That’s Stoopid Smart: 8-Bit Philosophy And Thug Notes

A video that explains Plato’s “Cave” using the Legend of Zelda

Okay. That’s a hell of a hook. You got my attention.

Turns out that’s the first episode of a new YouTube series that comes to us from the geniuses behind Thug Notes. This is such a good thing. Philosophy meets classical video games. I’m pretty sure I love this.

They call it 8-Bit Philosophy.

If you don’t know Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave,” it’s a very famous story/analogy about perception bias and consensus thinking. It’s been told and retold since Plato first gave it life. Being that it’s a short story of sorts it’s often presented as a cartoon, but I have to say it works perfectly as a pixelated adventure of Zelda.

“What is Real?” (feat. Plato)


Back before they used Zelda to crawl inside Plato’s “Cave” this same team of creators found that a thug mind could break apart and contextualize and analyze literature like it was just another street game. They combined that observation with a great Truth of literature: it’s always funny as fuck when someone call Romeo a whiny bitch.

It doesn’t hurt that they found the perfect performer to do it, Greg Edwards. The team married a great concept to brilliant execution and Thug Notes was born.

“Same night, Liz try to kick it with Darcy but that honky straight disses her, saying she ain’t fly enough to roll with his crew.

Shortly after, a rich preacher man named Collins and a smooth-talking soldier boy named Whitcomb drop in to holla at them Bennett girls. Whitcomb tells Lizzie that he got beef with that fool Darcy over some cash Darcy be owing him.

Couple days later, Jane be straight trippin’ because Bingley peaced out of town with no explanation.

Then one day, Lizzie runs into that punk Darcy and discovers he was the one that went up to Bingley and said, “Yo, Shorty don’t marry that trick, Jane.” Oh snap!  Then, Darcy done confess his love to Liz and then my girl be all like, “Oh hell no! You cock-blocked my sister!”


Thug Notes is hosted by Sparky Sweets PhD, your good doctor in a do-rag. He chops up great literature, and cuts out insightful analysis of themes and motifs. No joke, his assessment is usually spot-on. It’s like an actual conversation about literature … in the hood.

Now, as far as any discussion of the word “thug” and whether or not it’s code for nigger, you can leave that talk at the door with this one. Although he may play a thug it never feels offensive or derogatory. I’d call out Ice Cube long before I’d call out Sparky Sweets PhD. He’s not pulling gross stereotypes as much as it’s improv/attitudinal comedy. If you don’t say shit about Dr. Dre or Rick Ross then Sparky Sweets deserves no harsh words. He’s doing great work to push sentences and hawk literature.

“For some academics, I worry they’re not aiming to make the themes of literature universal,” said Sweets, who’s portrayed by actor Greg Edwards but stayed in character to answer questions.

“But the truth is, the gift of literature is universal in meaning and should be made accessible to everyone on every plane. So, “Thug Notes” is my way of trivializing academia’s attempt at making literature exclusionary by showing that even high-brow academic concepts can be communicated in a clear and open fashion.”

Enjoy this sample platter of Thug Notes episodes (in no particular order)

1. Romeo & Juliet

“Romeo goes from whiny bitch to the hardest thug in the streetz and straight mercs Tybalt.”


2. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

“Now here come some muthafuckin’ aliens in a muthafuckin’ flying saucer. Billy takes one look at these green-eyed hustlers called Tralfalmadorians and B like, “Yo, why me?” And they all like “Why anything? Shit just is, cuz.”


3. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

“You see the river representin’ freedom. Not only Jim’s freedom from slavery but freedom from all the crooked shit always going down in the “sivilized” world. But at the same time, the river also repping Destiny. Because it’s the river doing all the shot-calling: where they going, when they gonna get there, and what kind of jacked-up shit they gonna find along the way.”


4. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

“Up in Salem, Massachusetts where errybody got real tight assholes, homies gather to peep the public humiliation of some thick hunny named Hester Pryne. Y’see the one-time found Hester of sleeping around like a skank and getting knocked up. Now she got a sport red A on her threads to signify adultery. The people be all like ‘Yo, slut! You best fess up the name of your baby daddy!’ But Hester keeps it street and don’t snitch.”


5. The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

“How the fuck you got a spear in Harlem?”


7. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

“The first thing you best recognize is we dealing with the king of unreliable narrators up in this text.”



7. Notes From The Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“After tapping that ass one more time, he decides he gonna toss her a couple dollars bills to prove all that real talk was bullshit and that she ain’t nothing but a dirty skank. But Liza shows that fool who really got class and tosses that paper before she leaves.”


8. The Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man by James Joyce

“Then one day while Stephen lurking around the beach, he catches glimpses of one of the finest asses he’s ever seen. An ass so fine it changes a brother’s life forever. After dat, he decide he’s gonna spread those wings and create like a true blue artist with a free and proud soul – like a boss.”


9. The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

“As all well-read thugs know, that journey slangin’ ambiguity and paradox up in here like Scarface slangin’ that yayo. For example, when Kurtz is away from society for too long he gets all whacked out in the head and starts doing some notorious deeds. But at the same time, society with all its crooked imperialism is doing vicious shit on the reg. ‘Cause it’s the eyes of civilization that keeps humanity’s darkness in check. But when we surrounded by the silent whisper of the wilderness we straight lose ourselves to the dark.”


10. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

“This story is a straight cluster-fuck. It’s all outta order. And if that ain’t enough. We getting the lowdown from the three crazy Compson brothers: Benjy, who ain’t right in the head, Quentin, the obsessive brainiac, and Jason, who always acting like he got a stick up his ass. The youngest brother Benjy ain’t making sense of the world like most hustlers. Every time this fool touch, hear or smell something he get thrown back to memories of his fine sister Caddy.”


As my man, Sparky Sweets PhD, would say: “Peace, my well-read ballers.” TC Mark

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