Several people have asked me exactly what is an iNternets Celebrity? In this age of meta celebrity we find that people can be famous for whatever it is that they do well. Paris Hilton spends her parents money and often gets caught for driving drunk. Paris Hilton is a DUI Celebrity.
One of the excellent things about celebrity status is that it is easily commutable. One person can exist in various states of celebrity throughout their lifetime. Bobby Brown was once an accomplished rythym and blues balladeer, but now he is more famous for smoking freebase. Almost overnite he went from an R & B Celebrity into a Crack Fiend Celebrity.
In the case of iNternets Celebrities, there are millions of us, living in our parents basements, and placing ‘Do Not Touch’ labels on our containers of orange pineapple juice in the old folks’ refrigerators. Our porn collections are detailed and immense and most of us care enough about conserving energy that we shower only once a week.
I know what you’re thinking… This guy isn’t a celebrity, he’s actually a homeless bum. Well you’d be wrong about that because even the homeless have celeb status. It’s called Celebrities Without Windows.
Peep this video from fellow internets celebrity Mr. Pregnant as he explains in great detail what it means to be an iNternets Celebrity.
The Internets Celebrities Mixtape is a new feature we’re going to be rolling out at InternetsCelebrities.com. Think of it as a video sampler, a pu pu platter of visuality, a cultural collage for viewing.
Essentially, we wanted to be able to make videos that offered a more raw look at cultural events the Internets Celebrities were attending while not worrying so much about unifying themes. In other words, we shot a lot of footage worth seeing at the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival and just wanted to get it out there posthaste.
In the true Mixtape aesthetic, what it lacks in polish and nuance, it makes up for in timeliness and gruff enthusiasm. Look out for other IC Mixtapes coming soon. We’re going to be attending a lot of summer events and the Mixtapes will help us do them justice.
At the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival, we chop it up with Saigon, Sean Price, Emily King and catch performances from Dres, Price, Jeru and Ghostface.
There were a few long interviews we did at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival that were filled with good stuff but just didn’t fit the 4 minute video a day format that we’d agreed to with The Daily Reel. So the Internets Celebs site is the perfect place to unveil them. We already showed you our interview with independent filmmakers and savvy web marketers Four Eyed Monsters. Today we cover our interview with rap’s first crossover superstar, MC Hammer. Hopefully we can also put together something soon from the talk we had with Sopranos actor turned Sundance filmmaker Louis Lombardi. Stay tuned…
Probably the greatest celebrity opening in the entire Sundance series is MC Hammer’s exhilarating and unprompted “It’s Hammer Time!” that kicks off The Filmmakers episode. Our unexpected meeting with Hammer was a definite highlight of the whole trip.
As the only peron on our team without a laptop, I was doing my usual early morning Internets addiction thing at the AOL Cyber Lounge across the street from our hotel. Suddenly I heard a gruff, familiar voice talking to some of the staff people there. I approached Hammer, told him what we were all about and asked if he’d be willing to do an Internets Celebrities interview. He was willing so I called Cas and Dallas, both of whom were sleeping as this all went down about 8am, and had them rush over to shoot an unscripted, unplanned chat with Hammer.
We discussed the repercussions of the RIAA raid on DJ Drama that had happened that week and what it revealed about the music industry. Hammer also clued us in on his long-time involvement in the spheres of film (from the 2 Legit days to financing the debut film of director Justin Lin) and Internet media. Hammer was an extremely generous interview subject – open and intelligent – and I must say we were uniquely suited to join him in a discussion of any of these channels from hip-hop to film to internets. We are the impresarios of improvising. We bring the right words to ad libs like a book of Mad Libs. And all that….
But just to show it doesn’t always come so naturally (in case watching me in this interview fidget around wishing I had a chair doesn’t reveal that), let me take you inside my head for a minute. When we were just getting set to start the interview I asked myself “what would my OhWord audience want me to ask?” The reply: “Ask him about the story MC Serch has been telling that Hammer had a hit out on him back in the day!” And I’m holding on to that question, with the White Rapper show popping off at the time I have a good enough segue to use. But as the interview goes on I get this feeling about what a genuine guy we’re chopping it up with. I start to feel like I would be a total creep to betray Hammer’s trust and breech a negative topic that may or may not have happened nearly twenty years earlier and has nothing to do with the moment.
I’m glad I didn’t go there and I’m glad I met the legendary MC Hammer, a self-made man who has been the brunt of many disses and jokes and yet radiates goodwill and extreme focus.
By the way you can check out Hammer’s blog which gives you a glimpse into his life but also touches on music, politics and technology.
This past Friday, Internets Celebrities were in full effect at the Rooftop Films screening of Bodega in their New York Non-Fiction night. The response was huge – lots of applause and the biggest laughs we heard all night (okay there weren’t that many comedies in the lineup but we’ll take it). It was gratifying and even thrilling to sit among a crowd of 500 people enjoying our work.
