Reviews: The Spoony Experiment
Will Spoony Burn Out? Probably. Should He? Maybe.
I'm in a weird place when it comes to Spoony. On the one hand, he's made some very entertaining, very funny videos; on the other, he's self-righteous, insulting, and cannot take criticism. Like one of the other reviewers on this page, Spoony is one of the reasons I'm not a big fan of the "angry nerd"-style of humor: he goes so... above and beyond with his persona that his ranting and raving about video games, movies, and the like go from being understandable/entertaining to just pathetic. I wouldn't be as bothered by Spoony's seeming annoyance with everything around him if he wasn't so self-righteous about it. It seems as though, in Spoony's mind, he is a beacon of light in a world of shitty media; he fails to understand that he is not some kind of badass nerd messiah, he is just a guy with strong opinions. Reading the man's Twitter feed is painful. He insults the fans of things he does not like, something I think no reviewer should do, as if their very existence is offensive to him. If he receives any criticism, he immediately goes into his "I'm the badass savior of the nerds" mode and becomes a gibbering manchild, raging against the morons and bullies who dare to disagree with his shenanigans. In addition to his attitude problems, Spoony seems like he's on the verge of just burning out. He doesn't produce material as much anymore, even his Vlogs; he's left Channel Awesome, which was not necessarily a career-ending move but did lose him fans. I used to visit Spoony's site daily just to see if he posted new material, but by this point I only visit once a week or so because I know he probably hasn't posted anything. In my opinion, the new, non-Vlog videos he's posted are of lower quality than his previous videos, as well. I honestly think that Spoony will stop being an "internet celebrity" within the next year or two. He might fizzle out, never to be seen again; he might take a long break to collect his thoughts and reflect on his jerkass qualities. I really don't think that would be a bad thing — at this point, it would be more of a mercy kill than anything else.
How the mighty have fallen...
I was once a huge fan of Spoony's, and I'll even admit that he was the Gateway Series for me getting into TGWTG. He has made some very funny and entertaining videos, and I always looked forward to any new material he would post up. But then things went badly wrong. The first problem that arose with Spoony was that (like others here have stated) he seemed to start going way above and beyond with his "angry ranting nerd" persona. Now with Doug Walker, it's easy to tell he's playing a character with exaggerated opinions that don't always match his own. But Noah doesn't seem to know how to separate himself from the character he's playing. Not only that, but circa 2011/2012 he became a lot more bitter sounding and even mean spirited, letting his real life problems seep into his work (which I won't comment on). And as another has said, I really didn't like how he insulted the fans of things he does not like and he behaves as if their very existence is offensive to him, something no reviewer (professional or otherwise) should ever do. Much less "joke" about wanting to murder the fans of a video game. In addition to that, Spoony just seemed like he was on the verge of burning out altogether. While he has been producing material a lot more consistently nowadays, they just don't hold a candle to his earlier work. There's also the fact that he's left TGWTG, which was not necessarily a career-ending move, but that, as well as the drama surrounding his departure, did lose him a lot of fans and put a very dark mark on his reputation. Just to put this into perspective, I used to visit Spoony's site almost everyday just to see if he posted new material, but now, I only visit once in a blue moon because I know he probably hasn't posted anything that would hold my interest. While he's been doing much better nowadays than he was a couple years ago, it's clear that he'll probably never recapture his former glory. I know I've largely moved onto different internet personalities.
Long Live The Spoony One
Seriously? I don't understand what the problem is. Yes, you might not agree with his opinion - you're entitled not to. Besides which, I admit that his reviews can be VERY divisive - I still have friends who insist that Final Fantasy X is one of the best games ever made, and that Spoony is talking bullshit on that one. Does this justify the level of rudeness and disrespect that he receives on a regular basis? Not a single bit. Guys, it's HIS OPINION - he can say what he likes, and he at least tries to make a point of knowing what he's talking about before he says it. Just watching some of his retrospectives and reviews, it's obvious that he has a lot of knowledge and experience when it comes to films and games, and while he might sometimes say something that pisses you off, he does actually back it up with evidence. He doesn't just make shit up and pretend that he knows what he's talking about - he does research and then uses segments of whatever he's playing/watching to back up what he's saying. So he's never "wrong" in any sense - he's just looking at the source material in a different way than you. Don't like it? Get off his damn website. And even if you hate how he thinks, there's one thing that has deeply impressed me about Spoony - the guy's damn hilarious. He mentions in his Mazes and Monsters review that he used to take Drama in school, and that really shows - the way he scripts and acts his reviews is actually flawless, so even if I don't agree with the opinion present in the review, his comedic acting more than makes up for it. Spoony is just a joy to watch - Spooning with Spoony practically killed me, despite the sketch not being the sort of thing I'd normally find funny, and his Tekken reviews always make me smile. But the one thing that makes me a fan of his, above all else? The fact that he's just so determined and dedicated to this job, purely because he likes it so much. He gets an inordinate amount of trolls? Fuck 'em, what do they know?! Heart problems? As if that's going to slow him down for long. Hell, an average mortal like me could never work that damn hard under those conditions - he has GUTS, and he's actually one of the strongest, most awesome people I've ever seen. I applaud him. So I thank the Spoony One for being awesome, and I hope he keeps on going for a long time to come.
