Despite the efforts of my friends, I'm usually a little late to the party on Internet memes, so I didn't see any of them until the second one was out. At that time, they were pretty inspirational. Of course, like most adventure fiction, they skip over the tedious and the mundane parts of travelling and just show the good bits, but even so — they were about a guy who was trying to see as much of the world as he possibly could on whatever money he could scrape up, and that's a powerful and romantic image. Yes, for the second year he had some sponsorship, but that seemed like just an improvement to the money-scraping process. There's a lot of the world to see, and watching those videos it seemed vaguely dumb that I wasn't seeing them because of minor quibbles like not liking the food or speaking the language. Of course, there's also the issue of money, but the videos themselves were demonstrations that that could be dealt with, too, if you were dedicated enough.
I enjoyed the third year, which I guess is when it really took off as a meme. The fourth year looks just as good as the rest, if not better, but now it feels like a tourism video. He isn't just a guy anymore, he's the Where the Hell Is Matt guy, and while he's only Internet famous, that's still enough to get hundreds of people to show up to dance with him, and get him into places that other people can't go. That just changes the whole feel of the thing.
On the other hand, go check out the videos on YouTube where he "admits" that the whole thing is a hoax. Like anything else, some people have been claiming for years that it's fake, so he got up on stage and "admitted" it. The presentation was absolutely serious and started out quite plausibly, but by the end he was talking about things which aren't even possible yet, let alone cheaper than just sending him to the places and videotaping him there. Then he demonstrated how it's really done by inviting the audience up on stage with him to dance for the camera. The whole thing was a beautiful, ballsy yank on the chain of the hoax theorists, done so deadpan that probably many of them will not even realize that he was sticking out his tongue at them. His videos may not be as inspirational as they once were, but the man has style.
Two weeks of a post every day!