When March 31, 2003 Where: Kinchan and Katori Shingo’s National Costume Competition Who:NTV Summary: Team captiain: Hideki Kajiwara (梶原比出樹)”
Matrix Ping Pong is a famous video clip that makes the rounds as an Internet meme on the web. It is a recording from the popular annual Japanese show Kinchan and Katori Shingo’s National Costume Competition (欽ちゃん＆香取慎吾の新！仮装大賞). The video shows a group of people attempting to mix moves in the style of The Matrix movie while parodying another, Japanese movie named Ping Pong, using kurokos (stagehands dressed all in black that are used in Japanese theatre) to hold the actors and the props up. This performance won the competition on March 31, 2003.
The video opens with what appears to be two competitors about to start a ping pong match. On closer inspection, you can see the kurokos in the background that move the various parts of the stage. Each “competitor” is made up of two people one controls the visible top half and the other the legs, the visible lower half. All told there are 7 people involved in the skit:
4 people to control the Red and Orange players
1 person to control the ping pong ball
2 people to move the actual ping pong table
On the screen appear the Skit Title and 29. The title is in Katakana letters that translate into PingPong and the contestants are number 29.
In each episode, there are 30 or so skits that individuals or groups of people act out. There is a panel of 10 judges, each with two buttons to vote with. At the end of each skit, they vote on how much they liked it, with 15 being a passing score and 20 being the max score. So if they didn’t like the skit then they give no points, kind of liked it then they get 1 point, really like it 2 points. If a skit gets below 15 then don’t move onto the next round but if they get above 15, they get a medal and get a chance to win money. This is why and the end of the skit you see them cheering and hugging each other because they got above 15 points.
Kasou Taishou or the (欽ちゃん＆香取慎吾の新！仮装大賞; Kinchan and Katori Shingo’s National Costume Competition) is a semi-annual show on NTV in which various amateur groups (or solo artists) perform short skits, which are rated by a panel of judges. It originally was just a show to showcase costumes but as people started performing to showcase their costume the show, especially in recent years, has evolved into skits that revolve around clever methods of “faking” cinematic special effects on a live stage, like “Matrix Ping Pong”. You can view the winners of each episode on the official website press the sixth link down on the left menu bar.
Behind the camera: Deck Camera Where: Flight deck of the USS Theodore Roosevelt Photo Summary: John Bridget is shown getting sucked into an A-6E’s engine Picture Taken: 03:41:11 Feb 20, 1991
This image is in the public domain because it was taken by Navy personnel
Not to be confused with the video of a helmet getting sucked into a Jet, this video is actual footage of a one John Bridget (21 years old at the time) getting sucked into an A-6E Intruder’s jet engine. It’s been a segment on numerous TV shows like World’s Wildest Videos and has since been taped, digitized and uploaded to the net. Once online it became quite famous, as its small size made for easy sharing. The footage got a second life when it was revealed that not only did the man get sucked into an engine but that he survived.
The video starts on the flight deck of the USS Theodore Roosevelt and according to the camera time, it’s 03:41:11 Feb 20, 1991. An A-6E pilot is getting ready for take off as a trainee checks the position of the carrier launching mechanism. All this time the pilot has the engines at full throttle and as the trainee moves away from the trainer, a green shirt (Navy personnel wear color coated uniforms), John Bridget, comes to make sure everything is OK. Navy personal Daniel P Streckfuss tells the story from there:
I was attached to VFA-15 on board the USS Theodore Roosevelt during that deployment in 1991. This occurred [during Desert Storm, Desert Storm ended February 28, 1991]. He did survive and I’m surprised the editors of that video didn’t include him climbing out. What allowed him to survive was the design of the A-6 engine (the J-52). It has a long protruding ‘bullet’ or cone that extends in front of the first stage fans. When he was sucked in, his arm extended above his head which caused his body to wedge between the bullet and inside wall of the intake. Lucky for him, his cranial and float coat were sucked in first causing the FOD’d engine which prompted the pilot to cut the throttle (commanded by the Shooter who moves into the frame kneeling and moving his wand up and down). It took almost 3 minutes for him to push his way out of the intake after being sucked in. Needless to say, I don’t think he was seen on the flight deck for the rest of the cruise.
According to the video, the scene where he has bandages around his head and his arm taped up was taken only a few hours after the incident. After recovering from his injuries he left the Navy.
19 December 1996 saw the last launch of an A-6E Intruder from the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) marked the last Intruder squadron to fly from the deck of an aircraft carrier.
