A few months ago, I got curious and decided to find out what happened to some of the Internet celebrities who made a huge dent on pop culture before fading away into the ether like they had never existed. It turned out that most of them got themselves into some pretty depressing shit once the initial furor surrounding them died down. Since then, I've been wondering if this was the case for other viral stars. So I took a dive back into the grimy, piss-filled pool of the post-fame lives of people who rocketed to Internet fame, only to vanish from the public eye as quickly as they came.
As expected, some of them are goddamn horror shows. But most of them, to my surprise this time around, ended up quite nicely. So let's find out what happened to such once-prominent Internet mega-stars as ...
4The Techno Viking Sued The Guy Who Made The Video
Over the course of a single wordless 4-minute shot, a massive shirtless Thor-looking man dances down a city street to a pulsing techno beat and makes it look like the most intimidating act of territorial pissing in the entire animal kingdom.
Due to the video's almost toxic levels of incredible, it went viral -- but not immediately. The footage was captured on July 8th, 2000, during the wonderfully-named "Fuck Parade" electronic music festival in Berlin. Artist Matthias Fritsch was the man behind the camera. He kept the video on his website for six years before he put it on YouTube. A year after that, something weird happened: For reasons that are best left unknown, the video found its way onto a Central American porn site. Masturbating Guatemalans made it a viral hit.
Ayd?n Mutlu/iStock/Getty Images
We've isolated the source of the world's weirdness to somewhere here.
Four million views later, YouTube gave Fritsch a cut of the ad revenue. Then the Techno Viking parody videos started rolling in -- the modern-day version of hearing your band's song on the radio. Fritsch seized on the video's success. He gave lectures on the viral nature of the meme and studied the world's reaction to it, and even started a website collecting the various parodies and art works fans created to express their love for the video.
Fritsch turned a video of a guy he didn't even know into a lucrative artistic career. But you probably noticed there's something missing in all this backstory ...
After The Fame
In the story of Techno Viking, there isn't much mention of the actual Techno Viking. No mention of the fame and fortune that fell into the lap of that dancing Norse god after the video blew up. He's an afterthought in the story of his own video. That's because no one knows for sure who the Techno Viking actually is. The only thing anyone knows about him is that he is well aware of the video's popularity -- and that he fucking hates it. Hates it so much that in 2009, Techno Viking (for the lack of his real name) sued for every single bit of cash Fritsch made off his likeness. And he won. He raked in 15,000 euros in damages (around $20,000 US, for comparison), and everything featuring his likeness that Fritsch uploaded needed to be removed from the Internet, including the original video.
Who the fuck wouldn't want more of this?
In 2013, Fritsch took to Indiegogo in an attempt to raise 10,000 euros for a Techno Viking documentary. He only made it to 6,467 euros. He's also broke right now, because instead of having a job, he's spent nearly a decade trying to piss off a man who has probably given the nickname "Mjolinir" to several of his body parts.
3Rebecca Black Was A Laughingstock With "Friday" -- Now She's An Internet Celeb Role Model
Everything about Rebecca Black's music video for "Friday" -- from the extravagantly unimaginative lyrics to the terrible autotuning of her voice to the cheesy, lifeless, painful uncoolness of everyone and everything involved in the entire production -- became a massive joke to everyone everywhere. "Friday" had as big an impact on pop culture as a Star Wars release, but it was more Phantom Menace than A New Hope. And this was all happening when Rebecca Black was only 13.
A classmate introduced Rebecca to Ark Music Factory, a production company in L.A. that, for a fee, will write and produce music for aspiring artists. Think of it like a baseball fantasy camp for musicians: Give them some cash, and you can live your dream of working in a real studio with a real producer, and maybe even get your own music video. The video for her first single, "Friday," hit YouTube on February 10th, 2011 to little fanfare. A month later, it would become the biggest thing in the world.
Monotonous is one of the kinder ways I've heard the song described. For the unkind ways, just go to Urban Dictionary and look for the words that make you gag; those were probably used too. The video hit 10 million views in a week, and the song was soon in the iTunes Top 100. Rebecca Black was on The Tonight Show the month after that. It was number 58 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was the most-viewed video on YouTube in 2011, totaling 167 million views in just four months ... along with 3,190,000 dislikes. It was memed, it was GIFed, it was covered, it was remixed, it was parodied. People hated it, people defended it. But mostly, people hated it.
NOTHING TO HATE HERE MOVE ALONG
So what happens to a person once they go from nothing to having an abundance of a bizarre and not particularly friendly brand of success, and all while still in their early teens?
After The Fame
They get death threats. Apparently the eye-for-an-eye equivalent of a bad teen pop song is making the teen singer fear for their life. Oh, and there was plenty of in-person bullying, too. The harassment from fellow classmates got so bad that Rebecca's parents had to homeschool her.
Rebecca released a series of followup songs and videos after "Friday," none of which reached the same heights of pop culture saturation. Though her sequel song, "Saturday," did rank higher on the Billboard Hot 100 than "Friday," but it only stayed on the chart only one week ("Friday" was on it for six weeks).
Lately, Rebecca can be found on her YouTube channel, where she regularly answers viewer questions and often talks about how to deal being bullied. So if you're being bullied right now, you should probably listen to what she has to say. Who would know more about how to handle the fear and torment of bullying than a female teenager who was hated by the world for a year because of a harmless song? The world pointed at her and laughed when she was only 13 -- the peak of teenage self-consciousness -- and yet she comes off as bulletproof in her video blogs; always happy, always with a huge smile.
And she has a great sense of humor about it all, and is fully aware "Friday" maybe isn't going to be heralding in a musical revolution:
On top of all that, it turns out she has a great voice when it isn't being autotuned to sound like a chipmunk: