Full of Hot Air

Source: Instagram
(And yes, he’s also referred to as the balloon gay)

Part One: Throw everything at the wall to see what will stick

The balloon guy, real name Michael James Schneider, Instagram handle blcksmth, is a multimedia artist based in Portland, OR. According to his bio:

Source: Instagram
Source: Instagram
Source: Instagram
Source: Instagram
Source: Instagram
Source: Instagram

Part Two: There’s a lot of narcissism in self-hatred

I noticed a shift when the balloons posts started to get popular — not just in the narrowing of Schneider’s artistic output, but in the narrative he was expressing. For the vast majority of his time online Schneider has portrayed himself as unlucky in love and in dating; whether in the “horror stories” he inflicted on his puppetsona in This Ends Badly or in the multiple images of laying in bed with food or in the Boxed Wine Boyfriend — a character that was created because he did not have a boyfriend. Schneider’s work would swivel between different filters on this perspective: awkward dates, unappreciative men, the frustrations of online dating. All of it had the same dull tone over it: I deserve to be dated. I deserve to find a husband. I’m not the problem, the scene is the problem. Despite all the self-deprecation, all the jabs about his art or blog or self being bad, there was always this sense of desperate, insecure entitlement.

Caption: “I made this cute scarf from all the red flags you gave me” (source: Instagram)
Source: Instagram
Michael, you are famous now, please do better than a Wordpress page

Part Three: Just because your art went viral doesn’t make it good

When you see a photograph of Schneider up to his neck in spaghetti and meatballs, captioned “me when my therapist says it’s okay to use food as self care,” what is your takeaway? Does it say something about consumption, the ethics of care, the politics of food? Does it light a spark in your brain, or do you just chuckle, or groan, or think “that’s gross” or “that’s such a waste” or “why are there sliced black olives in this pasta”? What do the food posts even do other than offer a defanged image of the absurd, like overpriced novelty wrapping paper?

Source: Instagram

Part Four: A lampshade over a balloon

Source: Instagram
I still don’t understand the phrase “retail manager”

Part Five: The balloon writing on the wall

Despite not being my bag, I don’t have anything personally against the balloon guy. As I said before, I don’t know him, and haven’t heard anything through the Portland grapevine that points to him being secretly terrible. I can even give him credit where it’s due: the early parts of his journey, from leaving his steady job to pursue art when already pushing 40 to the vulnerability shown in his blog, are commendable. I don’t think I have that amount of courage — even if Schneider is plenty narcissistic, it takes gumption to be vulnerable.

Source: Instagram

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Meg Brennan

Meg Brennan

I write thinkpieces about theme parks and lists of things that aren’t related to theme parks. You can find my older posts on my Substack here: https://parksandc