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One Video: XY Cell Life by Julien Turner

One Video: XY Cell Life by Julien Turner


‘If my genes go left unread, all my cells are dead’

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Every week, a slew of new music videos hits the web. Watching them at your desk is not time theft because you deserve it; think of it as a nice reward for surviving another work week. But what if you don’t have time to watch every video — maybe you have a deadline, a hungry pet, or other grown-up concerns. In consideration of your schedule, Lizzie and Kaitlyn bring you a series called One Video. Each week we’ll tell you “one video” you need to watch, why, and for how long.

This week’s video: “XY Cell Life” by Julien Turner

Kaitlyn: Unfortunately for me, I appear to be the only person at The Verge who has purchased and listened to the new Taylor Swift album and watched the baffling House Hunters: Rhode Island episode she slotted into last night’s episode of ABC’s Scandal. I am also the only person who works on One Video who cares deeply about Harry Styles letting puppies eat cake and young children borrow his Gucci suits.

Lizzie picked out a science video.

Lizzie: Look, literally the only options this week were an Amy Adams-inspired Liam Payne video, a Harry Styles video, and “XY Cell Life.” The Harry Styles video was pleasant enough, but there’s not much I can say about pleasantries! I do, however, have some thoughts on mitosis, like, what is mitosis?

Who is Julien Turner?

Kaitlyn: Julien Turner is a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta, and apparently he is taking some kind of introductory biology class. In this video — which he made with the help of Dreadhead Films, a production company he co-runs with his 15-year-old brother Justen — he is doing a homework assignment for that class. The homework assignment went viral on Twitter, and now he’s one of those guys who went viral on Twitter one time. Common tweeted it, too, so now he’s one of those guys who interacted with Common one time.

According to the Dreadhead Films website, which is very good for the production company of a college student and a 15-year-old:

“OMG! How did an extra credit biology video assignment that was the least-planned and produced of our projects to date blow up like this?  We are extremely thankful! We hope that our other award-winning short films will get some more looks now, and we are still looking for that producer of our upcoming urban sci-fi film series. Might this be a game-changer? Looking forward to how this is going to unfold!”

Me, too. Are you looking forward to how this week’s One Video is going to unfold? Have you started watching it already? If so, whoops. If not, here is a sneak preview of one of the good parts:

Lizzie: “XY Cell Life” is a parody of the Lil Uzi Vert single “XO Tour Llif3.” Where Uzi Vert sings, “Push me to the edge / all my friends are dead,” Julien sings, “If my genes go left unread / All my cells are dead.” Is this scientifically accurate? Who cares! You can dance to it and pretend you’re actually engaging in the pursuit of knowledge.

What’s special about “XY Cell Life” by Julien Turner:

Kaitlyn: What’s special about this video is that it teaches you about how cells reproduce, a process I imagine you learned at one point and have long since forgotten the specifics. Also, there are some innovative uses of shared study spaces in this video:

Lizzie: What’s special about this video is it’s actually pretty impressive. Not visually impressive — it looks like it was filmed in a basement — but lyrically: “Metaphase chromatids meet at the heart / Anaphase chromatids are pulled apart / Telophase forming of membrane will start / While the cell starts to pinch back apart.” Okay, now I know he rhymed “apart” with “apart” there, but have you ever read a biology textbook? There aren’t that many synonyms for what they’re talking about.

How long everyone should watch “XY Cell Life” by Julien Turner:

Kaitlyn: Well, don’t stop in the middle, or you’ll have an incomplete understanding of the cell reproduction process.

Lizzie: When two cells love each other very much...