As this oh-so-useful timeline of Internet memes shows, viral videos have long kept cubicle warriors smiling through their TPS reports and teenagers laughing all the way to MySpace. It's not all fun and games though: from Obama Girl to Tea Partay to OK Go, effective viral videos can shape elections, push millions of products and establish artists.
While it can be debatable whether serious "mission" movies like Blood Diamond or thrillerized fare like The Day After Tomorrow really make an impact with viewers, history shows that humor done well can be a powerful force for social change. Think Jonathan Swift, Lenny Bruce and Shakespeare. Or arguably the good folk of JibJab.
So here are the picks for the most viral green videos. Add yours in the comments, and tell us what you think of these selections!
Note: Several of these videos include strong language and adult themes, and are not suitable for children. Also note: the videos get funnier as you go down the list. So let the countdown begin...
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This video has great production values, and executes a smart, amusing concept really well. We didn't find it sidesplittingly hilarious, but it definitely makes an impact. Plus, we like the fact that it was made by college students.
The National Geographic Channel had asked college kids to create something for their Annual Preserve Our Planet Film + PSA Contest, with the theme what you do counts. This finalist is by Genna Duberstein of American University.
Australian-born comedian, actor and musician Tim Minchin is a self-proclaimed "rock 'n roll megastar," and he wants you to pledge to reject plastic bags (in favor of oh-so-cool canvas totes). The London-based, eyeliner-loving performer often closes his live shows with this rousing anthem, whipping the audience into a frenzy of environmental fervor, not dissimilar to America's own Reverend Billy (but again, with more eyeliner, and bare feet).
"Canvas bags" isn't so much funny ha ha as it is oddly fascinating. It's over-the-top satire, catchy and entertaining. Definitely worth checking out.
What does the infamous "office linebacker" have to do with the environment? Watch the clip, if you don't already have it memorized, and check out the middle, in which Terry Tate (Lester Speight) puts the hurt on a suspenders-wearing sucka who be dissn' the planet. The series of clever Reebok ads were created by Rawson Marshall Thurber based on his 2000 short film pilot (thanks, Wikipedia!).
As Tate says, "Don't bring that weak ass stuff up in this humpty-bumpty." Make sure you're doing your part for the environment in your office, and gently remind co-workers that they should be recycling, using recycled products and saving resources. They'll save money, too, so that's no joke.
We've said it before: The street performer and alternative film star Reverend Billy and his Church of Stop Shopping fascinate us, both because the creative clowners kick butt when it comes to exposing problems with corporate consumer culture, and because they really are riotously entertaining. Born Bill Talen, the good Rev. brings his message right to the doorsteps of the biggest companies from Wal-Mart and Disney to Starbucks with half-crazed, costumed street singers in tow. With the spirit of an old-fashioned big-tent revival, Reverend Billy is a unique social commentator.
This video of one of Billy's many public exploits is particularly amusing, as well as provocative. If you haven't seen his feature film, What Would Jesus Buy, then this is a great place to start. He's got chutzpah.
Easy target, funny short, from the folks at Headzup, who have been delivering "catch and release" comedy for cell phones and iPods since 2004. Fans "headzup" each other by sending these little viral goldmines to their friends, typically with a personalized text intro.
Sadly, it often seems that George W. Bush doesn't know what Earth Day is.
As the title indicates, this video ditty has some strong language.
Yes, that's right. Weve got Kevin Nealon. And f-bombs. The Weeds star is always fun to watch, in the way that Snoop Dog is always welcome everywhere, because he seems like such a cool, laid-back guy. This little gem reminds us of that old newspaper comic showing two aging fat cats of industry in their executive suite. The wrinkled Mr. Burns type behind the desk grumbles, "I remember when there was no damn environment!"
This hugely viral video from the recent Internet Past isn't really explicitly environmental although it is awesome. It does poke fun at genuinely green content (the classic shorts of Environment Canada, which did remind Canucks to help preserve wildlife, as well as teaching them a little more about Mother Nature's quirky ways).
Plus, we figure that since our toxins are messing up many animals in unexpected ways, from fish (unwillingly) changing sex to frog deformities as well as high concentrations of prescription drugs in the water supply this little spoof isn't too far from the truth.
As the title indicates, this nature show spoof has lots of adult language.
This absurdist clip had us rolling in the aisles at the office after we rediscovered it the other day. A beautifully timed and executed spoof on nature programs, the video has something for everyone. Everyone who likes anthropomorphized wildlife and low-brow humor. Yes, it is awesome.
Naturally, we hope readers do pick themselves up off the floor and give a little thought to how we human beings really are screwing over almost every other species on this blue globe (except maybe rats, houseflies,
Michael Bolton and Canada geese).
From the comic geniuses of The Onion comes this hilarious parody of TV talking heads, in this case debating greening of the Iraq War. Of course, it is true that the U.S. military is going green in a number of ways, from investing in renewable energy to cutting fuel use and beefing up insulation. However, there's also that little problem of the obvious environmental destruction that results from war.
The Onion, we salute you!
Warning: This video farce contains a scene of violence against women.
When people think "viral videos," many think of Funny or Die, especially the classic "Landlord" sketches with a certain baby. But one of the other gems that helped get the experimental site going is the odd-ball "Green Team," starring Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly and Adam McKay. The do-gooders poke fun at all the green advice out there, with tips that include: "Track coyotes. And when you catch them, always remember they're a great source of meat and protein."
Funny or Die was founded by Ferrell and McKay's production company, Gary Sanchez Productions. Videos are voted on by users; those that are deemed funny stay, but those that are not "die" and head to the site's "crypt." The Green Team has stayed.
Tommi Lewis Tilden provided research for this post. Also check out these great green videos from a friend's site.
This is another post in the new blog URTH Guy, about green Urban Style, Recycling and Reuse, Technology and E-Culture and (hopefully) some Humor. Stay tuned for further posts and design upgrades.
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