‘Inside’ is a Multimedia Work of Art

This year Bo Burnham came out and released another comedy special on Netflix after a few years out of the spotlight. His comedy, Inside, is a socio-political commentary that uses music and visual art to help illustrate his point. For those who don’t know, Bo Burnham is a comedian that rose to success after starting out on vine. He’s been very open about his mental health and how it affects him, and that’s a central theme in Inside. I picked this piece as what could be judged as beautiful specifically because of how dense it is, along with the different forms of art it uses. I feel like this fits the idea of art having a purpose that Kant mentions. While purpose isn’t necessary, it does present a message to the viewer, adding to the satisfaction of experiencing the art. This work is the meeting of the pleasant and the good, “so are not only the pleasant, and the mediate good (the useful) which is pleasing as a means toward pleasantness somewhere, but also that which is good absolutely and in every aspect, viz. moral good, which brings with it the highest interset.” (Kant pg 284)

Just the framing of the shots are very visually appealing. This is from a song where he’s focusing on things from the past his past and looking back on it, hense why he’s projecting that video of himself onto himself.

This shot is just visually pretty

His songs in this are generally really lighthearted and fun, with many of them having funky electronic beats and catchy lyrics. The song “Shit” Many of them have a different format with their sound, style, and lyricism. The song “This is How the World Works” sounds like a song that would be played on a children’s TV show, including a sock puppet friend Sockko. The song “Comedy” is meant to make fun of those in the entertainment industry that exhibit a savior complex. It also discusses how difficult it is to do comedy with how the world is right now.

“Healing the world with comedy
The indescribable power of your comedy
The world needs direction
From a white guy like me?
Bingo
Who is healing the world with comedy?
That’s it!

The world is so fucked up
Systematic oppression
Income inequality
The other stuff
And there’s only one thing I can do about it…
While… while being paid… and being the center of attention”

Even the boards in the scenes poke fun at the genre
This is one of my favorite stills from Problematic, I like the use of the lighting to help get his point across. It’s mocking influencers who apologize while acting like they’re being crucified for their actions.

He has fun making fun of common issues that are specifically found online. His songs “Problematic” and “White Woman’s Instagram” joke about things like performative activism and addressing past mistakes online. “Welcome to the Internet” also focuses on the chaos of the internet and what it’s turned into since the beginning of the internet as we know it. He also touches on children who were essentially raised by the internet or experienced the internet as a staple in their childhood.

This song, while fun, is made to show the dichotomy between what we teach children about the world instead of how the world actually works.

There are also songs that are still fun and catchy, while also just blatantly being a commentary of sorts. The song “That Funny Feeling” fully discusses social issues like climate change, gun violence, mental illness, and various others. There is a focus, again, on the dichotomy of our society and experiences.
“The surgeon general’s pop-up shop, Robert Iger’s face
Discount Etsy agitprop, Bugles’ take on race
Female Colonel Sanders, easy answers, civil war
The whole world at your fingеrtips, the ocean at your door
The livе-action Lion King, the Pepsi Halftime Show
Twenty-thousand years of this, seven more to go
Carpool Karaoke, Steve Aoki, Logan Paul
A gift shop at the gun range, a mass shooting at the mall” The song “All Eyes on Me” has the same vibe, with more commentary about climate change and social issues.

His songs like “Bezos 1 and 2”, “Unpaid Intern”, “Shit”, and “Content” are his more lighthearted songs that are there for goofs and gaffs. They’re more songs that serve the purpose of transitions and also introducing or continuing the themes of other songs in the special through.

Shit focuses on mental health issues, but its also a fun dance song

Personally, I really enjoyed Inside and feel like it meets the criteria of an influential piece of work in my life. It’s extremely relatable and filmed wonderfully, it’s fun and lighthearted while still communicating a message to the viewer. As someone with mental illness a lot of the songs really resonated with me, I know “That Funny Feeling” gets a little too relatable for me. “Full agoraphobic, losing focus, cover blown/ A book on getting better hand-delivered by a drone/ Total disassociation, fully out your mind /Googling “derealization,” hating what you find/ That unapparent summer air in early fall/ The quiet comprehending of the ending of it all” I saw this special almost directly after getting diagnosed with depersonalization and derealization disorder, so this song has been something I cathartically cried to.

The spotlight on him happens a lot in this scene because it symbolizes the feeling he has of being watched and judged. He stopped doing comedy live because he had been having panic attacks on stage, along with general anxiety.

To conclude, I think Bo did an amazing job with this special, and I think it was both really funny and thought provoking at the same time. I really recommend it to anyone who has not watched it, it’s fantastic. I feel like this serves a lot of purpose and value as a work of art, and I felt like it’s one of the most suitable things to talk about in a philosophy class.

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3 Comments

  1. Alexis Derr says:

    Thank you. Genuinely. THANK YOU. I listen to the album of this Netflix special on repeat. I do find that where Kant is concerned, yes, this is something that can attract the interest of people. As a millennial, all his songs hit home. (some more than others embarrassingly enough) The more shocking thing is that my BOOMER mother disagrees with most of his work. However, if you come at ‘Inside’ from a very impartial, open-minded person, you can see that what he is genuinely trying to do is “heal the world with comedy”. – In turn, you are using the first moment to disinterestedly analyze the beauty of his special and why it is important to all generations.

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  2. jarogrant says:

    Gods, I am absolutely in love with the Bo Burnham special. Before the Inside special, I was not all too familiar with Bo Burnham’s work (besides the bits that my friends played in the midst of long car drives). Inside was a SPECTACULAR piece that certainly spoke to my own feelings of depression and anxiety. My cognitive impulses are not something Kant would approve of, certainly. Nonetheless, I genuinely enjoyed the special and its commentary on capitalism, fame, and absurdism.

    Like

  3. zeldalov364 says:

    Inside is such a beautiful piece of art! It’s crazy impressive that Bo made the entire special all by himself! I’ve been a big fan of Bo for awhile now, and can emotionally relate to alot of the things he talks about in the special, so I don’t think Kant would accept my judgement since it’s not completely disinterested, but i would definitely agree with you on how amazing this special is!

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