BIT SEXIST BUT HEY

The story behind the funny, self-aware viral hit of the moment—Instagram Husband

The year is almost over, but there is still time for one (last?) viral trend: Instagram Husband.

Out of nowhere, a parody video about men being forced by their wives to constantly snap pictures of them and their lives in the quest for the perfect Instagram feed has become a sensation. Published on YouTube on Dec. 8, the video, titled “Instagram Husband,” has amassed nearly 3 million views in three days.

“Behind every cute girl on Instagram, is a guy like me—and a brick wall,” starts the video, which shows a series of men struggling to live their lives while helping their demanding partners—“We have to show everyone how much we enjoy our lives together!”—document their activities. Or their shoes. Or their food. Essentially, they’re incessantly asked to produce shareable portraits of everything that’s going on in their lives—or rather isn’t, since everyone is too busy posing.

Jeff Houghton, host and executive producer of The Mystery Hour, a late-night TV show that airs on a FOX affiliate in Springfield, Missouri, shot the video a week ago as a way to promote his talk show. Next thing he knew, he was an Internet sensation. “It’s so strange!” he tells Quartz. “I had a sense it was sort of relatable, but it’s been crazy. I haven’t been sleeping very much, and I’m just trying to keep up with it.”

Indeed, it’s safe to say plenty of people connected with the humor in it—and gracefully embraced the concept of Instagram husband—or, rather, #Instagramhusband:

But to others, the video (and many of the comments on it) read sexist—all these poor men struggling to please the camera-enthused women in their lives. This wasn’t Houghton’s intention, though, he says.

“We’d originally written [the video] so that these people at the end some would be women, some would be kids, and so on, but on the shooting day some of that stuff fell through,” he says, acknowledging dynamic portrayed in the video looks skewed.

 

“It’s an exaggerated version of myself,” says Houghton, who started a website to collect user contributions after the video took off. But as the site notes, “[a]nyone can be stricken as an Instagram Husband, including boyfriends, girlfriends, parents, or sons and daughters. Instagram Wife is also gender, status, and age neutral.”

 

 

#Instagramhusband is not unlike many of the trending hashtags and pages of 2015: Socality Barbie, uncropped Instagram pictures, Kinspiracy—these are all lighthearted meta-commentaries showing that our awareness of our desire to put a cool filter on our lives may have gone too far. Perhaps in 2016, we’ll do something about it.

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