Fame and Fallout from bbrittanya on Vimeo.

You may not remember that video sharing before YouTube was clunky, difficult, and very time consuming. Videos took hours to upload and were sometimes not even watchable on slow, dial-up connections. Few would admit to being nostalgic for the early days of 56k modems and upload waiting periods upwards of several hours. Even so, there was something about watching a funny video someone emailed versus just looking at funny images that motivated people to wait for a choppy download and then go to great lengths to share it with their friends. These early viral videos were passed along primarily through email and basic discussion boards and the goal of their viral nature was just watching. But, when it became known that the golf club the star wars kid used was actually tampered with to make it look like a light saber, remixing and the participatory nature of video were here to stay.

Today, remixing and uploading a video is easy. Interacting with online video is becoming the experience of the Internet and the culture it cultivates is both growing and already permeating the institutions of our daily lives. According to The Cisco Visual Networking Index, more than 91 percent of the web’s global consumer traffic will be video by 2014. Because of the rapid explosion of online video and the relative ease of participating on sites like YouTube, we devote this cluster to people whose lives have been profoundly changed because of videos featuring them that they or others have posted online.

Studying video culture means that we not only have to look at the famous videos themselves, but that we also have to interrogate the fallout that surrounds them in comments, remixes, and responses. The videos we chose for this cluster show the good, bad, and ugly of participatory culture and they demonstrate how remixing and reappropriation are as vital to the video’s life as the original video itself. The remixes, responses, and parodies keep the videos alive. You will see that people are still commenting on and remixing “Star Wars Kid” nearly a decade after it first appeared, and that Alexandra Wallace’s racist tirade continues to receive countless responses.

We would like you to question why these videos are long-lasting and why they continue to receive so many views, and elicit so many responses. We especially hope that you investigate the fallout of these videos, how they have impacted the lives of the people involved and the ripples they have produced in larger cultural contexts. How, for example, does the fact that we see kids bullying a volunteer bus monitor change our attitudes about all teens today? Why do so many people continue to watch and parody coppercab? These videos are not just fads that fade away. Instead, they have a lasting impact on everything from global race relations to debates about bullying and parenting.

The consequences of such mass participation have resulted in a complete blurring of on and off line worlds, so we hope that you engage with the videos in this cluster to interrogate what happens when someone — intentionally or not — becomes involved in a viral video. These videos have literally changed people’s lives for the better and worse, and we think that the culture rising up around these videos is worthy of our investigation..

Watch: Asians in the Library

Watch

The Idiocy of Videocy

Invent

What do you make of the “new idiot” that is featured in the “Idiocy of Videocy?” How does this “idiot” compare to past conceptualizations of idiots? How does mass exposure change the way we think of idiotic acts?

Explore

Find out if Alexandra Wallace has resurfaced, and, if so, examine what she is doing today. Will Wallace ever be able to escape “Asian in the Library?”

Investigate one or more of the response videos featured in “The Idiocy of Videocy” and analyze its impact.

The concept of “the idiot” has a long history. Briefly research the historical use of the concept of the idiot and write a response that characterizes this development as it relates to the “idiots” we see in video culture.

Compose

“The Idiocy of Videocy” spotlights two similar instances with very different fallouts. While both Wallace and Noah Kelly issued statements of apology, “Asians in the Library” remains embedded in public memory, while “Pow Wow Wow Yipee Yo Yipee Yay” has faded away. In a public statement, Wallace writes “I could write apology letters all day and night, but I know they wouldn’t erase the video from your memory, nor would they act to reverse my inappropriate action.” Why do you think Wallace’s actions continue to receive attention and views while Kelly’s actions have been largely forgotten? Might the differences in the fallout of both situations have to do with the fact that Kelly’s rant was a print-based article rather than a video? Or, does the fact that Kelly was officially sanctioned by his university while Wallace was not mean anything?

The concept of “the idiot” has a long history. Briefly research the historical use of the concept of the idiot and write a response that characterizes this development as it relates to the “idiots” we see in video culture.

Imagine that you are a Public Relations specialist tasked with issuing a statement of apology for a similar circumstance. Would you write a statement, have the client publicly read a statement, create an apology commercial (such as this one from BP following the Gulf oil spill in 2010) or would you take a different approach?

Collaborate

Alexandra Wallace originally posted the video to her Facebook wall but then promptly removed it after receiving negative feedback. The video was, and continues to be, uploaded to YouTube. If you discovered a similar video on a social networking site, would you spread it? Why or why not? What are the ethical implications of spreading content that has the potential of casting a person into infamy?

