Web Video / Captain Disillusion

"Love with your heart, but use your head for everything else."
Captain Disillusion

Captain Disillusion is a web video series created by Latvian-born independent filmmaker Alan Melikdjanian. The series was started on September 18, 2007, and is still going on today.

The titular Captain D is a skeptic from the future who uses his superior critical thinking powers and intimate knowledge of digital editing and effects to debunk viral hoax videos on the internet. These videos include but are not limited to ghosts, aliens, impossible stunts, and much more. But Captain D isn't alone he has to put up with an annoying living Lens Flare named Mr. Flare and, more occasionally, a giant floating head goddess named Holly.

His YouTube channel can be found here. He also has a Patreon which can be found here.

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This show contains examples of:

  • A Dog Named "Dog": Mr. Flare, the lens flare.
  • Ambiguously Human:
    • Although appearing to be human it's never really clear what Captain D is.
    • Holly, who might be some kinda eternal being.
  • Alternate Timeline:
    • In "The Mandaellah Effekt", we're shown an alternate timeline where Holly is the skeptical superhero and Captain D is the malevolent deity. The two timelines are able to interact and hold conversations.
    • "Time Travel DEBUNK" takes place in the same timeline from Back to the Future Part II, where Captain has his own campus, a subscription based channel, and Max Headroom style stuttering in his videos. When the DeLorean leaves at the video's end (right after Captain claims Time Travel into the past is impossible) everything vanishes, and a stunned Captain finds himself sitting in his usual corner.
  • Amusing Injuries: The Captain frequently falls victim to these, mostly during his exit gags. A common image is the Captain taking off in flight, only to crash back to the ground, unconscious.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: In "The Undebunkable", we get one of the Zeitgeist.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism:
    • Despite the wide range of strange and impossible things Captain D deals within the videos, including but not limited to giant floating heads, cartoon characters visiting him, and sentient lens flares, he remains incredibly skeptical of supernatural claims.
    • This is the main topic discussed in "The Undebunkable", where Captain D explains how sometimes outlandishly-appearing things can be in fact real, and how mistrusting and denying everything on the basis of "it looks fake"is ultimately unhelpful and sometimes flat-out wrong.
      Captain D: The power to tell real from fake doesn't come from being a "world expert" or mistrusting every single thing you see, it comes from an honest willingness to change your opinions and beliefs based on new facts. So learn to enjoy being wrong. The world might start making more sense. You won't feel as out of step with humanity, your words won't cause needless pain to those who suffered real tragedies, and the words of others won't sway you into believing myths over truth. You'll be able to love with your heart, but use your head for everything else.
  • Catch-Phrase: "Love with your heart, but use your head for everything else."
  • Conspiracy Theories: Discussed at great length in "The Undebunkable", namely of how a mindset of arbitrarily dismissing things because they might be fake can lead to pointlessly negative conclusions, such as the moon landing being a hoax, the "Paul is dead" theory, or how 9/11 was all faked.
  • Couch Gag: Or rather, Exit Gag. At the end of every video Captain Disillusion exits in a humorous way.
  • Curse Cut Short: Subverted. Captain D shuts off Mr. Flare just when he's about to curse. Later, he turns him back on, and he finishes the curse.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mr. Flare often expresses disdain for being questioned about light.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: A one-off segment in one episode is described as "Today's daily word of the day".
  • Enraged by Idiocy: The Captain doesn't like it when people actually fall for the videos he shows.
  • Every Episode Ending: "But now it's time for me to go, kids..." followed by mentioning someone he needs to help (or hurt, on at least one occasion), followed by him leaving the set some way.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • Holly taking on human form in a cute dress looks like fanservice until you notice the gigantic scar that wraps around her neck, making her almost look like she's been hanged.
    • In the Disneyland Ghost Debunk video, many fans were quick to point out that Mickey Mouse appeared to have visible breasts. Captain D responded by uploading a video in which the women of the series were presented as possible candidates for the actress in the costume...only for it to be revealed that it was the "deceptively flabby" Captain D himself, followed by footage of him shirtless and rubbing his nipples.
    • The ending of "Mystery Boob Revealed" is an attempt at Subliminal Seduction, with the aim at replacing every hint of cleavage the viewer sees with the Captain's flabby, hairy chest.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: He freaks out when he can't easily identify the trick used in his Randi + Pantry Ghost... Debunk? video and when confronted by Randi he says he is "beaten and out of the game". He couldn't identify it because it was a practical effect instead of the more commonly used digital editing.
  • Letting the Air Out of the Band: Happens when the Captain tries (and fails) to debunk the Pantry Ghost.
  • Long List: When Captain D talks about the Fresno Nightcrawler.
    Captain Disillusion: All I have to do is figure out what's happening in an image originally recorded by an off-the-shelf security camera onto a VHS tape, then filmed off a TV screen with a handheld consumer camcorder, dumped by a TV station, edited into a news show from which it was DVR'd by another person, digitized into a video file, played from a laptop on a projector at a conference where it was filmed from the screen, compressed and then uploaded to YouTube.
