Editors Note: We discuss the Dafoe-Verse in this week’s episode of VGS! FUSE Preview and Commander Shepard Interview included- Back to Aidan!
One might be forgiven for considering the Wii U nothing more than a slightly underperforming video game console released by one of the longest running console manufacturer going today. It’s white, it’s rather long, and it allows you to play Darksiders 2 in bed using its off-screen mode. Recently, a wave of Virtual Console games have hit the system in a bid by Nintendo to try to win its hardcore fans back whilst simultaneously attempting to keep the new audience it fostered with its family friendly Wii console.
However, something dark stirs in the online community. Whilst months go by with the only release of note being a port of a year old 3DS game, a faction of potentially disturbed and artistically questionable men and women have carved their symbol right into the heart of Nintendo’s new social network Miiverse. I speak of course, of the Dafoeverse.
As many of you will know, Miiverse is a Twitter-esque application which allows the sharing of messages, screenshots and drawings within communities centred around video games. For 99% of the game communities, things appear to have gone to plan. Players of Super Metroid are reaching out to the world and asking how to “make Metroid crawl“, and the game Funky Barn is host to many thousands of players trying to make some sort of innuendo out of the word which “funk” kind of sounds like. However, the malevolent Dafoeverse has taken route in the last place anyone would expect to find it; Rabbid’s Land, a place which should be home to the drawings of eight year olds drawing Rabbids and saying how their older sister always beats them at the game. Instead, we have this:
Willem Dafoe as a baby, apparently commanding Brendan Fraser to kill on its behalf.
On the surface, there is no explanation for this. For those who don’t know, Willem Dafoe is an Academy Award nominated actor who starred in films such as Platoon, Shadow of the Vampire, Spider-Man and the polar bear from the UK advertising campaign for Birds Eye’s frozen food products. To say he has a distinctive look would be an understatement; his complexion is one that he himself is proud of, and his seen him cast as many villains in his time in Hollywood. So how does a famed Hollywood actor become the figurehead of an artistic movement within the online community of a children’s video game?
To find out, unfortunately, requires further investigation. After a while, you start to sense an attempt on the communities part to make puns out of his surname, or at least link him to various films.
This one in particular had me perplexed. The motive of the artist is unknown, but it seems to imply that the devilish incarnation of Willem Dafoe wishes to endorse a console that is ten years or two generations old.
We can draw some sort of conclusion from this one. The theme seems to be centred around the controversy that occurred a few weeks ago where a Microsoft employee implied that those with less than desirable internet connections would have to “deal with it” if Microsoft were to make the next Xbox “always online”. The time stamp of the above confirmed this. The fangs also imply a reference to Shadow of the Vampire, but this is up for debate.
The author of this little number had already produced many of the previous Dafoe drawings, which now account for at least 30% of the posts on the Rabbid’s Land Miiverse community. The lack of explanation or clear indication that this is indeed intended to be Willem Dafoe implies an inside joke that only a few privileged insiders know of.
And with this drawing, the picture starts to become clear. The pictured Jonathan Holmes is a writer for Destructoid, and is a host on Destructoid’s official podcast along with Jim Sterling, famed for his Escapist video series “The Jimquisition” which is also host to… a small doll of Willem Dafoe.
With this knowledge, the image becomes quite clear. The Dafoeverse’s point of origin was the Destructoid podcast Podtoid, where the hosts regularly make up movie pitches for Willem Dafoe. On Sterling’s instruction, some time around the launch of the Wii U, the Rabbid’s Land Miiverse community was inundated with the Willem Dafoe drawings, some initially done by the hosts themselves.
In all honesty, I wrote this article fully knowing the origins of the drawings. The main point I wanted to make was the potential the Miiverse application has beyond simple messages, screenshots and drawings. Whilst some might deem some of these drawings inappropriate for the intended Rabbid’s Land audience, I see a glimmer of potential for the system. Much as some of the drawings might be part of an in joke that most won’t appreciate, some display some actual talent on the part of the artists (not all, bear in mind). The main thing that holds it back is the lack of any communities outside of those devoted to games themselves. The major beneficiaries of a potential alteration to the current system would be young children themselves. Why not have an Iron Man 3 community where the little guys and girls can draw Iron Man at each other? Why not have channels devoted to different TV shows, books, film series or just themes? Why not host monthly drawing competitions, possibly extending the resolution and canvas size to allow more space for creativity?
And for the older Wii U owners amongst us, why not give us all what we’ve been clearly asking for; The Official Willem Dafoe Appreciation and Art Community.