With Millions of Videos on the Internet, Choosing What to Watch can Seem Overwhelming. Vatsala Chibber Guides You Through the Viral Video Phenomenon
Last year, one question predominated the minds of people in this country – “Why this Kolaveri Di?” The song was played several times a day on television sets, radio stations, parties and iPods; there was no escaping it. The tanglish lyrics and quirky tune made Kolaveri an instant internet phenomenon. Sony Music managed to convert this song into an anthem as within a week of its release, the video received more than 3.5 million views on YouTube and and has now crossed 60 million views! When the Kolaveri craze peaked, one could not help but wonder if years would now be classified into BKD (Before Kolaveri Di) and AKD (After Kolaveri Di).
However, once the song became a national obseesion, ‘we-hate-anything-popular’ activists emerged and began ‘I hate Kolaveri Di’ groups on social networking sites. In fact, poplar lyricist Javed Akhtar, who was clearly not impressed with the success of the song, tweeted the following: “KOLAVARI-D. Every one is praising the robes but the emporer is naked. Tune ordinary, singing substandard, words an insult to sensibility.” But, such comments only generated more curiosity, thereby increasing the life-span of the song. While many viral videos have gained popularity in India, Kolaveri Di can safely be called ‘India’s first Viral Video Sensation.’
The Rise of Viral Videos
It is human nature to share. Well, maybe not money or worldly possessions, but what makes us ‘social animals’ is our desire to connect with other people, which is reflected through our dependence on social networking sites. Thanks to these websites, you no longer need to share life events, juicy pieces of gossip or random information with one person at a time. Instead you can reach out to hundreds, or even thousands of people, in a matter of seconds. This has given birth to the viral video phenomenon. A viral video can be defined as a video that gains popularity through the process of internet sharing, using the help of video sharing and social networking websites.
One of the first viral videos, which made the screen-savers of most PCs in the 1990s, was the ‘Dancing Baby’, which was a 3D rendition of a baby doing the cha cha. Another early viral video phenomenon was motivational speaker Judson Laipply’s ‘History of Dance’. The video featured Laipply showcasing different popular dance moves, changing from one to the other in less than a minute!
Viral Video Movements
While most videos go viral due to their entertainment value, here are some individuals who have managed to leverage personal and world movements using the power of video sharing.
With more than 19 million views on YouTube and millions more on other video sharing sites, Kony 2012 is being called the ‘most viral video of all time’. This video was released in order to gain support for a year-long campaign against Joseph Kony, who gas waged war in central Africa for more than two decades. Joseph Kony is the head of ‘Lord’s Resistance Army’, and has commited several crimes, such as abducting young children. The boys are then trained for battle, while the girls are made sex slaves. The aim of the video, which is a thirty minute short-film created by Invisible Children, Inc. is to have Joseph Kony arrested by December 2012.
Watch this video on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4MnpzG5Sqc
United Breaks Guitars
Canadian musician Dave Caroll suffered the loss of his precious guitar due to its poor handling by the staff of United Airlines. Dejected by the lack of help from the airline authorities, Dave took a step that can almost be called ‘Gandhian’ in nature. He recorded a song explaining the incident and posted it on YouTube. The result? After the video went viral, Dave received a personal apology from the managing director of customer solutions at United Airlines. Within four days of the video being posted, United Airlines suffered a financial setback as stock prices reduced by 10 percent costing the company a damage of almost $180 million!
Watch this video on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo
Free Hugs Campaig
This social movement, which involves hugging strangers in public places to spread the love, was started in 2004 by an Australian man named Juan Mann. A random hug from a stranger helped Mann cure his lonliness and despression and motivated him to start the Free Hugs Campaign. Though the movement was started in 2004, it gained international popularity only after the release of a music video by a band called Sick Puppies featuring the campaign. The video soon went viral, receiving millions of views, and today, the free hugs movement is carried out in different parts of the world. We’d like to give YouTube a big hug for this one.
Viral Video Stars
What viral videos have essentially done is created a direct platform for budding stars and reduced, if not eliminated, the need for middlemen. People no longer need to wait for hours outside a casting agent’s office or enter a reality show to showcase a talent. YouTube can make you a star. Add to this the weighty advantage of social networking sites, and your talent (or lack of it) is out for judgement by a large audience.
Before he divided the world into Bieber-haters and Bieber-lovers, he was the star of one such viral video rage. A self-taught musician, Bieber won a local singing competition with his version of Ne-Yo’s ‘So Sick’, at the age of 12. Beiber’s mother posted the videos of young Bieber’s performances, both at competiitons and at home, and the number of views began to multiply rapidly. Scooter Braun, a talent manager, stumbled upon one of Beiber’s videos on YouTube and was impressed with the young kid’s talent. He contacted Bieber, got him to record demos and meet other artists and personally became his manager. And the rest, for better of the worse, is history.
