Good Boy Gone Bad ... And Viral
June 16, 2013 11:45 AM   Subscribe

Can you talk me through all the processes and channels that would be in play and how they would integrate and feed each other, in what order, to send bad behavior across all social media?

I've got a storyline going for this project, and need the savvy crew of Metafilter to help me realify it.

A character who is supposedly upstanding and a role model is filmed and photographed misbehaving very very badly in a bar, with a soundtrack. Multiple people use their phones to shoot video, take pics, and then tweet, post his behavior, etc. Within hours, his bad behavior goes viral, of course and is of great interest to his fiance (who wasn't there) and his employers. In addition, he already has a media presence, so all of his "legit" footage gets "spliced" into his bad behavior footage. Basically, he gets completely ridiculed, subject of memes, etc and shown to be a clown and is undone by social media.

Can you help me describe this situation? How it would roll out, via the various channels. What comes first, how does Instagram fit in, FB, tweeting, gifs, memes, the music, etc etc. Also, like I know "splice" isn't the right word, but how does that work, um, splicing digital video? And the music? Do you "overlay" it? I mean, obviously I'm casting around here for a For Dummies version of how this would all work to inspire millions of You Tube hits within hours, from phones.

Ugh, does that makes sense? Bonus points if I can work in autotune, as that plays well with my themes.
posted by thinkpiece to Writing & Language (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Someone posts it to YouTube anonymously. Then all it would take was someone with a lot of followers to notice it. Let's say someone who posted the video could tweet the video at a famous comedian just like "Hey @robdelany check this out!" if they notice it and think it is funny that comedian posts it on their twitter feed to millions, who retweet it hundreds of times. All their followers see it. There's a 4chan posy about it, which gives it a name. Then a trend site like Buzzfeed or HuffPo sees it through that initial RTing and posts an article featuring it. Then reddit posts that article and gets hundreds of upvotes. Then the downloading and re"splicing" of the video into memes and remixes begins. Then that remixing and gif-ing of the video gets its own BF/HP/etc articles. Then mainstream media notices it. Then a Metafilter post goes up (jk). But at that point the video gets a million hits. Does that makes sense?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:19 PM on June 16, 2013

Oh and your question was about this happening within hours. The process i described takes about 48 hrs. So then, just skip back to the step with 4chan right after one famous type person RTed it. They could create all the memes and remixes (autotunes or whatever) quickly. But this would never happen on phones that fast, only if theres a bored group of youngish folks hanging around a forum ready to pounce on something from their laptops.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:25 PM on June 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Add something like a bored art student with a miniature following, who strikes on the dude-behaving-badly as part of her artistic mixed media project, giving it packaging in the early stages. Something like "and then it got worse", that splices various phone and media takes of your hapless victim into a catching narrative. For the art student it's a one hit wonder which she quickly loses control of.

The starwars kid meme was helped by someone adding fake light sabre effects.
, for example
posted by Phalene at 1:00 PM on June 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

if he's of any public interest at all, someone would immediately shoot a tip over to tmz or gawker. tmz especially are scummy enough and big enough that a lot of stuff like this funnels through them. if they aren't quite that famous but still known, a site like the dirty would probably pick it up. regardless, that would get it off and running - it'd trend on twitter, ONTD would get a hold of it, which would explode tumblr with gifs, and the remixing would be built into all of that.
posted by nadawi at 1:08 PM on June 16, 2013

Hey! This used to be my job! But in 2008, which might as well be a century ago. Anyway, your scenario is not really how this stuff works. If the person is actually famous and the behavior is indeed bad, then the public will want to see the raw video/photo. Case in point: Reese Witherspoon's arrest video, Prince Harry's nude photo, Miley Cyrus' bong hit video. In the future, maybe, Rob Ford's crack video. Something might get made into a gif or a meme and live on forever but that will happen after the thing goes viral. And, anyway, famous person scandals are not really prime meme source material. There's nothing inherently meme-able about some guy kissing a person who is not his fiance. Memes are pretty weird and unpredictable-- when they involve celebs, they're more like "Leonardo DiCaprio strutting" or "Sad Keanu Reeves eating a sandwich", not "OMG grainy footage of X behaving badly".

