The Pathology of a Viral Video

YouTube is force of nature. It is a law of Physics all to itself, and it is unstoppable. It is an open medium with which people share their thoughts and ideas in the form of badly-produced, low-quality videos. It is free, and it is easy to use. It has become the preferred method of comedic outlet in the digital era, and it created this thing called the Viral Video. The viral video has its roots in the Internet Meme. A meme is something, usually a word or phrase, that has no inherent value or comedy other than the fact that it has been arbitrarily applied all over the Internet to a certain situation. A good example is "fail". Nobody knows the exact source of this meme, but when someone does something stupid, a label of "FAIL" gets applied. If it is utterly stupid, that person gets an "EPIC FAIL". Now, these things only mean what they do because of the amount of people using them, and that's a testament to the power of the Internet, and the vast numbers of people using it.

The Viral Video is the Web 2.0 version of a meme. Take the Rick Roll. A musician by the name of Rick Astley made a music video once. It was horrendous. At some point in time, that video was used in a prank where a seemingly innocuous link on the Interwebs brought you not to your intended destination, but to a Rick Astley music video. Shorty thereafter, the RickRoll was canonized in the Interwebs  lexicon of Funny Things That Only People Who Are On YouTube For At Least 2 Hours A Day Find Funny. Rickrolling became an Internet sensation, and only a select few people actually know who Rick Astley even is. Look it up on Youtube. If you dare.

The example I want to focus on today is viral on a much smaller scale, but it happened so quickly and so decisively,  and it disappeared just as fast, that it's a great example of how Viral Videos do their thing.

So, there's this show that used to be really popular with the angsty teens. It was called 'The OC', and those who remember the fad know how indescribably terrifying the specter of watching that abomination was, and how all your guy friends who started watching were obviously either doing it for their girlfriends, or subtly coming out of the closet.

Well, here's the last scene of the 2nd season.

Got that?


Now here's Andy Samberg's take on it from SNL.

That's comedy gold, friends.

Now, in a pre-youtube world, that would be the end. We would all have a laugh, and walk away. But nooooooo, this little juicy nibblet of comedy had an appointment with destiny, and it was about to smash in the office door with impunity.

People started doing parodies of the parody. It started innocently enough, with people adding the idea to video game scenes, like this one.

It then got applied to other famous youtube videos. Like this one.

And then, dear readers, things only went downhill. Or, I should say, things threw themselves off a sheer cliff into the neverending abyss of the pop culture comedic hell that is the YouTube population en masse. In rapid fire, here's some of the main offenders.

There's so much more, and a simple Youtube search will uncover startling amounts of these videos, all starting from one finale of a season of the OC. They definitely didn't have this in mind when filming that.

So, here's my favorite. I laughed out loud. At work. Very awkward.

Oh, and I forgot about this one. Very similar to the original SNL version.

pwned by the Astley. If you didn't see that coming from at least a few miles out, you haven't been spending enough time on YouTube.

Some would say you should keep it that way.

1 comment:

Benjamin said...

Long live the RickRoll!! I love his incredibly dorky dance style. It gets me every time.

Oh, and you went way too far with all the videos. Point gotten...

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