WHAT HOOD IS THIS?!
The subversive social commentary of Crimefaces.
When Supreme chose to promote its since-sold-out collaboration with Bandai, a 1/100 scale model kit of the Gundam RX-78 mecha, it didn’t tap into the history of the anime or the kits themselves. For the uninitiated, the whole “Gunpla” (short for Gundam Plastic Model) craze began when the manga was turned into an anime in the early 1980s.
The Gundam franchise is known for taking giant robots out of the realm of shows like Voltron, Gigantor, and tokusatsu series that would become Power Rangers. Instead, it turned them into symbols of war and powerful weapons. That more mature interpretation led to higher-brow merchandise, which is why Bandai chose to make plastic model kits instead of action figures.
It tied into a rising trend of hobbyists making models of WWII-era tanks and planes from companies like Tamiya, and started a new craze of detailed, posable plastic model kits that could be painted and customized any which way. Thing is, there is absolutely no way to make any of that cool.
So Supreme ditched that and opted for something completely different: A stop-motion fight between the Supreme RX-78 and the red Zaku, the arch-nemesis of the RX-78, narrated by none other than Crimefaces.
Founded by Alfred “AC” Charles and Vin Majors, Crimefaces is a New York-based Instagram account (currently using a backup @crimefacesx until the OG account is set free) that pairs viral fight videos with hilarious commentary that toes the line between sports commentary, freestyle flow, and poetic spoken word. Take sportscasters like Clyde Frazier and Stuart Scott and throw in a little Desus and Mero into the mix, and that slightly captures the appeal.
“I’m 40 years old and grew up in the ’80s and the ’90s in New York City. I’ve been in the trucking business for years, but I’m also a big true-crime reader and documentary watcher,” writes AC in an ozy.com article about the account.”As I originally did the page, journalistically, though, it became boring. I felt I could do more, so I decided to experiment and switched it up. The very first video with the new formula got a huge response.”
“It all started with street, bar, pool, wherever fight videos. It seemed that everything other people were putting out was redundant and exhausting. We felt it needed a new angle, one that’s never been done before,” he continues. “Being that fighting videos were more of a serious nature, by putting a comedic spin on it we felt we could make it innovative and fun.”
Similar to aforementioned sportscasters like Stuart Scott, what makes Crimefaces’ commentary standout are the recurring catchphrases and cheeky commentary that narrate the videos. “WHAT HOOD IS THIS?!” is a common intro, as well as “Banzai!” or “Drugged ‘em!”
Through incorporating this vast vocabulary and an infectious style of delivery, Crimefaces’ analysis subverts the fight video into something more than a voyeuristic look at shit going down, but also a mirror to the human condition.
“What I saw was WorldStar blowing up with fight videos. They’ve been doing the same thing since 2008,” says AC to Bowery Boogie. “But I asked myself, what else excites people? Fighting, sports, comedy. I know people are going to watch fight videos anyway so I jumped into the ring with my take.”
Even though the main Crimefaces account remains suspended, its backup IG continues to gain steam. And AC is quick to note that Crimefaces has much more to offer than just commentary on street fights, judging from the account’s take on the recent Canelo Alvarez vs. Caleb Plant boxing match. In addition to a product line featuring merch and MMA gear, there are original videos and documentaries in the works.
But what the rise of Crimefaces signifies is the power of really understanding street culture and how to package it in a new way. It’s an approach that’s even got the attention of comedians like Bill Burr, who is a fan of the account. With so many people feeling compelled to just put content into the ether, it’s wild to think that even with something as seemingly simple as Crimefaces, there’s truly a method behind the madness.
As AC says: “There’s a lot of goofy and silly content out there, but if you really absorb Crimefaces you can see that every video is a real-life lesson in disguise and delivered in comedic form.”