Thursday, March 5, 2020

Microstory 1314: Virus (Part 2)

Seasoned Reporter: Thank you for sitting down with me.
Viral Sensation: Thank you for this opportunity.
Seasoned Reporter: Now, I understand that you do film reviews—let’s see—no, reviews for films you haven’t seen, on your vlogging site.
Viral Sensation: It’s called a channel, and no, that’s not entirely accurate. I have seen all the movies that I review, but I pretend that I haven’t when I’m in character.
Seasoned Reporter: Would you care to explain what the point is in performing a fake review for a film?
Viral Sensation: Because it’s funny. Look, if I didn’t see the movies, and I criticized it online, people would just criticize me for not being open-minded, and for not giving it a chance. It wouldn’t be a joke; it would just be offensive to the fans. But my audience knows that I’m not truly coming from a place of ignorance. I make very specific references to plot points I couldn’t have known if I hadn’t seen it, but I twist it for comedic effect. For instance, when I saw the movie Severe
Seasoned Reporter: I thought you only did scifi/fantasy and action films.
Viral Sensation: I branch out when I see something’s big in the zeitgeist. Anyway, when I reviewed Severe, I brought up the part where the next door neighbor purposefully plants toxic flowers in her garden, and sprays them with meat smoothie she blended, so the dog will eat them and die. I mused that it would have been easier to mix the toxic flower into the dog’s food directly, because it wasn’t like the owner had cameras. Of course, a huge part of the story is what the family captures on their security cameras, so that wouldn’t have worked. So my mistake
Seasoned Reporter: I hate airquotes.
Viral Sensation: ...didn’t suggest I didn’t see the movie so much as it suggested that I was indeed in the theatre, but that I wasn’t really paying attention.
Seasoned Reporter: Yes, you sometimes reenact your experiences at the theatre, and you’re always on your phone while the film is playing.
Viral Sensation: Yeah, those are also fake. The whole thing is fake. I do this to entertain my audience. I didn’t know it was going to transform into this. If you look at my earliest videos, I have one where I put on really bad makeup, but act like I’m an expert giving a tutorial. I botch a baking recipe in another. None of these took off. It didn’t happen for me until I made a Stem where I note my fear of a bioweapon from the country of Bacteria if Yo Diggity ever comes back to life.
Seasoned Reporter: Oh my God, that’s from The Great Dictator. I get that reference.
Viral Sensation: You and thousands of other people who watched the Stem millions of times
Seasoned Reporter: And what is Stem? I mean...I know what it is, but my audience may not.
Viral Sensation: It’s a different site that lets you upload very, very short videos. Ten seconds maximum. Once I had my own small audience from that viral video, I decided to expand the concept into longer videos, which of course Stem can’t handle. Now I upload something once a day.
Seasoned Reporter: I see. And it’s ‘Il Diggedy’ Benzino Napaloni; not Yo Diggity.
Viral Sensation: Yeah, that was part of the joke. I was surprised it took off. My target demo is a little young for it.
Seasoned Reporter: Yeah. So, this must cost you some money, right? Going to the movies every day?
Viral Sensation: I haven’t paid for a single film in two years. Theatres send me free vouchers if I agree to promote them, and independent filmmakers send me DVDs and digital copies ahead of release to generate buzz.
Seasoned Reporter: They do? They’re not worried your fake review will confuse people?
Viral Sensation: No, people know what they’re getting into. It works. They send me gift baskets when their stuff becomes successful. I don’t get people to see the movie because of how I reviewed it. People see the movies because they know I’ve reviewed it, and they want to understand what makes my review funny.
Seasoned Reporter: Interesting, interesting. And how do you make money doing this?
Viral Sensation: I have four primary sponsors, three of which are in the film industry. I’ll promote one of them at the beginning of every video, and at the end, I’ll promote the people who sent me the copy of that specific movie, if that’s what happened. Some people have to sit through an advertisement before my video plays, and I get a cut of that action. Some people pay for premium access to the site, and I get some of that money too. Lastly, my fans support me directly on Benefactr.
Seasoned Reporter: Benefactr, my colleague did a piece on that four months ago. People just send you money every month?
Viral Sensation: They get something out of it. I give them shoutouts, and mail them signed autographs. One guy sent me five thousand dollars, which is the highest tier, so I flew him out here, and we hung out all weekend. People struggle to make it big on the internet, just like they do in the physical world. I’m one of the lucky ones. My content isn’t better; I just happened to be the one of the few that people discovered.
Seasoned Reporter: Well, I’ll be honest, I was reluctant to conduct this interview. I didn’t think you would be so...
Viral Sensation: Normal? Nice? Unassuming?
Seasoned Reporter: Genuine.
Viral Sensation: That’s very kind of you to say. Now how ‘bout we do this?
Seasoned Reporter: Do what?
Viral Sensation: Do what? You’re gonna be in my next video, and help me review Devastation Damage. I’m sure you saw it.

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