Hot on the heels of our article about the highest-earning YouTube stars comes this story from NPR about Antoine Dodson. Antoine Dodson, if you live in a cave, is the guy from Huntsville, Alabama, that has surged to fame via an interview with the local news. After a break-in and attempted assault of his sister, Dodson—who had helped fight off the attacker—gave an interview with some memorable quotes. You might remember this section:
"Obviously, we have a rapist in Lincoln Park. He's climbing in your windows. He's snatching your people up, trying to rape 'em. So you all need to hide your kids, hide your wife, and hide your husband, 'cause they're rapin' everybody out here."
Video of this interview went viral almost immediately, and it currently has millions of views—there are multiple versions on YouTube… one has five million views, one has four million, and several more have between one and two million. Check out the interview that started it all:
If you somehow managed to avoid hearing about that video and story… you might have caught up when the Gregory Brothers—of Auto-Tune The News fame, and who recently signed a development deal with Comedy Central—took their unique brand of auto-tune humor and applied it to Dodson's words. The result was the Bed Intruder Song, which currently has nearly 13 million views:
And here's where the story takes an interesting turn. The Gregory Brothers are giving Dodson 50% of all the profits from the song. And Dodson has decided to ride this unexpected fame right out of the poverty his family has long lived with. They've already used some of his new found earnings to purchase a new house.
But it doesn't stop there. Dodson now has a Facebook page (with 90,000 friends), a Twitter account (with nearly 5,000 followers), and his own personal website. Oh, and his own YouTube channel. He's taking donations on the site via PayPal, and is also selling T-shirts containing some of the more memorable quotes from his interview. This is clearly a man that has fully embraced his unexpected fame.
Spoofs, covers, and ripoffs are popping up all over YouTube. There's even a college marching band that uploaded a video to YouTube of them practicing an arrangement of the Bed Intruder Song. Where will this meme go next?
I'm fairly impressed with Mr. Dodson's attitude. I think it's safe to say that many of us would have been mortified if a video of us behaving that way went viral—of course, many of us would never behave that way in front of a TV news camera, but I digress. But instead of shrinking away from the limelight out of embarrassment, Dodson has embraced it… maybe even encouraged it. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the Gregory Brothers—or someone like them—have been giving Dodson some free advice on how to leverage the fifteen minutes of fame to turn it into something more. He could easily have hidden away from the attention, and who could blame him if he had?
I think it's refreshing that in this day and age where everyone's embracing video marketing, where more and more companies and individuals are trying hard to go viral, we can still have viral stars that reach their fame in a completely organic way. There was no forethought or planning on Dodson's part. He just reacted to the foiled attack on his family member in a way that was memorable… and the rest of the "viral" action happened on its own. He didn't hire any video marketers to seed the video with views. He didn't even make the video himself, for Pete's sake.
This is a wholly natural viral phenomenon—something that is becoming increasingly rare--and Dodson is a true viral star. It's nice when something this organic comes along to remind us why we started doing this sort of thing in the first place.