I am not entirely sure what to say about that. Then again I don’t need to say much, 99 million views speaks for itself. So what do you make of this? I am not sure, but I am repeatedly listening to it as I type this so it must be having some effect on me. Anyway… I feel as though I’m drifting, so on that note, back to the post.
‘Chocolate Rain’ was created by Tay Zonday and was posted on YouTube on the April 22nd 2007. The video’s hit counter has consistently increased over 6 years and was quick to go viral.
Jean Burgess (2008), a researcher of issues on cultural participation, particularly with user generated content argues that the “combination of oddness and earnest amateurism” can often lead to success and these are defiantly qualities that a lot of internet content bears, which does not appear to be a bad thing, especially in the case of ‘Chocolate Rain’.
But why do videos go viral? Kevin Allocca (2012) states that tastemakers (a person that strongly influences what is or will be stylish or acceptable) have the social circles to share and publicize content because of their presence, whether that be a famous individual or a spokesman for a company/institute. This idea strongly suggests that tastemakers are the opinion leaders of Paul Lazarsfeld’s early ‘Two-step flow’ model (1955), where content is absorbed from the mass by opinion leaders and pushed out to individuals. Although it could also be argued that every user of social media is an opinion leader as they have the tools to push out content to other users, all that limits them is their online presence. The ‘Kony2012’ campaign is a very strong example of this, where the viral video was circulated amongst users of social media and amassed over 100 million views in just six days.
Both John Naughton (2012), a journalist for The Guardian and Bill Wasik (2013), an editor of Wired Magazine support this concept by outlining that no viral message goes anywhere if the audience does not pitch in. This is important, as unlike traditional broadcasting methods where millions of people see one exhibit, content on the internet relies on networks of people and their social circles pushing forward a lot of content with lower hits.
However Joe Rivers (2013) argues that “the double-edged sword of the internet means that whilst everybody is given a platform to make their views known, it also gives the impression that a simple show of opinion is enough.” Yes you could agree that internet activism is quite blasé, but that’s the point. Being able to have an opinion, to like and share and even create content is simple, easy and quick and most importantly its effective. Try telling anybody who was in London between the 6th – 10th August 2011 any different.
Andrew Keen, who is widely known for his opinion that online user generated content may be debasing culture also considers the negative effects that large online video sharing communities can have, claiming, “the YouTube generation are more interested in self-expression than in learning about the outside world” (Keen 2008: 16). Evgeny Morozov (2011: pp. 58 – 64) supports this notion by arguing that that YouTube can meet the demand for entertainment, but it fails to do much else. Yes you could agree strongly with this, but 144 000 hours of video is uploaded every day to YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/yt/press/en-GB/statistics.html), and whilst some of it is a massive waste of time (to say the least), it could also be argued that a lot of content YouTube provides is very insightful and educational, despite whether or not people access it, IT IS THERE.
Allocca, K. (2012) Why videos go viral, Febuary 2012. Available at: http://www.ted.com/talks/kevin_allocca_why_videos_go_viral.html [Accessed on 18/11/14]
Burgess, J. (2008) All Your Chocolate Rain Are Belong to Us?’, Queensland University of Technology. [journal online] pp. 101–109. Institute of Network Cultures. Available at: http://eprints.qut.edu.au/18431/1/18431.pdf [Accessed on 18/11/14]
Keen, A. (2008) The Cult of the Amateur. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.
Morozov, E. (2011) The Net delusion. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.
Naughton, J. (2012) After Kony, could a viral video change the world? The guardian [online] Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/mar/10/kony-viral-video-change-world [Accessed on 18/11/14]
Rivers, J. (2013) ‘Let’s stop pretending internet activism is the real thing’, NewStatesman [blog online] 24 August 2013. Available at: http://www.newstatesman.com/voices/2013/08/lets-stop-pretending-internet-activism-real-thing [Accessed on 18/1/14]
TayZonday. (2007) “Chocolate Rain” Original Song by Tay Zonday. Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwTZ2xpQwpA [Accessed on 18/11/14]
Wasik, B. (2013) ’20 years of Wired: Viral’. Wired Magazine, May 2013[online] Available at: http://www.wired.co.uk/magazine/archive/2013/06/feature-20-years-of-wired/viral%5BAccessed on 18/11/14]
Figure 1. (2012) ‘Two-step flow model’. Available at: http://communicationtheory.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/two-step-flow-of-communication.jpg [Accessed on 18/11/14]