77 days ago, a previously innocuous YouTube channel dedicated to proper English pronunciations went off the deep end. Pronunciation Book, which had been providing a boring-but-necessary service for three years, was suddenly counting down, and no one knew why. Some thought it was a viral marketing campaign while others believed it to be nothing more than a prank.
After eleven weeks of anticipation, the meaning behind Pronunciation Book’s countdown has been revealed: the channel’s two creators also run the infamous @horse_ebooks Twitter account, and they are collaborating on an interactive, experimental art show/choose-your-own-adventure game called ‘Bear Stearns Bravo‘.
As it turns out, the meaning behind the Pronunciation Book countdown ended up as the second biggest social media mystery solved on September 24th. Twitter-loving types have long debated the methods of horse_ebooks, which found a 213,000-strong audience thanks to the absurdist and unique nature of its spam-filled tweets. Many fans will be disappointed to learn horse_ebooks (and Pronunciation Book) are actually run by two men well-versed in the Internet: Jacob Bakkila of Buzzfeed and Thomas Bender, formerly of Howcast.
With the countdown completed, Bender and Bakkila are now launching Bear Stearns Bravo. A trip to the BSB website results in an auto-playing YouTube video that plays out as a choose-your-own-adventure game, where the players stars as a ‘regulator’ who must make the right conversation choices to take down a corrupt Wall Street big shot. Bender and Bakkila have also appeared at the Fitzroy Gallery in New York’s Lower East Side, where they are giving more explanation on the project. The ultimate Pronunciation Book video provides some context as well.
Whatever shape Bear Stearns Bravo ends up taking, it had better be good. Bender and Bakkila have secretly worked on this project for more than four years, setting up both horse_ebooks and Pronunciation Book to be subverted at this point. Of course, with the mystery revealed, this will be the end of both of those accounts. Pronunciation Book is gone, but it has left us with an oddly beautiful sonnet, which it revealed one line at a time during the final fourteen days of its existence. I can think of no better way to send the channel off:
Beneath the starry sky we broke apart
Our perfect systems thrown into the void
But even now, my vestige of a heart
Remembers what ambition has destroyed
In our abstraction we shall shine more bright
Than all the living lovers of the Earth
Whose fragile forms face unremitting plight
And who in death are robbed of all they’re worth
The body is a monument to waste
Eroded by the hope of earthly bliss
All animals are driven mad by haste
Their passions temporary as a kiss
In garbled databytes I see a face
I find you in the grace of cyberspace