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"Love with your heart, but use your head for everything else."
Captain Disillusion
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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, as 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 Day in the Limelight: Mr. Flare has two episodes of his own "Mr. Flare Explains" sub-series with no sign of Captain D.
  • 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. What is known for certain is that he is made out of chrome and mechanical parts. Whether he is a cyborg or a robot is unknown.
    • 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.
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  • 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". 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" without doing proper research or accepting new information is ultimately unhelpful and sometimes flat-out wrong. He also cautions that such a mindset puts one in danger of becoming a Conspiracy Theorist.
      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.
  • As Himself: The Captain's insecure and mild-mannered intern, Alan, whose personality, while still exaggerated, is implied to be somewhat closer to that of creator Alan Melikdjanian than the Captain's.
  • Aspect Ratio Switch:
  • Berserk Button: A somewhat unusual one that he admits is unusual — purposeful hoaxes, even if immediately debunked by their creators. It's best seen in the Escherian Stairwell Deconstruction — he argues that these hoaxes and myths can unwittingly help impressionable people into going down rabbit-holes of psuedoscience — if this video I'm watching is fake, could things like the Apollo Landings also be lies? If this video is real, could things like vaccines causing autism really be real?
  • Brick Joke: Early in "Cicret Bracelet DEBUNK", the Captain makes a quip about how the projector's proposed light source won't display anything "on a sunny Miami day, projected onto the arm of my black son". Later in the video, apropos of nothing:
    Captain D: (to his phone) Give me black my son!
  • Catchphrase: "Love with your heart, but use your head for everything else."
  • Celeb Crush: His laptop's background as seen in "Heroic Feats of YouTube Debunkery" is a picture of Jodie Whittaker.
  • Character Development: Holly has mellowed considerably over the course of the series. She starts out as a short-tempered, know-it-all Stalker with a Crush in the early episodes, but by 2018's "Marble Sorting Machine DEBUNK" she is noticeably more humble, quietly melancholic about her shortcomings rather than indignantly defensive, no longer tries to force Cap to date her, and is actually interested in science and finding things out for herself.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: In "Marble Sorting Machine Debunk", Holly briefly explains that the fewer people who believe in magic the less powerful she becomes.
  • 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.
  • Daydream Surprise: Happens in "Rush Hour Explanation". Captain D and Mr. Flare are chatting and addressing the audience as if on a celebrity talk show, until the convivial atmosphere is broken when Mr. Flare claims the vehicles and pedestrians passing within inches of one another on a crosswalk were all stunt performers. Cap angrily calls Mr. Flare out, before going into a detailed explanation of the digital compositing tricks used to make the video. As the explanation concludes, Mr. Flare snaps Captain D out of his reverie and the friendly chat resumes as if the previous few minutes never occurred. May count as a daydream within a dream as the two then sign off with an incoherent string of pseudoscientific nonsense about astrological quantum chemtrails, then the scene cuts to the two of them unconscious on the set surrounded by clouds of green gas and a siren warning about a "credulin leak", so the whole chat show sequence may have been a hallucination.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mr. Flare often expresses disdain for being questioned about light.
  • Deconstruction: The "Escherian Stairwell" episode is named as such for a reason - on top of going over the usual editing and SFX tricks to prove the video is fake, it also argues that the Escherian Stairwell's intent of using a hoax to go viral and mimic the childlike wonder/discovery of old films will have easily-fooled believing superstition and psuedoscience and perpetuating a climate of fake news, it also is wrong in believing new movies lack that childlike wonder and discovery - Cap argues that old movies are "good" not just because they were well-made, but because their fans were easily-impressible kids, and that new movies are still "good" and don't need hoaxes to work.
  • Deliberate VHS Quality: happens a few times, often combined with an Aspect Ratio Switch to 4:3
  • Department of Redundancy Department: A one-off segment in one episode is described as "Today's daily word of the day".
  • Disaster Dominoes: At the end of "Miss Ping Debunk", Cap bats a ping-pong ball off screen, which breaks something, leading to a series of series of escalating sounds of destruction ending in the entire studio collapsing around him.
