BitDepth 702 - October 20

Web memes sound terribly scientific, but they are almost always lots of fun.
March of the memes

Best of the Literal Videos

What's a web meme you might be asking? It's user generated content that's gone viral, clever moments of no-budget creation that suddenly ride a wave of popularity that carries them around the world.
In the past, such victories of media penetration have been, at best, a kind of wildly inspired kind of silly, not to mention personally humiliating for the people featured in them. If the words "Numa Numa" mean anything to you, then you know exactly what I'm talking about.
In recent years, the kind of content that's become popular has been growing visibly more involved and cleverly executed, moving away from pratfalls to works of wit that on the surface seem casually stupid but behind the scenes, demand hours of work and thought, in short, the kind of effort that tends to go into commercial projects.

FailBlog is an aggregator of errors that relies entirely on its users to spot, photograph and upload particularly amusing, or embarrassing, depending on which side of the photo you happen to be on, examples of blindingly obvious, large scale errors. This collection of "errors in communication," as its creators describe it, are unfortunate juxtapositions of words and reality, hilarious spelling errors or obvious errors in judgement in public spaces.

ICanHasCheezburger, the same company that offers FailBlog, is also one of the primary delivery mechanisms for the phenomenon known as LolCats. Believed to have begun with an image now known as "Caturday" in 2005, the projects build on the century-old affection for photographing cats dressed up in clothes or capturing expressions that seem to reflect human traits. The modern incarnation adds captions written in an übergeeky syntax that's now known as lolspeak.
The images are mildly amusing but quickly grow tiresome unless you happen to be a fan of cats or cats made to look conspiratorially clever, but I unreservedly recommend the LolCat Bible Translation Project, an insanely detailed effort at rewriting the entire bible in the "language".

Viral video
Most of the hot action in web memes these days is taking place in web video. With sophisticated software for video editing available for free to anyone who buys a modern computer and ready, free access to global distribution offered by YouTube, it was only a matter of time before entire programming channels of user generated silliness began to draw huge audiences.
One of the funniest of these series draws on an unlikely source and an even unlikelier subject. The "Hitler discovers" series uses a clip from Der Untergang (2004), a grim foreign language German-Austrian film about the fall of the Third Reich.

In a pivotal scene from the film, Hitler (Bruno Ganz) asks about the possibility of troops reinforcing their position. When the Generals inform Hitler that it will not be possible, he dismisses everyone but his top military men and rants loudly about betrayals, finally resigning himself to defeat.
The emotional arc captured in this clip has been repurposed repeatedly on YouTube, with the aid of new and often inspired subtitles, to tell wildly anachronistic stories about Hitler's new Mac failing, finding out Michael Jackson is dead and even the difficulty of finding a good place to eat out in Grenada late at night.
But this isn't the funniest web meme you'll find on web video sites. That honour goes to the Literal Video series first posted by Duncan McClean (DustoMcNeato on YouTube), who must have asked himself: "what if the lyrics in the music video matched the visuals on the screen?"

On its own, this is a bizarre question to put to oneself, but the results are undeniably hilarious. His videos have been replicated widely and often with diminishing returns, but McClean's Literal Video version of Ah Ha's Take on me remains a classic of the form, with new vocals and subtitles that follow the action on screen faithfully.
For laugh-out-loud, tears-in-your-eyes, stream-of-drool-trickling-down-the-side-of-your-lips funny though, you must see DascottJr's version of Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart, where the mix of bombastic music and super-pretentious 80's visuals offer heady turf for the Literal Video concept to play itself out.

The LolCat Bible
Fail Blog
Hitler discovers
Literal Video
blog comments powered by Disqus