Leela, oh man I can't wait to read your response to this video, tbh while I was watching it, half of my brain was just thinking about how much I was looking forward to your reaction
this is so unbelievably sweet and i can’t believe that you look forward to hearing my thoughts so much!! i’m going to be completely dead honest with yall (when am i not tbh) … i was not one of the people who was super jazzed about the idea of a pastel edits video. i totally sided with dan in his past live show responses about the idea–that there’s no cohesive culture or stereotypical tropes around “pastel” that they could try to imitate, and also (though he didn’t say this) that it’s basically just a product of a sort of sexualized trope that tumblr seemed to make up out of thin air. i think i generally felt that at worst it would make them really uncomfortable, and at best it would just be a video of them putting on random pastel clothes and maybe wigs and making fun of the whole concept and that’s about it. so like. god damn, i was not prepared for how good this was nor the boundaries that it pushed, especially coupled with the tweet from dan preceding it. and even though there was still a lot of mockery and grumbling about it, especially from dan, i was not prepared for how much they would genuinely enjoy it and have fun with it. i think that’s just a testament to them and their connection/chemistry more than anything–it seems like there are very few scenarios and situations they get into together that they don’t end up completely loving and enjoying almost purely bc of how much they’re able to make each other laugh and bring each other joy. but also, in this case, bc they were so visibly enjoying the opportunity to touch and flirt and see each other wear a totally different look to their norm (and incidentally those exact things were what made punk edits irl such an incredible video too).
that being said, it wasn’t all just flirting and softness. there was some unexpected depth to this, or at least, a lot of room for me to speculate about what it might mean for them to be making a video like this, speculate about how they might feel about it, etc. and in order to do that i’m going to discuss a whole bunch of things that happened in the vid in three general categories: soft things, sarcastic things, and sexual things lol. one overarching observation to begin though: um. not to objectify but. phil is lookin damn fine. idk if his running/gyming are already having an impact but he somehow looked really well built in that t-shirt in a way i don’t think i’m used to seeing, so. ok. just had to get that out of the way.
1. soft things:
obvi, deeper analysis aside, there was a lot of genuinely sweet, wholesome, lovely shit happenin’ in this vid and it all had me close to tears. first of all. the brief and gut-wrenching return of the music from the blindfolded cat game vid and the dan and phil do poppen kookin vid, aka the softest videos known to mankind. thx phil. also interesting bc that means he def associates that music with softness and maybe he thinks about those videos as being soft and adorable and pure in the same way that we do. then,,,, phil going so high pitched when he talks about dans curls and saying that he’s ‘obsessed’ and dan getting all flustered when phil touches his hair and forgetting how to talk lol. “am i consenting you?” same. just generally, this was a video full of phil being rly into dans neck tattoo and dans curls and,,,, dan. just generally lmao. ik they lie all the time about preparing for videos and make it sound like phil does all the preparation even when dan has a hand in it, but in this case i really want to believe that phil actually went out (or online) shopping for dan and picked out that sweater and dungarees mostly bc he thought it’d be rly cute to see dan wearing them, which is why he also seemed to expend less effort on shopping for his own outfits. i loved his emphatically positive comments about the various elements of the get-up like when he was putting the tattoo on dan’s neck and told him that it would look amazing in such an earnest completely non-sarcastic way!!!! and a bit earlier when dan decided to also compliment phil out of nowhere, ALSO in such a genuine and emphatic and non-sarcastic way, regarding his “accurate cutting out” skills. the way that dan was instinctively so happy with phil’s arm tattoo and his first thought was to tell phil it matches his eyes before he naturally diluted it by slipping into a sarcastic tone of voice. and the way that he was so supportive of phil’s blue wig in a way that went beyond “u look good,” but rather was more along the lines of “u look good AND this fits with this deeper thing about you that i love so much and that shows how deeply i know you, namely the way that you want to make an impact when u enter a room” ahhhhhh goodness i think they both really found each other to be very pretty in these outfits, and doing a video like this is is as much a fun and exciting thing for them to experience as it is for us to watch.