The A-6E Intruder, the plane that sucked in the Navy man, is a twin-engine, mid-wing attack aircraft built by Grumman Aerospace. In service between 1963 and 1996, the Intruder was designed as a replacement for the piston-engined A-1 Skyraider. A specialized electronic warfare derivative, the EA-6B Prowler, remains in service as of 2006. As the A-6 neared retirement, it was replaced at some reduction in combat radius by the multi-role F/A-18 Hornet and fighter-bomber adaptations of the now also retired F-14 Tomcat.
USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71)
The video was filmed on the flight deck of USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) (known affectionately as the Big Stick or TR). It is the fourth Nimitz-class supercarrier and its call sign is Rough Rider, the name of President Theodore Roosevelt’s volunteer cavalry unit during the Spanish-American War. It was launched on 27 October 1984 and saw action in the first Gulf War. On 9 June 1990, Capt. Charles S. Abbot became the ship’s third Commanding Officer and on 28 December, Theodore Roosevelt and CVW-8 deployed for Operation Desert Shield. Theodore Roosevelt entered the war on 9 January 1991, eventually flying over 4,200 sorties (more than any other carrier) and dropping more than 4,800,000 pounds of ordnance before the cease-fire on 28 February.
Behind the camera: Anfrony, Pals for Life member Where: The Upper Black Rock Spire. Not too far in – the area is called the Rookery Photo Summary: “Pals for Life” members and Ben Schulz aka Leeroy Jenkins Picture Taken:
Not to be confused with Leroy Jenkins the famous Jazz musician, Leeroy Jenkins is the name of a famous machinima video clip, that was created in the Blizzard Entertainment’s popular MMORPG World of Warcraft or WoW. The clip is famous for one of the characters running off into a Lion’s Den … actually, Dragon’s Den where he gets himself and most of his companions killed. The clip has since become an Internet meme and spread well beyond the boundaries of the WoW community, into other online games and media. A presentation at the 2005 “Aesthetics of Play” conference at the University of Bergen described Leeroy as the “one icon of the WoW player, one movie from the game that most people have seen. So mainstream is the “Leeroy Jenkins” clip that the character was mentioned as part of a clue on the November 16, 2005 episode of the game show Jeopardy! as part of their college week tournament. ”
The video clip is a computer recording of the game World of Warcraft. The clip begins with a dozen players from the group or clan Pals for Life (P4L), including Leeroy, planning a raid on The Rookery, a virtual location in the WOW world, part of the Upper Blackrock Spire. The players are heard conversing over Ventrilo, a type of voice over software, before entering combat. Jamaal is the one doing most of the planning and talking. Leeroy, remains quiet and off to the side. He has since stated that he was away, “reheating myself some previously bought fried chicken for my own enjoyment”. Just as they are discussing tactics (which players of the game will recognize to be comically poor) and calculating the possible rate of survival for the attack, Leeroy suddenly springs to life, shouting his battle cry: “Alright chums, I’m (back), let’s do this! LEEROOOOOOOY!!! JENKIIIIIINS!!!”. He then charges fearlessly into The Rookery, to the complete and utter incredulity of his teammates. Attempting to save him, they follow him in and are quickly overwhelmed by the whelplings, and unable to stick to the plan. At the conclusion of the clip, one of his teammates remarks, “Leeroy, you are just stupid as hell”, to which he replies, “Least I have chicken.”
Was it Staged?
Almost as soon as the clip was posted WOW gamers claimed it was staged due and after much debate and controversy Pals for Life, Leeroy’s guild, have admitted that this was a staged promotional video. They maintain, however, that it is essentially a faithful re-enaction of a true event.
Interviews with Leeroy
Leeroy aka Ben Schulz (aged 24 as of Oct 25, 2005)did a number of interviews including one with Played to Death and GGL.com. In the interviews, it’s revealed that Leeroy is based out of Laffayete, Colorado and he’s been playing WoW since the early open beta version. At the time of the interview, Ben’s character Leeroy was at, level 60 with a PVP rank of sergeant that works as a miner/engineer.
Leeroy did get kicked out of the P4L after the incident but was allowed to return 5min later. Ben, when asked about how often he plays the game, said ” …about four or five hours a day. Some days I take a break … I’m currently unemployed so that helps (laughs) … Actually I just graduated in December … I graduated with a degree in electrical engineering [with] emphasis on digital signal processing and system design stuff. So, like making a cell phone.” As of May 2006, Ben is working as a repair technician for industrial lighting. He was offered a position as a game tester for EA but at $10 an hour turned it down.
