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Author Topic: Internet celebrity, unusual inspiration, unconventional art... win!  (Read 2739 times)

JavaJones

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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:
Quote
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".[3] 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?

- Oshyan

timns

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Re: Internet celebrity, unusual inspiration, unconventional art... win!
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2010, 09:28:06 PM »
For anyone who doesn't know what all the fuss is about* who wants a crash-course on internet memes, try here:

http://memebase.com/

Prepare to be confused ;)

*not JavaJones  :Thmbsup:
« Last Edit: December 21, 2010, 09:51:09 PM by timns »

JavaJones

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Re: Internet celebrity, unusual inspiration, unconventional art... win!
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2010, 09:45:44 PM »
No, no, I'm already thoroughly (thoroughly :D) familiar with the world of Internet memes (actually I subscribe to the memebase RSS :-[). But some of these things seem to go a bit deeper, beyond the superficial hilarity, and into real art, deep human impact, etc. That's a big part of what fascinates me about it. Does anyone else know what I'm talking about, or am I alone in feeling like some really amazing stuff has come out of these phenomena?

- Oshyan

barney

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Re: Internet celebrity, unusual inspiration, unconventional art... win!
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2010, 01:02:44 PM »
It strikes me - just personal opinion, not necessarily justifiable - that this has gone on throughout history. The only - what an only! - thing the Internet has done is compress the time frame, thus making any given phenomenon the more noticeable.  The Web both shortens and heightens the bell curve, if you will, frequently making events all the more noticeable for their brevity.  Kinda redefines the fifteen (15) minutes of fame - hm,m,m ... would that be a meme? - and also makes that fifteen (15) minutes more widely noticeable.

Quote
Does anyone else know what I'm talking about,...?
I'd suspect that we all do, to an extent, but our individual perceptions likely vary widely ... what amazes me may seem plebeian to you, and what strikes you as significant may be commonplace/unremarkable to me.  Also bear in mind that a lot of this is culturally active.  The really amazing elements, to me, are those that grow cross-culturally active.

JavaJones

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Re: Internet celebrity, unusual inspiration, unconventional art... win!
« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2010, 03:28:15 PM »
Good points Barney. I think you're right that the Internet is, if nothing else, highly compressive of these kinds of communication-drive phonemona. Can you think of any notable examples from history that compare, even over longer time scales? I sense that you are right that these things are not fundamentally new, I just don't know of any specific examples and would be interested to learn more about some of them.

- Oshyan

barney

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Re: Internet celebrity, unusual inspiration, unconventional art... win!
« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2010, 04:48:19 PM »
Well-l-l ...

Perhaps not the best examples, but consider the rise to power of many of the world's despots.  Benito Mussolini in Italy, Adolf Hitler in Germany ... both came into power on a ground-swell of quasi-approval by their respective populaces - is that a word? - although that support dissipated after their ascent.  That whole process might have been circumvented had the Internet been active at that time (those times?).  The folk that opposed them simply could not be heard.

We have in place today a massive public review system that has already affected the lives of a number of political aspirants, both positively and negatively.  Now, that is not necessarily a good thing, in that something very valuable could be lost to us because of that public review when the public does not have the knowledge to effectively judge.  That, however, seldom keeps folk from voicing their opinions, whether they are qualified to hold those opinions or not.  Humanity tends, on the whole, to be judgmental.  The sad truth is that humanity, on that same whole, is frequently unqualified to make the judgments they make.

On the whole, I'm not so certain that this compression is always advantageous.  I cannot help but wonder how many great ideas may have been killed by it ... as you'll know if you do any gardening at all, some things just need time to grow.

On the plus side, there's Justin Bieber <shudder />.  He has achieved, via the Web, a degree of fame that took earlier artists years to achieve.  Not that Justin has not worked hard, but his predecessors had to work much harder, longer, to achieve the same degree of recognition.  As an example, I recently heard a review on NPR (National Public Radio) of how Jimmy Hendrix gained his fame.  It took years as a sideboy before he achieved recognition.  Today, some aspiring artist can publish on YouTube and, as many have, achieve almost overnight recognition.

I have to wonder, though, whether this is a good thing, in large.  These overnight successes may often circumvent the amount of work and experience most of us consider necessary to career stability.  Along the musical line, Glen Campbell became a major singer, which led to several movie roles.  But he spent years as a studio musician before gaining recognition.  I question whether that recognition would have lasted as long as it did had he not had those previous years of experience.

JavaJones

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Re: Internet celebrity, unusual inspiration, unconventional art... win!
« Reply #6 on: December 22, 2010, 05:30:29 PM »
I'm not sure the political figure examples are quite analogous, unless they rose from total obscurity to power quite quickly (and by obscurity I do not mean "a relatively unknown minor political officer; I mean average man on the street, maybe even poor, homeless).

