tagged w/ ROFLCon
Antoine Dodson & Rick Roll Guy performing at ROFLcon
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKNCZaambpQAntoine Dodson & Rick Roll Guy performing at ROFLcon... more
July 12, 2010
When Funny Goes Viral
By ROB WALKER
One weekend this spring, close to 1,000 people gathered on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to attend a sold-out conference devoted to the question “What is awesome on the Internet?” While the event included presenters and moderators with respectable research credentials from the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard and the like, what they had gathered to examine, more or less seriously, is what might be called the ROFL universe. ROFL, which became familiar in the age of texting, stands for “rolling on the floor, laughing” and can serve as a shorthand response to the most ephemeral, silly and frankly unimportant-seeming manifestations of pop entertainment in the early 21st century: absurdly captioned pictures of cats, goof-off remixes of YouTube videos, unlikely Web celebrities, quick-hit visual jokes with unprintable punch lines and sporadic references to Rick Astley.
Tim Hwang, a clean-cut, 23-year-old go-getter from New Jersey, was an organizer of this event, called ROFLCon II, as well as its predecessor two years ago. Back then he was finishing up degrees in economics and political science at Harvard, and he, Christina Xu, who was a fellow student, and other friends began hashing out their definition of “Internet awesome.” They were partly inspired by Randall Munroe, creator of the online comic XKCD, who used a coded message to invite fans to gather in a certain park at a certain time. Hundreds of people showed up. To Hwang, who later became a Berkman Center researcher, there was something curiously powerful about hundreds of strangers gathering in physical space to bond over a shared Internet obsession that most people had never heard of. “Wow, this is a culture in a real sense,” he recalls thinking. “It’s not just people fooling around online.”
That said, much of what is discussed at ROFLCon events are in fact the artifacts of people fooling around. What the ROFLCon organizers meant by “awesome” was, for instance, Tron Guy, a man who is famous online because he posted pictures of himself dressed in an elaborate custom-made costume inspired by a 1980s sci-fi movie. Tron Guy received the first invitation to the first ROFLCon. He accepted. So did a variety of people who attracted cultish online audiences via YouTube or off-kilter sites like Chuck Norris Facts. A young man then known only as “moot,” founder of the notoriously profane Web site 4chan, agreed to appear, as did a clutch of academics and researchers to present papers that dealt with cultural co-optation and online status hierarchies — viewed through the lens of ROFL.
Hwang concedes the metajoke aspect of that first conference in 2008: wouldn’t it be funny and weird to create an event about things on the Internet that are funny and weird? The punch line is that their idea was prescient. Moot, the 4Chan.org founder, who has since revealed his name as Christopher Poole, recently gave a talk at a TED Conference, a gathering of tech and business insiders. There, he explained the origins of Internet foolishness like Lolcats and Rickrolling to its well-heeled, big-thinking audience. Hwang spoke at this year’s South by Southwest Music and Media Conference on the subject of “homemade-flamethrower videos” on YouTube. The department of media, culture and communication at New York University brought in a trio of performers for the main event at its undergraduate conference this winter to give a presentation called MemeFactory, a fast-paced talk with three slide projectors running simultaneously, addressing practically every stupid joke — or Internet meme, to use the common catch-all term — that’s ricocheted across the Web in the past 10 years.
Like practically everything else, people fooling around is transformed by the online context. Consider Rickrolling. As many (but probably not all) of you know, this involves suggesting that a point being made online will be backed up, or refuted, if you click on what appears to be a relevant link; instead, the link takes you to a video for Rick Astley’s 1987 hit, “Never Gonna Give You Up.” This prank became such a fad that it was referenced in the 2008 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, with Astley himself on hand to live-Rickroll the audience. Or consider Lolcats (LOL meaning “laugh out loud”), which even the most casual Internet user has probably come across: funny pictures of cats, made funnier by a pidgin-English phrase in big block letters, joined in what’s referred to as “image macro.” The Mona Lisa (or maybe the Duchamp “Fountain”) of Lolcats shows a chubby feline with a plaintive expression, asking, “I can has cheezburger?” A Seattle entrepreneur named Ben Huh, who now owns icanhascheezburger.com, has made Lolcats the cornerstone of a multimillion-dollar business, producing several books and a slew of similar sites. Not coincidentally, mainstream publishers have paid six-figure advances to total unknowns in hopes of converting ROFL to revenue; CBS is turning some guy’s crude-humor Twitter feed into a sitcom.
