Channel Awesome as the gold standard for internet content creation; when it drew to a close, the company was a shell of its former self and its face a subject of mockery.
This situation would be prescient to the one Mr. Enter found himself in three years later with his Turning Red video. Like Doug Walker’s parody of Pink Floyd – The Wall, Mr. Enter’s Turning Red take may not have been his lowest moment, but it too was subject to a memetic backlash perpetuated by angry ex-fans who were completely fed up with him by that point. Both videos even fail in a similar fashion with their respective hosts having no clue what they’re talking about, yet being absolutely confident in their deliveries. To paraphrase Dan Olson, these kinds of products are downright intoxicating to talk about. The most common conclusion to draw from watching these videos was that things were not going to get any better moving forward. While these videos may not have killed their respective creators’ careers outright, they did kill the single most important thing to any critic who gives even the slightest care about their profession: their credibility.
When you make enough of your own fanbase angry and continue playing the game from a losing position, they will eventually find a way to make you infamous. They could make montages of your failures, bash your books, or roast your garbage takes. The backlash can take any form and be directed at something that seems insignificant in the grand scheme of things; it doesn’t matter as long as it gets the job done. It’s your former fanbase saying, on no uncertain terms, “Fine! You’re not going to take the hint? Enjoy being a living meme!” Even speaking as someone from the outside looking in, I can safely say you do not want to become a living meme. Doug Walker used to be considered a trailblazing entrepreneur; now, he’s the man who made Nostalgia Critic’s The Wall – one of the worst albums of the 2010s. Similarly, Mr. Enter used to be an inspirational story for those on the autism spectrum; he shall now be known as “the Turning Red 9/11 guy” forevermore. All of their triumphs and everything they’ve ever achieved? Gone – drowned in a sea of exploitable images and soundbites.
Or, if we’re going to take a page out of Mr. Enter’s playbook and bring up historical atrocities for no reason, then I can say these stories remind me of how Al Capone got busted for tax evasion. Of all the indiscretions Al Capone committed as the kingpin of an organized crime empire, I don’t think it’s inaccurate to say tax evasion ranks fairly low on that list in terms of heinousness. Why did the FBI relentlessly pursue that particular avenue when trying to convict him and not any of the other, doubtlessly worse crimes he committed? Because it was the only thing they had on him that stuck. They may not have been able to prove how he earned his money, but they could absolutely assert that he failed to pay any taxes on it.
This is the nature of the predicament Mr. Enter found himself in – though obviously not nearly as dramatic. His Turning Red take wasn’t the worst piece of content he ever unfurled upon the internet – not by a long shot. It was, however, the easiest to ridicule, being mocked even by those who didn’t like the film. And if former fans wanted to show the uninitiated why they left him? They now had more than enough fodder with which to prove their point and turn him into a joke in one fell swoop. By 2022, enough people wanted to see him fail, so this is what stuck.
This all paints a very dark picture of someone who simply cannot handle being an online figure. While quitting his internet job would solve many of his problems, Mr. Enter – much like his former idol, Doug Walker – burned countless bridges during his rise to YouTube fame. If he wanted a real-life job now, prospective employers would have to overlook his blatantly racist and misogynistic beliefs. However, even human resources managers employed by the most bigoted companies out there would think twice about hiring a drama addict unable to go a significant length of time without stirring up trouble. I can personally attest that it is thoroughly unpleasant simply exchanging emails with people like Mr. Enter – forget working with them five days a week.
Mr. Enter once prided himself in being one of the few people capable of thinking four-dimensionally, which is, as he claims, the ability to realize that what you do today affects tomorrow and so on. I strongly doubt that is indeed the case because if he can think four-dimensionally, he never would have ended up in such an unenviable position. At the very least, he would have stopped when the public turned on him. No matter how few avenues he has left, he instead feels compelled to keep marching on – neither innovating, nor doing anything to risk toppling the house of cards he built. Tragically, this is the only fate for those who lose the support of their community and refuse to put down the shovel.
Drawing a Conclusion
“You know, it’s kind of relieving seeing a show you left, uh, hasn’t really changed when you come back to it. Uh, in a way, it’s infuriating because we’re back to dirty argument tactics and fallacious reasoning”
Those were Mr. Enter’s words regarding the animated web show Extra Credits. In context, he was commenting on their episode regarding evil races, and how bio-essentialism can ruin worldbuilding. His words became ironic in hindsight because they perfectly sum up how I felt when I discovered him trending on social media in April 2022.
