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Stills from Morbeck’s YouTube postings

By Asher Penn

Friday December 1, 2006

Anti-social tendencies into art

A week ago I read this in my friend Rhett’s blog: “apparently Morbeck’s parents have sent him to a mental institution, and I’m still figuring out how I feel about it. It really breaks my heart for one, and it’s fucked up and wrong, and he should have moved out of his parents’ house a long time ago. But also, I just think about insanity in general and how stupid it is…”

Morbeck is the number one most-viewed comedy channel on Based in Brazil, the 26-year-old began his videos with spoofs of the site’s most popular video-bloggers, gaining notoriety among the YouTube community. Soon after, Morbeck began inventing his own fictional video blog characters, starting with the iconic Chipmunk Chick (Morbeck with a blond wig and a helium-pitch voice). Chipmunk Chick was Morbeck’s first of many alter egos, including Trixie Love, Dr. Lora, Roberta Robot, and Christina. For each of these personas Morbeck costumes in drag, puts on make-up, wigs and dresses, and applies specific vocal treatment. The result is a dynamic cast with monologue skits akin to Saturday Night Live.

While Morbeck is essentially a syndicated show, his channel also functions as a personal blog. Interspersed with the characters’ monologues are personal videos that show Morbeck as Morbeck. In the past month this aspect of the channel has become of increased interest: On October 30, Morbeck posted a video from a mental hospital where his parents had checked him in. A week later he made a bleary-eyed video from home, declaring that he was heavily medicated on Abylife (medication for treating schizophrenia) and that his parents had cut off his access to money and the Internet. He said that he had stubble because he wasn’t allowed to use razors.

Despite the fact that Morbeck has since posted videos in various characters, it is impossible to see his creativity output the same as before these events. The question is raised as to whether or not his previous performances are linked to his recent diagnosis, as they seem to read like the documentation of an unraveling mind.

There is a history of artists who have been both inspired and disabled by schizophrenic tendencies: Yayoi Kusama, Daniel Johnston, and Henry Darger are just a few of the many outsider artists whose creativity is completely linked to diagnosed mental disorders. Morbeck is not an art student inspired by John Waters and Jonathan Caouette consciously working within a new medium of telecommunication. Rather, he is an artist whose work lacks the element of self-consciousness. This is the kind of romantic artistic persona that the public loves and hates: artists can be difficult but schizophrenics are a handful. To make a life as a creative schizophrenic requires a lot of support from those around you, as well as a personal struggle to channel these anti-social tendencies into art. I wish Morbeck the best of luck.