The Internet is full of nasty people shouting about which overpriced console is better and advertisers trying to sell you shit, but every once in a while, something amazing happens: out of nowhere comes an image, a video, or a song so genuine and interesting that we all stop the mindless screaming for a second to share this wonderful creation with one another. You just can't buy that type of magic.
Wait, yes, you totally can -- and in fact, all of the following viral sensations were just paid ads, trying to sell you shit.
#4. Ellen's Oscar Selfie Was Samsung Product Placement
Ellen DeGeneres' famous Oscar selfie is the reason why you'll always be able to say "Ah, yes, this was taken in 2014" while browsing family photos -- it was the moment that introduced your older relatives to the concept of taking a dumb picture of yourself with a phone. The photo, depicting a dozen or so famous people spontaneously pressed together and smiling like teenagers at the mall, was taken during the Academy Awards broadcast and shared by over 3 million people, breaking all of Twitter's records (and also their servers).
"Wow, they're just like normal people! Self-centered and wrinkly up close!"
However, check out the picture of the picture being taken:
Sadly, Jared Leto wasn't cropped out of this one.
Notice the Samsung phone in front of the celebrities? That's the only reason this happened. Samsung spent nearly $20 million on Oscar promotion, and part of the deal was flashing a Galaxy phone as often as possible, so the producers came up with the selfie idea. And the best part? They took the photo with a Samsung, but Ellen spent Oscar night also tweeting from an iPhone. $20 million at work!
#3. That "Man vs. Machine" Ping Pong Match Was Staged
Last February, a short video was posted on YouTube promising the biggest sporting event since Looney Tunes vs. the Monstars: a ping pong match between table tennis champion Timo Boll and a big robot arm holding a paddle. The teaser quickly gathered over a million and a half views, as the Internet wondered if this would be the new Kasparov vs. Deep Blue, or simply the beginning of the robot uprising.
"He can do like 800 points at table tennis, so we named him T-800."
Of course, the date of the match came and went and we're still here, so you've probably guessed that Timo "beat" the machine ... and we say "beat" because there was no match, just an overproduced three-minute ad for KUKA Robotics. It was all carefully choreographed and shot in multiple takes, as seen in this making-of video. In reality, the machine wouldn't last 10 seconds against a human who was actually trying.
"Our hand job robot had the same problems when it went up against your mom."
Hang in there, Terminator fans. We're not quite there yet, but it's coming.
#2. Glowing Squid Alien in Lake Was Just a Show Promotion
So, it turns out that we've been looking in the wrong direction for aliens all this time: As seen in this viral video posted last December, stunned witnesses recorded a mysterious glowing creature that could be seen swimming in the Bristol harbor at night, presumably in the nude. The video baffled marine biologists like Dr. Steve Simpson from Bristol University, while the Telegraph listed "an alien" and "a Banksy work" as possible explanations.
Our money was on "Cthulhu jizz."
Unfortunately, the truth wasn't nearly as satisfying: The next day, it was revealed that the "creature" was just a stunt by a certain British TV channel to help promote the upcoming show The Happenings, which -- judging by the "ad" -- is either a glowing sushi cooking show or a really low-budget Godzilla reboot.
#1. The "Strangers Making Out" Video Was a Clothing Commercial
If you'd told us a month ago that a video of 20 strangers making out on camera would become a viral phenomenon, we'd assume it was a porno orgy that spawned some sort of new super-AIDS. It just doesn't seem like a very heartwarming premise -- and yet, 54 million views later, even the most unfeeling or weed-addled among us had to admit to being moved by the slow and natural progression from awkwardness to intimacy seen here:
And by "natural" we mean "acted," because these were all hired actors, models, and musicians -- you know, people whose job it is to make shit up and pretend. What's more, the video was done by WREN, an LA clothing brand. So no, this wasn't a genuine experiment on the human condition; it was a stunt to make you spend money. You have officially turned into your old aunt who gets teary-eyed during sappy Coca-Cola ads.
Which is better than what your uncle did when he watched this.
The third part of XJ's epic science-fiction novel is out now on Amazon. The first $0.99 novella can be found here, with Part 2 out here. Or leave a review and get a free copy! Poke him on Twitter and follow him on Facebook.