New best friend

Column by Hallie Beard, Opinion Editor

It never fails to amaze me how utterly strange and peculiar the depths of YouTube are.

A few days ago, I discovered my new favorite YouTube channel, and it’s the weirdest one in existence: “peperonie babie.”

Now, if you’re a normal human being, you’re probably a bit confused and possibly frightened by that intentionally-misspelled, uncapitalized title. If you’re like me, you’re already rolling on the floor laughing just from the sheer stupidity of the name.

Just what, you ask, is peperonie babie?

Well, it’s a lizard. Or, some kind of pet reptile. The lizard’s name is “peperonie,” though the owner calls him a variety of other names – pup, pep, man, my son, etc. The list is endless and completely ridiculous. The owner almost always refers to Pep (can I call him Pep?) as a dog, and even the commenters on the user’s videos talk about the cuteness of the “dog.”

It’s a strange situation, but an interesting one.

The channel has hundreds of videos that mainly consist of Pep doing lizard – or, uh, “dog” – activities while his owner narrates and makes jokes about the pet’s actions. One viewing of a video makes it clear that when the owner – a transgender woman often referred to as “Mom” in descriptions or comments – calls the lizard her son, she’s not kidding. The excitement and adoration Mom shows to Pep is the purest, most adorable and infectious thing I’ve ever witnessed.

On top of that, the videos are comedy gold, in my opinion. Granted, my sense of humor is often a bit unconventional – as my laughing fit over simply seeing the words “peperonie babie” exhibits – but the owner’s ability to come up with songs, narratives and nicknames for the lizard during narration are hilarious and bizarre.

While any of the hundreds of videos are mildly entertaining and give a decent glimpse into the life of Pep and Mom, one video surpasses all others: “HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY BIG DOG PEPERONIE!!!!” This video is two minutes and thirty-three seconds of pure cuteness, and it’s totally meme-worthy. Basically, the owner makes a special dinner just for Pep, and the video captures all the glory of the pet’s eating while the owner sings birthday songs and proclaims her love for her lizard. Maybe it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s quite enjoyable, and made me smile and laugh. Isn’t that what YouTube videos are for?

What’s interesting is that, through poking around on the channel and watching more videos, I noticed the user had a significant community of commenters. I don’t know the deal with this account – is this all intentional for comedic purposes, or does the owner truly spend hours simply narrating her inner thoughts about the cuteness of her lizard, who she calls  dog? I don’t know. Either way, though, it’s prime grounds for horrible comment-section bullying, especially when it comes to gender idenitity.

Surprisingly, though, the commenters on the videos use the comments for such an innocent purpose: complimenting Mom and Pep, and gushing about how much they, too, love the animal. I’ve never seen such positive, content-based comments before on a YouTube video. Typically, I steer clear of comment sections all together to avoid seeing the petty, hurtful comments of what the internet calls “comment trolls.”

I’ve yet to launch into the depths of Reddit to find out more about peperonie babie, but until I do, I’m going to keep Pep’s first year birthday video queued on my phone for when I need cheering up. Check it out.