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REVIEW: Making sense of the nonsense

ARMY OF ME - The Philippine Star

It’s not the meme we want, but perhaps it’s the one that we deserve.

“Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen” — or “PPAP,” as the cool kids call it — is the latest earworm to take over the Internet. 

At just a little over a minute long, it has become one of the most successful viral videos in recent memory, picking up almost eight million views on YouTube since it was uploaded in late August. The version posted on entertainment portal 9GAG’s Facebook page has surpassed that to draw over 57 million views and counting.

Created by Japanese comedian and DJ Kosaka Daimaou, under the guise of his alter ego Piko-Taro, the clip features all the classic viral video elements: an addictive tinny beat, absurd lyrics (about fruit and a writing instrument), and a rather simple dance routine. That the character — one that 40-year-old Kosaka first introduced during standup performances and which became so popular that he decided to develop it further — is in yellow animal print clothing only adds to the senselessness of it all.

“When I was making this music with Play, I was (just) singing it too soon,” the newly minted online sensation explained, or not, in a tweet to fans.

The New Psy?

Various media outlets could not resist calling Piko-Taro the new Psy — making  PPAP this year’s Gangnam Style — but such a comparison is inaccurate. PPAP is closer in spirit to The Harlem Shake, the meme, dance and song that caused a massive orgy of unbridled silliness or hidden brilliance, depending on how old you were and where your priorities lay, if you had any, in early 2013. 

Just when the world assumed it had seen the last of annoyingly catchy gags like the Harlem Shake, along comes another sideshow to pepper the video memescape. Barely two months old, PPAP has already spawned remixes, tributes, reaction videos, and a conga line of copycat clips of otherwise sensible people performing their own Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen dance routines. It even has a metal-core version. As of this writing, it has yet to jump the proverbial shark.

From among the footage uploaded to YouTube every day, sometimes an unassuming clip emerges from the chaos and skyrockets to fame, suddenly and inexplicably. The modern phenomena we now refer to as viral videos, like it or not, has come to play a somewhat crucial role in shaping our collective consciousness.

Perhaps becoming a global phenomenon is what Kosaka had in mind when, as Piko-Taro, he made PPAP. He has 9Gag to thank.

Though his catchy ditty was already floating around on YouTube, it took the structure and reach of a social network — multiplied by our monkey-see-monkey-do nature — to turn it into an even bigger sensation. As the New York Times noted in 2011, people often wait until a number of friends or trusted sources have promoted an idea before promulgating it themselves. But if, by some miracle, you have managed to come this far without knowing anything about Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen, I sincerely hope you keep it that way. Consider yourself warned.

 

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