‘Numa Numa Dance’ conquers YouTube
“Advances in computer technology and the Internet have changed the way [the world] works, learns, and communicates. The Internet has become an integral part of [everyone’s] life” (Bill Clinton Quotes, 2012).
Social networks and video-sharing websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube get the most visits on a regular basis. With 48 hours of video uploaded every minute, which equals to nearly 8 years of content uploaded every day, YouTube has become the third most visited website of all time (Youtube, 2012a). In addition, almost any kind of content from homemade video, to professional short films, to internationally recognized commercials can be uploaded, shared, and found on Youtube. Although in some countries YouTube is blocked due to the content contrary to their nation’s interest, most people around the world can access this multicultural video-sharing website. Despite its quality and origin, the ‘Numa Numa Dance’ video is best known as one of the first Internet memes on YouTube that brought communities together creating a global connection of cultural hybridization because of pop-cosmopolitanism.
In November of 2004, 19 year-old Gary Brolsma, an amateur videographer from New Jersey (Feuer & George, 2005), decided to make a webcam video of himself lip-syncing and dancing to thesong, ‘Dragostea Din Tei’ by the Moldovan band, O-Zone (Wesch, 2008). It is known that Brolsma decided to make this video in an effort to lift his spirit due to the depression he felt after the death of his father.[DN: PG] Although Gary created this video to share his joy with his friends and make them laugh, the link was forwarded and passed around so tremendously that the video reached the communities of YouTube in 2005 (Wesch, 2008 & Brolsma, 2012). However, the video was first submitted on a website called Newgrounds in 2004since YouTube was not available at that time. After several weeks, not only had the video reached an incredible amount of total ‘shares’—the amount of times users have posted the video to their own individual profiles—but it had also been seen 700 million times on YouTube, including several “copycat” videos (Numa Numa, 2010).
Because of the magnitude of its shares, views, re-makes and imitations over the course of time, the ‘Numa Numa Dance’ video is considered to be one of the first memes on YouTube. The video became well-recognized on YouTube almost immediately after it was uploaded and is considered to be a good and successful meme. By definition, a meme is “a unit of information in a mind whose existence influences events such that more copies of itself get created in other minds” (Filmowicz, 1996/2011).[DN: maybe it is flattery on your part, but I don't believe that Filmowicz was the source of this definition. WC] However, a good and successful meme is not dependent on the quality, or the idea, but rather on its ability to “[spread] easily throughout the population” (Filmowicz, 1996/2011). As a result of becoming a well known video, people around the world started to make imitations, re-makes and even cartoons about Brolsma’s dance video, solidifying its successfulness.[DN: PW, try 'success' instead of 'successfulness,' which I don't believe is a real word.]
The most interesting memes are the ones related to behavior. This type of meme will make people have a good feeling about it during or after watching the video. Equally interesting, are the memes that invoke a familiarity within the audience, making the meme stand apart from the plethora of online content with an established similarity. These memes are unique in that they are apart from the rest of the population, not simply mimicking what other people do. In Brolsma’s case, his video was about himself lip-syncing, throwing his arms around and dancing without leaving his chair. Brolsma lip-syncs ‘Numa Numa’—derived from ‘nu mă, nu mă iei'—which translates to ‘you don’t want, don’t want to take me’, which is a lyric from the song ‘Dragonstea Din Tei’ (Numa Numa, 2010). Brolsma introduces the audience to those unusual words and phrases, and changes them into more familiar-sounding ones, which makes it easier and quicker for people to notice. For instance, transforming the lyrics of the original ‘Dragostea Din Tei’s song ‘Si te rog, iubirea mea primeste fericire’ (Wikia, 2004) [DN: WC] into something more familiar-sounding such as, ‘She tear, oh. You be the man, who smashed the feta cheese’ (Sbrools, 2006) allows an English-speaking audience to better enjoy it. The video was a total success since not only the song was known and brought to America because of Brolsma, but also because he started to do something people would not normally do, which was from somebody to film their self with a webcam while lip-syncing to an international song. So, even though Brolsma was not able to pronounce the correct lyrics to the song, nor did he know the meaning of them, he did not give up and made the currently famous Numa Numa video meme (Know your meme, 2011). With this, Brolsma achieved his original goal of choosing a song and creating a video that he hoped his friends would enjoy in the same manner that he did when he heard the song (Numa Numa, 2010).
