At the time I made this blog post for SFGate.com, Zola the Breakdancing Gorilla’s was the latest YouTube viral video. It’s gained 2 million views now.
Are you upset that there are hundreds of eHarmony Video Bio Parody copy cats littering the YouTube website in a chase for the next viral video?
That’s right: Oprah!
Oprah Winfrey’s emergence onto the YouTube stage starting November 1, 2007 , is to blame for the proliferation of shows and “lowest common denominator” video clips. And all of this frenetic activity culminated in the eHarmony Video Bio, which was posted two weeks ago, and reached 8 million views within just six days.
And the Breakdancing Gorilla, a video featuring Zola, of the Calgary Zoo, who repeatedly spins on one foot while splashing water in the 40-second clip that has been the focus of 132 news articles on Google News today.
Here’s Zola, breakdancing:
What Oprah did in 2007 was open the flood gates for videos that didn’t feature people talking about something and to each other. When Oprah came on YouTube and, in refusing to take comments and response videos and getting front page positioning, effectively pushed aside the YouTube Community.
What followed on the days after Oprah’s YouTube debut was a hue and cry from the video-blogging community. Understand that prior to Oprah’s arrival, videos that featured a conversational thread often got the most views on the video – sharing site. And that dynamic made vloggers like Paul Robinet AKA “Renetto” YouTube’s first home-grown stars.
Oprah was seen as the death of YouTube as vloggers knew it.
A video-blogger by the name of “Paperlillies” said it best in 2007. In fact Paperlillies accurately forecast the evolution of the YouTube site we enjoy today, when she observed that “as a result of corporate identies and corporate entities coming on to YouTube, there’s a completely crazy playing field now.
Whereas it used to be that videos that were really creative and really well made – it was the good videos that got views. Now, it’s the videos that are the most sensationalist. It’s the videos that are the lowest common denominator (that get the most views and attention).
Zola The Breakdancing Gorilla and eHarmony Video Bio are the best examples, but the eHarmony Video Bio is particularly troublesome because it has spawned parody after parody – what seem to be hundreds of them.
Its’ one giant reason vloggers and friends Renetto and Kenrg started Vloggerheads in 2008, to have a place for the conversational vlogger. Now, Vloggerheads has over 20,000 videos and a fiercely loyal base of contributors and viewers.
There’s still a place for the conversational vlogger on the Internet, even as YouTube has been taken over by shows and clips of either violence or silliness. The advertisers can and should weigh in here, as their money can help redirect this playing field toward the kind of simulating content produced by classic vloggers.
Maybe Oprah will contribute a vlog to Vloggerheads? She’s certainly welcome to do so. Oprah? You there?