We appreciate raw talent There's the professional article, like the demo tape of Jeremy Davies' lengthy Charles Manson improvisation. But viewers often prefer to feed on more unvarnished talent-show-esque efforts: the stoic, high-geek style of Tay Zonday's "Chocolate Rain," or Eli Porter of "Iron Mic" infamy. As one aficionado said of the latter, Porter is an "enigma, for no one knows where the FUCK Eli is! His battle was done in 2003, and he sort of vanished, leaving legions of fans wanting more." The invisible — both the private ritual and the would-be performer striving for a public — is made visible. This is why recent clips such as a little girl dunking through her legs or the "Dick Slang" video of circle-jerking hip-hoppers shaking their penii like hula hoops are so wickedly sticky.
The reveal can't be concealed You can't hide your anger management issues, whether you're a Chinese woman punching and kicking on Muni or Bill O'Reilly flipping out about getting played out with a Sting song ("We'll do it live! Fuck it!"). Nor can you forget that pesky Katie Couric clip if you're Sarah Palin: the notorious snippet of the wannabe vice president attempting to explain her nonexistent foreign policy experience lives on in a YouTube feature box. If you decide to get more than 1,000 prisoners in the Philippines to replicate the "Thriller" video, rope a slew of tarted-up tots to do the "Single Ladies" routine, or organize a flash mob of dancers for your (500) Days of Summer-cheesy proposal in New York City's Washington Square Park, you can bet it won't stay a secret. Especially when a good portion of the bystanders blocking your shot are hoisting up cameras and phones of their own.
We like to play with our food and gobble pet vids The dancing fountains of "Diet Coke and Mentos" and the elegiac meltdowns of so many innocent, candy-colored sundaes and 'sicles in "The Death & Life of Ice Cream" rock our pop, though they're no match for sneezing baby pandas, dramatic chipmunks, very vocal cats, and dogs either verbalizing, skateboarding, or balloon-munching.
Passion counts Especially when it comes to Chris Crocker's "Leave Britney Alone" protestations, Obama Girl's undulations, the kakapo parrot shagging a hapless nature photographer's skull, and Zach Galifianakis' hilariously bad "Between Two Ferns" interviews. Even Soulja Boy's vlogs, in which the pop tell-'em-all cranks the virtues of the Xbox, seem obsessed — with getting the viewer's attention. That also goes for the "Numa Numa" xloserkidx singing along to O Zone's "Dragostea Din Tei" and the twirling, ducking, and capering Canadian high-schooler in the "Star Wars Kid" video, which marketing company the Viral Factory estimates has been viewed more than 900 million times.
Just gird yourself for the edit "Star Wars Kid" is one primo example: it inspired Stephen Colbert to kick off a viral loop of his own, challenging viewers to edit and enhance the green-screen video tribute of his own lightsaber routine. No one is exempt from a little creative tinkering, an inspired tweak or 2,000, be it "Longcat"; Ted Levine in Silence of the Lambs; or pre-YouTube animated vid "All Your Base Are Belong To Us," the classic mother of all video hacks, where images ranging from beer ads to motel signs are Photoshopped with the Zero Wing Engrish subtitle. And you thought the remix was dead.