It's Friday again (that was fast) and time to talk about the week's biggest viral video hits. As usual, there are more great examples of success stories than I have room for in this column. I've narrowed the list down to three great videos for this week's discussion, and a handful of other great clips to toss into the Honorable Mention section.As usual, we're seeing a lot of repeat "offenders" among out common viral ingredients.
Cute animals, exceptional talent, and capturing the never-before-seen still reign in the world of viral videos.
Let's see what we can learn this week:
The Jaws Home Movie
So apparently there are some frighteningly friendly sharks in the ocean, which I would not have known were it not for our first example this week. It's a piece called "Me my Shark and I," by Chuck Patterson. He's an SUP surfer (which Google tells me stands for Stand Up Surfer, which actually doesn't make any more sense to me—I guess it's a hybrid of surfing and paddling maybe?).
On a recent excursion off the shore, he ran into a young Great White Shark that was… curious. Curious, and terrifying, if you ask me. Check it out:
Now, I saw the movie Jaws at a bit too young an age—which gave my mother fits because I wouldn't go near a bathtub for weeks after that without significant coaxing. And Jaws is just a movie.
This guy's footage is real. Now, maybe he knows enough about the behavior of juvenile sharks to have felt safe and confident that the thing wasn't going to bite him. He certainly seems calm, casually plopping his camera into the water over and over to film the shark as it swims around him over and over again. I would probably have screamed like a little girl.
This video went viral for some pretty obvious reasons—how many times have you ever seen amateur footage of a Great White shark circling a surfer? I'm guessing it's zero. So there's the fact that the video delivers something most of us have never seen—always a viral catalyst.
But there are other reasons the video was so widely spread by viewers. For instance, there is the hero aspect of the filmmaker, who most would agree comes off as a tough guy for just calmly sitting there filming the predator. You might call it gutsy—or you might use other, more colorful words. The bottom line is the guy's seen as a stud by a lot of viewers for sticking around and filming what would have sent most of us into hysteria.
And that fear-factor is another huge reason for the video's popularity. Humans are typically filled with a mix of fear and awe when it comes to sharks. They're fascinating creatures—one of the only animals to have their own entire week on a cable network, after all. But they're also frightening. We're scared, but we cannot look away.
Over 1.4 million people have watched this video in just two days. That's astounding. Good work, Chuck. I bet you could keep uploading videos like this and see them all go viral for quite some time.
Our second example for the week involves a street artist doing some things I've never seen before. First, he does his drawings upside down. Second, he's drawing two of everything, one with each hand… at the same freaking time.
Let's see what viral ingredients we can identify in this video. Drawing talent? Check. Drawing upside-down—meaning something we've never seen? Check. Drawing upside-down with both hands at once—something we've never seen nor even conceived of? Check.
Listen, I have trouble with the whole "pat your head with one hand and rub your stomach with the other one" thing (though I have no trouble walking while chewing gum). I can't even begin to tell you how impressed I am that he can force his brain to allow this to happen.
Even if he was just drawing normally, though, with one hand… right-side-up… I'd be impressed. I've never been able to draw, and have always been jealous of people who could. But toss in the inverted angle he has as well as the two-hands-at-once thing, and the degree of difficulty skyrockets.
He's also drawing very quickly. These aren't hour-long masterpieces… he bangs out each picture in 30 seconds or so, which is even more impressive.
When you show the audience something never-before-seen, you spark their desire to share with friends, which leads to viral success. Starting with a foundation of great artistic ability just gives the video an even better head start for finding an audience.
I make no apologies for my love of animal-related videos. I've always been a pet kind of person, and animal videos often provide the purest laughter for me. This week I'm including two animal videos, one for the dog people and one for the cat people.
First, we have an adorable-yet-nervous Corgi, who wants to jump in the water and play with his pal, but is also afraid of the water. He runs up to the edge and then panics. Even after jumping in once, he's hesitant to do it again the next time.
But the real treat of the video is that when he finally does jump… he performs a kind of puppy belly flop, which is pretty darn cute and funny. Check it out:
I love how scared he is, but then when he finally does jump it's an all-in kind of thing… he really gives it everything he's got. And yet his jump is quite short. The video is adorable… it's got laughs… and sometimes that's all you need.
Our second animal video, and our final viral success story of the week, is cat-related. How do you create a cat video that shows viewers something they've never seen? Show the cats something they've never seen… and film it.
Apparently these two cats—named Pepper and Snowball—have never seen a treadmill. And if you put yourself in the mindset of a cat, a treadmill is probably a very confusing and scary thing. These cats are intrigued, but wary. And ultimately, Pepper just goes off on the thing, in hilarious fashion:
Every week, like clockwork, we see a handful of animal videos go viral. It's as steady as the tide. Video of animal behavior that is funny, odd, cute, or any combination of those three will almost always find some measure of a viral audience.
I wish I had more time, so I could also have talked about:
- This video of Dan Quayle's son—it's a fairly in-your-face political ad that is getting lots of attention
- This video of Lufthansa passengers having a pillow fight with flight attendants—which would surely result in someone getting tased in the U.S.
- This video of a remarkably talented young contestant on America's Got Talent
- This video of Justin Bieber having something launched at him on stage at a concert (water bottle?)