On January 9th, I watched American Sniper with my wife. It was a pretty engrossing war movie, and despite some flaws, I liked it a lot. However, when it was over, the main thing that stuck with me was Bradley Cooper cradling a fake baby. It was so noticeable, that when he picked it up, my wife (who normally doesn't notice minute prop details) leaned over and asked if I could see how fake that baby was. I definitely wasn't the first to notice this, as a few reviewers had talked about it here and there, but I was the first to put up a video of it.
Two days ago, I realized that it wasn't online yet. I snagged a screener of the movie and cut that scene out, about a minute and fifteen seconds worth of footage, and put it on my 'Reel Bad Movies' channel. I started this channel back in September for fun, featuring random movie stuff and full B-movies, along with a sporadically produced web show I call "TBMYNS" (The Best Movie You've Never Seen) in which I skewer old movies that no one's ever heard of. I don't do it for money, just for fun, and I know that most of the content isn't owned by me. The most popular video on my channel was a movie in which Whoopie Goldberg plays opposite of a dinosaur cop - it had about 12,000 views, which I thought was pretty good. I acknowledged that I did not own the content, and the video was playable across the world.
I put up the fake baby scene and put two posts up about it - one on Reddit, and one on IMDB - neither of which got much traction. However, about two hours after I had it online, I got the "301+ views" standstill - that happens when your video is getting some traction, and for a few hours, you really have no idea how many people are watching your video, but I knew that people had been watching it, as my inbox was blowing up with YouTube comments. When it finally came back up, I had 27,000 views, more than doubling my most watched video to that point...and it kept going.
The first major site to feature the video was The Hollywood Reporter. Soon, after I saw that Joanna Robinson from Pajiba (and who I listen to on a few different podcasts) had posted about it, and that it was gaining traction. I went to bed that night and woke up to 350,000 views, and it was climbing. By that time, The Today Show had parodied the scene and featured my video on their website, and then everyone jumped on board. Huffington Post, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Yahoo News, CNN, Time. #FakeBaby was a trending topic on Twitter, and people were reposting the video like crazy. I hit 1 million views before I went to bed, and woke up with over 2 million views. The fake baby was all over the Internet. Good Morning America even ran a story about it that day, featuring the video in the background. At around noon on the third day, and at about 2.3 million views, WB had enough of the (bad?) exposure. Instead of addressing the quality of the scene, they simply contacted YouTube and had the copyright rights changed so that if you lived in the USA, you cannot see this scene online. For most, the fun was over.
This experience also showed me how ugly people can be online. I got several invitations to join 'YouTube partner networks'. I got several scam emails from people trying to get my YouTube login info. The Internet trolls came out in droves. I knew that there would be arguments about if the baby looked fake or not, and I knew that some people would throw shade my way, but I never anticipated the political angle. I do not talk politics, and I'm not interested in politics, but I guess this movie brought out the worst in both sides. Liberals, conservatives...you all seem like assholes to me. Take these, for example.
Overall, it was a cool experience, and I'm really surprised that it caught on like it did. Logging in and seeing that my video was on the front page of YouTube was very cool. Getting a text from one of my best friends who logged in on his XBox One and saw my video on the homepage was pretty awesome. Even if the video is no longer viewable on this soil, I still gained over 1,000 new subscribers for the content that I do put out, so I hope they enjoy my stuff...and to think, all of this could have been avoided with some better editing, or more care put into the production quality. Next time, Clint.