In the fall of 2016, the limits of online Dada-style nihilistic swirling and chaos were tested by a YouTuber called MrMrMANGOHEAD. Sporting a profile image of Monster’s Inc’s very own Mike Wazowski, MrMrMANGOHEAD began uploading a video virtually every single day featuring the LazyTown song We Are Number One.
The song is LazyTown’s villain anthem, with jazzy horns, sang by the show’s primary antagonist, named Robbie Rotten. The mission of Robbie Rotten is to make LazyTown even lazier, but paradoxically, this makes him the most hard-working person in the town. The show is a brilliant character study in how ambition itself often undermines the goals of the ambitious.
MrMrMANGOHEAD’s videos, uploaded nearly every single day, feature increasingly distorted versions of the song We Are Number One, and catapulted the song into legendary status online. The trend caught on, and soon enough everyone on YouTube was releasing remixes and highly-edited shock pieces of Robbie Rotten’s three-minute scene on LazyTown.
This video, one of MrMrMANGOHEAD’s finest, earned over 1.6 million views:
It was all in good fun, until it came to the attention of the YouTube We Are Number One meme community that the actor who portrays Robbie Rotten, Stefán Karl Stefánsson, had just been diagnosed with cancer in real life.
Online, cancer is used as a term to describe memes or content that is unforgivably cringeworthy and bad. Stefansson is a classically-trained actor, and an internet icon. Realizing that his cancer was a grave injustice, a cosmic joke on a great man who has provided so much enjoyment for others, the once-nihilistic meme community, spearheaded by MrMrMANGOHEAD, encouraged fans to donate to a fundraiser for Stefan Karl Stefansson.
With all the good-will, support and love pouring in from online, Stefansson had an army at his back. And now, after two surgeries, Stefansson has been cured of a highly rare strand of liver cancer, one that only one in every 100,000 people receive.
“I’m one of a kind,” said Stefansson, when asked about the rarity of his disease. Indeed, he is. He transformed a role in a children’s television show into a meme spiral that will be remembered as YouTube’s finest, and channeled all that meme-making energy into online support, finally recovering from cancer.
“The damn disease is gone. Until it comes back, whenever that will be, which will hopefully be never. Life is now. It’s almost a miracle that I’m still here.”
Stefansson has a new lease on life, planning a stand-up comedy special on the subject of cancer, and has began biking 20 kilometers every day.
It’s an amazing story about what meme magic, great acting and the will to live can do. Today, MrMrMANGOHEAD has moved on to making distorted videos about cartoon films such as The Lorax. When MrMrMANGOHEAD started a Patreon account, asking for $1 per month, simply to give him “the will to live”, he probably never thought that all the eyes on his memes would translate into well-wishesand GoFundMe money for a man struggling to beat cancer.
Well, Stefansson showed cancer that he truly is, eternally, number one.