Tumblr Loves Animal Crossing, But It Especially Loves Raymond
04/23/2020 04:28 pm EDT
If you're somehow not already aware, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is very, very popular on the internet. Well, it's popular in general, but extremely so on the internet. ComicBook.com recently had the chance to speak with Tumblr's meme librarian (and head of brand advocacy) Amanda Brennan about, well, a lot of things, including Megamind somehow, but most of all: the release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and how Tumblr users are dealing with the social-distancing new normal during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. As it turns out, and this shouldn't exactly shock anyone familiar with the game or the fandom, everybody loves Raymond.
According to Brennan, the Nintendo Switch game, which released at the end of March, basically came out at the perfect time. "I feel like Animal Crossing is one of these things that is touching a lot of different communities and a lot of people that really didn't know that they needed it," she says. "I've seen a lot of people just be like, 'well, everyone is playing it, so I guess I'm going to play it too, because I've got nothing to do right now.' A lot of people really loving the game, really exploring the world. Lots of needs around Raymond."
What do you think about Animal Crossing: New Horizons? Are you as infatuated with Raymond as everyone else? Let us know in the comments, or hit me up directly on Twitter at @rollinbishop to talk all things gaming!
Keep reading to check out our full interview with Brennan all about Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Stardew Valley, Megamind, and more! Animal Crossing: New Horizons is currently available for Nintendo Switch. You can check out all of our previous coverage of the popular video game right here.
THE PERFECT TIME
ComicBook.com: Tell me about Animal Crossing on Tumblr. What are folks talking about? What is it about Animal Crossing that's so popular?
Amanda Brennan: Animal Crossing: New Horizons came out at the perfect time, first of all. I see there's a lot of completion. People who are sharing [fish and bug checklists]. So the last couple of days of March, everyone was really searching for the "stringfish" and making lots of posts about that.
There's also, of course, tons of fan art. Both anthropomorphization, when they draw the characters as people, and I've seen a lot of Raymond. I've also seen a lot of people drawing other things as Animal Crossing characters. There was an incredible piece of fan art of My chemical Romance if they were in Animal Crossing. There's tons, tons of really varied pieces of content, and I feel like Animal Crossing is one of these things that is touching a lot of different communities and a lot of people that really didn't know that they needed it. I've seen a lot of people just be like, "well, everyone is playing it, so I guess I'm going to play it too, because I've got nothing to do right now." A lot of people really loving the game, really exploring the world. Lots of needs around Raymond.
THE RAYMOND ARCHIVES
People have been loving Raymond. I've seen a lot of fan art of him in other fandoms too. There was a post about The Magnus Archives, which I'm not sure if you're familiar with. It's a podcast that just recently released a season, and Raymond looks like one of the characters in the podcast, so a lot of the fans are super hype about that.
Oh, that's funny. No, I wasn't aware of that.
HORNY ANIMAL CROSSING? NOT SO MUCH
Now, I have to ask this question. I hope it doesn't come across as weird. But how horny has Tumblr been about Animal Crossing?
From what I've seen, it's mostly just very wholesome content. Very chill. Oh, I forgot to mention before, the QR codes that people are sharing. [People have opened] the Able Sisters shop, so there's a lot of creativity happening there. I feel like memes and outfit codes are the two big things coming out of Animal Crossing, more so than that.
ANIMAL CROSSING x STEVEN UNIVERSE
Fair enough. Any other takeaways about Animal Crossing specifically?
Oh, gosh. When we put together Fandometrics [...] we always look at the raw data for the tags, and [in early April] about five of them were Animal Crossing related, and another bunch of them were Steven Universe. So it's really awesome to see those two communities kind of overlap. Animal Crossing came out at the perfect time in this world because so many people just want this relaxing activity to have.
Cottagecore has also been really huge on the platform, which is the aesthetic of relaxing in the woods, which very much aligns with Animal Crossing. You are on a deserted island and building it up and making your home and hanging out with animals. So it's touching a lot of communities across the whole ecosystem.
THE RISE OF MEGAMIND pt. 1
Now you have sort of alluded to this, but what is Tumblr like in this trying time? Has there been any unusual spikes? Anything in particular seeming to dominate the conversation while everyone's sort of stuck at home here?
Just to go back to cottagecore, we've seen that bubble up. There's been some huge, huge increases around it. Along with that, we've seen some bubbles of cleancore and soap fandom. Bread making. So many people are going back to these very tactile things that, when we're in this world where it's all so digital and we're all stuck in our houses, people going back to these things, that really grounds them. Also a lot of nostalgia and people digging into these things of the stuff that they think of to really feel good. We just had a really weird boost of engagement around the movie Megamind from the early 2010s. I'm not sure if you remember it.
