In his latest Essential YouTube Sports Library edition, Max Ornstein explains why Adam Winrich’s ‘Extreme Whipcracking’ is the greatest YouTube video of all time.
The following is a second-by-second analysis of perhaps the most Essential YouTube video of all time.
We open on Adam in tight jeans, a shirt for the punk rock band Burnt Out Punks, and a cowboy hat. Oh, also, he’s swinging a flaming whip. The title pops up and then fades away to leave us with a black screen and the sounds of some righteous whipcracking.
Historically, whips are tools of subjugation, but Adam assuages any apprehension I might have by explaining that he saw whipcracking in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when he was nine and went from there. I almost fell into the false syllogism of “since whips are bad and Adam likes whips, then…” but didn’t.
Adam gives us a quick demonstration of the figure-eight whip crack, where he cracks a whip in each hand on both the swing and backswing. The Adam Winrich whip crack face is one of the best faces of all time. It couldn’t be more scrunched up with concentration and the knowledge that he is awesome. The only sound he could make with that face is a battle cry of, “Uuuungghhhh!”
Imagine if an NBA player brought this type of facial intensity? Actually, this face is Kobe Bryant’s underbite face.
Adam earned a math and physics degree at college. Of course he did. He says he’s been pursuing whips as well as blues harmonica. I’m going to call this “Chekhov’s Blues Harmonica.” As in, if you are making a video about an esoteric talent you have, and you casually mention you ALSO play the Blues Harmonica, you must play the blues harmonica before the end of the video. Imagine if, in Anchorman, Ron Burgundy never played the jazz flute. How would you feel then? Cheated.
Also note the birdhouse made out of a Wisconsin license plate, the close-ups of cement and plastic mushroom chairs, a box of Sunkist orange soda (not quite Chekhov’s Orange Soda), and a cute kitten that walks right up to the camera. The fact that this video only barely breaks 100,000 views is ludicrous to me. If he had named it “Extreme Whipcracking + Cute Kitten” or “Cute Kitten Extreme Whipcracking,” it would have exponentially more views and would be less dishonest in its marketing than 97 percent of videos on YouTube.
I can’t think of anything else as dorky and at the same time as impressive as extreme whipcracking. I’m about as likely to dunk on Dikembe Mutombo as I am to pull off one of these series of whip cracks. The Adam Winrich face makes its triumphant return.
No whipcracking routine is complete without double finger guns at the end.
Whipcracking has taken Adam around the world. That’s the goal, really, isn’t it? Do something you love that also lets you travel to the places you want to go? On his journeys, Adam has completely rewritten the Guinness record books. How can you hate on someone who is living the dream like Adam is?
He’s soaking his whip in gasoline.
Super slow motion fire whip action.
I’d bet against anyone reading this article doing what he’s doing in the video now and not maiming themselves horribly. The Adam Winrich face reaches new levels at 2:13 when he combines the Kobe underbite with some Jordan tongue.
The records he holds are the longest whip ever cracked (216 ft.), the most stock whip cracks in a minute (272), the most bullwhip cracks in a minute (253), fastest whip to hit ten targets (4.85 seconds), the most two-handed whip cracks in a minute (420), the most candles extinguished in one minute with a whip (50), and the most soda cans cut in half with a whip in three minutes (23).
He refers to his “most soda cans cut in half with a whip in three minutes” record as “a record that every teenager with a whip is going to attempt.” This is the first time in the video that I wonder about his level of self-awareness. It’s the way he says the words “every” and “attempt,” like he only half-believes himself, he’s being ironic, hamming it up, or he’s just a little socially awkward. I can’t figure out which and I’ve watched this video a dozen times.
How many teenagers with a whip does he think there are? In his mind, is there one kid with a whip in every high school? Every dozen high schools? Every 144 high schools? Adam Winrich is the Michael Phelps of whip cracking, if only 100 people in the world knew how to swim.
Adam slices an orange soda can in half and sends the top half flying, as we see from five different replay angles (or five different slow motion soda can destructions. I can’t imagine they’re filming this with more than one camera).
He cuts a can perfectly in half, leaving half the soda in the can so he can drink it, “like this!” Adam then gives a demonstration of how to drink orange soda out of a can that’s been cut in half by a whip. I don’t know what I would’ve done without that soda-drinking demo. This feeds into the “is he un-self aware, ironic, hammy, or awkward” question, but there’s no answer to be had. Perhaps that’s why this video is so compelling.
Adam talks about the physicality of whipcracking and whip-making and wonders how long he’ll be able to keep it up (though he knows performers in their 70s, so ostensibly a while) while crushing half cans of soda under his boot.
He says that the average person changes careers six times in life, so his next career change would be his third. But where does he go from extreme whipcracker? Is there anything with less real world applications? Do they even still use whips in rodeos or on farms? If not, his next career is going to be as a villain in a Devil May Cry game (a career in which he would thrive).
There is some more Extreme Whipcracking, but if you haven’t had enough (and how could you have?), here is a video of Adam cracking two fire whips in the dark to “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath.
—Photo Alaskan Dude/Flickr