Mr. Enter is an odd beast compared to other bad critics. When I think of some of the worst critics out there – your Armond Whites, your Chris Gores, your Lily Orchards, your Callum Edmundses, your Bob Chipmen – they tend to ruin their credibility in the exact same way: by forming their portfolio through squabbling and petty one-upmanship. It’s very difficult to take a given assessment seriously knowing there is a real possibility the critic is saying what they’re saying not because they have any genuine conviction, but rather to own someone they hate. Critiques formed purely to spite another party tend to be worthless because it moves the conversation away from a work’s artistic merits and onto the author’s ego. With good critics, you should comprehend how they came down to their conclusions – not try to suss out who managed to upset them this week.
Mr. Enter, on the other hand, has the opposite problem. His critiques are what happens when you try to form opinions as a misanthropic hermit who sees no value in bouncing ideas off of other people. Now, obviously, it wasn’t as though he completely abstained from causing drama. After all, we’re talking about the same man who had at least three social media accounts – two on Twitter and one on DeviantArt – only to delete all three of them when the public rebelled against his inflammatory rhetoric. But, setting that aside, his crank opinions are what you get whenever you try to evolve your viewpoints in a vacuum. They’re either wildly off the mark or carbon copies what other reactionaries say. And this is assuming they’re not just incomprehensible ramblings you would stereotypically expect from someone fifty years older than him.
When trying to create Growing Around, Mr. Enter had a very similar attitude. Like many critics, he bought into the romanticized idea of how art is made; one person’s vision should come across with no executive interference, and we, the audience, are just meant to stare in awe. This ignores the fact that these projects are always group efforts. Oftentimes, even the best writers will come up with bad ideas, and working through the editorial process is what allows a project to be the best version of itself. We often hear about executives and test groups ruining otherwise good films, but there have been just as many instances – if not, more – of those very people preventing auteurs from going off the deep end. We just don’t hear of those instances because good editors tend to be unsung heroes whereas bad editors make for effective scapegoats for the people who have actual platforms. It is theoretically possible to create art or form meaningful opinions in a vacuum, but to do so would be nothing more than a statistical anomaly. Because Mr. Enter’s canon drastically devolved over the years, I can declare he simply wasn’t that lucky.
Indeed, Growing Around is where Mr. Enter invariably displays the greatest amount of cognitive dissonance. At the height of his online harassment, he created a video calling out his trolls by name. In it, he deviated from the topic at hand by ruminating over the largely negative reviews he received for his book. While doing so, he called out two readers for not finishing his book before reviewing it. Ideally, one should indeed finish a book before reviewing it, but in both cases, they made it clear they only read the first few chapters because they weren’t compelled to continue. He should have seen this as a red flag, but he instead used it as an excuse to dismiss perfectly valid, thoughtful criticism.
Two years later, he reviewed the Nickelodeon show Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles despite having only watched a few episodes before giving his take on it. Incidentally, the resultant fallout and his poor handling thereof are what led him to delete his first Twitter account. He would later indirectly try to justify his decision by claiming it’s alright to drop a show that isn’t good immediately because all stories need a strong start. On top of being immensely hypocritical, his argument had the unintentionally comical effect of retroactively weakening his own rebuttals to his book’s reviews. After all, if, according to him, it’s okay to drop a show after watching the first few episodes and being left unimpressed, surely the same principle applies to his own book?
Not to mention there’s the irony of a critic who has a reputation of overanalyzing cartoons only to implore readers to take the unworkable concepts of his own passion project at face value. Again, nothing can possibly justify the sheer amount of harassment Mr. Enter has received over the years. That being said, these two aspects, when combined, are practically guaranteed to attract trolls or vocal detractors like moths to a flame – something a person capable of seeing into the fourth dimension such as Mr. Enter should have anticipated.
One common thread unifying Mr. Enter’s entire body of work is his extreme frustration with shouting into the void. Setting aside the glaringly obvious solution to this problem of his, which is to stop making videos and seek out a therapist, it’s clear he is tired of people not respecting his opinions – that no matter how loudly he screams, nobody will be swayed by them. To that, I can only scratch my head and ponder how on Earth he expects any form of respect when he himself clearly has none to give. In his Turning Red take alone, he insults fans of the film for being corporate bootlickers, and when examining his other videos, you will quickly learn it’s not a one-time mistake.
