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February 03, 2011 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2011-02-03

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

4B - Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.corr

From Page 3B
the same occurrences are a sta-
ple of events among the "Pot-
ter" fandom. But what struck me
was that for the first time, I was
removed from the fan interac-
tion, watching the events from
an outsider's perspective. And
from that perspective, it was
some pretty weird shit.
Tom and I were nonplussed
by the attention we got. Though
unrecognizable to the hundreds
of people packed into the pub,
we were presumably famous
enough to be selling CDs and
chatting with John. We were
treated differently by virtue of
this implied eminence.
One fan mistook me for a
famous YouTuber; another took

a picture of me, Tom and Lex
selling merch. Some talked to
us, about everything from the
University's StarKid to John's
books to puppy-sized elephants.
I was mistaken for someone
who was someone, a celebrity in
my own right just for knowing
the event's hosts. In the days
that followed, I'd find pictures
of John tagged in my Facebook
feed with my face in the back-
What sets Nerdfighters apart
from other fan groups is this:
Only in the age of YouTube
could people like John, Hank,
Charlie, Alex, Tom, Ed, Rosi and
Lex become celebrities. They're
not athletes, actors or models ...
they're just a bunch of nerds who
make videos for us. The purpose
of vlogging is to help users talk
about their interests. Making

them "Internet-famous" was
just a side effect.
I couldn't help wondering: Do
my "Harry Potter" friends and
I look like this to other people?
Does being a fan of someone
from the Internet really appear
this crazy?
The answer is yes. I spent
my own time hero-worshiping
people from "Harry Potter"
bands and websites, if only to
grow out of it and just enjoy the
show. People call it many things:
fangirling, idolatry ... but it's the
same thing we experience daily
with "real" celebrities, a phe-
nomenon we learned about in
Comm. 102 called "pararelation-
Basically, the human brain
isn't designed to get to know
people through a screen - be
that a movie screen, television or

computer. We develop a one-sid-
ed relationship with the people
in those screens without them
ever knowing a thing about us.
What's unique about YouTube is
that the celebrities are ordinary
people who never bargained for
fame. It's bizarre.
With that in mind, the rest
of my surreal experience at Ice
Father Nation doesn't seem so
strange. Even though my friends
and I still struggle to put the
night into words, I can't imagine
it going any differently. In fact,
all the singing, selling, signing
and being mistaken for someone
who's YouTube-famous seems
normal. This is the new era of
celebrity. Don't judge the new
medium and fan culture. If this
is our generation's way of fur-
thering entertainment, then so
be it.

From Page 3B
Modern malls have been
around for maybe a century
with their departmental gender
breakdowns. But civilization
has spent millennia in disagree-
ment over which kinds of cloth-
ing get the label of sugar and

spice and which we'd rather
associate with snips, snails
and puppy dog tails. So ifSIsay
I belongin the "Girls" depart-
ment, then I do by the very
puppy dogs on my unisex Old
Navy tee.
Jacobs plans to wear kohl and
kilts now. To see pictures, e-mail
her at shacobs@umich.edu.

From Page 3B
of commands per minute.
Everyone was excited to watch
each other play and provide
"My goal for the team is not
just to win, but to have as many
play as possible," Liu said.

The gaming communities
at Michigan may be under the
radar, but both strive to be as
inclusive as possible. Though
it's clear all the players in these
groups are talented and deter-
mined gamers, both communi-
ties enjoy the social aspect just
as much. They come for the
competition, but they stay for
the camaraderie.


From Page 1B
options of social networking
sites like Facebook and Twitter.
StarKid actors who held key
roles in the wizard musicals are
recognized for their beloved
characters, which Richter said
still surprises him.
"It happens at the strang-
est times," Richter said. "I was
walking to Angell Hall once and
it happened. It always catches
me off guard, but it's great that
it happens. I'm happy that peo-
ple have seen the musicals and
enjoyed them. That's what's so
cool about it."
MT&D senior Devin Lytle,
known for her role as Cho Chang,
was recognized multiple times
during her study abroad program
in England this summer and has
been picked out at many coffee
shops around campus. MT&D
senior Brian Rosenthal - the
show's bumbling professor Quir-
rell - has experienced personal
requests from customers asking
for him to visit their table at the

restaurant he works at.
Since its popularity was born
online, it would make sense for
the majority of StarKid's fan-
base and fan interaction to exist
online as well. Group members
often receive an unmanageable
amount of Facebook messages,
friend requests, photos, online
fan art and fan-created websites
honoring both them as people
and their onstage personas.
Many of the actors have also
received fan fiction stories writ-
ten about the characters they
play - and sometimes even
based on their fans' perception
of them as people.
The messages Richter receives
exceed the typical adoration and
appreciation for his work. A few
messages have even have shown
concern for his well-being.
"I got an e-mail once of some-
one telling me that they thought
I was going to die," Richter said.
"They had a dream or had some
way of knowing that something
bad was going to happen so they
kind of said, 'Be careful when
you're driving on ice,' or what-
not. That was the weirdest one I