He got the name one day while hanging with his friends:
It was pretty much made up. I was sitting around with a few guild-mates drinking forties … we start throwing out name for each other and Leeroy Jenkins popped out. I like the name because it was fun to yell … The rushing itself doesn’t happen too often. It happens a little more now when we are joking around. My “Leeroy Jenkins” yell happens far more often. I’ve been yelling that for about four years. (laughs)
[Leeroy tried to gain control of his name and the rampant merchandising but he said there was,] “actually nothing I can do about it now. I can trademark the name henceforth, which I have looked into, but other than that the video is public domain. The [Pals 4 Life] have made our own T Shirts … That’s www.ThePals4life.com. We’ve only sold three shirts and a thong, but we are really excited about the thong selling. There is nothing in my life that makes me happier than pulling down a chick’s pants and seeing my face.
Cheering for the Whiter One
Leeroy stepped into a little bit of controversy when it was revealed that he would be cheering the “white” as in a caucasian team. Here is how he tried to explain it:
I guess it came out wrong but like I’ve tried explaining that before but until America televises video gaming to that extent and we have people that are that hyped about it and play that hard to get there we are not going to produce that kind of players that Korea is producing right now. They are superstars. They play against the best and people strive to do that much harder than they do here. So in that, generally, Koreans kick the shit out of the white dudes. And that’s what that was about. I was just doing that to root for the underdog.
Timeline of Fame
This Internet phenomenon started with the release of a video clip online to the World of Warcraft forums. The video was released by the World of Warcraft Alliance player guild PALS FOR LIFE on the Laughing Skull PvP realm.
Leeroy was given a substantial boost in notoriety by the publication of an article in the August 2005 issue of PC Gamer UK by author Craig Pearson, entitled “The Ballad of Leeroy Jenkins”. Pearson’s article claims that the original video was designed as a negative commentary on the kind of “nerd-guilds” that meticulously and statistically plan out raids the way Leeroy’s guild was apparently doing. Leeroy is, in fact, the hero of the piece, acting against the geekiness of his guild.
A sidebar found in Pearson’s article titled “How to Be a Leeroy: Perhaps You Already Are?” cites Urban Dictionary as an indication that Leeroy has become a descriptive noun; “to Leeroy” is even being used as a verb in some circles. The article further encourages the readers to send in their best examples of being a Leeroy to “I’m a Leeroy” at the magazine’s address.
Mentions outside the Internet fuel the fame
Leeroy’s fame has crossed over into the mainstream by not only being featured as a Jeopardy question but also:
Mentioned in a strip of the popular comic, FoxTrot
Leeroy has recently been added to the Upper Deck World of Warcraft Trading Card Game (TCG). The card was drawn by Mike Krahulik, the artist who draws the webcomic Penny Arcade. Leeroy’s TCG appearance along with rumors of his cameo in the upcoming World of Warcraft motion picture keeps the legend alive into the future.
Referenced in the Marvel Comics series, Runaways, Vol. 2 #18, when Victor Mancha yells out the name to Chase Stein as he charges headlong into a burning building.
In MegaMan Battle Network 6, a man looking at a jellyfish tank in the aquarium states “The right jellyfish is Leeroy. The left is Jenkins.”
In the beginning clip of AMV Hell 3, of the popular AMV Hell series, Leeroy’s end catchphrase “At least I have chicken,” appears. However, it is jokingly referred to as “an old Klingon proverb.”
In the South Park episode Make Love, Not Warcraft, some of the words that Cartman uses when they start the final battle are quotes from the video, said in the same matter-of-fact tone of the video’s narrator. In the same episode, a character appears named Jenkins. Lastly, at the end of the credits, the Leeroy Jenkins voice is heard saying “it’s not my fault!”
Number of downloads
As of December 2005, the Warcraft Movies website reports well over 1,500,000 downloads of the original Leeroy Jenkins video. However, it is difficult to estimate the total number of people who have seen the original video largely because it has appeared on numerous other websites like google video and YouTube, file sharing networks, and has been sent extensively by email as well. On Google and YouTube alone there have been over a million downloads.
PALS 4 LIFE have now released as close to an ‘official’ transcript as is likely to be seen. Since there was no script the P4Ls have tried their hand at remembering who said what. Some of the audio is too bad to hear clearly, even for the P4Ls.
Jamaal: [talking to teammates outside cave] OK guys, these eggs have given us a lot of trouble in the past, uh does anybody need anything off this guy or can we bypass him?
Ritter: Uhh, I think Leeroy needs something from this guy.
Jamaal: Oh, does he, he [sic] need those Devout Shoulders? Doesn’t, doesn’t [sic] he a paladin?
Ritter: Yeah, but that will help him heal better, he’ll have more mana.