Exacerbating matters is that even when talking about things he likes in his sister series Admirable Animation, he always sounds so bitter and catatonic – as though being positive sucks up all his energy or even causes him physical pain. Even then, he still finds ways to be negative. For example, his takes on the Arthur episode “April 9th” and Shane Koyczan’s video poem “Troll” ended up being little more than screeds against his detractors. There were also his reviews of The Simpsons episodes “Homer Badman” and “Stark Raving Dad”, wherein he failed to make a case as to why they are good and instead used them as excuses to rant about cancel culture. His review of Soul, which he now claims to be his favorite film of all time, starts with him stating that he finds it difficult to derive enjoyment out of good art due to supposedly being more predictable than bad art. Also, it takes him roughly one-sixth of the video’s runtime before he begins praising the film. Even after he does, he takes time out of his praise to rant about industry trends he personally does not like.
I find the worst critics out there aren’t necessarily the ones who are overly negative all the time, but rather the ones who are actively inept at liking things. A good critic needs to be a good persuasive writer, and to be a good persuasive writer, you need to set your ego aside and guide your audience to your conclusion. If you can’t convince them that the pieces of art you admire are worthy of being praised, you may as well have said nothing at all. As it stands, Mr. Enter is so intellectually dishonest, my gut reaction to him bashing something these days is to assume he is either missing the point or making mountains out of molehills. Conversely, whenever he gives something his stamp of approval, it’s usually because he is invoking “The Death of the Author” to make it about himself.
The saddest part is that his Turning Red take wasn’t even the worst video he released in 2022. One month later, he released a series of videos cataloging his unpopular opinions. In one of them, he baselessly claimed cartoons were more diverse in the 1990s and 2000s than they are now. Within the video, he revealed voice actress Tara Strong’s Twitter feed, speaking negatively of her political opinions. He implied Ms. Strong can’t be a true progressive when she once voiced an Asian character using a stereotypical accent. It’s rather audacious for him to hold such an opinion given how many times he has gone off on his detractors for bringing up his past misdeeds despite supposedly improving as a person since then. Apparently, nobody else is allowed to evolve their viewpoints.
Five months later, he talked about the first episode of the Amazon television show The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, which culminated in him having a complete meltdown over the staff condemning racism in geek circles, believing they were hiding behind minorities to “protect [their] petty, little egos” and only truly care about money. If there were any lingering doubts that Mr. Enter is a racist, this meltdown removed them. Also, considering his own tendency to flip out whenever Growing Around is criticized and his pandering to the far right, which was an obvious, failed attempt at selling out, this just comes across as some hardcore projection.
He did apologize for his Turning Red take during his unpopular opinion marathon, citing it as an example of nitpicking gone too far. However, I’m disinclined to believe his apology was anything other than a perfunctory attempt at saving what little face he had remaining. When he apologized for his vitriolic SpongeBob SquarePants reviews back in 2015, most watchers, including me, did believe he was trying to improve himself. Indeed, a big-name content creator owning up to their indiscretions was a rare breed even in the mid-2010s. Plus, it was entirely possible he legitimately didn’t understand the responsibility that comes with having a sizable fanbase. Simple growing pains is all.
However, most onlookers, again, including me, weren’t willing to accept his apology this time around. He has demonstrated a consistent pattern of disrespecting creators and erupting over minor slights despite having ostensibly taken great strides to stop. Indeed, another reoccurring thread in his videos is how unfair it is that people keep bringing up his insulting the writers of SpongeBob SquarePants when he no longer does any of that now. Those sentiments ring hollow because he’s actually much worse now than when he started; instead of insulting writers for their supposed lack of skill, he insults them for their liberal, antiracist political beliefs.
There have been several instances over the years in which Mr. Enter complains about how unfair it is that the internet gangs up on him when there are several people who deserve such a level of scorn much more. While I can confirm that there are indeed objectively worse people who receive far less hate than he does, it’s difficult to sympathize after a certain point when he continues to make the same mistakes time and again without remorse. What he does is wrong, he knows it’s wrong, and yet he does it anyway.
In light of how he handled himself after his brush with controversy, I can’t help but infer he didn’t apologize for his bad take because he was genuinely sorry; he was merely bitter the internet wouldn’t let him get away with it. His apology served no higher purpose than to get detractors to stop bugging him. Had he sincerely regretted his actions, he never would have revealed Ms. Strong’s Twitter feed or released his highly bigoted take on The Rings of Power. Anyone who sincerely regretted penning such a bad take would have used the backlash as an opportunity for a much-needed course correction. That he doubled down on his reactionary rhetoric shortly thereafter proves he was only waiting for the dust to settle. As soon as the internet got off his case, he picked up right where he left off without skipping a beat, having learned exactly nothing.