By finding interest for international music, art, and dance, specifically for this song, people like Brolsma and his followers are considered pop-cosmopolitans (Filmowicz, 2004/2011).[DN: PG, WC] Although people enjoy other cultures and are called pop-cosmopolitans, it does not necessarily mean that these people will understand those cultures, or that they are willing to learn more about them. A reason for that is because the individuals pick from other cultures only those aspects and pieces that suits them (Filmowicz, 2004/2011).[DN: WC] In this case, millions of people around the world have done imitations, remixes, and cartoons of ‘Numa Numa’ and of Brolsma, but it does not mean that those people want to learn about American culture, or that Brolsma wants to understand the Moldovan culture. Individuals who do YouTube videos based on the ‘Numa Numa’ video are mostly doing it for entertainment purposes, and to follow the trend and the memes. However, these copycats [DN: PW, not an academic term] are most likely not thinking about the cultural aspects behind the original song.
For the majority of the people in the YouTube community, the services for uploading, sharing, and browsing videos are free of charge. This cost-free sharing is beneficial for the substantial worldwide flow of international videos to flow on the Internet, bringing cultures and people around the world together (Filmowicz, 2004/2011).[DN: WC, SC] With his video, Brolsma created new forms of community and global connection among YouTube users. The connection that Brolsma brought to YouTube was a new media phenomenon, since nobody thought about connecting through an online-sharing website until the ‘Numa Numa’ video started to flow on the web (Wesch, 2008). Moreover, the user-generated records take on a new significance because users post their own content and start to connect with others through a system of hyperlinks and keywords, allowing users to search and browse between related content (Gane & Beer. 2008). At this point, people started browsing and searching for ‘Numa Numa’, and Gary Brolsma. The unprecedented popularity of the ‘Numa Numa’ sensation later provoked people to create their own videos of ‘Numa Numa’by imitating Brolsma and the popular ‘Numa Numa’ dance by creating similar or new content related to the popular meme.
Some examples that emerged from the popular ‘Numa Numa’ meme are cartoon animations about cats dancing to the song from Japan,misheard lyric videos from the United States, and people dancing, singing and lip-syncing to the song from around the world (Youtube, 2012b). Moreover, people around the world started to make new videos related to ‘Numa Numa’ as video-responses
The expansion of YouTube is connected to the rise of Internet technologies that not only enable users to have access to public data, but also to archive their own lives almost simultaneously (Gane & Beer. 2008). Although these videos where people either archive their own lives, or make animations about specific topics like ‘Numa Numa’ are private, nonetheless, once they are uploaded to YouTube, they become public and accessible to the rest of the world (Gane & Beer. 2008). Some people make videos with the intention having them as private films but later on, they might decide to submit them on websites like YouTube to make them public for various personal reasons. On the other hand, some people create numerous videos like the ‘Numa Numa’, for the sole purpose of making them public.
According to Andrew Keen (2007), the author of "The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet Is Killing Our Culture and Assaulting Our Economy",[DN: as this is a book, the title should be in italics withoug quotation marks] the user generated world of the Web 2.0 threatens to bring an end to what is known as “informed citizenship” by misleading traditional ways of distinguishing between an expert and a new user.[DN: SC] An expert is considered to be a person who has a significant amount of knowledge on a certain subject and knows the item completely, whereas a new user is considered to be a person who has just started to have contact with a specific subject and barely has sufficient knowledge about it. In addition, Keen comments how most of the YouTube videos are starting to kill our culture with amateur videos/movies showing poor content about people doing everyday activities (Keen, 2007). In addition, the interactive world of Web 2.0 is defined by open and collaborative projects where users become responsible for generating and consuming the content (Beer, 2006). Therefore, it can be said that Brolsma is responsible for the initiation of the creation of user-generated videos on YouTube because of his popular meme.
