Last year I watched a presentation by Dr. Michael Wesch, assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology and Digital Ethnography for Kansas State University, about the anthropology of YouTube, and I instantly became fascinated with the anthropology of media as a subject study, specially the internet. It is for such reason that I instantly became intrigued when I found out about the new documentary "Me at the Zoo", which chronicles the online adventures of Chris Crocker from the beginning, to the present.
Chris Who? I must admit that such name does not really ring a bell among a certain group age (30+), and that is because Chris Crocker is (or was?) an online celebrity, hence the name of the documentary; "Me at the zoo" is the name of first video uploaded unto YouTube on 2005. His gender-bending viral videos are well known among internet user throughout the world, and they have become an staple of internet virality, most notably, Leave Britney Alone! which took Crocker from a small audience, to the mainstream. From an anthropological perspective, this documentary is so much more than a "Where are they now?" episode. Chris Crocker is the first internet celebrity who was able to get out of our computer screens, and into the mainstream; he appeared on television, on commercials, radio, gossip blogs, magazines, paparazzi photos, and he was almost even given his own TV show. He inspired such a collected set of emotions among internet users - love, confusion, hatred - that it was one of first instances that the internet was visualized as a mass community. Subsequently, Chris was the fist person to drop from the face of the planet after such fame. Whether people think it or not, Chris Crocker is a revolutionist of the digital era.
"Me at the Zoo is an intimate look at a controversial young video blogger, regarded by millions as the Internet's first rebel folk hero.
"Chris Crocker was bullied out of school in the 8th grade and was, by his account, raised on the Internet. Crocker's online videos have been viewed over 270 million times to date. He is arguably the first internet celebrity to cross over into mainstream media and is part of the first wave of young people coming into adulthood under constant self-surveillance.
In 2007 Crocker made the infamous YouTube video declaration "Leave Britney Alone!".
At that time, all media outlets had photographers glued to Britney Spear's every move. Photos of the young pop star were being sold for upward of a quarter million dollars. Her very public breakdown was the moment when Chris Crocker's fate intersected with his icon; Crocker offered an emotionally raw video defense of his pop idol and became a whipping boy in mainstream media. To this day his name calls to question the authenticity of that video
Chris Crocker is now one of thousands selected into the YouTube partnership program. Youtube Partnership allows individuals to make an income through Adsense and Revenue Sharing programs. Everyday more users are signing on to monetize the content of their digital lives.
Over 48 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Our film takes its title from the first ever Youtube video uploaded by the young founders of the site. Me at the Zoo explores how video sharing and social platforms have shaped the way we tell our stories and mediate our lives. When we "Like" and '"Share" a video we are creating a market for that specific type of content.
This unconventional documentary excavates a personal story that is written on the Internet. It follows a line through Chris Crocker's public videos, response videos and the echo chamber of fans, friends and haters." - MeatheZoo.com