As to whether this compression is beneficial, and whether quick-to-fame celebrity can be long-lasting, well we don't really know. I suspect though that this will be governed much more by whether there is any real talent behind it, just as has been true in the past. And "career stability" has, I think, more to do with a person's fundamental capabilities and wherewithal than necessarily how they got there or how long it took. After all, Hendrix took years and put in hard work, then died in his 20s. Not a very good career, even if that particular "career move" was not really the result of an intentional career change. ;)

That being said there is the widely accepted value of struggle towards a goal in itself, assumed to install "wisdom" and other things. Perhaps. I'm not sure I buy it wholeheartedly though. I know it's what we'd like to believe! But this clashes with the notion many people have of innate skills, and even the widely held belief that one can be born with true, deep wisdom, as in the (admittedly extreme) example of the Dali Llama for Buddhist practitioners. Truthfully "wisdom" is often in the eye of the beholder. History does not often bear out a measurable impact of it which could be in any reasonable way analyzed and well understood.

Anyway I certainly agree that people are generally judgmental and even worse they are quick to judge. This *may* be especially so now, although I'm not sure that is true. We may just have the tools to communicate that judgment more effectively. If I think back to times past it seems my impression of people historically is that they too were quick to judge, often judging irrationally. If anything we have greater tools today with which to inform ourselves. But unfortunately that does not necessarily mean most people avail themselves of those tools.

So in the end I don't think we're necessarily any better or worse off, overall. BUT I do feel like there is *something* interesting and potentially unique happening culturally speaking, creatively speaking, with the rapid-fire cross-breeding of art, media, celebrity, general creativity that is facilitated by the Internet. I don't know that it can or will last, but I honestly see it perhaps as something like the various revolutions in traditional media art, from abstract to neo-cubism to pointilist and a million other styles. The LOLcat, ridiculous as it may be, is an art movement of sorts, or at least a unique and cohesive creative expression movement. This is fascinating to me.

- Oshyan

barney

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Re: Internet celebrity, unusual inspiration, unconventional art... win!
« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2010, 07:59:05 PM »
This is bordering on a private conversation, so I'll make one last post tonight, then go away for a while  :P.

The political and musical examples, while not the best, were supposed to be examples of historical events that might have been compressed had the Internet existed at those times.  The timeline on the musical stuff was intended to display that compressed events do not allow for the experience level acquired during the non-compressed events - not wisdom, but the number of experiences encountered over the longer timeline, whether they provide any learning or not.  There is a big difference between innate talent, acquired talent, and experience  :o.

It's been pretty well documented that folk in early America were not quick to make decides - they knew that any information received was weeks old, so they had the time to consider before making a decision, knowing full well that their decision-point might already have been decided in a manner contrary to their own preferences.

One of the biggest problems my adopted daughter and her boyfriend had [as an example] was texting.  No thought, just instant, unthought response.  The Web provides that capability as well, and can at times be detrimental.  As communication has improved over time since earliest man/civilization, it has been easier and easier to make snap judgments, with little regard to thought, more emotional decisions, fewer considered decisions.

Methinks it'll take History to judge whether the Internet in its current incarnation, is bad or good, but overall, I think it'll prolly turn out to be mostly good - most every communication enhancement I can recall, while each had its detractors, has turned out to be beneficial.  I also think there'll be major changes in the way we think about and do things - a fairly safe prediction, as it's happening now  :P.

[Edited for typos.]
« Last Edit: December 22, 2010, 08:00:46 PM by barney »

JavaJones

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Re: Internet celebrity, unusual inspiration, unconventional art... win!
« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2011, 10:20:33 PM »
This is exactly what I'm talking about.



- Oshyan

tomos

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Re: Internet celebrity, unusual inspiration, unconventional art... win!
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2011, 12:45:15 PM »
This is exactly what I'm talking about.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6kI_u3ho_c[/youtube]

- Oshyan

I estimate the video has had at least 17 million views in total...

with apologies - veering off-topic here:

funny there was a comment with over 1500 votes - when I went back to quote it it was gone :huh:

Basically it said the original video on YT had 14 million view but it got taken down, and then it was shown on some tv channels (maybe sold by the creator?). Very critical of youtube, strange it disappeared. Hah, now the second highest voted comment (also complaining about youtube) is removed. The poster is not online according to his channel - looks to me like youtube is censoring the comments :tellme:
Tom

barney

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Re: Internet celebrity, unusual inspiration, unconventional art... win!
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2011, 01:19:28 PM »
Not YouTube ... they got a takedown order, according to TechDirt.  He was lamenting the fact that the paper was gonna get bad vibes out of it.  Seems they considered it theirs, since one of their reporters shot the video, so considered it subject to copyright and fair use did not apply  :o.