February 26, 2005

· Internet

The NYT has an article about Gary Brolsma, the Numa Numa guy. If you haven’t seen the video, go watch it and come back in a minute.

Now tell me what you think of the article’s summary of the story:

There was a time when embarrassing talents were a purely private matter … But with the Internet, humiliation – like everything else – has now gone public. … Here, then, is the cautionary tale of Gary Brolsma, 19, amateur videographer and guy from New Jersey, who made the grave mistake of placing on the Internet a brief clip of himself dancing along to a Romanian pop song. Even in the bathroom mirror, Mr. Brolsma’s performance could only be described as earnest but painful.

Utter bollocks. Mr Brolsma’s performance could only be described that way by someone with no capacity at all to recognize good comedy. The video is hilarious and, to anyone with eyes in their head, was supposed to be. It’s not earnest, it’s deadpan. I am sorry to say that Americans are renowned for their inability to grasp this distinction. Despite the article’s efforts to draw a parallel, it’s obviously a real performance, not a private bit of wish-fulfillment maliciously released into the wild like the Star Wars Kid video. The guy’s friends agree:

His friends say Mr. Brolsma has always had a creative side. He used to make satirical Prozac commercials on cassette tapes, for instance. He used to publish a newspaper with print so small you couldn’t read it with the naked eye. “He was always very out there – he’s always been ambitious,” said Frank Gallo, a former classmate. “And he’s a big guy, but he’s never been ashamed.” … “He’s been entertaining us for years.”

Sadly, the Times will not be diverted from its dumbass interpretation. It should come as no surprise that Brolsma “is distraught, embarrassed. His grandmother, Margaret Telkes, quoted him as saying, just the other day, ‘I want this to end.’” You would too, if you were getting shoehorned by the NYT into a “fat kid makes ass of self on internet” story:

The question remains why two million people would want to watch a doughy guy in glasses wave his arms around online to a Romanian pop song.

Because it’s funny, you gobshites! And it’s meant to be! I’d bet that if Brolsma weren’t overweight, the Times wouldn’t have had as hard a time seeing this.

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I am Professor of Sociology at Duke University. I’m affiliated with the Kenan Institute for Ethics, the Markets and Management Studies program, and the Duke Network Analysis Center. Learn more.

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