I posted a review a few years back 'defending' Spoony as odd and unstable. Faint praise, but kindly meant (honest). My views have changed a good deal since then, as has the show itself. The biggest change is that Spoony is now a frothing, card-carrying "asshole", whatever he thinks that means. Generally, it means you speak your mind, not spending all day on Twitter and trying to rile up strangers. I think there is a big difference with how Spoony treats his fans now as in the past. In the past, Noah was always self deprecating. He was willing to take as much as he gave out. But now, he comes off as a very bitter and mean-spirited little man. Same goes for his livestream and vlogs with Miles (a more worthwhile critic than his brother). The guy has a lot of baggage and clearly has a lot of bad things going on in his head. Witness the Richard Garriott "interview", consisting of Noah carrying on talking to himself, about himself. Anyway, onto the material itself: ...It's bad. Sometimes, you just gotta accept that a rising talent loses their curveball. Noah is very vocal about his banal fans (nice) and how he constantly flouts their expectations... but he needs to eat just like everybody else. The reality is his videos are a sort of self-parody. He has nothing to say half the time, and you can set your clock by his rehearsed tantrums. The guy plainly has zero interest in reviewing any more bor(ed) games and other shitty merchandise. He just looks tired of playing the angry basement dweller and wants to do something better. The same can partly be said of the Nostalgia Critic. Both of them are unskilled workers who depend on the revenue their characters provide. I always found his charisma pretty amazing. His chief mourners — even widows — are still out there, writing love letters (literally) to him all over the place, including his own article. I can only chalk it up to his health issues. People 'relate' to his thwarted genus (he's always going on about his IQ tests), his beauty (fans send him extravagant gifts), his social impairments, etc, and feel protective of him. For such a notorious grouch in person, he sure can work that mojo on boys and girls online. In short, he's a good case study in psychiatry — but a bad critic.
Spoony's videos used to make me laugh so damn hard. Then they sort of stopped doing that. Then they completely stopped doing that. Then they got downright depressing, but they eventually stopped doing that too. Now Spoony is kind of funny again, and he definitely seems much friendlier and warmer than before. I don't want this to stop.
Not Worth Anybody's Time
I initially didn't like Spoony's show because it is clear that he doesn't do multiple takes and very often doesn't actually script what he's going to say, resulting in a lot of college-radio like dead air and clumsiness. He suffers from the amateurishness that a lot of internet reviewers suffer from, where his lack of planning results in him restating the same things over and over again, leaving his reviews an unstructured mess. But then I found out that, as a fan of Final Fantasy X he advocates my murder. So now a little amateurishness seems like a pretty tame reason to dislike him by comparison. Not only do I dislike his show, I personally dislike him. Understand that I absolutely advocate free speech and would never call to have him banned, but I implore anyone with decent senses of self-respect and proportion to just stop watching him. There are a lot of places to get a good laugh on the internet, especially as concerns video games. There's no reason to give this asshole a single dime of support via advertisement.