Jamaal: [sighs] Christ. OK, uhh well what we’ll do, I’ll run in first, uh gather up all the eggs, we can kinda just, ya know blast them all down with AOE. Um, I will use Intimidating Shout, to kinda scatter’em, so we don’t have to fight a whole bunch of them at once. Uhh, when my Shouts are done, uhh, I’ll need Anfrony to come in and drop his Shout too, uh so we can keep them scattered and not have to fight too many. Um, when his is done, Bas of course will need to run in and do the same thing. Uhh, we’re gonna need Divine Intervention on our mages, uhh so they can, uhh, AE, uh so we can of course get them down fast, cause we’re bringing all these guys, I mean, we’ll be in trouble if we don’t take them down quick. Uhh I think this is a pretty good plan, we should be able to pull it off this time. Uhh, what do you think Abduhl? Can you give me a number crunch real quick?
Abduhl: Uhhh.. yeah gimme a sec… I’m coming up with thirty-two point three three, repeating of course, percentage, of survival.
Jamaal: That’s a lot better than we usually do, uhh, alright, you think we’re ready guys? [interrupted]
Leeroy: All right chums, I’m (back)! Let’s do this! LEEROOOOOOOY JEEENKIIIIIINSSS!!! [runs into cave]
Forekin: [incredulous] … Oh my God he just ran in. [runs in]
Ritter: Save him!
Jamaal: Oh jeez, stick to the plan.
Forekin: Oh jeez, let’s go, let’s go! [follows]
Abduhl [laughing]: Stick to the plan chums!
Jamaal: Stick to the plan!
Forekin: Oh jeez, oh fuck.
Therien: Gimme a Divine Intervention, hurry up.
Therien: It’s saying I can’t cast! I can’t move, am I lagging, guys?
Spiffy: I can’t move!
Forekin: What the—what the hell?
Spiffy: I can’t AE!
Forekin: Oh my God…
Abduhl: The eggs just keep respawning! More respawning!!
Forekin: I don’t think you can cast with that shit on!
Spiffy: Oh my God!
Leeroy: We got em, we got em!
Basphemy: I got it! I got it! [muffled shouts]
Jamaal: Jamaal’s down. Jamaal’s down.
Forekin: Oh my God..
Jamaal: Goddamnit Leeroy!
Abduhl: Leeroy you moron! [various put-downs of Leeroy amongst group]
Unknown: gremove gremove
Ritter: I’m on it.
Basphemy: It’s on Bas.
Jamaal: This is ridiculous.
Forekin: I’m down, Forekin down. Goddamnit.
Basphemy: Bas is down.
Abduhl: This is the (something)th time we’ve died on this, God!
Abduhl: Spiffy, rez us! Spiffy, rez us!
Jamaal: Why do you do this shit Leeroy?
Spiffy: I’m trying!
Leeroy [crying]: It’s not my fault!
Forekin: Who’s Soulstoned?
Jamaal: We do have a Soulstone up, don’t we? [everyone dies] Think I need a Soulstone?
Abduhl: Yeah but I don’t think we brought a Warlock.
Behind the camera: Casting agency staff for LeBron James Commerical Where: Photo Summary: Mark Allen Hicks Picture Taken:
While trying out for a Nike TV commercial starring LeBron James a stunt man/martial artist Mark Allen Hicks attempted to do a black flip for the camera. It didn’t work and unluckily for him, his failed backflip was captured on camera and uploaded to the internet where it spread like wildfire. In Nov 2006 the Viral marketing company, The Viral Factory, collated page impression figures from websites such as YouTube and Google Videos. They determined that this video as of Nov 2006 had been viewed 80 million times. Hicks himself didn’t know of his fame until a friend called and said, “that was so funny! I just saw you on the Jay Leno show!” Hicks was puzzled because he had never been on the Leno show. He quickly checked online and to his horror had discovered that the casting agency had leaked his audition video. While at first he was angry he was able to parlay his new found fame into creating a full length movie called, Afro Ninja: Destiny
The commercial was for Nike’s Lebron James in the Chamber of Fear Series. Mike was reported to have stumbled out of the audition with a bloody nose and no role in the commercial. After mark’s “failed” audition the casting guys proclaimed “no more flips” to the next few stunt men waiting to audition. However, later Mike was able to come back to another audition and was booked for the commercial.
National Geographic did a show called Fight Science that explored how the designs and techniques of weaponry can exponentially increase an already fearsome fighter’s impact, control, and range. Mike Hicks was one of the fighting “experts” that showcased their skills in the show.
While people were trying to track down Afro Ninja in a case of misidentification one Shawn Tanner was fingered as the AfroNinja in the video. Shawn was quick to point that he had nothing to do with the video and that his flash site www.afro-ninja.com had existed years before the video went viral.