Watch this video on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQOFRZ1wN Lwwatch v=Y4MnpzG5Sqc
This one is a real life rags to riches story. Ted Williams was a homeless man who gained employment after his video went viral. A videographer, Doral Chenoweth, from Ohio spotted Ted, who would stand next to a traffic signal with a handwritten advertisement of his voice, begging for donations. Doral was so impressed with Ted’s talent that he recorded and posted a video of Ted titled ‘Ted Williams: A Homeless Man With a Golden Voice’. Once this video went viral, Ted was offered voiceover jobs and made many television appearances as well. He also went on to author two books titled A Golden Voice: How Faith, Hard Work, and Humility Brought Me From the Streets to Salvatio.
Watch this video on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iv- F5JnnGo0&feature=player_embedded
This American band soon realised, if you want to be heard, you have to be watched and managed to break through the clutter of music videos with their song “Here it goes again”. The song features the four band members performing various dance steps and other gimmicks on four treadmills. What is fascinating about the video is the fact that it is a single shot video, which demands a great deal of co-ordination and mutiple retakes. This video soon became a video sensation and propelled the song into the Billboard Hot 100 list. Their list of acomplishments continued to grow as the band received a Grammy Award in 2007 and was included in Time Magazine’s list of ‘The 30 All-TIME Best Music Videos’.
Watch this video on:
Viral Video Scares
While these videos can turn nobodys into somebodys, they can also make somebodys wish they were nobodys. Like the rest of us, celebrities also have moments when they wish noone was watching them. So while viral video audiences are appreciative of talent, they can also be ruthless in their criticism. Here are some people who have been exposed to the unfriendly side of viral video viewers.
Though Rebecca Black’s music video ‘Friday’ became a viral sensation, the teenager and her musical abilities were subjected to much mockery. A popular US comedian actually lablelled ‘Friday’ as ‘the worst video ever made’. In fact, it received mainly negative comments and dislikes from YouTube users (87 percent!). Although Black was initially shocked by the quantity and intensity of hurtful comments, she said she was soon able to ignore them. A number of celebrities, such as Miley Cyrus and Chris Brown, later came to Black’s defence. Even the impossibleto- please Simon said, “Whatever she’s done has worked. right now. Nobody over the age of 18 should understand her or like her. So she should just do it her way.”
Watch this video on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfVsfOSbJY0
Miss Teen USA
During the question answer session of Miss Teen USA 2007, Miss South Carolina was asked: “Why is it that many Americans can’t find USA on a map?” She replied saying “I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uhmmm, some people out there in our nation don’t have maps and uh, I believe that our, I, education like such as, uh, South Africa, and uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should, uhhh, our education over here should help the US, uh, should help South Africa, it should help the Iraq and the Asian countries….” The video soon went viral and an embarrassed Miss Carolina defended herself saying everyone makes mistakes. Blonde girls even more so?
Watch this video on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lj3iNxZ8Dw
Who would’ve though Jackie Shroff would ever be a hot topic of conversation? Surprisingly, this ‘bindass’ actor was recently in the news for his errr…innovative use of foul language. Ironically, these ‘candid’ out-takes were recorded while Shroff was filming a polio awareness video in 1988. Frustrated by his inability to deliver the required lines, Shroff resorts to using language that will put Roadies contestants to shame. What’s amazing is Shroff’s ability to transition from mellow and angelic during takes to his tapori best in matter of milliseconds. What did Jackie have to say about his recent rise to fame? “Arey, logon ko kaam dhanda nahin hai kya?” Yes, he can manage a sentence without abusing. Watch this video on: Actually, we’d rather you don’t watch this video.
Leave Britney Alone!
Although released in 2007, this video still hasn’t lost its humour appeal. To be fair, we must warn you to watch this at your own risk. An emotional and possibly mentally disturbed fan of Britney Spears pleads (or threatens? It’s hard to tell with the variety of emotions displayed) the audience to leave Britney Spears alone. This video invokes much laughter. And fear.
Watch this video on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHmvkRoEowc
The Silent National Anthem
Wheather you are patriotic or not, this video will probably move you to tears. Released on the occasion of India’s 61st Independence Day, this video was created by the Mudra Group. The video showcases school children with hearing and speech disabilities performing to the sound of the National Anthem through sign language. This video went on to receive a prestigious silver award at Cannes Lions 2011. If you haven’t watched this video, it’s about time you did!
Watch this video on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kk02qPlnS2E
Digging in the Deep
Tired of listening to Adele’s popular song ‘Rolling in the Deep’. While you might have heard multiple cover versions of the song, have you heard a dog’s version of this chart-topping number. This strangesounding video features a dog taking on the role of Adele, complete with a broken heart, being dumped by his master. Perched on a stool, like Adele in her video, he barks his heart out, to deal with this emotional situation. This just proves that broken hearts aren’t exculsive to humans.
Watch this video on: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8P1ysTwegc
Volume 2 Issue 3