Noah Antwiler - the Spoonyone - is a gifted comedian and internet reviewer. He's dedicated to his role as an entertainer, makes high quality and thoroughly enjoyable reviews and vlogs, is constantly improving his work, and looks over his own past reviews to see what he needs to improve on. He is also constantly under the internet's microscope. His personality and character is put to question as often as the content of his work! No other internet reviewer gets this much speculation and cries of outrage laid at their doorstep. Maybe it's that although he ignores a large portion of trolls and dissidents, he does not suffer mass insults or gross stupidity lightly and he will call his fans out on it. Aggressively. He calls himself an asshole as he does this, and I wouldn't argue with that. But although I don't agree with his thick-skinned attitude or the way he acts, his hard-lining is never malicious or grudge-bearing. It's pretty much a matter of giving as good as he gets and moving on, no hard feelings attached. Even though he shouts and raves at his fans in frustration... he also treasures them, talks to them with great familiarity and has even called them "a great fanbase." And that's the thing. You watch hours of vlogs and reviews - both IC and OOC - and you're watching a thoughtful, open-minded and a good if not generally nice guy whose angry rants will make you laugh. When he's not being an intentionally defensive asshole on Skype/chatrooms - asserting that he's unequivocally right and laying on superiority for good measure - he'll explain his thoughts in a way that is engaging and entertaining to watch. On all accounts, he's fun to work with and to be around, where the only problem is if you legitimately piss him off (some may be able to relate). He's just a guy, more complex than a couple of labels or quick impressions. Give him a break from inspection now, maybe? I'm not trying to defend him - he's definitely said things I don't agree with or I think are idiotic. However, after 4 years of watching the man this is my conclusive review/summary of him and his work. A clever, innovative and always improving comedian whose reviews/vlogs are definitely worth watching (I highly recommend them), and a good guy who will be an asshole if he feels it's needed.
I'm going to start this review (and it's going to be short, so don't get nervous) by saying that I like Spoony's work, and that I always look forward to his new material. He's one of my favorite internet personalities, and the amount of work he puts into each review is really impressive. That said, I think he needs to get over himself. Now, I can sense that some of you probably just immediately skipped to the comment section to rebuke me for saying this, but hear me out: Spoony doesn't seem to know how to get out of character. Another reviewer already mentioned this, so I won't harp on it for long. Other internet reviewers have stated that Spoony is not nearly as angry and mean-spirited as his character; why does he feel the need to be like that all the time? From what I've heard, he can be a really nice guy. He seems determined to alienate his fanbase. I'm not talking about his criticisms of things his fans might care about — it's just his opinion (man), and it's totally fine to disagree with him. I'm talking about his tendency to beat a dead horse: if he doesn't like it, he'll admit it and tell you why... over and over again. He also has a tendency to mock the fans of things he doesn't like. That last thing really bothers me. It's okay to admit you don't like something, but to judge other people for liking it is going too far. I mean, a lot of the time he's joking, but when he's out of character (sort of?), he continues to do so, even questioning the intelligence of people who like something he doesn't. This is a quality that can really hurt a reviewer's reputation, and rightfully so. That doesn't mean I want Spoony's reputation to diminish; like I said, I like the guy, and I'm glad he's popular. To me, it seems like Spoony has gotten sucked into his popularity and image. It's like he can't not be the mean-spirited, vitriolic critic he plays, for whatever reason. It's none of my business, but ever since he and Scarlett broke up he's gotten angrier and more petty (seriously; read his Twitter feed), and it seems like he just dwells on it and acts childish at times. But it's none of my business, and you're totally right to criticize me for bringing it up. To sum it up: Spoony is fun and enjoyable to watch, and I'm still a big fan. I just wish he wouldn't be so afraid to act like himself.
Spoony the "Tyrant"
The nature of reputation is that whatever people feel you should be, you will be. And so, contrary to lack of evidence, Spoony is a thin-skinned diva who despises his fans. His popularity peaked in 2009, he inadvertently nurtured a hatedom in 2010, and the haters simply EXPLODED by 2011. He has, to put it succinctly, replaced the Irate Gamer as the token bogeyman of the internet. It'll take years for him to live this down. The question becomes whether or not he deserves this status. Internet critics are magnets for these kinds of wars; people pick their designated sides and are labeled "fanboys" or "haters", ignoring the moderates in-between. In Spoony's case, he probably wasn't ready to manage a forum. He assumed that taking a proactive stance with the loudest trolls would be a good aggressive move — failing to realize that the people who netted him the Mashables "Funniest Person to Follow" Award and donated money to TGWTG expected a little dividend. More seasoned web personalties, like AVGN or the Cinema Snob, know how to avoid needless confrontation. Behaving as recklessly as the trolls (or at least putting up a hard-assed image) will just explode in your face. I'll be honest: those who say Noah's early videos are superior have a point. He wasn't playing a character back then. Once his site went online, he felt compelled to carve out a persona, and stayed firmly in character... probably even during situations that didn't call for it.. Several of Noah's fellow contributers at TGWTG have reported that he is nowhere near that angry in daily life. Like it or not, he's still raw at this reviewer thing, and his style is evolving. He's blessed with comic timing and is a gifted mimic, but he overly relies on that standard 'angry reviewer' rant laced with curses and screams. This runs counter to his biggest strength; namely, geeky gonzo journalism.
