The word “viral” has so many connotations.
Disease. Destruction. Hilarious videos on YouTube.
Just as network television of the 1970s and ’80s formed the collective lexicon of Generation X, viral videos are the unifying language of today’s culture.
So Greg Rutter, a 26-year-old Brooklyn copywriter, decided to create a single page celebrating the standouts among these viral videos at youshouldhaveseenthis.com.
The page’s headline best illustrates his concept: “Greg Rutter’s Definitive List of the 99 Things You Should Have Already Experienced on the Internet Unless You’re a Loser or Old or Something.”
Viewers can click on links leading to an array of visual delights that Internet addicts will likely have stumbled across at some point during the last decade.
Many I’ve covered in past Net Worth columns: The poor grape-stomping reporter whose slip and belly-flop is captured live on Fox 5, complete with guttural sounds worthy of a disemboweling. The miserable sports anchor who keeps using “Boom Goes the Dynamite” to describe basketball highlights. The creepy “I Like Turtles” kid. The Fail Blog. PostSecret. “The Shining” trailer recut.
And, of course, Tay Zonday’s infamous music video for “Chocolate Rain.”
In fact, Rutter was reportedly inspired when a friend told him about a co-worker who had never seen basso profundo-voiced Zonday deliver his cheesy, insidiously catchy tune. Rutter wondered how anybody could be that unplugged to the cultural zeitgeist, so he decided to gather all the best viral bits onto one page (in no particular order).
Finally, biting babies, dramatic chipmunks, talking unicorns, foaming Mentos experiments and George Lucas all share the same cyber space.
I’ll be the first to admit that I was unfamiliar with about half of the offerings, such as “Katana Sword Infomercial Goes Wrong” and “Tom Cruise Kills Oprah.”
I guess one probably needs more explanation than the other, so the latter features the infamous Cruise couch-hopping moment edited together with special effects to look like the actor has the same lightning force powers as Emperor Palpatine in “Return of the Jedi” — and he’s using them to murder Oprah between bouts of maniacal laughter.
Are all these selections either drop-dead funny or disarmingly weird? Not exactly.
Some are just plain stupid. Others can only be described as “amusingly amateur.”
And I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that at least one of these “real” videos is staged. Check out “Best man trips and ruins wedding,” and see if it doesn’t smack of somebody fabricating the whole setup in order to win big bucks on “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”
Yet each of these videos has been viewed by millions of people. The biting British baby alone boasted 90 million hits!
There’s no argument that this bite has resulted in a truly viral infection.
— Entertainment editor Jon Niccum explores facets of pop culture that have established a unique niche on the Internet in Net Worth. He can be reached at 832-7178.