Behind the camera: Kollaboration Where: Kollaboration which was held at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre, Los Angeles Photo Summary: David ‘Elsewhere’ Bernal is the third dancer to appear Picture Taken: Saturday October 6, 2001
David “Elsewhere” Bernal (born August 2, 1979) is a popping dancer from Santa Ana, California. He became well known through this video clip recorded at the Korean-American talent show, Kollaboration, in 2001. The clip showcased Bernal’s characteristic take on contemporary dances popping and liquid dancing. Performances of these dances were rare at the time, and the clip became a very popular viral video. In Nov 2006 the Viral marketing company, The Viral Factory, collated page impression figures from websites such as YouTube and Google Videos. They determined that this video as of Nov 2006 had been viewed 200 million times.
Kollaboration is a Korean American/ Korean Canadian Talent Show. “Kollaboration seeks to elevate Korean American/ Korean Canadian talent into the limelight of the music and entertainment industries, showcasing their talents and the community’s potential to the world.” It has been running since 2000 and serves to break down any stereotypes that exist in regards to Korean talent. David Elsewhere’s video clip was filmed at Kollaboration 2001 which was held on Saturday, October 6, 2001, at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre, Los Angeles.
David “Elsewhere” Bernal
David started dancing around when he was 17. At his high school he and a number of students would play music, dance and break and a place called, “The Quad”:
The first time I really performed in front of a big crowd was probably a year after I started dancing. It was in front of my school at The Quad, which I described to you earlier. My friends basically pushed me into the circle. I actually took out this house dancer, this guy who would go in circles and try to show off. I basically shut him up because he didn’t know how to break…all he did was his house dancing. I got a pretty big ovation from the people and that day really stuck with me. It was a huge, huge confidence booster.
In 2002 he graduated from California State University Long Beach, California with a degree in Art and Illustration. On his homepage he sites besides B-Boy dancing his major dance artist influences were:
Squid – His longtime friend who got him started with dancing.
Salty – A mystery man that David saw on a video. He became obsessed with his style and dancing without ever knowing who he was.
Skywalker – Skywalker’s influence resulted in his style becoming much more fluid and exaggerated.
Since the video Bernal has done a number of advertisements for Heineken, iPod, 7-Eleven Slurpee and Pepsi. He also did a cameo appearance in the movie You Got Served and TV performances including The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. In a Volkswagen Golf GTI commercial him and some other dancers like Crumbs and another popper named Jay Walker did a spoof of 1952 movie Singin’ in the Rain where they recreated Gene Kelly’s Dance.
Most people when viewing the video think that David has to be double-jointed to do his moves but when asked in an interview he stated:
I’m not double-jointed at all. The only place where I am double-jointed is my thumbs, which doesn’t even matter. I would say I’m probably a little more flexible than most people in certain areas, mainly my shoulders and my ankles, but I wasn’t born that way. Those areas became flexible because of years of practicing.
Behind the camera: Filmed by Ed Robinson of, Viral Factory Where: Romanian Stadium Photo Summary: Romanian actors playing two Ukranian athletes, Mosienko (Guy) and Bubka (Girl) Picture Taken: Campaign started on March 2003 to April 2004
The video was created by The Viral Factory and commissioned by Trojan Condoms to create a buzz around their UK launch. The video and website spoof for a fictional event called the Trojan Games was created with fake sports of an adult nature. Each viral clip was embedded in the Trojan Games website, creating a huge effect by driving viewers to the site. In Nov 2006 the Viral marketing company, The Viral Factory, collated page impression figures from websites such as YouTube and Google Videos. They determined that this video as of Nov 2006 had been viewed 300 million times.
The video opens with what appears to be two athletes walking through a crowd. The voice-over tells us, in an Olympic Commentator style, that the two, Mosienko and Bubka, are from Ukraine and hope to win the event. As they walk up to the stage you notice that they don’t appear to be wearing pants. The girl, Bubka, “mounts” her partner Mosienko and then she lets go appearing to be held in place by Mosienko’s … “member”. They hold the pose for 3 sec to victory and the crowd goes wild waving Ukrainian flags as Mosienko and Bubka take gold for the sport of “Pelvic Power Lifting”.
