I was wasting some time on the Internet earlier tonight and came across a new, holiday-themed version of the "Bed Intruder" song
(for those unfamiliar, more info in a moment). That got me on the trail of some of the other interesting versions, and suddenly I was struck - as I have been many times in the last 5 years in particular - by the way these sorts of phenomenons occur and what a tremendously enabling technology the Internet is, not only for "flash in the pan" celebrity, but also for artistic inspiration and creativite expression, and even - as I soon found out - for real, meaningful change in people's lives.
So I want to talk about way these sorts of things happen, their progression and effects (both good and bad) and also see if anyone can think of comparatives from times past. Before the Internet, did this sort of thing happen on TV, radio, in print, or even in local communities? Has the Internet simply magnified phenomena that already existed, or is the hyper-connected, multimedia nature of modern communications creating whole new, unique phenomena?
To start with, here's the story of Antoine Dodson and the creation of the "Bed Intruder" song. Wikipedia has a concise summary:
Kevin Antoine Dodson (born June 27, 1986) is a former resident of the Lincoln Park housing project in Huntsville, Alabama, whose interview on local television became an Internet sensation and resulted in a pitch corrected song with The Gregory Brothers that "has sold thousands of copies on iTunes and appeared on the Billboard Hot 100 list". The interview that propelled Dodson into fame was prompted by the report of a house intrusion and attempted rape of Dodson's sister.
and more information here:http://en.wikipedia..../wiki/Antoine_Dodson
As that article states, it all began with a potentially terrible crime. Where it went from there I don't think anyone could have guessed. Thanks to the, shall we say, unusual quality of Antoine's on-camera persona, an otherwise unremarkable interview with a crime victim spreads like wildfire over the Internet. Here's where I think things start to get really interesting. Someone (the brilliant Autotune the News guys), somehow gets inspired by this video to create an entire song out of it. The song quickly becomes just as big a hit as the original interview video, if not more so. The song inspires tons of covers and alternate versions
. The original song is then put up for sale on iTunes and reaches the top 50 iTunes songs and the Billboard Hot 100
! The money it makes is shared with Dodson and his family. And now, they've been able to move into a new house
as a result.
Here's a highlight video timeline:
(that last one with the choir is probably my favorite)
Pretty amazing, whether or not you actually like any of the music and other take-offs that resulted, or even Dodson himself.
So what are the ultimate effects here? What's notable about this? From crime to comedy to celebrity to financial success and ultimately the betterment of people's lives. Not to mention a tidal wave of interesting, not-so-interesting, occasionally fascinating, perhaps even beautiful art. And this certainly isn't the only example, from Chocolate Rain
to the Double Rainbow guy
to the bizarrely (and hilariously) ubiquitous LOLcats
, and many, many more
. Some are even learning how to create these phenomena on demand, like OK Go
with the repeated success of their unique music videos.
What can we conclude from these crazy Internet-driven odysseys? To me they are fantastic, wondrous, bizarre, fascinating. These kinds of occurences are completely captivating for me, even when I don't appreciate the source material (e.g. Chocolate Rain). The modern "Internet meme" phenomenon seems so unique to the power of the Internet, but maybe it isn't? It seems so oddly empowering, capable of unleashing such tremendous creativity. I can't help but be thrilled at these explosions of expression. Does anyone else see these things as something more than bizarre chains of triviality? Something more beautiful and admirable? What other examples have you come across? Have any favorites?