The opening act was young emcee from Yonkers named Loer Velocity. Coincidentally Loer did a song with his very low-key hypeman Donnan Linkz called “The Hood Diet”. The subject matter was perfect with Bodega coming up.
Afterwards we had a chance to speak to Wild Style director Ahearn who approached us shouting “Bo-De-Ga!”, announcing himself as a fan.
Cue Zoro’s brother “Is this being an Internets Celebrity what you’re gonna do with your life? Stop fucking around and be a man already. There ain’t nothing out here for you.”
Oh yes there is.
By the way you can catch Ahearn and Wild Style for free this coming Friday June 22 as part of the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival. And the big concert is Saturday June 23. The IC’s will be representing at both events.
One of the highlights of our trip to Sundance was having a chance to talk with Susan and Arin who together comprise the film-making team Four Eyed Monsters. The duo had a movie at Slamdance a few years earlier but were shocked at how little that was helping the film get distributed. So they created a video blog via ITunes and MySpace and developed a following in that way.
Four Eyed Monsters are trailblazers in that they showed how indie filmmakers can create their own distribution channels and have great success cultivating their own audience. Their success online led to audience-demanded screenings across the country. Most recently Susan and Arin partnered up with YouTube and their movie became the first feature length video at YouTube.
But when we first found them they were in a jacuzzi surrounded by a crew of similarly pale indie filmmakers. This was no standard Hollywood hot tub party. This was Utah – there was frost on the deck of the pool! Instead of snorting lines and discussing Scientology, these guys were having a panel about how new media is changing filmmaking and film distribution. Arin with his voice recorder stood in the center of the hot tub leaning over people or passing the device around to capture the forum for posterity.
Immediately afterwards we had a chance to do a rare serious unscripted interview with Four Eyed Monsters. Ian was with us that evening and he was already a big fan of their work so he quickly got us familiar.
We hope you enjoy this interview with two bright, passionate evangelists of the Internets.
For more on Slamdance, check out Internets Celebrities at Sundance episode 5 – the Filmmakers
For a glimpse of the jacuzzi party, check out Internets Celebrities at Sundance episode 6 – the Parties
The event starts at 8pm
350 Grand Street @ Essex (Lower East Side, Manhattan)
F/J/M/Z to Essex / Delancey
In the event of rain the show is indoors at the same location.
Tickets – $8 at the door or $5 online HERE with code: RFJUNE Presented in partnership with – IFC.com, New York magazine & Open Road New York.
The Internets Celebrities – as nom de plume – is really first put into effect when we storm down on Park City, Utah. Faced with the daunting task of producing 7 videos in 7 days about the Sundance Film Festival, we decide to form like Voltron and phrase our movies under a name that characterizes what we are: internet dorks with a vision.
And by soon they mean the following week when they propose sending us to Sundance as would be correspondents. Going to a cultural flashpoint like Sundance with a movie-making purpose sounds right and good – the next step in the Internets Celebrity evolution and a great chance to stretch our video reporting muscles.
We tell the Daily Reel that we have a plan for the shooting and blueprint a scenario that sees us making two videos – one to be posted during the festival and one immediately following. They take two weeks to get back to us while they search for a sponsor. During that time, radio silence convinces us the deal is dead. Then the Wednesday before the festival, we get a call: TDR has found a bed-partner in GoDaddy.com and we are all set to ride their dime to the festival. Somehow the short notice does not create major waves in our day-jobs and we holler back that Saturday to Saturday sounds like a fine ole time to uncover the Hollywood/Redford/Mormon connection clearly at play in Park City, Utah.
Oh, also GoDaddy wants us to make 7 videos in 7 days. Not 2. No problem. We slept enough last year. This winter its all about the work: In retrospect, its funny to think that we almost head down there with just one camera-man/editor. Said camera-man/editor would have died. In fact, we add Mr. Ian Savage to the mix who brings a fancy camera, extra computers, bright ideas and limitless enthusiasm to the project. Having produced Rocketboom for a couple months he knows what its like to churn out the videos. Okay we’re good to go. Lets catch a plane.
Two of us skid over to JFK at 5AM and just barely make the plane. Two of us miss the heck out of the plane and get stuck at the gate inexplicably unable to board despite the plane continuing to sit at the gate de-icing. Plane takes off with only two of us aboard. This does not bode well. No matter, the two of us on the plane are waylaid anyway in Phoenix when we miss our connection. We manage to find a much later connection and all parties wind up at the Park City Hotel on Main St. in Park City, Utah a comfortable 12 hours after we leave New York City. Time to hit the hay? Hell no. Its time to hit the streets. We’ve got videos to make. Moments after we all rendezvous, were out on Main St. investigating the proceedings: Dallas supplies the theme for the week: Sundance is actually Grown Ass Spring Break.