The Viral Factory filmed in a real athletics arena in Romania and used genuine Romanian athletes, shooting for two days. They were promised by the local casting director that there would be no problem with the actors getting naked which turned out to be true except for one incident with the Weightlifter:
Only one of them was shy, poor bugger … He suddenly had a panic attack at the last moment … But really, all of them were perfectly happy, quite extraordinarily laid-back about it. Being English we were terribly sensitive and had people with towels ready as soon as we cut, we had little skin-coloured pouches made for long shots. One girl was parading around half nude for about 20 minutes after the shoot. We said go and put some clothes on and have some lunch, she said, ‘no, I’m hungry’!’ After that we all relaxed.–Film makers
Behind the camera: Cameraman, Stephen Blackman Where: Invercauld Estate, near Balmoral, on Deeside Photo Summary: The actor playing John West and an actor in a bear suit who was duplicated three more times to create the other bears. Neil Morrissey (the voice of Postman Pat) does the voice over Picture Taken: Released on November 20, 2000
On November 20, 2000, John West canned salmon a Heinz product (H.J. Heinz acquired John West from Unilever in 1997) that caters to the British market released a funny little commercial. It was created by the Leo Burnett agency in London, directed by Danny Kleinman of Spectre. The ad was written and created by one Paul Silburn who had actually left Leo Burnett but came back epically to do this commercial. Since the commercial Paul has become the executive creative director at Fallon Worldwide in Minneapolis. In Nov 2006 the Viral marketing company, The Viral Factory, collated page impression figures from websites such as YouTube and Google Videos. They determined that this video as of Nov 2006 had been viewed 300 million times. There was also an alternate ending shot for the video.
Video Break Down
Voice Over: At the river mouth the bears catch only the tastiest most tender salmon, which is exactly what we at John West want.
Camera zooms into one of the bears that has just caught a fish. Out of the corner of the screen a fisherman with orange pants runs up to the bear and engages in kung fu fighting. The bear delivers a kick or two then the man calls out, “Oh look – an eagle!” With a kick to the bear’s groin. The bear falls and the man takes off with the fish.
Voice Over:John West endure the worst to bring you the best.
Man in a Suit
Paul Silburn did an interview where he talked about filming the spot:
The spot was facilitated by the existence of an animatronic bear suit from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. A stunt man from Henson’s, who incidentally specializes in playing animals, wore the seven-foot-tall suit and operated the animatronic head. Choreography between the bear and the fisherman was perfected in London to minimize the time spent inside the extremely heavy and hot costume.
Compositing was involved to achieve the final look of the commercial, though no real bears were used. In addition to playing the role of the lead bear, “Dave bear” (the fisherman was also named Dave) stood in for the other feeding grizzlies. “It’s all Dave in the bear suit,” remarks Silburn.
The commercial was shot on the Invercauld Estate, near Balmoral, on the river Dee in the Scottish Highlands.
Behind the camera: Gary Brolsma’s Webcam Where: Gary Brolsma’s house in New Jersey Photo Summary: Gary Brolsma Picture Taken: November 2004
Sometime in 2004 Gary Brolsma saw a Japanese Internet video clip that featured animated ASCII cats displaying amusing lyrics to the song, “Ma Ya Hi (Dragostea Din Tei)” by Romanian pop band O-Zone. After filming his own version with him dancing in front of his computer he uploaded it onto the net and it became one of the most downloaded videos on the internet. In Nov 2006 the Viral marketing company, The Viral Factory, collated page impression figures from websites such as YouTube and Google Videos. They determined that this video as of Nov 2006 had been viewed 700 million times.
The Numa Numa (or “Numa Numa Dance”) gets its name from the chorus of the Dragostea din tei track, “nu mă, nu mă iei,” meaning, roughly, “(you) won’t take, won’t take me.” The video caught the ear of one Japanese Internet User, Ikari, who created his own video for the song. Using an animation that looks like a popular Japanese ASCII cat named Monā Ikari created a video that used English and Japanese Mondegreens or words that sound the closest to the original Romanian lyrics. It was this video and its concept that captured Gary’s imagination.
Gary Brolsma (born January 14, 1986) is a resident of the state of New Jersey, USA. One of his teachers, Susan Sommer, described him as quiet but was good with technology, “Whenever there were computer problems, Gary … would fix them for the school,”
Around Nov 2004, Gary was facing some depression after the death of his father, and he used his Webcam to film himself lip-syncing in an effort to lift his spirits. The video was meant to amuse himself and a few friends. But within weeks Internet users charmed by the innocence and ebullience of Brolsma’s performance spread the video around the world. Brolsma became an unintentional icon of the viral video phenomenon after uploading his “Numa Numa Dance” on the Newgrounds site on December 6, 2004, where it has since been seen over 13 million times. Since it was uploaded the video has been reproduced on hundreds of other websites and blogs.
