7 Viral Videos You Didn't Know Were Staged (and How They Did It)

#1. Angry German Kid

A teenager sits down at his computer for a session of Unreal Tournament, but his mind is so ravaged by ADHD and a childhood of violent video games that he has been turned into some kind of snarling, rabid animal:

This is the kind of video that the old media loves to put front and center. TV news segments and commentators the world over have played this thing while rapt, middle-aged audiences watch all of their worst fears about the Grand Theft Auto generation play out in under four minutes.

Their attention made this one of the biggest viral hits of all time. Combine all the various versions, remixes and parodies and Angry German Kid is up in Soulja Boy territory, with views in the tens of millions. There are blockbuster movies that didn't command the audience this kid did with this one, terrifying tantrum.

Sample comments:

"Omg, he need a help!!"

"i hate mother fucking german kids. goddamn it i hope they all die."

"It's real. A German parent set up a hidden camera to show the doctors thier childs violent mood swings as well as explain why the computer keeps getting torn apart. Trying to blame video games I guess."

The Evidence:
The story repeated in that last comment, the one about the father that secretly set up the camera to capture his son's out-of-control behavior, is the one you most often see tacked onto the video (athough another variation is that he himself left it on, which is the one PC World went with in their coverage). Both of these stories appear to have been created purely to make the video scarier.

After all, it would be supremely uninteresting to find out, for instance, that the kid has made many videos, all of which feature him playing some goofy exaggerated character. Well, too bad, because that's the truth.

The kid (often referred to as "Leopold" but his name has generally been kept out of the press since he's a minor) made the video in the wake of Germany's own violent video games controversy, when lawmakers were campaigning to restrict their sale. Leopold did his impression of the politician's worst nightmare, slamming around the keyboard and laughing maniacally as he killed opponents.

Germany's Focus TV saw the clip, and got permission from the kid to use it on the air. Leopold and his father then watched as the TV show manufactured a backstory--the one about the father secretly recording his bloodthirsty, ADHD son--which then followed the clip as it swept across the web. Holy crap, maybe we owe Fox News an apology.

Once the clip reached English-speaking audiences, even more of the context was stripped away since all they got was incoherent, enraged babble. If you get a correctly subtitled version, on the other hand, and watch it all the way through, the joke becomes fairly obvious (See the bit with the lost Escape key and him telling his opponent to eat his "melted shit").

The person who uploaded that video has edited all this backstory into the "About" section, including links to this interview with the kid himself (translated clumsily by Google), telling a depressing tale of just how much abuse he's taken since he became a worldwide symbol for what out-of-control little monsters modern teenagers are.

Ask yourself this: if Leopold hadn't been faking and was, in fact, prone to fits of wild gamer rage, would you feel more comfortable leaving the future to him, or to people like the journalists who exploited him? If given the choice we think we'd have to turn to the journalists, look them in the eye and say, "Eat his shit, journalists. In fact, eat his melted shit."

If you enjoyed that, check out David Wong's look at The 9 Most Badass Bible Verses. Or, turn your crazy photoshop skills into cash by creating an honest banner ad and submitting it to this week's 5000 penny forum photoshop contest.

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