Subsequent to his rise on the ‘Numa Numa’ video and becoming one of the first internet memes on YouTube, Brolsma created his own website called, the ‘Numa Network’. Not only did he start his own website, but Brolsma also sells merchandise with his meme such as t-shirts, hoodies, mugs, messenger bags, and hats (Brolsma, 2012). Years later, Brolsman would make a new video about his return and post it on his website, but it did not achieve the same level of notoriety because people thought it was not as good as the first ‘Numa’ video, which soon started to fade away (NewNuma, 2006).
In conclusion, Brolsma’s first video will always be considered to be the YouTube meme that built a global relationship between people around the world, sharing Brolsma’s happiness and joy. ‘Numa Numa’ set the trend of bringing people into the YouTube community in order to start filming their own videos related to this popular meme. Besides sharing happiness and a new trend, Brolsma and the rest of the people who commented on his video and made their own video also created new forms of cultural hybridization.[DN: you have introduced a concept as the final words of this essay without exploring it any further or explaining it. Rewrite to incorporate this earlier.]
- Beer, D (2006). ‘The Pop-Pickers Have Picked Decentralized Media: the Fall of Top of the Pops and the Rise of the Second Media Age'. Sociological Research Online 11(3): http://www.socresonline.org.uk/11/3/beer.html
- Bill Clinton Quotes. (n.d.) Retrieved from
http://www.searchquotes.com/quotation/Advances_in_computer_technology_and_the_Internet_have_changed_the_way_America_works,_learns,_and_com/229011/ February 5th, 2012 [DN: How do you know Bill Clinton ever said this? Be very careful about using sites such as this as sources. Not recommended.]
- Brolsman, G. (n.d.) Numa Network: about/faq; http://www.xeornx.com/numanetwork/about.htm. February 3rd, 2012
- Feuer, A & George, J. (2005, February 26). Internet Fame Is Cruel Mistress for a Dancer of the Numa Numa. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com [DN: is there any section or page reference for this?]
- Filmowicz, M. (2011). Media Across Culture (Ed.), Custom course materials IAT 206 (pp. 135-161). Surrey, BC: Simon Fraser University, Bookstore. (Reprinted from Globalization: Culture and
Education in the New Milenium, 37-47, 2004)
- Filmowicz, M. (2011). Media Across Culture (Ed.), Custom course materials IAT 206 (pp. 182-221). Surrey, BC: Simon Fraser University, Bookstore. (Reprinted from Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Meme, 23-37, 81-102, 1996) [DN: Incorrect form of citation]
- Gane, N & Beer, D. (2008) New Media: The Key Concepts. New York, NY: Berg Publishers
- Keen, A. (2007). The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet Is Killing Our Culture and Assaulting Our Economy. Boston and London: Nicholas Brealey.
- Know your meme (Creator). (2011, May 19). Numa Numa [Video]. Retrieved from http://viralvideochart.unrulymedia.com/youtube/Know_Your_Meme%3A_Numa_Numa?id=twXZs_rEznE
- NewNuma. (Creator). (2006, December 11). Numa Numa [Video]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmtzQCSh6xk
- Numa Numa. (2010) Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Numa_Numa
- Sbrools (Creator). (2006, August 01). Misheard Numa Numa Lyrics [Video]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfEE_nYehZ8
- Wesch, M. (Creator). (2008, June 23). An anthropological introduction to YoutTube [Video]. Retrieved from http://www.strutta.com/blog/blog/youtube-cultural-phenomenon
- YouTube, (n.d.a) Press & Blogs: Statistics [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/t/press_statistics February 5th, 2012
- YouTube. (n.d.b) Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com February 5th, 2012
Introduction/thesis statement or topic: Your first sentence after the epigram is weak. There needs to be something strong to begin this in front of what you have written. Although this paragraph gives some background of Numa Numa, I’m not sure what the purpose of the essay is. I note that you do introduce some of the concepts that you refer to later in the essay, however, I think they can be better articulated if you use them in relation to the purpose of the essay. The concepts should become the tools you use to explain the Numa Numa phenomenon.
