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The 5 Rs of Viral Videos: David After Dentist

The randomness of  viral videos fascinates me. I’m always surprised at how certain clips  seem to capture the public’s fancy and  quickly take off, amassing millions of views. What’s really interesting is the set of responses that have been created when a video takes off.

The latest one to hit my inbox is the clip called David after the dentist, a seven year old’s funny reaction to being medicated after a dental procedure.  At the time of this post it has already generated 7 million views!

Here’s the video if you haven’t seen it:

Funny right? I love the part where he asks “Is this real life?” Poor little guy. Let’s take a look now at the different ways that people interact with this video. I’ve categorized them into a framework that I’m testing that I’m calling the 5 Rs: Reposting, Remixing, Re-enacting, Reacting and Reinventing. You don’t need to watch every video all the way through, but it’s interesting to get a taste of the different types of ways that people interpreted and played with this content.

1) Reposting

The easiest and most passive way for people to engage with this content is to simply repost a copy of the video on their own channel. This differs from embedding or linking the original video because it represents the desire for someone to create a carbon copy and pass that around. There are several copies of this video available already.  People could do this for several reasons: to jump on a hot topic and increase their channel views, or because they like the video so much that they want to “own” it and push it out from their channel. Either way it adds to the viral-ness of the content.

Remixing…continued after the jump!

2) Remixing

The viral video remix is a relatively new genre that I find to be really entertaining. Someone takes the original video and re-cuts it, adding music and/or effects. The two most common types is the time-lapse version where the editor either speeds up the video or slows it down, and the musical remix. The musical remix is a type of digital homage that can surpass the original video if done right.

The Electric remix:

Time Lapse:

3) Re-enacting

Re-enactment is where someone acts out the viral video (of a kid reacting to medication!) Maybe it’s because I’m a generally busy person but the fact that someone would spend the time to re-enact a home video baffles me. I wonder how many takes they had to film in order to get it just right. Nonetheless there are several versions. There are several ways that people do this, some act the entire thing themselves, others use the audio track.There are the dedicated re-enactment folks who add a brand new element like a different setting or a popular character who stars in the clip.

Acting the whole thing out:

Using the Audio Track:

Darth after Dentist:

4) Reacting/Responding

Finally, an interesting spin is people who video tape their own reactions to watching the video. In this case, a woman video tapes her daughter’s response to the remix. The reaction can also be expressed in a response video where the person faces the camera and verbally explains what they thought of the footage.

5. Re-inventing:

Re-inventing uses the original story line as a jumping off point to take the story in a whole new direction. In this case it was David after Dentist: Years Later. A not so funny video about David’s nightmares to the experience.

See more funny videos and funny pictures at CollegeHumor.

Some Thoughts:

The first thing that came to my mind is I wonder how the parents feel at watching a home video they have uploaded take on a life of it’s own! Can you imagine uploading a family moment and then having people re-enact, remix, and repost it? The second thing I think about is for David, the kid in the video. I wonder how he’s going to feel when he’s 14 years old and there is embarrassing footage online. Is this the digital and viral equivalent of your parents showing your baby pictures to your prom date? If so, it is SO much worse, lol.

The Wall Street Journal interviewed the boy’s father who said:

David’s father, also named David DeVore, says his son was safe the entire time and finds the video very funny. Mr. DeVore says he filmed his son to help ease his fear of doctor’s appointments. “I was trying to teach him that the anticipation is probably much worse than the actual event,” Mr. DeVore said. “This might not have been the right case to give an example.”

The New Video Consumer:

I think this is a reflection on our changing relationship with video and how we, as viewers, enjoy watching footage and then making it our own. In my opinion these types of videos only add to the experience of the original. Seeing how much pleasure people take from this, it seems odd to me that broadcasting companies are so strict with copyrighted clips being used on Youtube.com, when it provides a creative outlet for viewers to show their amusement and engage with the content. In essence it builds community, and shouldn’t broadcasters be encouraging this?