Waffles. Moose. Moose-eating Waffles. Did you see what I did there? LOL SO RANDOM, rite? Welcome to the internet in the 2000s, birthplace of a movement known as “randomcore”—an aesthetic style characterized by the juxtaposition of a rotten or nonsensical world with one “normal” observer, the grotesquifying of cute things, and absurdist humour taken to its crudest extreme. The aesthetic dominated internet culture for years, spawning countless now-forgotten Flash videos, launching the careers of some still-successful artists, and cementing the foundations of the post-millennium digital world. And there’s no better poster child of those wild times—from birth to inevitable decline—than the web series Llamas With Hats.
Back to the Past
Let me set the stage. It was the mid-late 90s—South Park ushered in new concerns about animation with its young characters and vulgar dialogue, and was only just becoming a major cultural force. “Think of the children” was born as what we’d now call a meme thanks to The Simpsons. And Tipper Gore’s backing of the Parent Resource Music Center—responsible for putting explicit labels on certain albums—and the national conversation about violence in videogames and television birthed its own countermovement online.