  • Do Wrong, Right: In this Mr. Flare explains we see him improve an already fake video by finding the original source video and making the fakery more realistic...which is then extrapolated from the Mr. Flare explains for its own fakery that Captain Disillusion is requested to debunk.
  • 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. The reality is even less pleasant: she needs to borrow corpses to fuse her head to.
    • 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.
  • Guyliner: Appears on Zeitgeist as he starts to mutate and reveal his true colors.
  • Heel Realization: Done... semi-seriously, during the Unbearable Loneliness of Being Right talk. As the Skeptic Asshole Singularity continues to suck up more people, Alan As Himself approaches his laptop trying to do something about it, only for him — well, the live feed of him — show about to be sucked by the black hole. He breaks out of it.
    Alan: Oh God... How could I've been so blind? I'm part of this, aren't I? I gotta do something... [...] I gotta commit here now and resolve... to say... that I... refuse to be a dick!
  • Heroic BSoD: 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.
  • History Repeats: Defied. In Laminar Flow DISAMBIGUATION, the video starts with him showing clips of a Buddha statue floating down a street. However, the clip comes from from the video was created in response to a video of a statue of the "Virgin Mary" floating down the same street, which was debunked by Mr. Flare. At the end of the Laminar Flow video, Captain Disillusion puts up watermarks and holds a sign that shows what he's doing is visual effects fakery in an attempt to stop a cycle of making a demonstrative fake video for the intentions of showing how the fakery could look more realisitic.
  • 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: The show occasionally cuts to animated segments, such as the stories of how Holly and Cap met in the episode "Shark Surfer Debunk".
  • Mind Hive: Zeitgeist, who personifies the spirit of the time formed by the ideals and beliefs of society.
  • Mood Whiplash:
  • Moving the Goalposts: Discussed at length in "Gateway to Sedona DEBUNK", where the creators attempt to present a plausible explanation for supernatural events but constantly come up with increasingly specific, evasive and arbitrary excuses when they don't work for others, all while maintaining it's still real (until they decide it isn't).
    Captain D: These creators aren't just moving the goalposts, they've strapped them to their backs!
  • 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.
  • Race Against the Clock: Done in the episode "The Debunkathon". Captain D struggles to debunk viral videos while they still remain relevant, and each time he does another unit of a countdown appears on the wall behind him - seconds, then minutes, then hours... and everything beyond minutes is already at zero! As the clock ticks down, the set begins to glitch and fade out, Cap's hair starts turning grey, he even swallows his pride and tells his intern Alan that he's doing a good job... until the countdown ends and nothing happens. Cap reveals that it's just his own personal deadline which he is free to change, and he simply resets the counter, returning everything to normal.
  • Ratings Stunt: Spoofed in the episode "Fantasy Files Explanation", which opens with Captain D analysing his YouTube viewer statistics and concluding the best way to boost his audience is to spice his show up with gratuitous 3D, cheesy green-screen effects (despite the show already using very competent green-screen effects), and a topic chosen to appeal to the young male demographic.
  • "The 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? Ahem. (cracks his knuckles) You have a problem communicating. You never call, you always 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!
    Holly: I, uh... I wouldn't expect you to understand! It's just my way. It's all part of a plan.
    Captain Disillusion: 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.
    Holly: It's not true!
    Captain Disillusion: You're paranoid, vindictive and controlling, except you don't really control anything!
  • Retraux:
    • The magic trick VHS tape in "Cup Levitation & Train Track Rescue" shows a "pre-internet" Captain D, complete with ridiculous '80s Hair and cheesy video effects.
    • "CD / Interlacing ADDENDUM" has two retro themes. One looks like a VHS tape, the other looks like a midcentury instructional video.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: In part 2 of "VFXcool: Back to the Future Trilogy", the Captain appears alongside Ami Yamato, who represents herself as a 3D-animated avatar in real-life environments, even in her own videos. In a really weird twist, the reason she's there is to demonstrate a VistaGlide camera rig and an advanced Split Screen effect used in Back to the Future Part II that allows live-action actors to appear simultaneously in multiple spots... and so the Captain uses an Animated Actor.
