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Davis, California

Monday, April 15, 2024

Five-minute fame

There have been a few random nights with friends where we battle our indecisiveness about what we’re going to do and then do it again to decide where we are going to do what it is we’ve decided to do. This process can take anywhere from five minutes to forever, and I mean that literally. However, to pass the time while deciding, my friend Gabe will whip out a laptop and tell me to watch this funny, cool, gross, nostalgic, weird, stupid or any-adjective video.

Gabe showed me a video that he had posted online himself. It was my other friends’ reactions to watching the “BMP Pain Olympics” video. Skeptically, I thought, “Why would I watch a video of people watching another video?” I thought it was rather ironic, but I wasn’t disappointed.

I had never seen these people act this way. Random feminine shouts of, “Why is he doing that?!” struggled through the tiny laptop speakers. Other squeals and cries of disgust accompanied the repeating question coming from the same feminine voice. The screen displayed two guys and a girl sitting on a couch in front of a laptop that was just right of center screen. By the end of the video, the girl is the only one left on the couch who seems to be frozen with some combination of terror and revulsion, while one guy can be heard vomiting from off-screen where the front door would be, and the other just simply ran off covering his face never heard from again.

I felt that I never had to or should even watch the video. The reaction was enough for me.

Gabe went on to show me a few more videos. First, he introduces me to online personality KevJumba who at first doesn’t seem to be interesting. Sure, he has some camera chemistry and solid video editing skills, but I could run into him at some city park and just think, “Hey, I think I may have seen him at school or something.” Then, immediately following those videos, Gabe shows me Baron Davis and Jessica Alba each giving video responses to this guy and I shouted, “What the heck?! How’d he do that?!”

Up until that point I always figured that celebrities tended to stray away from this medium of publicity, but it seems if he was able to do that, then maybe I’ll somehow get some kind of interaction with Dustin Kensrue (lead singer of Thrice – look ’em up).

I bring all this up to confirm number three on Time’s, “10 ideas that are changing the world,” but as the result of a different cause. Time‘s Richard Corliss calls this the “Post-Movie-Star Era.” Sure, there may be the exception of Samuel L. Jackson, but the latest blockbusters often times market unfamiliar faces. The entire entertainment industry now is receptive to all new-comers instead of the recurring big name celebrities. I believe this to be part of the fallout of this five-minute fame phenomenon.

What else has five-minute fame triggered? Well, just from the stories above, it’s clear that not only has video uploading changed the face of the entertainment industry, it is already its own medium as much as radio, television or even the Internet itself (although the Internet gives rise to it).

Video uploading contains within it a hobby, a learning/teaching resource, entertainment, a creative outlet and its own unique means of communication. Of course with every single good comes the advent of dozens of abuses. As often as the straight-edge and compass construction of a regular 17-gon will be viewed, videos like the infamous “2 girls 1 cup” will be viewed over 10 times more. As much as video uploading lessens celebrity worship and the constant need to know what Britney is up to now, we now divert our attention to random no-names who become known for little more than brainless antics. Come what may, video uploading and five-minute fame is here to stay.

So instead of continuing to decide what to do and where to go it seems that the decision has already been made: to watch videos all night right there in the apartment living room.


JEREMY MALLETT believes that for any movie to be a movie, Samuel L. Jackson must appear in it at least once, and since Iron Man did not include him in the main body of the movie, they had to put him in the post-credits teaser. Debate this with him at jjmallett@ucdavis.edu.



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