Just Too Rude To Viewers
I'll be the first to say Spoony is a very funny guy. His lets plays are hilarious, and his performances in the crossovers are great. Here's my problem with the guy though. If he doesn't like something and finds out someone does, he will insult the game/movie/band even further, insult all fans who agree with the original, and not try to pass it off as sarcasm or dark comedy. Not all are as bad as 'Anyone who likes FFX must die', but let me give some examples. In one review of Guitar Hero 5, he mentions the song Kryptonite by 3 Doors Down and says its a bad song. That's his opinion, that's fine. He gets the song name wrong and someone corrects him and says they like the band, so in a note under the video he says '3 Doors Down and their fans can lick my fart-hole'. Recently on twitter he says he found Pokemon Heartgold boring. Again, that's fine. It's his opinion. Fans said they liked it, and he told them to 'suck his pokeballs'. He's a troll of the worst kind, he seems to purposefully make hurtful comments about anyone he can for the lulz, and doesn't care. He has stated several times that his opinions are right and yours are wrong. We understand not everyone likes JRP Gs, or anime, or horror movies; but he doesn't and he would punch you in the face for liking them if he could. He can be so funny, but all it takes is one horrific mention of how Xenosaga was a piece of shit or that Transformers movie you genuinely enjoy that will start staining your opinion of him, and it'll just keep getting darker.
Very funny and clever, if maybe a little, well...
Here's the thing: I really do like Spoony's reviews and LP's. They're funny and well written, and that's all anyone really looks for from a comedian reviewer. Of the dozens of reviewers on TGWTG, I'd place him in my top 5 for sure. But as some of the other people here have pointed out, the man can get a little mean-spirited from time to time, which can severely impact the viewers enjoyment. It's hard to say if it's actually him or just his character. Indeed, if you listen to commentaries and such from other TGWTG reviewers, it sounds like he's a nice guy whose actually pretty cool to be around. But then you watch his v-logs and E3 coverage videos and hear him call Final Fantasy 8 fans idiots and Nintendo fans man-children (And let's not even mention fans of the Tranformers movies), then it becomes kind of easy to lose respect for him. I think he needs to either drop the troll act all together or start treating his audience a bit more respectfully. I mean if the man we're watching can't respect our opinions, then why should we respect his? Like I said, his reviews and Let's Plays are legitimately funny, and I would recommend those to anyone looking for a laugh. But his v-logs and other material just aren't for everyone.
Spoony's Ultima Underworld II review is dishonest
Spoony's review of Ultima Underworld II just plain bothered me. Now, I freely admit that I revere that game, so you might think that I'm just sore that a game I actually liked got the trademark Spoony bashing, right? I thought that might be the explanation for my feelings until I remembered the Final Fantasy X review. FFX is another game I revere, but I was perfectly happy to see Spoony lampoon all the various silly things in that game (Seymour's hair, Blitzball being more important than saving the world, that awful 'laughing scene'...) In fact, that was the review that got me watching Spoony in the first place. I clearly don't mind having games I'm fond of bashed, so what's the problem? Firstly, the UW 2 review simply didn't show much of the game, only the starting level, and Spoony was essentially dishonest in implying that the game was 'based' around the sewer level rather than, say, the freakin' Labyrinth of Worlds in the subtitle. He claims to have played the whole game, but when that doesn't show in the video, who cares? He also spent an inordinate amount of time focusing on 'having' to fight an optional Headless monster that was too tough to be killed by his under-levelled, wrongly-specced character. He supposedly chose to fight the monster for four hours rather than simply run from a fight, and then complained that he didn't enjoy the game. If that's not a desperate attempt to find something to complain about in an awesome game, what is it? You may be thinking, "Well, that's just Spoony's style. He always bashes games." Granted, but this is the first time that Spoony's complaints have ever seemed quite so self-inflicted and dishonest. It was also remarkably uninformative about the actual game, and wasn't that Spoony's reason for creating the Ultima reviews in the first place? This is a game that takes you to eight alternate worlds, and he focuses on the sewers at the start! I've seen Spoony exaggerate flaws in games before, but this is the first time I've seen him stoop to creating flaws out of whole cloth. After all, you can make any game look bad by voluntarily torturing yourself while playing it! I can only hope that Spoony gets his groove back when he looks at the rest of the Ultima series.