Challenge

Create a video composition using no words voice or text responding to either the Alexandra Wallace video or to one of the other reactions it elicited.

Watch: Star Wars Kid

Watch

Internet Privacy and the Star Wars Kid

Kids React to Star Wars Kid

Know Your Meme: Star Wars Kids

Invent

When did you first watch Star Wars kid? How did you hear of the video? Think about what makes this video funny and why so many people continue watching it. Compare your responses to those found in the “Kids React to Star Wars Kid” video.

Explore

How is Ghyslain Raza’s likeness being used across media? (T.V. shows, in memes, for merchandising). Find at least two other videos featuring people who have been surreptitiously recorded (i.e. Kid Freaks over Video Game or Teacher Smashes up Classroom). These recordings could range from the relatively innocent, like we see in the famous video David After Dentist, to the criminal, as we see in the sad case of Tyler Clementi, who jumped off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate recorded him engaging in a homosexual act. Find out what happened to the parties involved after the videos were posted and compare the fallout of the two videos you find with Raza’a story.

Compose

Harvard Law professor Jonathan Zittrain discusses the implications of “ubicomp,” or ubiquitous computing whereby technological devices blend into our environments, sometimes even without our knowledge. In “Two ubicomp tales” he briefly examines the “bad” implications of humans as subjects of internet searches and the resulting traumatic effects. Raza, or Star Wars Kid, for example, experienced a mental breakdown, while others, such as a woman who recorded herself in an act of animal cruelty, suffer what Zittrain terms “internet vigilante justice.” On the other hand, he points out that projects such as Ushahidi, which allows people involved in a crisis to send testimonials or other data through their cellphones to a central aggregation platform, is a “good” example of ubicomp. “He then questions “whether we can have the good without the bad, or whether they only come as a pair” (Zittrain). Do you believe it’s possible to clearly distinguish between “good” or “bad” in any of the events he cites? Select any of the events he cites and evaluate the effects, or aftermaths.

Collaborate

Nellabella8, or Danielle, created a video composition outlining the events surrounding Star Wars Kid. Watch the video then imagine that it is an introduction to a larger feature. Have each member of your group select one of the events that she brings up, such as the Star Wars Kid’s cameo in South Park, and explore it further. Then create a video composition to accompany nellabella8’s video. If you like, you may even post it as a response to her video.

Watch: Jonah Mowry

Watch

 ABC News Video

What’s going on… Take 2

What’s Going On…Jonah Mowry – Real or Fake, Jonah Mowry Is A Fake?!

Jonah Mowry ‘Whats goin on…’ Video Is Fake?

What’s Goin On (Alien Parody), My Secrets Video…Girls Do Poop

Explore

YouTubers continue to challenge the authenticity of Mowry’s claims despite statements he has posted to the contrary as well as support from public figures such as Perez Hilton and Lady Gaga. Find a video disputing Mowry’s authenticity, and then draft an outline of the argument the disputing YouTuber presents. Then, evaluate the argument; what are the premises and are they sound?

Compose

Jonah Mowry’s video follows a specific format tagged as “My Secrets” on YouTube wherein the vlogger writes messages on note cards and displays them to the audience. Seek out other examples of this genre to examine whether it is an effective rhetorical strategy. If so, why? (Which of the appeals [ethos, pathos, logos] do the videos you’ve selected invoke?) How is this approach more or less persuasive and captivating than if the person just spoke their thoughts into the camera?

Challenge

Most of the “My Secrets” videos share a similar attribute which heavily contributes to the tone of their compositions: sad music. If audio was disabled, how could the tone be visually represented?

Watch: Gingers Do Have Souls

Watch

Attention Haters

South Park Parody

I’m a Ginger

Stop or Else

Explore

Coppercab posted a rant to YouTube in response to a South Park episode featuring a presentation on “Gingervitus” in which Cartman claims that “ginger kids have no soul” (source). The creators of South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, responded by parodying Coppercab’s rant. Such exchanges highlight the ways in which the divisions between producers and  consumers of media are becoming more and more porous. That is, it is now easier than ever for individuals to respond directly to large corporations and media conglomerates and vice-versa. How else has this permeability been used to enact or elicit response from producers of mainstream media?