In a lot of instances the person shooting the video will try to sell it to TMZ. In other cases they will just put it on Youtube, Reddit, Tumblr, etc. That's what happened when Dan Harmon played the voicemail from Chevy Chase, or when Danny Brown received head on stage. Often there may be just one person recording, but several hundred people tweeting. A link to a video isn't necessary for a rumor to spread like wildfire-- the video will be posted/found eventually. And, remember, there are thousands of "content producers" who hunt for this stuff for a living, and every decent gossip site has a tips inbox that is monitored regularly. It is very implausible that something will become a big story through social media without involving the actual media, although I use the term "media" very loosely.

Regarding the video editing thing, some people do it for fun, but it is also an actual job. A video that combines a person's good and bad behavior for humorous effect sounds more like something that would be created by the staff of a late night talk show. If you're asking how to edit digital video, well, that is a larger question, but it's almost certainly not happening on a phone (although Vine may change this).

Memes and remixes are more likely to be influential when the video is of a non-famous person doing something amazing. Take Antoine Dodson, for example. But he was already a hit by the time the Gregory Brothers heard about him and created the Bed Intruder Song, even though it happened really fast (within two days). And he is not an example of bad behavior. Similarly, the Taiwanese animators don't really help stories become big, they just add an extra layer of fun.
posted by acidic at 1:18 PM on June 16, 2013 [4 favorites]

Just a quick clarification, he's not cheating or kissing or doing anything average. He's doing something raunchy and uh, supernatural. He's famous in his field with a famous girlfriend who has a zillion followers for her own reasons.

Perfect answers, right on target, thank you so much, more please.
posted by thinkpiece at 1:52 PM on June 16, 2013

Would TMZ be involved or Perez Hilton?
posted by spunweb at 3:36 PM on June 16, 2013

Think of how things go viral. One person has the source, posts it and tells their friends. If it isn't interesting, it stops there. If it's mildly interesting, you might get a chain of people forwarding it to their friends in a sort of 1 for 1 ratio. The population of people knowing about it and sharing it grows slowly and linearly. If it is really interesting, however, it spreads geometrically. Every generation of sharing perpetuates it with ever increasing larger populations. If everyone shares it with 10 people, each generation adds an order of magnitude. 1 - 10 - 100 - 1000 - 10,000 and so on.

The way I expect something like this to play out is youtube -> facebook -> the internet at large. Places like liveleak and vimeo and such. A day or three after it's viral on the internet, it goes viral in the media.
posted by gjc at 5:39 AM on June 17, 2013

gjc, i'd agree with you except the fame issue - because of that it's going to immediately hit a bunch of tabloid tip boxes and one (or more) of them will pick it up immediately. i'm pretty sure paris jackson was still on the way to the hospital when the vultures at tmz reported it.
posted by nadawi at 7:45 AM on June 17, 2013

Just a quick clarification, he's not cheating or kissing or doing anything average. He's doing something raunchy and uh, supernatural. He's famous in his field with a famous girlfriend who has a zillion followers for her own reasons.

Well it depends on whether supernatural events are customary in your fictional world, but if it's a "you have to see it to believe it" type of thing, and relatively short in length, then I could see it being spread through gifs. Here are a couple examples of recent celebrity "news" translated into gifs: in this gif, someone caught and videotaped Jennifer Lawrence attending an event with her ex-boyfriend, sparking rumors that they are back together. It is a supremely uninteresting clip, but the reason why it spread as a gif rather than as a photo is so that fans could analyze their body language. It did not spread beyond his and her fans. In this example, Taylor Swift was caught sticking her tongue out in disgust after seeing Selena Gomez kiss her ex Justin Bieber. Again, this gif is telling us things we didn't know (the status of "Jelena", Taylor's feelings about this) but the reason it caught on and spread like wildfire (beyond individual fandoms) is because the moment was so perfectly suited for a gif. A photo or description would not have done the moment justice. So if the raunchy/supernatural act you're writing could be captured in just a few moments, then sure, it might spread as a gif.

Now, can someone make a gif of the disgusted look I'm giving myself for knowing all this crap?
posted by acidic at 8:24 AM on June 17, 2013 [2 favorites]

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