W Is for Weird and Wonderful: #10YearsofYouTube

May 24, 2015

YouTube is where weird goes worldwide. Whether it was the mystery of Lonelygirl15 in 2006, the emergence of the Harlem Shake in 2012 or last year's Too Many Cooks, YouTube is the place where one person's idiosyncratic take on the world can be discovered, shared, and celebrated, turning a once-weird happening into something the world embraces.

Case in point: in 2006, videos of a weird phenomenon called “cartridge tilting” began circulating on YouTube. Cartridge tilting causes bugs and glitches in cartridge-based videos games, and Goldeneye was of particular interest. That’s because the glitch in that particular game sometimes caused characters to jerk and convulse in mid-air. At this point, there are about 500 videos on YouTube showcasing the cartridge tilt, totaling just under 5 million views. That’s weird, and we love it.

In 2007, as cartridge tilting was becoming a (niche) “thing,” it also began taking on a new form, as videos of people jumping and shimmying, recreating the glitch, began appearing on YouTube as a meme called “Geddan” or “Get Down.”

From 2008 through 2013, about 3000 videos using the word “geddan” or “ゲッダン” were uploaded to YouTube. Those videos have yielded about 27 million views. Thus, a weird glitch in a video game enjoyed by just a few gave birth to a meme enjoyed by millions.

But that’s not all. Now let’s consider the Super Selfie - Geddan’s stylistic cousin.

In late 2013, Gabriel Valenciano began creating Super Selfie videos, which had a lot in common with Geddan videos -- both sharing the technique of constructing dances from captured frames of video. To date, Gabriel Valenciano has uploaded 35 Super Selfies, which have garnered 11 million views. While Geddan videos averaged 9,000 views per video, Gabriel’s Super Selfies have upped the ante to 300,000 views per video, becoming just big enough for a very important person to take notice.
-- Earnest Pettie

In 2014, for her 7-11 video, Beyonce called upon Super Selfies for inspiration. In fact, she didn’t just call upon Super Selfies, she called upon the man behind them. She invited Gabriel Valenciano to consult on her video, which was essentially a three-and-a-half minute Super Selfie.

Since its release, 7-11 has been viewed over 213 million times. Just like that, the Super Selfie went from being something enjoyed by millions to something embraced by hundreds of millions.

Sometimes it might seem like YouTube is made up of a billion people who are just waiting for that next little bit of weird to come along. But it’s also made up of a billion people who all have a little bit of weirdness just waiting to be shared.

Below, enjoy a few of the most wonderfully weird videos from the first 10 years of YouTube:

-- Earnest Pettie