Dream and George break the internet



Screenshot of Dream and George playing Minecraft together from one of Dream’s Twitch streams.

Hit single Heat Waves by English band Glass Animals entered the global spotlight with a bang, topping charts in Australia, the UK, and the United States. What no one foresaw was the cultural reset the song would cause as a result of the rise of internet stars Dream and GeorgeNotFound.

Starting a humble YouTube career in 2020, Minecraft streamer Dream came seemingly out of nowhere, amassing 20 million subscribers in a little over a year. He credits his fame to his very active community and his best friend George who started producing content at the same time. In their collaborations, viewers found the duo to be unique and dynamic.

Especially ecstatic fans, referred to as stans, started creating compilations of Dream and George’s best moments together. Many found that their friendship and genuineness was what made their videos so attractive and enjoyable. This sentiment quickly escalated, and certain stans began profusely shipping the two creators. Shipping is the act of wanting or supporting two individuals to be involved in a romantic relationship; from this arose a new facet of Dream and George’s popularity — a ship dubbed “DreamNotFound.”

DreamNotFound, or DNF for short, engulfed Twitter and TikTok and swept up thousands of supporters in its wake. No one was safe from its grasp: edits on Instagram, rants on Twitter, and fan animations on YouTube were constantly being posted regarding Dream and George’s latest videos or streams. 

Some supposed that the two were secretly in a relationship and hiding from the public eye in order to maintain their viewership. On the contrary, some devised that the “bromance” was all a ploy to acquire followers. Whatever the case, DreamNotFound sent shockwaves through the internet’s art world and inspired many writers to write fan stories about the two.

One of these fan stories was a romantic short story named Heat Waves based on the increasingly popular song by the Glass Animals. This piece of writing and the song itself became the core to DreamNotFound, acting as symbols and anthems to the relationship that so many stans depicted Dream and George to be in. 

The internet went wild. Although already immensely popular, the song “Heat Waves” practically exploded in popularity across all streaming platforms, even becoming the number one hit in Australia. Heat Waves the fanfiction underwent a similar wave of popularity to the point that it crashed the website it was posted to because too many people were trying to access it at once

Such a violent reaction to an internet ship shook the very bones of internet culture and stans of different creators found themselves being invaded by DNF shippers. They could be found in the comment sections of anything remotely related to Dream or George and oftentimes inserted themselves into conversations where they weren’t welcome. 

The popularity of DNF in contrast to other ships is quite jarring. Although there is a plethora of art and writing about other pairings, the quantity of other ship art pales in comparison to the truly insane collection of DNF art online. DNF’s popularity most likely stems from the fact that Dream himself is immensely popular and that many people got bored during quarantine. This ship provided a source of entertainment and connected people with similar interests during a time when many were isolated.

While being able to bring many people together, DNF also raises many questions regarding the ethics of shipping. Although both Dream and George have stated that they are okay with them getting shipped together, many other content creators on YouTube and Twitch find themselves being written into situations they’re not comfortable with. 

Typically, shipping happens between fictional characters which eliminates most of the personal boundaries that real people have. Shipping real people can be uncomfortable or stir up drama in celebrity circles when the peer pressure from fans gets too intense. These behaviors can create a very toxic environment where the priority is taken off the creator’s personality or content and directed towards a fantasy that their followers are trying to enforce.

The main issue with shipping real people as opposed to fictional characters is that in fictional worlds, relationship ethics are dissimilar to reality. That is not to justify the questionable morality of some ships, but the fact that it is fiction makes it less despicable. However, if one were to depict a real life minor in a sexual relationship, there would be some very pertinent ethical issues. Not only is it wrong to sexualize a minor, it also facilitates those kinds of abuses in real life. The issue of shipping minors with adults has gotten considerably worse in recent years, which is part of the reason why shipping is looked down upon.

Shipping, especially in George and Dream’s case, is a fun way for stans to interact with their favorite content creators and opens up new outlets for fanart, fan fiction, and the viewer experience. However, it is very easy to overdo it and it is always important to remember that celebrities are still real people. It is important that stans and fans and casual audiences alike respect their personal boundaries.