A few weeks back, someone sent me a link to the Mini Mall Rap. I sat on it for a few days, and after I realized I couldn’t get it out of my head, and it was permeating even the most intimate moments of my life, I posted it to this here blog. Living rooms. Bedrooms. Dinettes. Oh yeah! The video reached a wide audience, and Sammy Stephens had his 10 seconds of internet fame. What a lovely story.
Or so I thought! A recent post on BoingBoing revitalizes Sammy, linking to a different version of the same video. Today’s widely-read b3ta newsletter, as well as numerous other sources reference the very same copy. This isn’t surprising, as many videos find multiple homes on the web, each attracting a different audience. What is surprising is the way that the video is being framed.
In my post, as well as the others around the same time, we referred to the video as “AWESOMEST COMMERCIAL EVER,” or “SAMMY STEPHENS RULES MY LIFE.” Mostly positive things because, well, the commercial made us happy, even though it was obviously horrible. The second time around the video has taken a surprisingly negative tone. The video itself is called “Worst commercial ever,” with Xeni describing it as “Supremely bad TV ad.” And in its first day of running, more people have identified with the negative version than the positive/neutral one. All things being equal1, Sammy haters have gotten more attention than Sammy lovers. Why? I think this question is based on the audience that has come to rule web attention (bloggers). Here are two hypotheses2:
- Bloggers are haters. They love to criticize, point fingers and look down their noses at real internet celebrities who work for a living. Any joke that does not reference the misfortune of another person is, well, not funny.
- Bloggers have no sense of irony. Their myopic attention span only allows for limited levels of sarcasm, irony, satire, hyperbole, parody, or otherwise sophisticated humor.
Of course it’s bad. Of course Sammy Stephens is ridiculous. Even Ellen understood that. So why all the hating? Can’t we love Sammy, laugh with irony about the “goodness” of his commercial? This way, we all get along, and no one’s feelings get hurt. And you look more sophisticated. QED.
But seriously folks, I find it fascinating that the same commercial has reached two entirely different audiences simply because of the way it was framed.
1. There’s no way to know exactly how these two videos came to reach their audiences, etc., etc., but I have a blog and that gives me the right to speculate and make wildly unprovable claims that I will defend in the comments where few people will dare to go. ↩
2. I recognize the reflexive contradiction inherent in my being a blogger and also an ironic non-hater. This is just a case of mistaken identity; what you’re reading is actually a “personal journal.”↩