Midseason Replacement

Earnest Pettie, comedy writer

Anatomy of a Viral Video: Smoking Baby

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This was a great week for viral videos. There were at least three massive videos, including a coughing, farting cat. But the one video that trumped all others was Two-Year Old Toddler Smokes Cigarettes. It’s done over two million views on Break.com, alone, and it is most likely the the new record holder for Break’s most shared video ever on Facebook. At the time of this posting, the video has been shared 96 Thousand times. That is huge.

So what happens in this video to make it so viral? Well, almost nothing. A rotund Indonesian kid named Ardi Rizal is sitting with his family, the camera trained on him, as he smokes a cigarette.  It is that almost nothing is happening that is part of what is so stunning about this video. If a toddler were smoking cigarettes at a family gathering in America, the Surgeon General would descend on the event from a black helicopter and taze the parents, stickering their foreheads with the Surgeon General’s warning for cigarettes. In this video, it is just another day. That gives the video the awe factor necessary to send it soaring into a viral orbit, but there’s another propellant the video has, and that is the WTF quotient.

The WTF quotient is the part of the viral video that makes your brain tingle. You know that what you’re looking at is strange, and you just can’t seem to wrap your brain around the image and make it make sense. In this video, the baby’s smoking is weird, but it isn’t really WTF. That’s just what we perceive to be bad parenting. No, the WTF part is the gusto with which this kid puffs on his cigarettes. Seriously, it looks like the ghosts of Joan Crawford and Humphrey Bogart must’ve materialized just long enough to teach this kid how to puff on cigarettes with the glamour of a star of the silver screen.  He twirls his cigarette, looks at it, waves it around. He makes smoking look cooler than it has looked in decades! Honestly, this kid could be the new Joe Camel.

It seems this video was born to be viral in much the same way that kid was born to smoke.  People who think the video is funny will pass it around, and so will people who find the video shocking. There really is no emotional response you can have that would keep you from showing it to everyone you know.  Two Year Old Toddler, folks, is an instant classic.

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This entry was posted on May 29, 2010 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , .

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