“Guys, What is Boman?”
I first discovered Boman in the summer of 2014, where he was roughly two years into his wayward pilgrimage across the Earth in his search for nothing in particular. I happened to be browsing r/Cringe on Reddit at the time, because I was going through a bad time in those days and used footage of others humiliating themselves to feel better about my own past awkward moments. Someone linked to Boman at Vidcon. But in this instance, almost everyone in the comments agreed his video wasn’t cringe-inducing. In fact, some comments recommended his other videos as pretty funny and chill. Well, I dove into this rabbit hole like so many aimless nights browsing wikipedia articles, and I’ve always been glad I did. Since that day, I’ve been a massive fan and a sort of “disciple” from afar. It’s fitting in hindsight that I should have discovered Boman where I did, as he helped me to learn that it’s not healthy to dwell on uncomfortable emotions, and that I should live in a more authentic manner so fear of embarrassment or rejection doesn’t control my life.
I’ve found Boman’s videos to be hilariously carefree yet still insightful in an offbeat way. They’re like a modern, post-internet style of gonzo journalism: “Gonzo Vlogging” you might call it. In each episode, Boman journeys to seemingly implausible locations to monologue in a hilariously unfocused dialectic manner, peppered with vaguely worded questions directed at locals. His words may or may not be immediately relevant to the setting or situation at hand. What’s important is Boman has the charisma and comedic timing to pull it off where others might come off as fake or obnoxious. (The E3 video is a great example of this, as his companion unfortunately isn’t as successful emulating the same formula. Thus serving as a demonstration of how annoying these videos might have been in someone else’s hands.)
Boman’s intent is apparently encouraging people to be more free-spirited, laugh at themselves, and go with the flow a bit more. At least that’s what I’ve always gotten out of his work. It’s very charming stuff, and a thoughtful subversion of most vlogging personalities, who in my experience dwell on ego or petty topics. The night I first discovered Boman’s channel, I laughed out loud for over an hour at his antics. Nowadays, I’m much more admiring of his ethos and personality. I love the idea of a person brave enough to make these kinds of videos, wear a dress, not care what people think.
You’ll notice a few running gags in the series. Nearly every video begins with Boman spinning the camera around quickly and yelling “what’s up Ding-a-lings!!” You’ll see here from an outsider’s perspective how it perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the video. It immediately gets everyone’s attention, scaring away many of the timid and judgmental but encouraging the curious and confident in the crowd to see what’s going on. Boman almost always claims his expensive travels across the Earth are “sponsored by iPole, they gave me $___ to be here!” While the product plug is a joke, the product itself (introduced in his 43rd outing, almost a full year into his journey) has become an invaluable part of his signature style. It allows Boman to get some sporadic and unconventional camera angles, either to take people out of their comfort-zone or just experiment for its own sake. (Both of which play well to the style he’s going for.) It entices people to stay and see what the “freak” or the interesting free-spirit in their midst is up to. The iPole is a sort of post-modern shepherd’s crook, drawing in a captive audience and leaving them with a brief but memorable lesson on living in the moment.
The Seven Pillars of Wisdom
I’d like to share my top seven Boman videos.
The previous two are Burning Man #1 and #2. Not much to say except that it’s Boman in a place where other people around are on the same level to “get” him. The first one is more quiet and, in my opinion, fun to watch. But the second gets bonus points for wearing a dress and looking damn fine doing it.
Another standout favorite. Boman uses a single tree as a general metaphor for life in many different contexts. The need to be flexible, the need to “let the little guys have their share” and so on. It reminds me of climbing trees in my youth, or A Separate Peace and the tree as a metaphor for growing up. This is Boman at his calmest and most reverent, without sacrificing the trademark style. My dad, who hates YouTube stuff and would scoff at the idea of vlogs, overheard me listening to this while visiting home once, and was almost awed by it. After it was done, he even asked me who had made the video, obviously very interested.
This is probably the most overtly hilarious one on the list. “Big Sexy” and the dancing transvestite are almost certainly the funniest passerby interviews he’s ever done. And the nameless man who describes money as opportunity is perhaps the most down to Earth. This is also, to my knowledge, the only video where we have supplemental footage from outside Boman’s perspective.
Boman teaching recycling, but with his off-beat humor. This also contains his most deliberately spiritual monologue, amidst a collection of dirty old porcelain toilets and sinks.
Possibly his simplest video, just offering scrambled instructions on making chili. The thing is, I just love the message of this one. Cooking is awesome, and it shouldn’t be just a girl thing or whatever. I wish my mom had taught me how to cook. And while my dad did teach me how to grill stuff, I wish we had done more of that together. Around college, I started to experiment with my food a lot more: scrambled eggs on pizza, dry oatmeal on vanilla ice cream, and cooking ham in graham cracker crumbs along with the usual brown sugar. I finally cooked my own Thanksgiving dinner last year–a perfectly done Turkey, mashed potatoes hand-mashed and green bean casserole. It’s a small feat but one I’m proud of nonetheless. Cooking your own meals is fun, and while risky, going off-recipe can be very rewarding as well.
Just enjoying the good old outdoors. Boman is many things to many people. To the northern hill tribes, he’s called Gaia’s Gardener. The NPCs of his journeys call him the Wayward Shepherd. The disciples who’ve merely heard of his deeds in passing have proclaimed him the Aquarian Messiah. But to those who knew him best, he will always be the Great BoDiddy.
The Great Dingleberry Incident
My first experience of Boman’s magic, and still among the most meaningful of his videos is also the most controversial. The contrast between him and “Emma Dingleberry” is pretty immense. Boman goes to Vidcon, a convention where people are celebrating videos and YouTube filming and showing how paradoxically uncomfortable these same people get while being filmed. You see Emma glare and flip Boman off before insulting him, for doing nothing at that point except filming himself. When Boman stands his ground and tries to be friendly, Emma loses her nerve and tries to diffuse the situation she herself escalated (“oh well, I’m mean to everyone, so…”) Cool. So you’re mean to people. Maybe work on that. It’s telling how her fans defended this behavior and harassed Boman for months afterwards, all for literally filming at a conference about filming. That loyalty to a brand, hurting people in the name of blind loyalty to icons on a pedestal, is more than a little disturbing. In my opinion this video shows how fake a lot of celebrity culture–including YouTube–often is.
Aside from that unpleasantness though, the segments with the dark-haired younger woman and blonde woman who’s seemingly a friend of Boman’s were charming. A few other people were awkward or less polite on camera, but not outright rude as Emma was. I think the reason Emma reacted in the way she did (though I’m not familiar with her shtick) is because Boman took the spotlight off her and possibly because she plays a mean persona on her channel and “had” to stay in-character. Either way Boman himself didn’t deserve to get so much flak for this non-incident, though I’m almost glad he did or else I never would have discovered his channel.
The primary focus of this next video is to read off a lot of the hatemail he’d received since the previous Vidcon episode. It’s just an illuminating example of how depraved internet harassment can get. While Boman’s pretty chill in this and all subsequent outings, I don’t think he’d make two whole videos reading off the hatemail and threats he’d received if it didn’t genuinely bother him on some level. It just shows how crazy the modern group-hate phenomenon is; even if you considered Boman to be in the wrong with Emma, nobody deserves to get countless threats and bullying online over a five second encounter like theirs.
But beyond that unfortunate focal point, I love this video. It was the first I saw which really showed off the humor his channel is known for. Imagine going into a produce aisle and seeing this guy with a five foot iPole and globe shirt while talking about someone named “Emma Dingleberry.” This is the one that began my fascination with Boman and kicked off my binge of his other videos.