If it wasn't already clear that Fortnite's ongoing development is led by a bunch of goobers who went to college in the '90s, then the latest in-game promo will slap you with that epiphany so hard it'll make the entire history of Fortnite feel like a trick set up for this moment. There's now an official Weezer-themed carnival island in Fortnite Creative mode that plays three songs from the 2019 Black Album on repeat. It's real and I spent two hours exploring it, along with the darkest reaches of my heart.
I didn't hate Weezer before today. They're the okayest rock band that ever was. Everyone cites Pinkerton as a classic, and it's a fine album for the era, a '90s autobiography where a young white dude sings about petty shit like being tired of having sex even though he clearly isn't tired of having sex. I mean, Rivers Cuomo sings about having and or wanting sex quite often. He even sings about it on Byzantine, one of the Black Album tunes I hear over and over and over again while headshotting teddy bears on Weezer Island in Fortnite, a game that many children play and love.
Some lyrics for you:
Put on your red beret, baby
I shoot a teddy bear in the face with an M1 Garand.
Moonwalk naked across the room
I shoot another.
Do something kinda unique to me
Another stuffed child's toy meets a bullet.
Do something that'll make me swoon
I do this as a banana man with arms and legs and glassy black eyeballs. What do those eyes see, I wonder. My media theory classes were a waste.
The teddy bear shooting gallery is Weezer Island's worst attraction. But the rest is a showpiece for Fortnite Creative, a dense playground that looks like a genuine theme park, replete with waterslides, an obstacle course, a shooting gallery, and a skatepark. If it weren't for the looming disco W keeping watch from a mountain overlooking the park and the same three terrible songs on repeat, I'd say, 'this is fun.'
What I am actually saying is 'this is hell.'
It's total cognitive dissonance. Ignore the banana man for a second—that's just Fortnite. I'm slipping down a waterslide, an activity I associate with the excitement of acceleration and my own memories of sprinting up the cold, wet stone at Fairmont Hot Springs water park to get just one more run in, it's the last one, I promise.
The memory is washed away when Cuomo sings about being a dick to his partner while rationalizing his shitty behavior in I'm Just Being Honest.
Walk into the bedroom, you were standing there.
Turned around and smiled at me and said, "You just cut your hair."
But then I told you I thought you looked better before
You said, "Hope you like sleeping on the floor."
Tact, my man. Tone. Delivery. Be smooth, like a waterslide.
The shooting gallery makes clever use of ice and acceleration panels to transform an ATK into an automated cart of sorts. I hit a bump near the end, but I've been concentrating so hard on shooting the dummies along the way that I didn't have the brainspace to comprehend a Weezer song taking potshots at Neil Young.
I sprint to the obstacle course in search of the same numbing sensation, but I manage to break the very first launchpad required to reach the very first platform. All that remains is a bouncer aimed directly at the entrance and I'm booted out back onto the street below the pulsating gaze of the monolithic W.
My violent emotional radio chatter only clears up once I boost off a ramp on a driftboard and land outside the park boundaries. I end up underneath the platform the park is built on as I look for a way back up, but in staring down at the polished surface of the glass island, I feel as if I'm staring off into infinity. A lone chair sits in a corner below the foundation.
I'm reminded of where you find Greirat the Thief's body in Dark Souls 3 if you fail his questline, beneath the pristine castles of Irithyll in the aqueducts now overrun with rotting sewage and wig-wearing spiders. The refuse of the rich and famous runs off down here on Weezer Island too, the byproduct of all that vanity and posturing and terrible history.
I'm denied access to the entertainments meant to make shit lyrics tolerable, but in my lowly state, I can also see much clearer. I imagine Weezer's music sloughing off me and onto the slick surface, pooling up until it spills over the edges of the glass island and into the endless sea below. I take my moment of clarity and flee.
There's no moral to this story. I wish I had a neat conclusion that wrapped up how I feel about a horny, mad Weezer cameo in Fortnite. We've got some real pop culture ouroboros stuff going down here and my stance is that I don't have one because I can't conceive of one. Weezer's music is middling, selfish nonsense adrift in time. Fortnite is a cultural parrot, a consistently surprising battle royale with hooks that run deeper than game design. And now they've overlapped.
What do those glassy black banana man eyes see, I wonder. What do they truly see? I think we're better off not knowing.