“Can’t Help Myself” recaptures the world’s attention


The machine that sweeps up its own “blood” titled “Can’t Help Myself”, created by Sun Yuan and Peng Yu, has captured the attention of hundreds of thousands of teens and young adults across the world through TikTok. The machine was first made in 2015-2016 as a much healthier version of itself. 

The machine (located in the Guggenheim Museum in New York City) spins, sweeps, and spins again while the “blood,” which is really just hydraulic fluid from its own body, is steadily escaping its reach. It does this nonstop. As of 2021, the machine was covered in rust and moved significantly slower than it did when it was first made. 

Paired with the Radiohead song “Exit Music (for a film)” the TikTok went viral, swallowing the hearts of teens and young adults over this poor, suffering machine. If it is lifeless, then why would it make us sad? 

This machine has helped us understand our emotions better by helping to explain that it is okay to be sad over something way out of anyone or thing’s control. One day, despite the machine’s best efforts, it will quit working completely. This really resonated with a lot of people, including myself.

The message the machine seems to be saying is to remember to take care of yourself and clean up your own messes instead of someone else’s. The machine resonated with several minds as many felt that is what they were doing in their own lives. 

Personally, I feel as though the machine relates to me, I feel like I do nothing but spin and clean up my own messes, all day, every day. The amount of stress everyone is under these days to clean up after themselves no matter what happens and to keep going no matter what is unreal.

Sometimes the added stress and pressure build us all into something nearly unbreakable after some time. The robot may have captured our attention in 2016 when it was first made and 2021-2022 after it was revealed how rusty and broken it is. It took on a new meaning for viewers. 

In all honesty, I love the robot and what it does, but it doesn’t make me feel like any less of a person for not being as hardworking or as determined as the robot. I can help myself, and I know when to give myself a break.