The new “End of Ze World” video looks just like the original for exactly two seconds. A few moments later, the long-awaited sequel to what many call the world’s first viral video displays a collage of missiles, pumpjacks, a Nazi flag, a hurricane, and protest signs. Your eyes will immediately drop to the one that says boldly, “WTF?!” This is “End of Ze World… Probably for Real This Time,” and it’s haunting.
The update comes from Jason Windsor, the same mind behind the “End of Ze World” video that took the baby internet by storm in 2003. Now a father of two and a professional animator, Windsor, 33, never really wanted to make a sequel to his surprise smash hit, a video that entertained and scared an entire generation before YouTube even existed. Why mess with a treasured bit of internet history?
“No one likes a sequel that’s not as good as the original. :)” Windsor told Gizmodo in an email. “But watching 2017 unfold made me want to make something. Maybe it’s just a way to deal with my own fear and anger and frustration.”
Which sounds a lot like what inspired the first “End of Ze World” video. It appeared on sites like eBaum’s World and Albino Blacksheep not long after the United States invaded Iraq, and kids old enough to comprehend the September 11 attacks really did feel everything was about to come crashing down. The wars did drag on, and many people died. But then, within five years, Barack Obama took the oath of office, and George W. Bush disappeared to Texas and took up painting. The world did not end.
Fast-forward to 2018. This is the bad shit. A bilious former reality TV star with a taste for conspiracy theories is in the White House bragging about the size of his nuke-launching button, while North Korea ponders the quickest route to American annihilation. The already terrified people of Hawaii are recovering from a false alert about incoming ballistic missiles, commanding them to “seek immediate shelter.”
The craziest thing is that these events happened after Windsor had already finished animating the new “End of Ze World.” Even still, the would-be doomsdayer sounded optimistic on the eve of the new video’s premiere.
“I’m certainly still hopeful we can avoid doing something silly like blowing ourselves up, or not listening to scientists when they’re like, ‘No seriously, shit’s effed, and we need to stop this,’” Windsor said. “But there’s also action to be taken right away to avoid that stuff.”
Reigniting the “End of Ze World” conversation with a fun yet pensive animation is Windor’s way of doing that. Watch it. Watch the original. Watch the new one again, and then send it to your friends. And then close your computer. Go hug a scientist. Protest the new nuclear proliferation. Run for office.
Whatever you do, don’t let the apocalypse happen while you’re watching internet videos.
PS. Just in case you forgot how great it was, here’s the original “End of Ze World.”