If you were active on Youtube in the 2010s, you might remember this unsettling viral video, titled simply “I Feel Fantastic”:
What is the story behind this video? Are we looking at the work of an artistic genius, the delusional designs of a madman, or something more sinister?
I’m a hobbyist video game developer (I made Nepenthe and am currently working on To The Dark Tower), and my artistic aesthetic revolves around the concept of the “uncanny valley,” so I’m always on the lookout for creepy things that are hard to pin down exactly why they are creepy. When I first came across the original “I Feel Fantastic” video, I was captivated, and decided that, as a distraction from some other projects, I would try tracking down as much data as I could about the video and its creator (within ethical/legal bounds, of course). I eventually managed to get my hands on the original DVD. Turns out there’s a lot more of her than what we’ve seen so far, and some of it is even creepier (to me at least). Here it is, recorded in as high quality as I could manage:
I first heard about “Tara, the Singing Android” through the Vsauce video “Why are things creepy?” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEikGKDVsCc), which, when I was 14 years old or so, my high school science teacher showed our class for some unknowable reason. I was mildly traumatized, but also fascinated, and though I didn’t return to the “I Feel Fantastic” video for years, it stuck in my memory as a formative artistic influence.
Years later, after publishing my first video game (Nepenthe) and in need of a break, I decided to try my hand at figuring out what the heck I had watched back then that left such an impression on younger me. Doing a quick google search led to this article, which gave a few, but not many, sources to follow: http://www.the13thfloor.tv/2016/04/12/i-feel-fantastic-the-horrifying-history-of-tara-the-android/. The main take-away I got from it was that A) there was a “full” 15 minute video of Tara the android out there, but that had long-since been deleted from the internet for unknown reasons (I searched for hours through obscure Youtube channels trying to find any copies and came up empty), and B) that Tara was the creation of a “John Bergeron,” an android enthusiast who could only be found referenced on the very strange website http://www.androidworld.com/. The article had no further links, so I set about searching the site trying to find references to Tara or John Bergeron, which I quickly found:
The sole link leads here: http://www.androidworld.com/prod68.htm. At the bottom was this offer:
This entire website seemed incredibly fishy to me (here are some other links on the website, if you want to spend a fun afternoon reading earnestly touted ideas about how to save the planet using incredibly impractical scientific gadgets: http://www.androidworld.com/prod60.htm, http://www.androidworld.com/prod40.htm, or honestly pretty much any link on the sidebar of the site), but I decided it would be worth losing $11 (and maybe my sanity) for a weird story, with an off-chance of actually received something, so I ordered a copy of the “unique Music Video,” and promptly forgot about the whole project when nothing arrived after a few weeks.
One day, a few months later, I received a package on my doorstep, with this inside:
I also received this note, which came in the same package next to the DVD box:
At this point, I was in deep, and determined to see this project through.
I opened the DVD, to find that the file system used these rather outdated formats, which my computer couldn’t even play at first:
My Macs metadata form did give some interesting data on the dates involved, though:
This means that the 2009 video which went viral was uploaded 5 years after the creation of the original!
Here’s the date I found in the file itself (converted to text — at one point I poked around there to see if there were any ARG type codes involved — there isn’t, as far as I could tell):
It took me a long while to figure out how to view and record the videos (the standard QuickTime player didn’t work properly for me, and it took a lot of research to find a suitable player that accepted the unusual file format), but I eventually managed to record everything in as high quality as I could manage.
At this point I had all the raw video you see in the final Youtube composite, but I still didn’t have the full story. So I began investigating, much further than I had before..
I had decided to try going deeper into this mystery, and at this point I wasn’t going to stop with just the raw videos. Why was Tara the Android created, and who exactly was this “John Bergeron”? After some deeper internet searching, I came across this article https://medium.com/@CounttheClock/review-i-feel-fantastic-3a5a82b46473 (50 of those 56 “claps” are from me btw, so at the time it was deeply buried in Google search results), which finally seemed to contain some useful information. There were three new important sources mentioned: this reddit thread https://www.reddit.com/r/creepy/comments/nqr1g/whats_the_story_behind_the_i_feel_fantastic_video/, a link to this now-dead site which has unfortunately not been archived anywhere as far as I can tell http://mysteriaforthecurious.com/?p=22, and a mention of Youtube user “Niyou77,” who posted a number of videos seemingly showing Tara the android doing totally random “out of character” actions. Apparently according to the now-dead blog post, this user has been established not to be John Bergeron. The reddit post included a link to https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwTPT9xkV7UbtkiX-B3uFVg, a user called “Halloweenandroid” who posted the same videos, years before user Niyou77, at roughly the same time the viral “I feel fantastic” video came out in 2009. Looking through their combined videos, the only original piece of media appears to be this incredibly disturbing video (seriously, please do not watch it if you don’t enjoy shock horror), titled “piercing the android,” from which all subsequent videos on both channels are edited from (as well as from some assorted clips from the original DVD):
The question is obviously if this incredibly unnerving video can also be traced back to John Bergeron, to which, ultimately, I’m rather unsure as to what the truth is. I can find no other information about that video, so if you happen to discover anything new about it, I’d be quite interested to know. The behavior shown in it, not to mention the overall tone of the video, seems to go against everything else I’ve since learnt about the creator, so my current belief is that it’s either a fan replication of Tara, or somebody else managed to get their hands on the original android, with or without John Bergeron’s permission. As far as I can tell, this line of inquiry is a dead end.