So, yes, young people have been messing around forever. But the results have seldom ended up attracting deals with major media companies, sparking discussions at confabs like TED or been included alongside Kermit and Santa Claus in a literal parade of broadly recognizable iconography.
Footage from ROFLCon which is a place where internet memes can be poked for real and you can wear the three wolves howling at the moon shirt without explanation or beatings. The video shows some of the attendees who've become viral hits and interviews them to find out their thoughts into why the virals are hits.Footage from ROFLCon which is a place where internet memes can be poked for real and... more
If newspapers were still hiring, my beat would be Internet Memes. We've previously discussed Kanye West not letting you finish, Balloon Boy, Pickleback and Snooki in places she shouldnt be.
At SXSW, I've been able to connect with colleagues in the same field.
This afternoon I had lunch with Tim Hwang. He founded ROFLCon, a convention that celebrates the weird world of the internet celebrity.
I asked him if the event should be monthly instead of an annual convention, considering the speed at which memes occur. He agreed and said "in Japan everyday is ROFLCon."
Cataloging strangely hilarious internet history might sound like a joke. And it is, but it's also critical in the understanding of this subculture, which is increasingly becoming mainstream.
In 2008, Current traveled to ROFLCon to cover the internet famous TRON GUY.
This year's ROFLCon takes place from April 30th to May 1st in Boston.If newspapers were still hiring, my beat would be Internet Memes. We've... more
Reality TV Stars! Where are they now? Good question. Here is AOL's list of some popular reality tv stars. Although most of them had temporary success, and have "ruined the image of reality tv, in the end WE CAN'T STOP WATCHING THEM!Reality TV Stars! Where are they now? Good question. Here is AOL's list of some... more
Denny Blaze became a Top Google search
and literally became an internet phenom
through his music videos which were produced
nearly 2 decades ago. After 17 years of his demo
tape sitting in a box at MTV, someone anonymously
posted "Average Homeboy," on YouTube.com.
Vh1 named Denny Blaze as the Top #3
GREATEST INTERNET SUPERSTAR.
The excitement grew worldwide, and now...
YOU just got Blazed!http://www.dennyblaze.com/ Denny Blaze became a Top Google search and literally... more
this is soo freakn' random. A man dressed in bikni was...
Jay Maynard shot to internet fame by dressing like a character from the movie Tron. In this pod vc2 producer, Jean Nagy, joins Jay as he dons his Tron outfit and heads to the inaugural ROFLCon for internet memes on the MIT Campus.Jay Maynard shot to internet fame by dressing like a character from the movie Tron.... more
The Rolling On the Floor Laughing Convention is happening in April in Cambridge, Mass.
Scheduled to attend:
1) Tron Guy
2) Paperclip to House Guy
3) LOLCat Bible
4) Dinosaur Comics
5) Homestar Runner
8 ) Leslie Hall (Gem Sweater)
9) Bert Is Evil Guys (Dino Ignacio/Dennis Pozniak)
10) OCRemix David Lloyd
11) Alexis Ohanian (LOLDeconstructed/Reddit)
13) Group X
16) Martin Leung, Video Game Pianist
17) Drew Curtis (Fark.com)
18) Cyanide and Happiness/Explosm.net guys
19) Rooster Teeth (Red versus Blue)
20) Matt Harding (Where the Hell is Matt?)
21) moot (4chan)
22) Ian Spector, Chuck Norris Facts
(via Wired)The Rolling On the Floor Laughing Convention is happening in April in Cambridge, Mass.... more