How To Go Viral: The Scarface School Play
By now, unless you’ve been living in a wifi dead spot, you’ve seen this video of the movie Scarface filmed at a school play. The thing’s been up for about a week and (as of this writing) already has well over 2 million hits:
By now we know the above video for what it actually is: An attempt to get something to go viral that worked completely.
Now, usually these attempts to go viral don’t end up working for the obvious reason that Internet users can sense when something is trying a bit too hard. If someone tries to make something extremely wacky and out there for the purpose of simply getting a shitload of hits, people tend to ignore it. But in this case, they disguised their completely out of this world concept (kids performing Scarface) by masking the obvious intent of this video with a few basic elements that made people think (at least for the first few days it went online) that maybe this thing’s for real. Maybe someone actually did stage a Scarface play with kids.
To do this, they used the same conventions that have been all over the place since The Blair Witch Project hit the mainstream: Go lo-fi.
By throwing in hand-held technology, getting a few fake “parents” silhouettes in the audience, and just giving the whole thing an amateur look, they were able to trick people into thinking this sucker was real. Just imagine if someone simply did a shot-for-shot remake of the movie but with kids: That would be fun and all, but wouldn’t be the viral phenomenon that this is.
In the same way, the fact that the clip is only 2 minutes long (perfect Internet video length) and is sold to the viewers as a “portion” of the actual play, that lends an element of mystique to the whole performance. Viewers thinking this is just part of the whole play gives it another “holy shit” moment that it would lose if it was staged like a normal parody video.
The whole point of this, kids, is if you’re going to try to get something to go viral, the same concept applies that has pretty much always applied in the movies, even before Jaws made this idea even more mainstream: More is less.
Class is dismissed.
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About Rick Mosely Rick is the editor for TSB magazine.