I just got this forwarded over the Harvard Caribbean Club list (I am such a poser, I know). A Jamaican “Bus Auntie” dis?
Bus Uncle was a video that got passed around like crazy in 2006, but most of you have probably never even heard of it. Although almost totally unnoticed in the traditional (white, suburban) meme-o-sphere of 4chan and Something Awful, this video of an angry Cantonese man “under pressure” delivering an unnecessarily long (and loud) diatribe at another guy on a bus gathered millions of views in China and spawned many popular catchphrases. It even has a page on Wikipedia. The whole situation has a number of remarkable points to it:
1) It was captured on cameraphone. Cameraphone. It’s six minutes long and not horrendous quality. If that’s not a clear indication that we’re losing the cell phone arms race, I don’t know what is.
2) The guy being yelled at has the awesome first name of Elvis. Awesome.
3) The “bus uncle,” the guy who did all the yelling, was runner-up Person of the Year in a contest by Radio Television Hong Kong. The closest our memes have gotten to this type of mainstream acknowledgment is, what, VH1 and Tay Zonday on Jimmy Kimmel?
Anyway, I’m interested in how a video like Bus Uncle or Mad Jamaican Woman (which only has around 7000 hits despite having been on Youtube for almost 2 months) gets circulated. Is it purely by email, like old-school memes, or are there Chinese and Jamaican versions of 4chan we don’t know about? Furthermore, how/why does this stuff stay so under the radar in the States and (when) will a more global meme transmission system ever emerge? All these questions are really interesting to me right now as ROFLCon approaches ever closer–how do we adequately address (or at least acknowledge) global memes? So far, the most promising proposals have been a talk on dance memes by Kevin “Drisc-rolled” Driscoll and, possibly, something to be worked out with the Backdorm Boys. You guys got any suggestions? I’d love to hear them!
In the case of this one vid, there’s a pretty simple answer for the lack of popularity so far: patois is damn hard to understand. Anyone better versed than me want to give this a well-deserved subbing? This deserves to be spread everywhere…