What Makes a Video Viral? Who Knows…

If you type into google search the phrase, “What was the first viral video,”  you will find a lot of different answers. You will also find a lot of hot debates as to which video can “wear the crown” of first ever viral video.

Ever since Korean recording artist PSY burst onto the international scene with the music video Gangnam Style this year other channels on YouTube have been parodying and attempting to emulate the video’s success. I even read somewhere that Justin Bieber fans were trying to topple PSY off of his number one spot.

Sad. But what can you expect from a fan base of prepubescent girls and grandmothers?

The question I have is this. Just what makes a video worthy of becoming a viral success? There doesn’t seem to be any set equation. The only thing that most viral videos have in common is humour.

The YouTube channel schmoyoho aka The Gregory Brothers — who also have another channel on YouTube — have put out quite a few videos where they have used Auto Tune to “songify” videos. One video, the Bed Intruder Song, has garnered well over 106 million views. It is excruciatingly funny.

But you also have viral videos that are less funny. Racist on bus Wood Green is far less amusing and only has in the region of 471 thousand views. On the same unfunny tone, you have Rugby Player Tackles Robber. This video has gotten over 2 million views and is not the least bit funny, it is in fact one of those videos that places your heart in your throat.

Of course you have loads of videos that feature the escapades of  teens replicating — or originating their own — Jackass and Dirty Sanchez. These videos seem to do very well.

But none of the above mentioned videos really have anything in common. I’ve also not mentioned the videos that streak into the viral category that are of small children, babies, animals et al. The videos all have cute and funny themes and seem to fall into a sort of “instant” viral fodder file.

A lot of folks upload videos that have been clearly made with the intent of it becoming viral. But it’s been shown time and again that a viral video is never planned.

Some videos become viral twice. Look up Double Rainbow or Charlie Bit Me on YouTube. These videos went viral and then went viral again thanks to auto tune — you remember the Gregory brothers mentioned before — and they then jumped into a second viral life all their own.

So I guess, for now at least, the answer is not a clear one. It just appears to be whatever video catches the imagination of enough people that it gets shared repeatedly. I do think that humour has a huge part to play. Take for example my final viral offering of the day. Double Rainbow is a video about a guy who is literally freaking out over what he calls a double rainbow. Now he may or may not be a fruit loop, but the original video of his orgasmic reaction to the rainbow has well over 35 million views.

Now take this same video, auto tune it and you have the Double Rainbow Song –yes, you guessed it, the Gregory Bros again — with well over 31 million views.


Of Singing Mice and De Loy’s Ape

I love the information one can glean from the internet. A lot of the information is of the ‘news’ variety. Stories put out by different websites that live to pass on the latest in homicides, celebrity scandal, economic woes, video game  releases, et al.

Then there are the websites that are just there for the purpose of relating educational news. How to construct a good sentence in English. Google translate (or it’s equivalent) for help in reading sentences that aren’t in English or for translating your non-English sentence. Definitions of words, their synonyms and antonyms.

You have websites that specialize in the weird and wonderful. Crazy news from around the world. How a ghost is keeping the rent down in Thailand. How a man in Pakistan can subsist on eating light bulbs and nothing else. A woman in Japan has been found guilty of misleading her clients on the correct use of Feng Shui.

Of course there are other websites that are not so glamorous or amusing. These sites deal with porn. Not just grown up porn but porn of a sort that will appeal to every taste, legal or not. Don’t worry if you don’t see something you like, free trailers and teasers are available for anyone who will tick the “over 18” box and enter. Not everyone’s cup of tea and not websites that are generally discussed in polite circles. *Unless it is to damn them or to express amazement that they are allowed at all.* 

Then you have scientific or technological sites. These are the most fascinating and entertaining to read.Just today I learned about singing mice. Animals in the world are broken into singing and non-singing camps. People, birds, apes, et al are in the singing group. Mice are not. Or at least they haven’t been. Scientists now believe that mice use song to woo their prospective mate. The male mice serenade the female mouse of their choice and she either responds enthusiastically (presumably like a Justin Bieber fan since the warbling of the mice is also high-pitched and squeaky) or not.

This discovery has only come about with new technology which allows the scientists to hear the mice better. What they previously thought was a high-pitched squealing ‘call’ was actually a mouse version of  Barry White‘s You’re the First, the Last, My Everything.

On the other side of the discovery coin, old news if you will, was the mystery of De Loys’ Ape.

English: Justin Bieber at the Sentul Internati...
English: Justin Bieber at the Sentul International Convention Center in West Java, Indonesia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whoops, sorry wrong picture!

De Loys’ Ape

The story of De Loys’ ape comes to us courtesy of David Bressan’s article De Loy’s Ape on The History Of Geology.

The readers digest version is as follows: De Loy, a noted geologist, was in South America looking for oil. As he and his band of fellow geologist’s, guides, and locals traveled deeper into the jungle, disease, predators, poor food and accidents caused his band’s number to dwindle to just four men.

These men arrived exhausted at the bank of Tarra River and there they encountered a pair of strange creatures. “One day de Loys spotted along the shores of the Rio Tarra two large monkeys covered with reddish fur and lacking a tail. More strangely the two animals walked upright and approached slowly the expedition, visibly irritated, shouting, brandishing the arms and using they own excrements as projectiles against the frightened men. The men decided to respond to the attack and shoot in direction of the two apes, killing the female.” *David Bressan De Loys’ Ape*

Amazed at this possible missing link, the ape was over 5 feet tall, De Loys took many pictures including the one above. He intended to bring the body back to civilization to show the scientific world. Unfortunately the body rapidly deteriorated and on the way back their boat capsized causing all the photographs but one to be washed away.

Once back in the civilized world De Loys never mentioned the curious ‘ape man’ that he had encountered in South America. It was only years later that a friend, the Swiss anthropologist George Alexis Montandon (1879-1944), accidentally rediscovered this photo that the ‘ape’ became an issue.

Montandon was convinced that this creature in De Loys’ photograph was a new hitherto undiscovered primate that could be a ‘missing link.’ Montandon decided to approach the scientific community with his findings. Interestingly, only the French agreed with his findings and the rest of the scientific community decided that Montandon was incorrect in his assumptions.

Fast forward to 1999 and a letter from 1962 purports that the picture is a hoax and that the 5 foot humanoid ape is a myth that came about as a practical joke by De Loys. It does make a certain amount of sense. De Loys himself had forgotten about the mysterious creature and never attempted to solve the mystery.

The real De Loys’ ape?

If, in fact, the picture and the resulting myth are the result of a prank, I think it is nothing less than brilliant. This man, De Loys has managed to lose most of his team and his remaining team are exhausted and more than likely scared and nervous. That he could even think of such a funny joke at such a time is uplifting and touching.

I can imagine him telling the others of just how funny it will be when they return telling everyone that the spider monkey they just shot was really a 5 foot tall humanoid creature that they’d never seen before. Spirits bolstered by the school boy prank, I imagine them slapping one another on the back and laughing.

Of course I could be wrong, but I’d rather think that is how it went.

As for the singing mice?

I’ve always known that mice could sing. I’ve always known that they can whistle as well. I saw  Mickey Mouse do it in a film when I was little. He sang and whistled in the film Steamboat Willie made by the prestigious Walt Disney.

And Uncle Walt would never lie.

Steamboat Willie 1928
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