When asked about making the video Gary had this to say:
It only took one take and about 15 minutes to put all together. A lot of people ask me if I planned the video out or took multiple tries with it. The real answer is… no. A week or so after I finished the video, I decided to throw it up on Newgrounds.com just for the heck of it, thinking it would get blammed (automatically deleted for a low scoring video). Little did I know it would explode in the views and would touch so many people.
Not happy with just one version Gary also created some tweaked variants of the video since it became popular. One version also contains some puns, among them pictures of “feta cheese” during the lyric “fericirea” (“happiness”) and a LEGO representation of Bob Ross during the singer’s words: “sunt eu, Picasso” (“it’s me, Picasso”). Other third-party versions include a “Showdown,” between him and a German Kid getting angry at his computer. The video also had a brief cameo by the Star Wars Kid.
As his video spread throughout the world the fame hit hard. He made appearances on ABC’s Good Morning America, NBC’s The Tonight Show and VH1’s Best Week Ever, but then became uncomfortable with the amount of attention. According to The New York Times, he was an “unwilling and embarrassed Web celebrity.” He stopped taking phone calls from the media; he cancelled an appearance on NBC’s Today Show on February 17, 2005; and he did not cooperate with The New York Times for their February 26, 2005 article about him.
Since then Gary has come to terms with his celebrity even releasing a New Numa video which was released on September 8, 2006, on Newgrounds, and promoted on a dedicated website, NewNuma.com. This was an unexpected move, though one which he had been urged to make by fans of his original video. The video was produced by Experience Studios (Seattle, WA). It features Brolsma and his garage band, The Nowadays, lip-syncing and dancing to New Numa. The song is a repeated Russian children’s rhyme and performed in heavily accented and barely understandable Russian by Chad Russell, a singer/songwriter from Fridley, MN, for producer and DJ, Variety Beats, on the BeLive label.
Dragostea din tei
Dragostea din tei (pronounced /ˈdra.gos.te̯a din tej/) was the most successful single by O-Zone a band originally from Moldova, but which launched in Romania. The original version was sung by Dan Bălan, Arsenie Todiraş and Radu Sârbu. The single was first released in 2003 in Romania, where the group lived and produced at that time, and in the spring of 2004 in most other European countries. As of 2006, the song is still in the lower reaches of some Eastern European singles charts. It was written and produced by Dan Bălan (who wrote most of the group’s songs) and was one of 2004’s most successful summer hits, as well as one of the best selling singles of the year across Europe. Tragedy struck when in 2005 the group split up. All of the members went their separate ways and started their own solo careers.
Behind the camera: Ghyslain Raza Where: Le Seminaire St-Joseph de in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Canada Photo Summary: Ghyslain Raza fighting like a Sith Warrior Picture Taken: November 8, 2002
In November of 2002, Ghyslain Raza a student that went to le Seminaire St-Joseph de Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, Canada decided to take advantage of his school’s recording studio. Imitating the Darth Maul character from Star Wars he jumped, danced and twirled around the studio using a tennis ball retriever in place of Darth Maul’s double-edged lightsaber. Chubby Ghyslain and his less than graceful moves were recorded and apparently forgotten for months. Then in April 2003, students at Ghyslain’s school (Michaël Caron, Jérôme Laflamme and Jean-Michel Rheault) found the recording and quickly began sharing it with their friends with the file name, ‘Jackass_starwars_funny.wmv’. It ended up on the p2p program Kazaa and weblogs started to host the video. Not long after, millions around the world were downloading and watching the video online. In Nov 2006 the Viral marketing company, The Viral Factory, collated page impression figures from websites such as YouTube and Google Videos. They determined that this video as of Nov 2006 had been viewed 900 million times the highest total at that time.
Students put the video online
In the Court transcripts from a lawsuit the Raza family filed, it revealed Jérôme Laflamme had discovered the tape when we took the equipment to film a varsity football game. Laflamme showed the tape to Jean-Michel Rheault who then copied it. “All I did was take the cassette, digitize it on the studio computer to pull a joke on Ghyslain. After that, I had nothing to do with it,” Rheault would later say. The third defendant who claims not to know the other two somehow came across a copy of the video and created a website to post the video online. All three in the run-up to the lawsuit denied that they were responsible with Rheault claiming, “It’s no fun what happened here, but that’s the problem with the Internet. Things travel fast.”
The video first appeared on the Internet on the evening of April 14, 2003, but quickly spread the globe. The video was so popular and so widely circulated that sites hosting the video where recording millions of downloads. One website solely dedicated to the Star Wars Kid video recorded 76 million hits by October 2004. The video itself might have died away but soon people were adding effects and editing the video to make new versions. Some special effects people like Bryan Dube, an employee from Raven Software added Star War’s effects, music and opening sequences. Several versions were made with various themes but the most well-liked involved Star War effects, although a matrix version was heavily downloaded. The Star Wars Kid fame soon split over into merchandising and T-shirts, mugs and other paraphernalia that are still are available online.