Body – paragraph structure: There are cases where there are not spaces between words.
The paragraphs are reasonably well formed and there are transitions to the next paragraph for many of them. Good.
Conclusion: A reasonable conclusion that could be tightened up once you have clarified your purpose. You could incorporate more of the key points that result from your application of the concepts. And move the reference to cultural hybridization. Although relevant, it needs further exploration and shouldn’t be introduced as the very last words of the essay. CWH.
Unity, coherence & flow of writing: Flows reasonably well. Coherent and reasonably unified.
Application of concepts: You have made a reasonable attempt at integrating a number of concepts into your essay. However, you could develop them further so they provide the backbone or the structure of the essay.
Appropriate style (voice and diction): Too informal for an academic essay.
Sources/citations: Your attempts at citing and referencing materials included in the Custom Courseware for the course were not correct. I suggest you reference the original source rather than the reprint. You have a good range of sources, though could add to them to strengthen your conceptual framework.
Spelling/grammar: Okay, though some minor problems that need to be corrected. Careful proofreading is important.
Overall, good for an initial submission, but somewhat rough around the edges. This is the point you go back in to revise, rewrite and tighten up your paragraphs, sentences and choice of words. I would like to see a shift in your use of concepts as well, to make them more central to the framework of your essay.
MF: I don’t understand the point of the video at all – it is impossible to read, why make a powerpoint-type presentation in video format on youtube? Is it just the song? Confusing. Your opening quote is not profound, yes it was uttered by a president but he is just stating a very commonplace notion in plane language, nothing illuminating in your opening citation, an opening quote should be profound or funny or illuminating or put one in a certain frame of mind, not expressive of obvious generalities. Your opening paragraph is very awkward—do not use course concepts as regular nouns in sentences, use them as ideas to structure your writing. First, you merely state that these sits are popular and get a lot of visits, which we all know already. Then, you suddenly choose Numa Numa out of the millions of videos but you DON’T STATE WHY you are choosing this clip, then a bunch of ideas from the course show up in one sentence. You need instead to establish a REASON you are focusing on Numa and then use the concepts to bring analytical depth to your overall purpose. What qualifies as a “good and successful” meme? Why are these words important? Are you suggesting that only good and successful media are clips that have 700 million views? What’s your framework or criterion for establishing the meaning of these words? I would suggest that “good and successful” are vague and arbitrary notions and actually doesn’t say much about your case, just stating the number of hits is sufficient, your reader can decide what the Good and Successful are. BTW I’ve never published anything on memes, I just put together the courseware a couple years ago, someone else wrote that! In 1996 I was in art school. Even in relation to memes, I could see “successful” being perhaps appropriate but Good? Genes/Memes just replicate. You write: “The most interesting memes are the ones related to behavior.” Major problems here: WHY is it the most interesting, and even if so, you’ve not established an overall scheme by which you would judge the interesting vs. the not-interesting. In short, it seems INTERESTING merely because it is the subject of your paper and for no other reason. WHY are behavior-related memes the most interesting? Only if you are a behavioral psychologist perhaps, or a human resources manager. But none of this is elaborated. Similarly, “This type of meme will make people have a good feeling about it during or after watching the video.” How do you know? What about the millions who’ve seen it and think it’s stupid? You are merely asserting something here in a casual and personal way without proving or demonstrating it. I have no idea how to read your graph, “Know Your Meme” what is this saying? What is its relevance? It feels just plopped down here in the writing. In short, you really need to tighten up your overall reasoning skills, you do a good job of tracing this meme and showing how it re-manifests itself, but I’d like to see something that is more than just descriptive (e.g. “this happened, then this happened, next that happened”) and have an overall point or argument to make, use the concepts make me think more in depth about the subject. For example, I can see the stuff about hybridization and Andrew Keen coming at the BEGINNING of this, not at the end—I think actually what may have occurred in writing this is you discovered the basis of your argument at the very end of the writing! Which can happen—so now you need to restructure this so your argument and thesis happens at the beginning (just a thought to consider).