One of the cool things about viral videos, whatever their content, is in their capacity to bring people together. The next time you’re walking down the street, think about how many people around you have laughed at “Charlie Bit My Finger” and suddenly you will feel just a little less alone in the world.
An annoying counterpart to that phenomenon is the apparent impulse that every person has to contribute to the viral conversation. What starts as a truly clever and enjoyable trend, ends with people being hit over the head by a concept they tired of long ago.
1. Shit ___ Says
The worst offender in this regard may have been the series of Shit People Say videos that made the rounds in 2011, which mocked stereotypical sayings from a particular group or subculture. This worked pretty well in the original video “Shit Girls Say” because most people do, in fact, know a girl.
In subsequent videos, however, the target audience only gets smaller and smaller, to the point that anything relatable about the original concept is rendered largely meaningless. Thought that “Shit Girls Say” was funny? Then wait til you see “Shit White Upper Class Female Nursing Students in Relationships Say During Finals Week“.
YouTube is supposed to be the great equalizer. Instead of creative power resting in the hands of studios and out of touch executives, YouTube put the power in the hands of the people to create. From this we were supposed to get new, innovative content with a distinct point of view and quality craftsmanship.
Instead we got Fred.
Fred is the altar ego of Lucas Cruikshank whose Fred Figglehorn character is defined by a hyperactive attention span and a physically grating high-pitched squeal. Debuting in 2006, Lucas’s channel quickly became one of the most-watched and subscribed on YouTube, despite being entirely unwatchable.
Since then, Fred/Lucas has made guest appearances on Nickelodeon, which has also produced three “Fred” themed films and a new show where Lucas plays an alien called Marvin Marvin. Lucas has an estimated worth of around $5 million.
So the next time you feel stuck in a professional/personal rut, just remember that a teenage became rich and famous for changing the pitch and speed of his voice.
3. Star Wars Kid
One of the first viral videos, “Star Wars Kid,” features Ghyslain Razaa playing make believe in his school’s broadcast studio. On a cassette tape that he apparently forgot he had filmed, Razaa can be seen erratically swinging a pole that later videos would replace with a lightsaber and Star Wars sound effects.
The video is actually a bit of a delight. Watching someone play with reckless abandon has a bit of a gleeful voyeurism to it. But this viral video is certainly the worst for at least one person: Ghyslain Razaa. While it may be the kind of thing that we all have done, most of us get to keep such moments to ourselves, which was never an option for Razaa.
Razaa was so troubled by the videos popularity that his family filed a lawsuit against the families involved in posting it online. He is reported to have been so embarrassed by the video that he finished the semester in which the video was released in a psychiatric ward.
Razaa seems to have recovered and went on to study law. But his story remains as a reminder that the Internet never forgets. Which unfortunately means that one day the next great world leader will also probably have drunken pictures of themselves posted on Facebook.
4. FedEx Delivery Video/Making the Bus Monitor Cry
The flip side of the Internet remembering every embarrassing moment, of course, is that it also makes it a lot easier to call out the truly awful. For every troll that exists online, another video will bring to light a villain that exists in the real world.
For example, videos of FedEx delivery persons literally throwing fragile delivery all over people’s property forced FedEx to handle a PR nightmare that would have otherwise never existed on a scale larger than the individual.
Or consider the case of bus monitor Karen Klein. After a video of her being bullied by students to the point of tears was posted online, Internet sympathizers collected almost a million dollars for her benefit.
In these cases, justice may have been served, but that doesn’t make these kinds of viral videos anything but unpleasant to watch.
5. Amazing Roger Federer Trick Shot on Gillette Ad Shoot
It only makes sense that ad companies want to reach the most people possible and that they capitalize on the most current trends to do so.
In other words, they create viral videos. Indeed, you may have thought that a viral video was original content that unexpectedly spreads like wildfire online, it apparently also means a video serving as a marketing tool for a major corporation complete with a celebrity endorsement and slick visual effects.
Case in point? This Gillette commercial featuring Roger Federer making an impossible trick shot hitting a water bottle off of some guy’s head. This has amassed nearly 10 million views and sparked a lot of argument as to whether it is real or fake.
I suppose Gillette has every right to market their product in whatever way they see fit. As does Apple and Pepsi and T-Mobile and every other company that has employed this tactic.
It’s just a little obnoxious when you have to wonder if every video you ever watch is a sponsored ad?
What are your least favorite viral videos?
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