The latest phenomenon in the 5-minutes-of-fame department…

…are viral YouTube videos.

Frankly, I believe the viral video of three years ago is no longer the viral video of today. There was a time when a YouTube video’s success was based entirely on YouTube’s user base cross-promoting the video via digital word-of-mouth – often so due to impressive content, such as Leokimvideo’s macabre parody of Thomas & Friends: “Mad Bomber” – currently at 3 million views (not including an older upload, since deleted).

That is not to say community-discovered videos no longer go viral, but there has been a trend wherein viral video discovery has become far less a product of community involvement, and more so a phenomenon created through traditional media outlets. Giant Double Rainbow would never have hit 36 million views had Jimmy Kimmel not plugged it on July 3rd (the video’s viewership nearly flatlined for two years prior), and – if one thinks about it – a few searches on YouTube should net any number of home-made videos that are similarly amusing just by virtue of being humorously bizarre – and about as lousy.

Yet, Giant Double Rainbow is the video with 36 million views, not the others. Those others are not likely to be as lucky.

But is that what viral videos stand for? I prescribe to the belief that real viral videos – the ones with true viewership longevity, even at the expense of an extreme, short-term viewership spike – have to have a certain craftsmanship appeal to break out in any other fashion other than being plugged by a glorified comedian-turned hip television host. No better example exists than FreddieW, a.k.a. Freddie Wong, who – through his superb videography and wild special effects – has amassed a phenomenal 5 million subscribers (and has gone on to become an indie filmmaker).

That’s right, 5 million subscribers. Total video views? 818,922,628 as of the writing of this post – and that’s just on his main channel.

I won’t explain any further – except to say that if you’re big on visual eye-candy, watch his content (preferably not if you’re short on time though). You’ll probably wind up being one of the 5 million, or join the 1,121,665 subscribers on his behind-the-scenes channel.

That’s what I call true YouTube viral video content – unbelievably good, independently-produced videos spread via word-of-mouth through the community. FreddieW went viral because he gives us lasting entertainment – the kind Hollywood spends far too much to make, and succeeds in far too little.

These are the real viral videos.

If you haven’t taken the hint yet, I want you to watch something by FreddieW:

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David Dahlin
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Freddie Wong certainly has talent I remember the first video of his I actually took notice of was a “Battlefield 3” real life remake. Viral Videos today really don’t have the same appeal as viral videos of the past. Current viral videos are almost like a fad.. they are popular for a few weeks then easily forgotten and replaced.