While the video travelled through the Internet with people laughing at Raza, many others identified with him as they remembered their own awkward high school years. As the clip’s popularity increased, web bloggers, waxy.org and jish.nu, were able to track down Ghyslain. Jish Mukerji from jish.nu was able to get this short interview in 2003 (translated from French):
What I saw was mean. It was violent. People were telling me to commit suicide
-Ghyslain Raza in a 2013 Macleans interview
My name’s Jish and I am calling you from San Francisco, California and I’d like to interview you. Do you speak English too?
Only a little bit.
Well, I’ll try to speak in French, but I’ll apologize in advance since my French isn’t perfect.
Oh, that’s ok.
The interview is concerning your martial arts video.
Did you know that over 500,000 people have viewed your video?
Yes, I know.
When you made the video, did you think this many people would be viewing it?
No, I really never anticipated that.
How did the video end up on the web?
Actually, it was a mistake. The cassette was left in the studio and someone put it on the Internet.
Then, I guess it wasn’t a friend who did this, more of an enemy?
More or less. It was someone I knew.
I only have a few more questions… There was something yellow on the floor in your video, what was that?
It was probably something left behind in the studio from a previous session. I really don’t remember what it was.
Some people have taken your video and have added some Star Wars special effects, have you seen these?
Yes, I have seen some.
What’s your opinion of these videos?
From what I saw, they look very well-made. It’s surprising to see what people have done with a video that wasn’t meant to be seen. It’s interesting.
Do you have a website?
What are your favorite sites?
I’m really into computers/computing, so my favourite sites are the ones from the different companies involved… Nothing that I visit regularly.
Do you also read weblogs?
We know that you have a laptop, cell phone, Palm and other gadgets like that. Do you have any other favorite gadgets that you would like to buy, perhaps something like an iPod?
For the moment, I don’t have plans to buy any gadgets, but sometime soon I’d like to get an iPod.
Do you use a Mac or a PC?
At home, I use a PC, but I really like the world of Macintosh. It’s what I use at school.
If you bought an iPod, would you get the PC or Mac version?
Probably, I’d get the PC version.
Well, thank you very much and good night.
They also started an online campaign to raise money to get him an iPod. Thousands donated money and eventually, a 30GB iPod was in the mail to the Raza household along with $3600 in gift certificates for the Canadian electronic superstore, Future Shop. While Ghyslain said it was nice that something did come out of his experience he would have preferred that millions had not seen the video, which he had meant to be private. “People were laughing at me, … it was not funny at all.”
Psyc Hospital stay
In fact, Ghyslain was tormented at school and became so despondent over the whole episode that he dropped out and got a private tutor even spending some time at the Pavillon Arc-en-ciel child psychiatry ward at the Trois-Rivières Regional Hospital Centre. He would later recall how other students would jump onto tables and make fun of him. “There was about 100 people in those halls. It was total chaos . . . Any opportunity was good enough to shout ‘Star Wars!’ ”
We are deeply saddened by the current situation …
The Raza family filed a lawsuit against four students who had encoded and spread the video (Charges were dropped against François Labarre because of lack of evidence). The lawsuit was finally scheduled to go to courts in April 2006 with the Raza family seeking $351,000 in damages. In 2006, days before the case was due to go in front of the judge, an out of court settlement was reached for an undisclosed amount, although some online sites quote the $US 250,000 figure.
Star Wars Part
The negative effects of the video’s popularity is cited as one of the reasons George Lucas, the Star Wars creator resisted a huge online petition to give Raza a bit part in the third and final installment of Star Wars. An online petition to do just that collected almost 150,000 signatures, which attracted the attention of mainstream media. In a BBC interview, Lucasfilm was quoted as saying “Obviously there has been a tremendous show of support for Ghyslain with tens of thousands of fans rallying around him … However, we are deeply saddened by the current situation and any difficulties this unwanted publicity might be causing him and his family.” Needless to say, he didn’t get the part.
Ghyslain later went to McGill University in Montreal, Quebec and in 2010 became the president of the Patrimoine Trois-Rivières, a society devoted to the conservation of the cultural heritage of his hometown of Trois-Rivières. In 2013 he released an interview with a Canadian magazine talking about his ordeal. Inspired to break his silence after a spate of online bullying Ghyslain says, “You’ll survive. You’ll get through it,” he said. “And you’re not alone. You are surrounded by people who love you.”