Compose

As we have seen in the Mowery case, many people turn to YouTube in a moment of personal desperation, especially to stave off suicidal thoughts. In Coppercab’s case, someone jokingly posted a comment that Coppercab had indeed committed suicide after he hadn’t posted a vlog for a couple weeks. In response, Coppercab made “I’D NEVER DO THAT!!” to explain why he hadn’t posted a video in awhile and to stress that he would never commit suicide, despite his feelings of depression over the way his friends had been treating him. Even though Coppercab said he would never commit suicide, people kept (and keep) on posting comments under Coppercab’s videos that he finally committed suicide, making this comment into its own living, breathing meme. Investigate some of these comments about Coppercab’s apparent suicide an analyze the ensuing responses. Why does Coppercab attract so many trolls? How does the practice of trolling influence the way people respond to his videos and the way he produces his videos? Do you think Coppercab’s videos would be as popular without trolls? Do comments like “Coppercab committed suicide” keep his videos alive? How do these trolls help establish Coppercab’s popularity and reputation?

Collaborate

Coopercab published “Attention Haters” in 2010, yet the video continues to receive attention. As a group, read the comments and look for conversations or recurring remarks. Then, find another coppercab video and see if you can find any patterns that arise in the comment sections.

Challenge

Listen to the audio only of “ATTENTION HATERS!” or “I’D NEVER DO THAT.” Without seeing Coppercab, what image did you conjure up in your mind? Explain the image and explore possible reasons for your image or images.

Watch: Making the Bus Monitor Cry

Watch:

Bullied Bus Monitor Karen Klein Talks to Anderson Cooper

Vlog 43: Making the Bus Monitor Cry

Re: Making the Bus Monitor Cry

Kids Making 60-70 Year Old Bus Monitor Cry RANT IM RAGING

Re: Making the Bus Monitor Cry – YouTube

Luis Recio (Making the Bus Monitor Cry, Cameraman) Speaks Out

Karen Klein Gets Apology From Father of Kid Who Bullied Her

Karen Klein Reads Apology Letters From Kids Who Bullied Her

Bullied Bus Monitor Karen Klein Meets Man Who Raised $600,000

Student Bully of Karen Klein Bus Monitor Identified

RIT on TV: Bus Monitor Video Backlash

Invent

Each of the four boys involved in this video received a one year suspension for the 2012 – 2013 school year from their local school, community service involving senior citizens, and mandatory bullying prevention courses. They will, however, be allowed to enroll in the district’s alternative school for year. According to Verenda Dobnik of the Huffington Post, Klein is “fine” with the punishment and feels that the mass exposure they have gained through YouTube and mainstream media will make the punishment live on. Do you agree with Klein? Do you think she should have pressed charges, especially since one of the boys threatened to stab her? Should anything else be done regarding holding these boys accountable for what they have done?

Explore

Many other students were on the bus during Karen Klein’s bullying, yet, as we see in the video, no one does anything to stop it. Why do you think the other students did not stand up to defend Klein even though, as we see in several of the comments, many of them wanted to?

Compose

Many people have blamed the parents of the boys for their disgusting behavior by claiming that the parents failed in teaching their children to respect their elders. Do you agree with this assertion? Should parents teach children to respect elders at all times? What if one of the parents of one of the boys posted a response similar to Tommy Jordan’s, as we see in the video “Facebook Parenting?” Discuss the role of parenting in this video and compare it to your own upbringing. Is it fair to blame parents for things their kids do when they are not around? Could bad parenting explain why these boys don’t respect Karen Klein?

Collaborate

Many of the vloggers and commenters who viewed “Making the Bus Monitor Cry” expressed a desire to do something in response to the event. One such viewer, Max Sidorov, acted on this desire by creating a fundraising site on Indigogo.com and then spreading both the video and the campaign. The result of his actions have transpired into over $700,000 being raised, to date. Aside from raising funds and making vlogs responding to the boys’ behavior, what are some other ways to fulfill this desire to help Klein and do something about such cruel, teenage behavior? Keeping spreadability in mind, create a multi-modal project designed to get your audience to take a specific action.

Challenge

If you couldn’t hear the boys’ taunts and just watched their actions, would the video be as disturbing? What is it about the way they nearly physically assault Klein that makes this video so difficult to watch?