one thing that really stood out to me was the moment when dan talks about feeling like he wants to do some ‘soft’ things after assuming this new persona and then he lists some examples of what those might be: writing a poem, cloud gazing, buying some sorbet, and then phil pitches in with surfing off the edge of a waterfall … which like,,, what? lmao. but the reason this moment hit me so hard is because it was the first point in watching the video that i realized that they were completely avoiding associating the concept of “pastel” with some more generalized concept of “femininity” and rather, just associating it with softness and aesthetic choices, both of which they proceeded to discuss throughout the video with absolutely no gender typecasting attached. so in this exchange, it really struck me that even when they were listing ‘soft activities’ they didn’t say anything about wanting to do activities that are stereotypically girly, nor did they shy away from talking about embracing things that could be perceived in that way like writing poetry or hugging unicorns or eating sorbet or whatever else. really the only mention of gender at all during the video was when phil talks about finding male underwear (on dan’s laptop btw, i just need to point that out) and even then they were just bemused at the idea that men would *want* to embrace the pastel but feel the need to hide it under their jeans lol. idk,, i’ve written about this before at great length (especially last year when dan bought the rhinestoned gatorland hat) but it’s just so lovely to see both of them progress to this point of total comfort with how they might be perceived and give absolutely no mind at all to any nasty stereotypes that people might launch at them for being two men in an extremely close relationship deciding to dress up in pink and touch each other and hold rainbow umbrellas and light up unicorns. like. the very THOUGHT of that happening a few years ago would be totally absurd especially with dan’s own seemingly internalized homophobia and both of their enforcement of gender binaries/heteronormativity. and yet, it’s a point that i will never stop making bc i can’t adequately express how happy it makes me: dan and phil have grown so much. we’ve watched them blossom into these self-assured people who are confident not only in themselves but in their relationship with each other, who are proud not only of themselves but of their relationship with each other, and who no longer feel such an innate need to hide.
2. sexual things:
in a similar vein, there was so much surprisingly overt sexual flirting and innuendo in this video that absolutely was not demanded by the situation at all. with last years halloween baking, one could make the argument that it’d be hard to mess about with melted chocolate and poke sticks into balls without making a lot of innuendos and giggling at them. but,,, there’s nothing in any way sexual about phil clipping on dan’s overalls for him….like. it was a completely innocent thing for phil to do. but dan decided to say “strapping me up on camera there’s a certain audience for this sort of video” while it was happening, as though *inviting* us to interpret this sexually, putting the thought into our heads on his own terms. the same applies to the tweet teasing the video. first of all he didn’t need to tweet at all but he did, to promo a video that wasn’t even on his own channel i want to point out. and if he wanted to promo it he could’ve just done a generic “just got done filming with phil” tweet or even a “wow just got done filming with phil and now we’re so messy” tweet but instead of leaving it there he took it to an explicitly sexual place of his own accord and, again, on his own terms. i can’t think of an explanation for this besides the notion that dan wants us to get used to thinking about them in sexual contexts, and he’s trying to push back a little on the strictly platonic and g-rated image they’ve built for themselves and their interactions. of course one could easily point out as a counter-argument that this isn’t the absolute first time they’ve made sexual comments about themselves. a good fairly recent example, but still pre-baking universe, was when they did the 3 legged ddr video on dapg and dan kept making comments about bondage and whatnot. but that still seems so different to me than many of the examples from this video for two reasons: first because, as mentioned before, the situation in the 3 legged ddr vid, in which they were literally taping themselves together, kind of demands innuendo in a more immediate way than like, strapping on overalls does. and, second, because the comments in that vid still seemed a tad uncomfortable, somewhat like dan envisioning the way that people would be screaming about these moments and sexualizing them anyway, and feeling forced to acknowledge the sexual overtones of the situation himself to get out in front of it. in this video, the difference is that dan truly and happily *went out of his way* to make these sexual and flirty comments, about the overalls, about tattooing phil’s penis or his ass, about phil biting him if he (dan) mentions cotton candy. and on and on. like,,,,, totally unnecessary, totally comments that dan made of his own volition bc he *wanted* to and *chose* to and that is so so important to me.
at the same time, phil, while less vocal in his flirting, broke the g-rated boundaries in his own ways, especially, and probs most memorably, by unzipping his trousers plainly in view of the camera and then plainly in view of dan. i was really shocked to see that and felt like i’d been totally transported back to 2008 lol. they’re both making these conscious decisions to unravel certain parts of this veneer they’ve had in place for so long and it’s something so exciting and monumental to me.