The Will Ferrell movie?
Yeah. It was the number one movie [at one point in March]. It just kind of came out of nowhere. Yeah, the week ending March 23, 2020. Megamind was the number one trend, and we were blown away by the amount of fan art in there. There's incredible fan art. We came across posts of people sharing fic. There's some weird comics. Or not weird, but there's comics about Megamind and all of these meme-ey images that we really were surprised by. It feels like people are revisiting their childhoods with each other through the lens of now and just kind of remembering these things that felt very odd at the time, but they remember very fondly. There is a strong community of people who really love this movie.
THE RISE OF MEGAMIND pt. 2
That's really interesting. With y'all digging through the data and the tags and stuff, how do these unusual fandoms rise to the top here? Is there a genesis, or is it just like suddenly everyone's talking about it? How does something become popular on Tumblr like that? How did Megamind do that?
Well if you take a step back, when we calculate Fandometrics, every tag has a trending score, and the trending score takes into account searches, original posts, reblogs, and likes. So if we see a spike, or if the computer sees a spike in any of these things, identifies it, and they get calculated into the trending score. For Megamind in particular, it had been bubbling up. We internally hadn't noticed it, but when we actually dug in and were like, oh my gosh, when the computers finally identified the trend, this has been going on since November of last year in little bits and spurts.
Then [in March], people really -- because of reblogging and the ecosystem, a trend can really travel and really expand far past its community, and I think that's specifically what happened with Megamind. People were sharing it internally in our smaller circles, and then the fan art, as fan art tends to do, because it's beautiful, it's beautiful, and people are going to share it, whether or not they're necessarily a huge fan of the thing. Same thing with memes. If it's funny, it's funny, and people are going to share it, and they'll be like, "oh my God, I remember that movie. I haven't thought about it in 10 years." So I think it was a really interesting combination of people finding the stuff and being like, "oh my God, I haven't thought of this," and diving into the rabbit hole of the tag and connecting with it.
So it's just this kind of magic that a computer can't always predict and humans sometimes can't see until it happens at such a high capacity. But there are levers that predict it a little bit, like people are really interested in Narnia, and that's been trending. Twilight had a whole renaissance over the past few months it feels like. We've seen spikes around Twilight recently as well. And yeah. I've been doing this stuff for like six years, and every day there's something that surprises me. I've worked really hard to try to figure out how to automate my brain, but yeah, something like this will happen, and I'll be like, oh my gosh. And then you dig in and you see the crumbs, and it's just like it needs to hit the right person at the right time. And quarantine is the right time. We're all spending a lot more time online, you know?
Megamind especially is pretty interesting since the movie's message is pretty hopeful.
STARDEW VALLEY AWAKENS
Do you have any other thoughts about unusual spikes other than Megamind? Anything at all to share beyond what we've discussed?
So I've seen a lot of Stardew Valley x Animal Crossing crossover. People also playing the Sims as the characters from Stardew Valley -- the simblr community, one of the users, simsalea.tumblr.com, has started a Stardew Valley challenge, where she has recreated all of the characters from Stardew in Sims, and is playing the game. She's playing the Sims as if it were Stardew Valley, and all of the romance options are there. She's making all of the characters... And it's really, really fun to see that.
I think one of the best things about Tumblr is all of these fandoms kind of overlap and meld into each other and really just gets played in people's creative space. Tumblr is such a creative community, and exploring these open-ended world. They can find such interesting ways of expressing themselves.
The other really interesting Stardew thing I found was a whole bunch of fans teamed together to create a cookbook zine about all of the recipes that you can make in Stardew. It's stardewcookbook.tumblr.com, and now that the zine has been published, a lot of people are sharing the art that they made to go in the zine, and as a big Stardew fan myself, this is just so beautiful. It's so heartwarming to look through and see the love that people put into these characters. It's just really nice. It is a very heartwarming time to be on the internet.
TUMBLR IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS
I was going to say, I feel like, from the outside in, Tumblr can seem kind of insular, but you would say it's probably a good time to look into some stuff for people who've maybe not really dived deep before?
Yeah. I really think so. The editorial team just recently launched cozy.tumblr.com. Mostly because we were finding all this content, and it was really, really nice to look at after being online all day. So we turned it into an editorial initiative, and it's been really great to have a space where we can curate all of this amazing content and give people a place to go as a respite right now. Because we know everything is hard, and it's a very weird time. If we can give people a little bit of joy every day, I'd be happy to do that.
This interview was lightly edited for clarity and length.
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