Watch: Facebook Parenting

Watch

Korean Parenting

Teens React to Facebook Parenting

Mom Shoots Son’s Laptop

Response to Dr.Phil

Tommy Jordan-My take on the ABC 20/20 Xtreme Parenting segment

Facebook Parenting for the Troubled Teen.Video reply

Facebook Parenting: Shooting Laptop for Charity

Invent

Tommy Jordan created “Facebook Parenting” from the perspective of a parent who felt that his child had violated what he believed to be the rules or norms of his family structure. How might this video have differed if it was created from a child’s perspective? How did Jordan’s act of posting the video on his daughter’s Facebook account change the way the video came across to various groups (Hannah’s peers, other parents, psychologists, etc.)? How would the response have been different if Jordan posted a text response on Hannah’s Facebook or just discussed the issue with her? How might Hannah’s original rant be perceived differently if she had made a video directed toward her parents instead of posting a written rant on her Facebook page for all of her friends to see?

Davidsocal’s “Korean Parenting” parodies Jordan’s effort by relying on stereotypical notions of Koreans or Korean Americans. What was your first reaction to this video? How does using stereotypes perpetuate racism or not? Why or why not is this video effective?

Explore

Read through the comments on any of the videos related to Tommy Jordan’s original video and see how many different viewpoints are represented. Find at least three “experts” who have weighed in, and compare their responses.

Compose

Tommy Jordan states that his video was intended for his daughter Hannah and her Facebook friends. The video, however, gained a much larger viewership implying that it appeals to a larger audience. Write a response demonstrating who you believe Jordan’s audience is and/or why it attracts viewers. 

Collaborate

“Facebook Parenting” has received attention from numerous media platforms. From newscasts to talk show hosts, and perhaps even to your own social networking circles, there has been a barrage of responses to Jordan’s action as a parent. In your group, assign each member a media outlet to investigate, such as YouTube responses, the comment section of Jordan’s video, newscasts, articles or op/ed pieces etc., then compare your findings looking for the various ways in which respondents have framed their arguments.

Create your own vlog, newscast, or podcast responding to Facebook Parenting.

Challenge

Turn off your monitor and listen to the audio of Jordan’s video. How would you respond differently if you didn’t see him speaking into the camera and shooting his daughter’s laptop?

Watch: Caine’s Arcade

Watch

Caine’s Arcade: Interview with 9-Year Old Caine Monroy

Jack Black’s Kids Make Carboard Arcade Inspired by Caine’s Arcade

Ezra’s Cardboard Pinball Machine

Caine’s Arcade Inspired Game: Tilta’ Ball

Zach’s Arcade

Audrey’s Ball Game (Inspired By Caine’s Arcade)

Caine’s Labryinth — Amazing New Game @ Caine’s Arcade

Caine’s Arcade Comes to USC (Part 1)

Caine’s Arcade 2: The Global Cardboard Challenge

Invent

USC invited Cain to speak as a “visiting professor of entrepreneurship” at the Marshall School of Business thus transgressing what is generally perceived to be an “authority” or “expert” from whom others can learn. Yet, as Caine’s Arcade demonstrates, learning opportunities and inspiration can also arise from surprising spaces. The purpose of this assignment is to seek out unexpected areas of your personal or academic life from which you can draw inspiration or learning opportunities. For the next week actively seek out such sources. Then, after identifying one source to which you’re particularly drawn, create a video, blog entry, music piece, podcast, or art piece, for example, that responds this attraction.

Explore

In the act of sharing, and “liking” the video, users helped to spread Caine’s story. Some critics have likened such acts to a passive form of activism labeled “slacktivism.” To date, however, the spread of the video has resulted in over $200,000 in donations to a scholarship fund to provide Caine, and children like him, access to higher education. Find other examples of viral videos which you feel may or may not have resulted in enactions of agency. That is, did the spread of the videos you’ve discovered result in any kind of action, donations, etc.

Compose

Caine’s Arcade has raised some controversy due to the professional feel of the video. Some commenters have even accused Caine’s father of commissioning the video to generate revenue. Compare the fallout of Caine’s Arcade with the fallout of Making the Bus Monitor Cry. In each case, the people in the video received large sums of money to improve their lives, but, in each case, suspicion also arose whether their intentions were less than ethical. Are the people involved in viral videos ethically responsible for the way people respond to the video?  

Collaborate

Caine’s Arcade spread like it did because of its exposure on the website Reddit.  Discuss how Reddit has influenced the latest and most popular viral videos and trace the videos’ popularity after their exposure on Reddit. Is Reddit really “The Front Page of the Internet?” Despite its uninviting interface, Reddit continues to influence the content that is spread throughout the Internet. Why?

Challenge

Did Caine’s Arcade inspire creativity in you? As you’ve seen in the response vidoes, many others gained a flash of creative inspiration after watching the video by building their own cardboard arcades and other items. What makes this video inspire so many others to do the same thing?