The Viral Video

So, the internet. It’s so cold. It devours hilarious video after hilarious video, mercelessly tossing the past one away to the annals of youtube and google search, to be enjoyed maybe one more time a few weeks later. We are consumers, at such an intense level, that we are constantly searching for a new concoction on youtube, some people tasking their weekends to be the guy that found that hilarious new video. The internet is a Meme generator, and executioner. Nothing survives it’s gaze. If it focus on you, expect a week of glory, and lifetime of obscurity. Relevancy on the internet is judged by a split second reaction by a 14 year old girl on youtube, if she’s going to laugh at what she saw and show it to all her friends, or turn away. The crux to every real phenomenon of the last decade.

Neil Blomkamp owes his career to it. As do many advertisers, filmmakers, creatives the world wide. Businesses are so eager to make the next big thing that they will suck the life blood of everyone who did it once – by accident – and try to harness that and direct it into something that lines their pocket.

Napoleon Dynamite. To this day a favorite of many teens (with it’s many dissenters as well). How well did that go for John Heder, the actor who played the title character? He got a couple of movie deals, and then obscurity. They only wanted Napoleon, and they wanted to recreate that phenomenon as best and as fast as they could. They couldn’t. No one can really put a pulse on the genius that comes out of the small successes no one saw coming. Right place, right time, I guess. To explain the breakthrough success of a Video Game heiled as the most difficult of the current Generation – Dark Souls – is impossible to me, except to say that it just wasn’t what anyone else was doing. Now, it’s not outselling Call of Duty, or even Battlefield, or even it’s smallest competitors, but it is a healthy profit for it’s publisher.

The virus is often just a victim of circumstance. A total coincidence. Unpredictable, often impossible to recreate, but explosive and contagious. You cannot harness it, you can try to recreate it, but it will never be the real thing. Look at the old spice commercials – Viral success with the man that you want to be, and his hilarious prop gags. Everyone from Geico, to Dairy Queen, to other lines of Old Spice wants to recreate the guy that sits in the middle of the frame doing hilarious and whimsical things with a straight face. It’s marketing gold, but I’ve yet to see a good reaction to any besides the Old Spice Man.

And with that, I leave you this:


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