A viral video of a dog chasing deer in Richmond Park has already prompted thousands of views and several mashups.
Captured on a smartphone last Sunday, it shows a tranquil scene being interrupted by a dog called Fenton chasing deer and his owner frantically screaming his name several times (“Fenton! Jesus Christ!”).
It was captured by 13-year-old Jake Goodyear and his dad Ali, but the owner is still a mystery (although probably not for long).
As I write this it has 751,358 views on YouTube, but how does an accidental video like this go viral?
Here are the points I would suggest:
- The Nature of the Video: It captures a specific moment in time that would be almost impossible to restage. David Lean would love the shot of several deer sprinting across an autumnal park, whilst the natural comedy of his owner screaming his name is almost too perfect (note that it takes a second glance to really notice the dog). It climaxes with an almost eerie precision, as the fleeing deer run across the busy road in the park and force vehicles to stop as different elements collide at just the right moment. Some have speculated that it is a stunt, but if it is then it involves world-class CGI and a comedy brain that leaves many professionals trailing in the dust.
- The Dog Factor: We all know cats rule the world of internet viral videos but a lot of people can relate to owning and walking a dog, especially the struggle to control it in a public space. Newspapers also traditional love animal stories as they provide light relief from all the doom and gloom on the front pages.
- The Name Fenton: The first I heard about this video when I was reading the Twitter feed of the FT’s media correspondent Ben Fenton, who has been providing updates of the Leveson inquiry. He wondered why Danny Baker was mentioning his name over Twitter. In fact, Baker was referring to the dog Fenton and it was just a coincidence that a journalist shared his name. The fact that a lot of people initially misheard Fenton as ‘Benton’ only added to the mystery.
- Influencers: For something to go truly viral you need sites like Reddit and Twitter users with large followings to give it a boost. When Fenton made the front page of Reddit and people like Stephen Fry (Twitter patron saint), Graham Linehan (comedy writer and massively influential Tweeter) and Jeremy Vine (Radio 2 presenter with a huge audience) linked to it, viral success was assured.
- The National Media: When national newspapers – who obsess over Twitter for various reasons – picked it up, another level of awareness ensured more views. A Google News search shows you how it has played amongst different outlets.
Then of course are the are the mashups, which take the audio of the original and recut it to different films.
Made possible by cheaper video editing software and the instant distribution of YouTube, my favourites so far are Jurassic Park, Alien and – of course – Bambi.
Can someone do The Deer Hunter please?
> The original video on YouTube
> Media Guardian on the video