  • 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 debunks internet videos by explaining the effects or tricks used to fake them, sometimes with easy-to-digest scientific explanations to prove they're fake, and is 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, with Beakman explaining why Perpetual Motion Machines don't work in real life, and the Captain explaining how the videos faked them.
  • Series Continuity Error: "Quick D: Mobile Drone" shows the Captain with chrome legs, but "CD / Interlacing ADDENDUM" shows him with human legs.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shown Their Work: Alan has experience in film production and visual effects, and alongside additional research, every debunking is incredibly thorough, able to break down the technicals of how the videos were made, as well as disprove them with scientific explanation. One notable instance was when the Captain identified the exact plugins and stock effects pack used in one video, right down to their individual file names.
  • Sign Off Catch Phrase: "Love with your heart, use your head for everything else... Captain Disillusion!"
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Holly. Captain D even introduces her as having delusions of grandeur.
  • Special Guest:
    • Penn & Teller show up, in Captain D costume and makeup, to do the sign-off at the end of "Reptile Woman Debunk".
    • James Randi helps the Captain debunk an illusion that relies on old-fashioned physical effects and not digital editing in "Pantry Ghost Debunk". He then had to do a rather embarrassed followup when the explanation he had Randi read turned out to be wrong.
    • 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.
  • Stealth Insult: The ending to "Quick D: Traffic Dodging" has him point out that the video's original creator made a response asking for 777 subscribers in exchange for "revealing" whether the video was real or a hoax, which the Captain finds "adorable."
    Captain D: Let's all help him out! (presses subscribe button) There, subscribed! In fact, I better click it again just to make sure it worked. (presses it again)
  • 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.
    • In his "The Unbearable Loneliness of Being Right on the Internet" live panel, he brings up the "Skeptic Asshole Singularity", which many skeptics like himself end up sucked into, and he cries out in despair when Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins end up crossing the "Assholevent Horizon" along with other YouTube skeptics Thunderf00t, Sargon Of Akkad, Armoured Skeptic, and The Amazing Atheist. Penn Jillette almost passes into it, but thankfully pulls out at the last second since "it is possible to change your tone."
  • Take That, Audience!:
    • In general, the Captain has no qualms with making fun of members of his audience who ask him to debunk things that are way too obvious, or things that are actually real but they just assumed were fake, not having done any basic research.
    • 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!
    • When the Captain discusses the "Escherian Stairwell Deconstruction" by Michael Lacanilao, he brings up how the project had an unsuccessful Kickstarter campaign.
      Captain: I'm sorry to hear that, Michael. But trust me; you don't want to take one little project that gave you validation as a young person and milk it for years into a full time, crowdfunded career. (Lonely Piano Piece starts playing) Before you know it, you're pushing 40, still splattering on stupid sliver make— I mean, spreading rumours about a fake stairwell!
    • The Captain relies on a lot of self-depreciating humor, especially regarding his subscription numbers.
    • Where the Captain is a larger-than-life character, his intern, Alan, is shown to be meek, insecure, and kind of sad.
  • Two-Faced: A rare variant where the Captain's face is split horizontally rather than vertically, which the top half of his face being of normal skin tone while the lower half (and presumably the rest of his body) is chrome-colored. "Quick D: Mobile Drone" shows him with chrome legs, but "CD / Interlacing ADDENDUM" shows him with human legs.
  • Visible Boom Mic: Briefly invoked in "CD / Aspect Ratio" when he demonstrate how Open Matte works with 35mm film. As he expands the frame, a boom mic is revealed along with the end of the backdrop.
    Captain: Another approach was to reveal more of the top and bottom of the full 35mm film frame, which often contained things not meant to be seen.
  • 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.

 
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Captain Disillusion and DVD

Captain Disillusion explains how DVDs support 4:3 and 16:9 content natively. Source: https://youtu.be/1unkluyh2Ks?t=102

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