Back to the blog, for the first time I found John Bergeron’s original website linked: http://www.geocities.ws/androidmusicvideos/.
This was the only new clue I had to go off of. Unfortunately, the website appears to currently be infected with some sort of malware, and cannot be browsed with any ease. To find out more, I needed to turn to the Internet Archive.
Using the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, I was able to browse through the old website: https://web.archive.org/web/20160222191258/http://www.geocities.ws/androidmusicvideos/
There wasn’t much there, other than some basic credits, although it did remind me that I had in fact seen a previous reference to the site, the video available at http://www.androidworld.com/brutal_m.ram (you might need to use VLC media player to run it). Other than that, though, that site was another dead end.
So I decided to go back to http://www.androidworld.com/, and take a deeper look, in case I had missed anything.
After a few minutes of searching, I came across a page titled “Smaller Android Projects” (http://www.androidworld.com/prod10.htm), and found another mention of the Tara android:
The bottom two links merely led to the “android music videos” page, which I had explored already, but the top link… The top link led to http://www.geocities.com/androidbuilder/, which returned a “Could Not Connect” message. I had found a new link, and now I knew what to do.
Using the Wayback Machine again, I found that the site had thankfully been archived multiple times throughout the years. From 2003 onward, the site simply served as a redirect to the previous website, but looking before that, I found gold. If you want to explore the original site yourself, take a look at https://web.archive.org/web/20010605060938/http://www.geocities.com/androidbuilder/. For the page on Tara herself, go to https://web.archive.org/web/20011120134548/http://www.geocities.com/androidbuilder/tara.html.
There’s a large amount of previously unknown information about Tara to be found there, but I’ll just share some highlights in this email (although by far not all of the interesting things I found):
There are 3–4 projects listed that he worked on: His “first robot”:
A “robotic hand”:
And Tara The Android herself (that page is fairly large for a few of the Wayback captures — this is just a screenshot of a paragraph I found fascinating):
Tara’s “other” head:
Finally, for some strange reason, listed on December 14th, 2007, I found an unusual update to the website, showing simply this file, with the caption “here is a low-res picture I made, resembling a circuit”:
And that is all I could uncover from this long-forgotten website.
So I had found out pretty much everything I could about the origin of Tara the Singing Android. A creation of John Bergeron, an android enthusiast and musician, hoping to entertain future generations, yet inadvertently creating an internet creepypasta legend. What happened to John Bergeron since creating Tara?
Well, according to one comment on this article https://medium.com/@CounttheClock/review-i-feel-fantastic-3a5a82b46473:
I have not been able to verify this, but as far as I can tell the details I can verify do check out (with the possible exception of the strange update to the webpage in 2007), so I have little reason to doubt it.
After this point in my research I concluded that I had discovered all I could hope to discover, and published the video now on my Youtube channel (also linked above): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6TdRD3moBk. The rest of the story is history, of course.
Before ending off, it’s extremely important to mention the following:
The rumors involving John Bergeron being a serial killer are completely false.
I tracked down the original source of the rumors to this thread:
People keep on taking this way too seriously, and I don’t want anybody being harassed on my account. We have every reason to believe that John Bergeron died a few years ago, before his work went viral. To me this is a far more tragic story (assuming a few of my assumptions are correct about his identity): A man who loved his creations so much that he saw nothing creepy about them, and just wanted to contribute to a growing field of research. He may have died thinking that he failed in some sense, with nobody contacting him, and only a short obituary in the local paper to show he even existed. If he had only lived a few more years, he would have seen his work explode across the internet, maybe not in the way he intended, but definitely influencing the next generation of creators. To me that’s a more powerful story, that should be told.
If you’ve made it this far, I just want to say thanks for reading! :) I hope this has been an interesting journey, and if you want to see more projects like this in the future, feel free to follow me.