People at Sundance are dying to be on camera and interviews are easy to come by. We are certainly never for lack of material. The challenge starts to take the shape of managing post-production. Between taking/fighting notes from the website in LA and continuing to accumulate new footage from varied locations (as in not always in front of out hotel – a veritable font of celebrity sightings) theres not much margin for error if were to stay on schedule. We draw out themes for each episode and then quickly eschew those themes when new ones present themselves in the shooting. We tackle opening weekend, swag, the parties, the filmmakers, survival tips (laminate your own press badge) the networking scene, the local celebrities, Robert Redford’s unicorn problem and other “real facts” of Sundance . We stay up very late every night drinking beer and throwing together five little movies while at the festival with two more to follow the Monday and Tuesday after our return.
A candid interview with MC Hammer
The Hot Tub Party
Spicy Sausage, egg and cheeses at the Clockwork Cafe
Turning local residents into instant Internet Celebrities
Interviewing Four-Eyed Monster
Interviewing the FBI agent from Sopranos
Teaching Hollywood how to fill their hearts with love again
Getting on the bus and asking people in loud voices where all the filmmakers were at
Bodega is a playful homage to the kind of corner store that we all grew up next to when we were kids in the city. As you grow older you come to realize that there are choices being made for you on a nutritional level due to your lack of options.
For some people the bodega represents the sole option of fresh foods in some communities. In the tragically impoverished Bronx neighborhood of Hunts Point there are fenced off warehouses and wholesalers that distribute fresh food and fish to the entire city. Meanwhile the residents of Hunts Point are relegated to shopping at bodegas.
For thirty years New York City has started, stumbled, staggered and swaggered its way into the paradigm American metropolis. The Bronx? Not so much. New York City has less respect for the entire Bronx County than it does for Jersey City. Still the Bronx remains. Still the Bronx stands. Still ready 24-7. Just like the bodegas.
April 2006: In a blog post titled “Supersize Me”, Dallas Penn detailed a “loophole” that he had found at McDonalds where one could order a double cheeseburger with Big Mac sauce and a seeded bun creating a “Mini Mac” at a fraction of the cost.
June 2006: About six weeks later, Rafi Kam from Oh Word musters up the courage (or shamelessness) to try Dallas’s trick at a McDonald’s drive-thru. It works like a charm and he blogs about it at the tail end of a link post.
Hip-hop blogger Byron Crawford likes the idea and mentions the trick at the end of a fast food post he does on his site. In the comments Billy Sunday introduces the ideas of replacing the traditional Big Mac middle bun with a layer of fries.
It is at another fast food post by Byron Crawford – this time at the XXL site – that the phrase “Ghetto Big Mac” is coined. Although the post is not directly about the Ghetto Big Mac, the very first commenter uses the post’s McDonalds theme as a lead-in to detail his own experience with remixing the dollar menu:
I just ate McDonald’s today. I got the ghetto Big Mac-double cheeseburger that I read about somewhere on the internets (probably from one of your blogs) and a large fry.
Ridiculon9000 in the delicious department.
Oh, and first.
A few days later Dallas puts up a post expanding on the technique of constructing his sandwich with photographic instructions on creating the fries layer. While clearly no longer a “Mini Mac”, Dallas doesn’t adopt the Ghetto Big Mac name as of yet.
Fascinated by all these recent developments, Rafi posts describing this whole series of events and how word is spreading about the Ghetto Big Mac. In jest he says “I smell a delicious artery-clogging trend starting up here. I think we need a YouTube video so this can really go viral.”
Filmmaker Casimir Nozkowski sees Rafi’s joke and approaches his old friend with 100% faith in the idea that such a video should be made. Rafi is convinced. The duo hooks up with Dallas so that he can star in the movie about his sandwich. History is made.
July 2006: Rafi and Cas meet Dallas for the first time when he flags us down on some street corner in Long Island City. We drive to the McDonalds in Williamsburg right off the BQE and plan our actions for about 20 minutes. We shoot a bunch of posing out in the parking lot. Then we go in guerilla style and order the components for the Ghetto Big Mac.
While editing the video, Cas has the brilliant idea of adding the Masta Killa / RZA / Ol’ Dirty Bastard song “Old Man” with its Sanford & Son theme song sample and Ol’ Dirty Bastard spouting off the Big Mac ingredients. The song’s energy really makes the video.
Cas also cuts the video down to just over 4 minutes. A great finished product but along the way he cuts out dialog that would have answered the questions of hundreds of YouTube commenters. So here goes:
There’s no lettuce on the Ghetto Big Mac because McDonald’s lettuce sucks.
The french fries aren’t just a substitute for the bread – they are an improvement on the bread. McDonald’s fries >>>> hamburger bun.
Yes we know we had to pay for the small fries but if you’re eating this junk you were probably going to buy fries anyway and it only takes a few to make that fry layer.
Ghetto Big Mac makes it to 150,000 views fairly quickly and then plateaus for a while.
In spring of 2007 the video finds a second life when it becomes a featured video on both MySpace and YouTube in the same week.
As of now, Ghetto Big Mac on these two sites has nearly 700,000 served.
That was our debut video and the best was still to come…