3. sarcastic comments:
as exciting as all of the above is, there hasn’t been a total transformation yet. there was still some visible discomfort with aspects of what they were doing, mostly on dan’s part, but a bit on phil’s as well, and to me it came out mostly in the form of super sarcastic comments sprinkled throughout the video. at 2:38 when dan says “it’s just like so pastel,” in the most mocking voice of all time. pretty much the whole time they are looking thru the example pics and trying not to make fun of the edits, but then basically openly shitting on the whole concept of aesthetic moodboards and whatnot. the “this is so stupid” comment that dan makes around that time. at 5:38 phil saying, “wow dan you look so soft.” this one is less clear but to me it definitely sounded sarcastic and mocky. at 6:59 the voice/face dan uses when he says “these soft knees. woowwwww.” at 9:07 when dan asks, “what is my life? why do i keep agreeing to these stupid videos? … do you deserve this?” and then at the end, phil saying “the things we do for you guys” and promoting dan’s channel, with dan quickly reassuring people his content is “not like this.” there are just these threads of self-consciousness and self-awareness that i don’t think they were fully able to shake, and an awareness specifically that this video seems/feels a lot like pandering, or at least specifically responding to something that was so vehemently requested by the audience and that they’re pretty clearly doing it just to “give the people what they want” (even though of course they ended up appearing to love it and have so much fun with it). this whole aspect of video-making for an audience is always going to be a tricky one for them, because they both pride themselves on originality and creativity and a so-called quality threshold and all that other bullshit, so choosing to make a video that is such a fervent fan request and that doesn’t involve the same creative energy that they’d normally want probably makes them somewhat uncomfortable (esp if that video is one where they have to literally dress up as a popular fan fantasy and touch each other a lot). that’s why it was so particularly interesting to me to hear phil say “well we’re on my channel there’s no integrity here,” because from *our* perspective it’s true that phil seems to care less about the quality threshold that dan talks about, and that he’s happy to put up fluff content (with dan) quite frequently whether it be a phil is not on fire or a day in the life or a baking vid or whatever else. phil’s clearly speaking in amusement and jest when he says his channel has no integrity but undelrying the humor is a clear separation they seem to see between the purpose of their channels and i was surprised to hear it reiterated so directly. this coupled with what we know about phil being more business-minded, having an on-camera presence that seems to be more different from his real self than dan’s, censoring himself, keeping his thoughts somewhat reserved, ,,, there are lots of connections here that i’m seeing but not finding the best words for in this moment. i think what i mean is that phil views his channel as entertainment in the most literal and fundamental way: the purpose is to please the audience, make them feel good and happy, and give them what they want to see. that process doesn’t necessarily require him to put a lot of himself out there. on the flip side dan sees his channel and his content as true artistic endeavors that are representative of who he is, his value as a creator and maybe even as a person since he connects so much of his self-assigned meaning of life to his career. all of this is shit we knew, but. i’ve never heard phil comment so glibly and cavalierly about that divide. the comment felt super important to me.
overall: there’s such a strongly purposive quality to everything dan and phil choose to do. even amongst all of the sensory onslaught of this video, the scenes of dan stroking phil’s arm and phil cooing over dan’s curls and both of them referencing sex and sexual situations so much, it’s this mindfulness, the transparently premeditated nature of it all, that hit me hardest and that i cannot stop thinking about. they’ve made so much progress in such a relatively short space, with their comfort levels and their confidence and their ability to disregard audience perceptions or, if they do regard it, to at least not let it dictate their behavior so damn much. ultimately with a video like this, when so much seems to have shifted, my mind always goes back to the frame-by-frame way in which videos are edited and the consequently frame-by-frame way that dnp watched this video back, looked at every joke they made, every touch they shared, and decided to leave things in as they were. decided to sit and maybe draft a tweet together that very consciously broke down their carefully constructed walls. it all is very deliberate and that matters. this video could definitely in my opinion be remembered as a turning point much like halloween baking if it is followed by more behavior that pushes boundaries, more conversation about defying gender roles and stereotypes, more sexual humor, etc. it was so exciting to watch and i’m so proud of them on so many levels.