For teens across the country, a video of a fellow teen being complimented on his footwear is the latest thing in viral humor. For twentysomethings, it's the catalyst for an existential crisis. On Twitter, by water coolers, and in bars after work, '90s kids are puzzling over the video and wondering if their lack of understanding means they're old and out of touch. Why do kids these days like Daniel so much? Is he being mocked or revered? Should I get some white Vans?
But everything becomes clearer when you realize "Damn, Daniel" is just the youths' answer to "Charlie the Unicorn." Sure, the viral video from 2005 has more of a narrative than the short tale of a boy and his Vans, but if you think back to when the video was essential viewing for you and your friends, you likely won't remember the details of Charlie's journey. If you need a refresher, the animated short, created by Jason Steele and originally uploaded to Newgrounds, features the adventures of two bubbly unicorns and their grumpier friend, Charlie. They trek to Candy Mountain, where they enjoy a fun, but forgettable, song before (spoiler alert) they take poor Charlie's kidney.
You probably just remember the repetition, in that funny voice that sounds so much like "Damn, Daniel's" narrator, of "Chaaaarrrlie." It was a simple inside joke shared by your entire school and even your friends across town. It was silly, bordering on inane, but for some reason, completely hilarious.
Not "getting" "Damn, Daniel" does mean you're not a teen anymore, but hopefully that wasn't really a revelation. The youths aren't creating any baffling, possibly menacing, new comedic form. They just found a funny phrase and a way to let their out-of-state cousin and their out-of-the-country Tumblr friend in on the joke. And if you missed "Charlie the Unicorn" by a few years, just think of it this way: "Damn, Daniel"="Whazup."