Last summer Richter and a
few other of his co-workers went
to the Infinitus convention in
Orlando, Fla., a large "Harry
Potter" gathering for fans of the
"The conference was amaz-
ing," he said. "We witnessed
mass fandom all around us. We
signed autographs, got inter-
viewed - it was a blast. We
had a line that was practically
wrapped around the corner of
the convention center and lasted
for two straight hours."
StarKid productions aren't the
only popular YouTube videos
started by University students.
Just as "Harry Potter" was one
of the main inspirations for the
StarKids, for the G-Men it was
"The Lion King."
Back in Dec. 2007, the G-Men
uploaded a live performance of
their a cappella version of the
"Lion King Medley."
All clad in blue jerseys and
jeans in the video, the members
bring to life the well known
songs "Circle of Life," "I Just
Can't Wait to be King" and

"Hakuna Matata" as they occa-
sionally act like the beloved ani-
mal characters.
This video, along with a few
others done by the group, is now
at roughly 200,000 hits. As in
the case with the "Very Potter"
musicals, networking sites aided
in its spread.
LSA senior Chaz Cox said he
realized just how popular "The
Lion King" video had become
when his boss at his summer
internship found it and shared it
with the entire company.
Though the group posts vid-
eos of its performances after
every live show, the ones that
have received the most praise
and attention are the 2007 "The
Lion King" medley, its Nick-
elodeon medley, which was
recorded the same year and has
roughly 180,000 hits currently;
and a "Billie Jean" cover, which
was recorded the following year
and now has approximately
250,000 hits.
"When it first started hap-
pening, a cappella, though not
necessarily a new thing ... was
becoming more mainstream and
something that people were see-
ing on YouTube more," Cox said.
"It's a very interesting art form,
so going to YouTube and look-
ing for a cappella videos initially
is what sparked interest in those
Somehow, though, interest in
the videos exploded from there.
Nowadays, people who watch
videos like the "Lion King Med-
ley" are introduced to the world
of a cappella through YouTube
videos, instead of discovering
the videos through a prior pas-
sion for their subjects.
Team StarKid reiterates this
Though its musicals were
originally marketed toward
"Harry Potter" followers, fans of
the production company's other
musicals found themselves grav-
itating toward the "Very Pot-
ter" series as well, uniting these
two unlikely audiences into one
definitive fan base.
But that's the virtue of viral-
ity: It can unite completely dif-
ferent demographics together.
Wrapped up in the web
Going beyond live perfor-
mances that started on campus
and flourished on the internet,
LSA senior Danny Lysz has pro-
duced, sketched or been part of
hundreds of videos on YouTube
through a variety of partnerships.
Many of the videos he's
worked on are parodies - like an
alternative take on an Axe com-
mercial and a spoof of "Man v.
The Axe video features Lysz
putting deodorant on in the mir-
ror - but instead of being bom-
barded with skimpily dressed
women, like in the original com-
mercial, he finds himself sur-
rounded by a few shirtless men.
Lysz described the video as one
that draws on the anything-goes
mentality of college, as he acted
out the mannerisms he portrays
in it.
Though he doesn't give much
thought to the actual people
watching videos he's worked on,
Lysz is fascinated by how many
people around the world have
seen his work..

His creativity and never-end-
ing supply of material have led
him to the creation of his new
company, University Studios.
The company is planning to offi-
cially launch at the University
this semester and later expand to
other Big Ten schools.
The biggest problem in the
media world is attaining some
form of representation to get you
through the door - it's some-