As soon as I observed the backlash against Mr. Enter’s Turning Red review, I knew right there and then that he was done. I won’t say making a comeback from a position this ruinous is impossible, but it would require him to, at bare minimum, fundamentally and permanently change every single aspect about how he creates content and completely disavow his canon thus far. I just don’t see him doing that; like a lot of other egocentric critics, he is far too enamored with his own opinions to drop or alter any of them. The only way he can mount a comeback with his current rhetoric would be to appeal to the mindless drones who give the so-called Fandom Menace a platform, but they are unlikely to support him due to his profile. Even if he did, his new audience would destroy whatever remaining chances he had of ever achieving mainstream success, and act as a coda for his downfall. And then they would just ditch him at the first opportunity anyway once they decided they had no more use for him. Whatever the case may be, I seriously hope he gets professional help because if he doesn’t, the results won’t be pretty.
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write this essay because even after all of the awful things he has said and done over the years, I still feel some pity for the man. Jonathan Rozanski is someone who, from the very beginning, got a raw deal in life. His father walked out on his family, and he was verbally abused by both his mother and his stepfather, eventually forcing him to live with his grandparents. Things weren’t much better for him in school where, as a likely result of his autism, he had immense difficulties making friends. He was also frequently bullied; one student in particular picked on Mr. Rozanski for years, and, worst of all, the faculty refused to do anything about it. Only after said bully pepper sprayed him did the faculty do anything to help him. And then, just when it seemed like he got a break making animation reviews, he became a target of even more extensive and obsessive bullying as an adult, ensuring he could never escape the cycle of abuse. It only got worse for him in late 2021 in which he caught COVID himself and proceeded to lose both his mother and great-grandmother in a month’s time.
Many of his hang-ups, which are especially evident when parsing his proposed animated show, make a lot of sense when you realize he didn’t have any good parental figures growing up, was constantly let down by authority figures, and generally isn’t used to people sticking up for him. In one confessional video, he says a source of constant anxiety for him is that he will make friends only for them to abandon him once they learn of something he did in the past – a scenario he claims has happened many times. It’s why I see the sheer amount of venom and hatred he spews in his videos as him lashing out at a world he feels owes him big time after treating him so poorly. As the adage goes, “Hurt people hurt people”.
In the end, I feel we can learn quite a lot from Mr. Rozanski’s rise and fall. Although I feel he sees himself as the universe’s chew toy, a lot of the unpleasant situations he regularly finds himself in as an adult are the result of his own bad decisions. Going out swinging with his inaugural Animated Atrocities episode sabotaged his chances of ever making it big. If you were an industry professional, would you want to hire someone who demanded your writers be fired and blacklisted? I wouldn’t, and I’m pretty sure most others wouldn’t either. If, as Jean-Paul Sartre once said, “Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you”, these actions don’t present Mr. Rozanski’s character in a flattering light. Even if he is legitimately pitiable, the man ultimately chose to inflict his own pain onto others rather than rise above it and improve himself.
And the reason he caught COVID in the first place? He didn’t bother getting vaccinated. After making several videos protesting lockdowns and blaming Black Lives Matter for supposedly spreading the disease, he failed to do the one thing that likely would have granted him a return to normalcy.
Mr. Rozanski’s story should be seen as a cautionary tale of what happens when someone tries to create content – especially in an online space – without a realistic assessment of their strengths and weaknesses. I honestly think he could have been a remarkable talent if he played a role on a creative team that didn’t involve interacting with the public. To that end, he should have honed his writing ability and hired a publicist as a go-between.
He ran into problems almost immediately because the style of content he started off with accentuated his shortcomings and downplayed his strengths to the point of invisibility. By trying to go forward in a field for which didn’t have any kind of talent, he generated an unsupportive audience who were more interested seeing his explosive outbursts than helping him succeed. When you have that kind of audience, it makes any meaningful attempts to develop yourself impossible because they want you at your worst, not your best.
And while he initially tried to make amends for his bad behavior, he regressed back into it once Growing Around failed to launch and he desperately needed a way to stay afloat. His proposed show may involve people maturing backwards, but as a result of his new beliefs, the man mentally aged at such a rapid pace that he became a curmudgeon yelling at kids to get off his lawn before he left his twenties. I think we can all agree that is a fate anyone would do well to avoid.
Or, if all of this is too heavy for you, I have more positive conclusion to offer. Watch Turning Red; it’s a great film – one of Pixar’s stronger efforts, in fact.