Intertextuality: Funny or Failure?

 Are Viral Videos that Utilize Intertextuality a Good Idea or a Cheap Cop-out?

The greatest hope that any video producer can have is for their video to go viral. That magical word which suddenly makes it seem like your work has paid off and your content is special in some way. It must have been funny or heartwarming, or something that no one has ever seen done before.

With such buzz around this word, this type of video content finds a way to attract the masses and spread like a disease, and everyone is trying to figure out the recipe. What is it that allows one dancing cat video to garner the attention of millions and another to go to the grave with only a few views from friends and family? That is the questions that media specialists have been trying to pinpoint for years, with some guidelines being helpful and others failures.

The concept of intertextuality (shaping the meaning of something through another text) has been popular for several decades now. Shows like the Simpsons and Family Guy commonly reference items of pop culture, and often look inwards openly mocking their own genre or plot lines.

Over the past few years video producers have started using preexisting viral videos and re-working the content, parodying, or utilizing the video’s star, in hopes of making their own videos go viral. But is this method a legitimate style or a cheap gimmick with no real substance or creativity? Check out this video for Smart Water starring Jennifer Aniston below.

The video employs all the common tricks and tips in order to make a video go viral. Clearly a parody of the ways videos do become popular, it in of itself was a cheap way to garner attention. Unfortunately for Smart Water the video, now three years after it’s debut, has still only attracted 70,000 views on YouTube.

Other videos that parody or mimic preexisting viral videos do become hugely popular all on their own. Take for example the news clip of Antoine Dodson which hit the internet by storm in the summer of 2012. Once it was re-mixed and auto-tuned shortly thereafter, that video received double the amount of views than the original.

Therefore, while intertextuality can be successful, the use of elements from one video to make another go viral doesn’t necessarily mean it will.

What are some of your favorite viral videos that utilize intertextuality?

Intertextuality: Funny or Failure?

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