LSA senior Chaz Coo started in the 0-Men's "Lion King" sides.-

LSA senior Danny Lysz's parody oftan Axe commercial has accumulated over 140,000 hits on YouTube.
Fantastic February @ Universpity Unions
February 8,15, 22 Gleek Out @ Pierpont - Glee watching party at Commons
Corner TV Lounge 7-9pm
February 9 MI Favorite Comic Finals - League Ballroom, 8-10pm
February 11 UMix Late Night - Michigan Union, 10pm-2am
February 11, 14 Special balloons and sweet treats to give your Valentine
available in front of U-go's in the Union
February 14 Share a Heart 2 Heart at Beanster's at the League -
2 Sandwiches or Salads, 2 Soups and 2 Beverages for $20.001
February 14-18 M Healthy Week at UUI Get in shape for Winter Break[
Free healthy tastings from 11am-1pm and daily specials all week
at Beanster's, Bert's, Mujo Caf6, Commons Oaf6 and U-go's.
February 17 Performance Showcase - Images of Identity 0 League
Underground 8-11pm
February 18 Open Mic Night - League Underground, 8:30-10:30pm
UMix Late Night - Michigan Union, 10pm-2am

thing that usually takes many
connections to achieve. Lysz's
company aims to solve that
problem by giving University
students the all-access pass to
entertainment representation
through viral video fame.
People who want to get this
representation have to first
upload their video to Lysz's web-r
site and have it approved by him
and his team.
"We don't want to be a You-
Tube," Lysz said. "We don't want
to be something where there
is such a magnitude of crap up
there that you can't find anything
worthwhile. Our goal is to have'
a smaller amount of videos, but
only for people that are gearing
towards being in the business."
The Internet provides a lim-
itless medium for ideas and
thoughts, and it's only growing
with each passing day and next
big thing. Lysz thinks his site
could be next.
"The Internet is usingtwo per-
cent of its potential right now,"
he said. "We have all this ability
to link things together and we're
just not doing it. (My website)
could be one of the first steps to
really understanding that. It's
bridging the whole nation and
even the whole world together."
Having access to the Internet
truly makes a small world even
smaller, connecting you to peo-
ple you'd probably never meet
walking the streets of Ann Arbor.
Rackham student Ben Saunders
was connected through Twitter
to thousands of Netherlanders
who believed him to be a beloved
pop star from their version of
"American Idol."
Every Friday, Saunders
received more and more Twit-
ters followers, as his name-twin
grew in popularity on the reality
show. Once people in the Nether-
lands started to realize Saunders
was not the pop sensation they
thought him to be, things got
even more complicated for him.
"A lot of random people start-
ed complaining that I was pre-
tending to be this guy," he said.
"They said I was trying to get
some of his Twitter fame, which
is sort of silly, since all my posts
are in English, and it's a label on
my account that I am an Ameri-
can student - not a reality show
So, who's the real Ben Saun-
ders? The semi-famous Neth-
erlander covered in tattoos and
clad in glasses and hats, or the
brunette and brown-eyed gradu-
ate student you might see walk-
ing around campus?
Saunders even received Inter-
net messages from the rising star

about his frustration over the
"Which is crazy because he has
many thousands of followers and
I had a couple hundred," Saun
ders said. "I don't think he has
anything to worry about. Whe
is the official person though? Os?
his Twitter he has the 'official
Ben Saunders,' which is strange
because I have that name toOp
Who gets the claim of some offi-
cial status on the Internet?" '-
Viral fame can give a plat
form to people with a voice and
opinion dying to be heard. Uni-
versity alum Lauren Herskovic
who graduated in 2006, created
such a space - College Candy;
an online lifestyle magazine
especially designed for college
women. Besides Herskovic, there
are two writers for the website
who currently attend the Uni-
Before the website started
up, there was a pronounced gap
between magazines for the love-
sick teen and the city-dwelling,
career-driven woman. There
was Seventeen - with a large
appeal to high school students
- and Cosmo - with a large
appeal to working women. But
what about the women caught
in between? There seemed to be
a void when it came to college-
specific concerns, like finals,
dorm life, senior year, sex and
"We want girls who are stu
dents," she said. "That's what
makes College Candy differ-
ent. We're not some 40-year-old
women who haven't been in col-
lege for 20 years. We have girls
who are living it. Their problems
are your problems, and what
you're learning, they're learn
To get your voice heard a
mere 10 years ago, you had to
have a way into the media - a
close connection to the celeb-
rity world. Now, with the vast-
ness of the Internet, as long as
people are willing to find a space
to speak, they will find an audi-
ence for it.
and written word is dying," Her-
skovic said. "But there's infinite
space online. It used to be an elite
group of people that could voice
their opinions via magazines and
newspapers. Now, if you know
what you're doing and you say it
well, you can be successful. It's
really inspiring."
So, what's the next big thing
to peruse through or chat about
during boring lectures? As long
as you have a bit of luck and just
the right elements, it could easily
be something you created.

February 25 - March 6 Winter Break!

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