Monday, October 11, 2010; 12:04 PM
"I haven't met him. I don't even know what he looks like, except what the Internet suggests." -- Simpsons producer Al Jean on Banksy
In case you haven't been reading Twitterat all in the past day or so, last night "Banksy" was both the sixth search term on Google Trends and the number six trending topic on Twitter (where it remains to this morning), all because of the elusive street artist's unbelievably dark and meta storyboarding of the animated series' infamous intro, which Fox just removed from YouTube for copyright violations.
Before Fox pulled it down, the YouTube video had amassed 42,305 views, and it'd be safe to say that almost none of us actually watched it on TV, to the point that there was even quickly dispelled speculation as to whether or not the segment had actually aired.
While tech leaning blogs Gizmodo, Mashable and even Daring Fireball had no qualms about blogging this immediately despite it not having any direct relationship to the verticals they usually cover (Oh Business Insider!), Forbes Tech tried a bit harder and came up with the pretty impressive "Pop Artist Banksy?s Intro on The Simpsons Makes Cultural Commentary on Outsourcing" this morning.
My point is that without the Internet and Youtube, many people would not be aware Banksy did the Simpsons intro -- it wasn't mainstream news worthy until we said it was. In fact, Banksy himself wouldn't have gained notoriety without the Internet and cyberculture as his [IRL] identity still remains a secret. In short, in today's pop culture there's always a constantly evolving tech angle.
Update: Rupert Murdoch underling Peter Kafka points out in the comments that the clip is now available on Hulu and its viral effect would have been the same if people had waited to see it there 12 hours after the show aired. "Nah. If this thing didn't get onto YouTube last night, then the entire scenario still would have played out the same way. It just would have been 12 hours or so later, when the clip showed up -- legally -- on Hulu. That's kind of the point of Hulu, really: That Fox, NBC, etc can get the viral benefits of a Banksy clip, or Lazy Sunday, without having to cede distribution (and possible monetization) to Google or somebody else. And it sort of works."
I disagree for three reasons: a) A 12 hour lag time between buzz and actual viewing of content doesn't bode well for our short millennial attention spans. b) Currently all I can find on Hulu is the 21:31 minute long clip with ads intact, not exactly the most "share friendly" format. c) Hulu isn't international leaving a good percentage of the online viewing population out, including the South Koreans who animated the piece. It's as if Fox let YouTube do all its word of mouth dirty work and then reaped the spoils once the video had become popular. Foreign readers who missed the video can still view it here. If you live in the United States you can watch the whole episode on Hulu, below: Photo via JBOY via Laughing Squid, where many of us actually saw the video for the first time.CrunchBase InformationYouTubeInformation provided by CrunchBase