By Steven Underwood
Let’s be clear, Demetrius Harmon, Black Viner Meechonmars turned rising comedic actor, isn’t inspiring because he’s sad — an understatement for what Depression really is. His struggle with mental illness has been a brutally honest battle to watch – especially considering my own struggles with the dark underbelly on depression. Rather, Meech is inspiring because of the moments outside of his sadness.
Demetrius Harmon began his career several years back during Vine’s primetime as a promising comedian. Primarily, Meech trafficked in some of the most creative skits to hit the site, yet when largely underappreciated (especially when compared with other major accounts of a lighter complexion, and weaker content). When Meech turned his attentions to Youtube and Instagram, it appeared a welcome change. Now, in 2017, Vine is as dead as Black Nationality in America. While some Viners dedicate portions of their careers to outing other black celebrities’ sexualities and hosting gigs, Meech has done something that felt is as sorrowful as it is beautiful: advocacy.
Meech struggles with many monsters. Beasts known as anxiety, depression and suicide, as evidenced in his 2016 short, BE HAPPY. The short was a speculative story of Demetrius’s journey to reconnect with his old friend, Happiness (Caleon Fox), while he is constantly hounded by the ever-present dangers of Depression (Victor Pope Jr.), Anxiety (Caleb City), and the apathetic misunderstanding of his father (Nathan Zed). In the short’s epilogue, Meech discusses a particular tweet where he talked about killing himself, and his decision not to do so, and while one may confuse this confession as an end-all cleansing of mental illness – it was only the start.
Speculative fiction isn’t new to the art scene. All artists draw on some kind of pain to shape their craft. Yet, Meech goes above and beyond to invite his fans to connect with him and his own. As a poet, he writes about the icy coldness that Depression brings and the dangers he faces when neglected by those around him. A realism that becomes that much more substantial when Meech shifts his shape from loss to laughter as a Youtuber. Much of his real life portrayals of himself reflects his own creation, BE HAPPY: Art imitating life is an understatement.
He is a Blue Boy, like me. A child cursed with something that submerges you in the secret terrors of the mind — washes you away from love and suspends you miles away from the happiness which drives a person to make it to the next day. You have no choice but to fight it until you can’t anymore. Blue Boys don’t get over it, Blue Boys can’t wait it out. Blue Boys just have to express it and damn the rules set up by people not like us. We express it, and bury it for just another minute, where we can be joyful and open and free — with the energy of life incarnate nestled in our cheeks — until the next moment of descension. We have to be so many things at once, and be these many things pretty well. A Blue Boy is a warrior with a shining smile fighting darker demons: gladiators of whole made happiness harvested from mildewed sad.
Likewise, his fans see Meech in this multifaceted point of view: from sadness to happiness, slipping between the obstacles. From tearful reflections on isolation and misery to a quick and soul-blazing dancebreak to anything in a Childish Gambino catalogue. Speaking as someone with depression that gets so dark that it becomes a struggle to bath, to get up, to even look another human being in the eye, it reminds a youthful artist that this sadness is temporary. That there is beauty in the triumph of tomorrow.
But to see Meech on the average and know that my own depression isn’t just limited to my own mortal shell, it gives a wizening glow to him. Sometimes, it is hard to even remember I’ve got a good two years on the young man; especially when you look into his eyes sometimes and see that same haunting sadness lingering there. The Inspiration comes every time he posts, and every time he speaks of his ambitions that are coming tomorrow. There is nothing glorious about Depression, though many artists swear by it as a muse for talent. There is everything glorious about perseverance, which this young black man has in mountains.
Meech, your fight never falls on deaf ears, and you are valued.
Demetrius “Meech” Harmon is a Detroit, Michigan native transplanted to Los Angeles. can be found on Instagram and Twitter @Meechonmars and on Youtube at Demetrius Harmon. Follow him for some of the finest content of this generation.