Inconsistent in more ways than one
Antwiller's content has become very inconsistent lately. This used to be an edgy review series, but lately it seems to have been in a state of precipitous decline, as Antwiller is less often producing Let's Play videos and scripted reviews in favor of plodding vlog-style updates and movie reviews that often last between 30 min and an hour. Granted, they aren't as bad as many of the vlogs out there, as Antwiller is fairly coherent and articulate when speaking without notes or a script, but he sometimes changes topics at random points, making them somewhat difficult to navigate. One wonders why, since these vlogs have no meaningful visual content, he doesn't release them as podcasts. He is also inconsistent in his basic ideals, as he will often respond to criticism by pointing out that his content is free and super low-budget. However, his fans spend a lot of time (=money) watching the mandatory ads that accompany his videos, and he solicits donations. And in a recent review he harshly panned of a low-budget, $10 X Box title Deadliest Warrior, contradicting his stance that low-budget, free (or nearly free) content should be unassailable from criticism. As if that weren't enough, the developers actually responded with a defense of the game, saying that they just didn't have the budget resources to compete with Tekken; in turn, Antwiller responded very rudely (I will post it in the comments). Defending your position is one thing; being a douchebag is another, especially considering that the developers had been open to a debate. I mean, shit, how many 'net reviewers actually get feedback from developers? Antwiller's position on criticism is all the more inconsistent in that he regularly bans users on his forums and locks threads that are critical of his positions, even when the criticism is very mild compared to his sometimes vitriolic reviews. More troubling still, he makes a lot of immature and egotistical remarks on his twitter page about his admin privileges. And one last thing — I don't mind casual appearances, but with the videos being up-close and in fairly high detail, I just have to say, Spoony: would it kill you to wash your goddamn hair once in a blue moon? Maybe take a 5-minute shower before getting in front of the camera for an hour-long commentary on pro-wresting?
Well let's see...
The Spoony Experiment, home of the Spoony One, birth place of Dr. Insano, and frequent graveyard of Black Lantern Spoony (who got better with the aid of Linkara but then died in that tragic suicide attempt that we will never mention again). He reviews video games, rants on movies, and tears TNAimpact and Raw a new one as he tries to come to terms with the insanity of Dixie Carter's booking strategy, among other things. He is beloved by many, and hated by probably the same number, with the words Unpleasable Fanbase and Broken Base easily utterable in the same sentence. But whether you complain or not, he draws the attention of so many people with so many conflicting ideas that pretty much the entire crew of TGWTG has begged him not to post any links to them that might be sussed out by his Sarcastic Devotees. Whatever your opinion of him, when you're devoting entire rants in either the hatred or rejoicing of his name, you know he's done something right somewhere. Noah Antwiler, ladies and gentlemen of Tvtropes.org! And unless Insano does another Face Heel Turn at some point in the fucked up continuity that is the dear doctor, I don't think he's going to be dying (again) or going away any time soon. Today I'm going to add to that long line of reviews and opinions on Mr. Antwiler, clouding the sea of commentators with another, but hell, this is the internet, and damn it if I'm not gonna make use of it before those aliens out orbiting Saturn realise where I am and come to take me back to Andromeda for war crimes against the solar system of star CXS125... but that's just me. A Deadpan Snarker through and through, the Spoony One may be more casual than the technical analysis of Linkara, and less linear (and probably more sane) than the traumatised Nostalgia Critic, but he is damn fucking funny and entertaining. He will (and has) gone through sickness and highwater to bring entertainment to his viewers. And in the very true sense of Doing It For The Art, earned himself more than one heartwarming moment in the course of his short career. Now, before I have to go and try to dig this infernal locater beacon out of my shoulder, all I have to say is this... BEWARE THE ALIENS FROM SATURN AND CXS125!
A damn funny man
The Spoony Experiment is an unique site, different from the rants of That Guy or the more technical complaints of Linkara is probably the most deadpan of internet reviewers, with a focus on MSTing and terrible, terrible puns. The show also benefits from hitting pretty much everything, from Movies to Games to Weird, other stuff. His references are pretty clever and numerous, and if your a nerd, i.e. troper, check his goddamn site out. He is part of the gigantic Channel Awesome, so expect crossovers with his best buddy Linkara, and his psuedo-boss the Nostalgia Critic, for extreme amounts of funny. His vlogs may not have the same amount of humor as his reviews, but he presents things in a fairly balanced light, so even if you disagree with his opinion, you don't think the man's completely nuts. At least amusing, and often hilarious, you owe yourself to check out this internet sensation, hell, if Yahtzee liked him, you've got to give it a try.