  • Mean Boss: Captain D to his intern Alan during "Heroic Feats of Youtube Debunkery". In addition to making Alan give a talk that Captain D was scheduled for (and berating him over Skype when he acts reluctant), Captain D also makes Alan's family and girlfriend film the episodes because "he loves exploiting free labor". Alan is also so intensely involved in the creation of every episode, sometimes he feels like 'he' is Captain Disillusion.
  • Medium Blending: In the episode "Shark Surfer Debunk", the stories of how Holly and Cap met are portrayed in animation.
  • Mind Hive: Zeitgeist, who personifies the spirit of the time formed by the ideals and beliefs of society.
  • Mood Whiplash: Captain D pauses in the 'Miss Ping Debunk' video to advertise for "Knives; they cut...and they don't ask *** questions" before cheerily returning to the topic.
  • Mundane Solution: Some videos Captain D covers don't use any video effects, objects are just accidentally hidden as they enter or leave frame (like the Russian Ghost Car, or Where Did the Ball Go?). Other times the stunt was staged, but using real props (like the Real Phaser).
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Zeitgeist — who is the actual Zeitgeist, formed by the current ideals and beliefs of humanity — resembles an evil version of Captain D because the skeptic movement of which the Captain is a member is giving rise to people so skeptical that they're doubting the moon landing, the 9-11 terrorist attacks, etc. All Captain D can do is remind people, as usual, to love with their heart, but use their head for everything else.
  • "Reason You Suck" Speech: Captain D gives one to Holly in "Shark Surfer".
    Holly: Name one thing about me that isn't perfect!
    Captain Disillusion: Are you kidding me? You have a problem communicating. You never call, you only text. What's that about? And the text messages all contradict each other. You love making up rules for things people know to do anyway, and you get so angry about the slightest little infractions while major world problems don't seem to concern you at all! You say that you have a plan, that you know what you're doing, but you never seem to, and when stuff goes wrong it's always somehow everybody else's fault. You're paranoid, vindictive and controlling, except you don't really control anything!
  • Science Hero: A weird variation in that Captain Disillusion doesn't use gadgets to stop crime but rather promotes rationality (And might probably not count as a classical hero).
  • Science Show: In a sense, as the show gives simplified technical explanations debunking many videos on the internet and framed in a cartoonish and zany universe with an eccentric host. It's more explicitly so in "Free Energy Devices", a crossover with Beakman's World.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Holly. Captain D even introduces her as having delusions of grandeur.
  • Special Guest:
    • James Randi, who helps the Captain debunk an illusion that relies on old-fashioned physical effects and not digital editing.
    • Mickey Mouse shows up when Captain D debunks a video of a supposed ghost at Disneyland, claiming he's there to audit the video because Captain D said "Disney" three times within a few seconds.
    • Beakman of Beakman's World co-stars in an episode debunking perpetual motion machines to provide scientific explanations of thermodynamics and magnets.
    • In the debunk video Quick D: Flying Girl, Cirque du Soleil performer Erica Linz has a brief appearance.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Holly is like this towards Captain Disillusion, badgering him for dates and insisting they were made for each other despite Cap's repeated rejections.
  • Stylistic Suck: In "Heroic Feats of Youtube Debunkery", Alan performs a "typical skeptic's presentation". It's a PowerPoint Presentation filled with unreadable text, a "free trial" watermark in the corner, clipart stolen from Google Images, and clips played in tiny (mute) video players. Alan even has to dig through a (fake) desktop screen to find it, and hyperventilates through nearly the entire performance. The entire point of the talk is to walk the audience through the process of turning that presentation into an episode of Captain Disillusion.
  • Take That!:
    • In "Fresno Nightcrawlers," the Captain notes that "lesser minds" have analyzed the footage before, just as a clip from the Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files episode featuring the video plays.
    • In "UFO Over India", the man playing the UFO Hoaxer is a drunken man who was kicked out of his girlfriend's house, blows all his money in Atlantic City, and then gets arrested for public indecency after watching his view count hit a million.
    • "The Undebunkable" is meant to be a serious episode, but a lot of the Captain's (actually Zeitgeist's) "debunkings" are made on exaggerated, flimsy evidence like "not knowing how things work and refusing to look it up".
    • "Skiing Ostritches DEBUNK" is a massive Take That! toward PewDiePie; particularly his reaction to the new Youtube Algorhithim.
  • Take That, Audience!:
    • Done a lot in Ghost Caught by Dog Debunk, where the Captain feels people were way too easily tricked by something really simple.
    Captain Disillusion: That's not a face of a demon in the window, it's just you being a gullible doofus.
    • He also responded to the massive amount of people that saw that Mickey Mouse had breasts on his Disneyland Ghost Debunk video. Who was playing Mickey? Himself.
  • Take That Me: When Mr. Flare almost takes over the show, he claims one of the changes he'll make is they'll stop using "debunk" as a noun.
    Mr. Flare: That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard!
    • The Captain relies on a lot of self-depreciating humor, especially regarding his subscription numbers.
  • You Keep Using That Word: The Captain expresses disappointment at the comments of the UFO Over India video claiming it was done with "CGI."note 
  • Worthy Opponent: Captain Disillusion will sometimes give credit to impressive effects that leave little to no trace of how they work.