More than nine months and 70 bananas since the artist-prankster-enigma known only as Bana Man began his strange undertaking, the mystery of one of Dallas’ more bizarre YouTube channels remains unsolved.
The 75th dispatch in the series, published on April 21, follows a pattern that should be familiar to anyone who has been following the Bana Man’s work. A man (we see only his hand) leaves a banana in a public place in North Texas, usually downtown Dallas, sometimes a farther-flung suburb. The banana is inscribed with a short cryptic message, and accompanied by an inscrutable title for the one-minute video. The language of these titles is vaguely apocalyptic in the manner of a fire-and-brimstone, end-is-nigh street prophet, littered with garbled poetic references to Shakespeare and web comics. While the banana message in this most recent — and perhaps final? — video is more vulgar than most, it’s true to the spirit of the project.
Is this Bana Man’s crude sign off? “Downward we trod, knowing not what comes next” does have a note of finality to it. It’s been almost four months since he has uploaded a video, and while we wouldn’t blame him for staying indoors during the Dallas summer, I’m made to wonder whether Bana Man has concluded the series just as suddenly and enigmatically as it began.
Part of me doesn’t want to know what’s going on here. If it’s a viral marketing scheme, it’s been tremendously unsuccessful — the average Bana Man video has about 20 views. I’m more inclined to think art project, or maybe something more ritualistic, a shamanic invocation of a forgotten banana god. The inscrutability of the Bana Man project is its greatest strength.
But a bigger, louder part of me really wants to know, particularly after Bana Man left a taunting banana outside D Magazine HQ after we first posed the question: Who is Bana Man, and what does this all mean?
So I’m going to pose the question again now that Bana Man has seemingly gone silent.
Here’s what is known:
1.)Bana Man is probably a reader of the web-comic xkcd, judging from a quote he left in the comments of one video and the language/phrasing seen in some of his other writings.
3.)Because so many videos are recorded in downtown Dallas during the day, Bana Man possibly works in the area.
4.)Bana Man is familiar with both rap music and possibly Shakespeare.
5.)Maybe a Lovecraft fan?
For reference, here’s the description (artist statement?) Bana Man gives us on YouTube:
As one observes the American Society and its death spiral of quotidian twaddle, as Art itself gasps what appears to be its penultimate breaths, it becomes one’s mission – a sacred duty, indeed – to eschew the premonishments of the proles. The fetters of established taboo should be reduced to compost, that new vines of thought may grow forthwith! Let the bastions of recalcitrance and mediocrity choke, garroted upon their own hamstrings! Topple down the old edifices of comfort, scatter them to rubble, and use them to build anew, walls of misanthropy and havoc! Through this entropy, many may feel terror, fear, discomfort, confusion… but these emotions will be the birthing pangs of a wholly new paradigm, whose zeitgeist has finally come.