The brilliant and fleeting 15 minutes of viral fame for random people has always kind of fascinated me. Before DVRs, if you were on television in a crowd somewhere, you might hear about it from a few friends or your grandmother. Now anyone can just rewind and watch it again, pointing and guffawing and then blasting it all over Vine. From the most embarrassing follies to beautiful faces, social media can take momentary hold of anything.
Unlike the similar GIF and Vine crazes reflecting the crowds at celebrity awards shows, where pop stars beg for this attention while everyone else looks uncomfortable, at big sports events happy/sad/drunk civilians just stumble into it. Consider this melancholy duo from Ohio State during Thursday’s Sugar Bowl:
I doubt she came to the game expecting to be a viral star, much less accused of being caught with her side dude. It would take some serious gumption to actually pull that off in the front row of a game being watched by 50 million people. But that doesn’t matter, because one person saw it, made a good joke, and with no context to stem the tide a meme was born. While it’s generally something worth laughing off, and I doubt people will recognize her for the rest of her life, it would be a very weird experience to be a part of. Unless you do crave that random groundswell of attention, in which case it would be great.
Let’s look at the (purple and) gold standard for crowd GIFs – these Lakers bros:
There’s no way you do anything they are doing without basking in the notoriety that accompanies it. But somewhere in between the premature sorrow of the Buckeyes fans and the off-come-the-shades delight of the Lakers bros is a lesson on how to become, or avoid becoming, a viral star among a crowd, the shiniest needle in the haystack.
If you want to be noticed, the first thing to consider is the setting you’re in. The Lakers bros had great seats and thus a better chance of catching the camera’s attention, but they were still three rows behind Leo and Jack. You want to stand out? Wear matching Dwight Howard shirseys and make sure you’ve perfected the ability to look stoked down to a Spicolian art. Wearing sunglasses inside will never hurt, either.
At football games though, all bets are off. The celebrities sit in boxes and the front rows are for the fans. Big college football games are a great breeding ground for viral clips because college football fans are the most eclectic America has to offer.
One way to stand out is to be extraordinarily attractive, and if this is the route you’re taking, go to a game announced by Brent Musberger. Katherine Webb knows this. Jenn Sterger was able to parlay Brent’s excitement into a media career that also included receiving Brett Favre’s most private pictures. But hey, going viral twice means you’re basically famous.
For the rest of the free world it boils down to a pretty simple formula: care and react, and then hope some random camera operator finds you interesting. To be drunk boosts the odds because people always rewind to show their friends how trashed someone looked. And truthfully there’s a bit of morbid hilarity in watching drunk, devastated fans cope with the sting of losing, as long as it’s not your team.
Regardless, it’s the honest moments randomly captured that resonate, because much of the audience is probably feeling the same way. I actually thought it was a pretty genuine moment of the first couple from Ohio State. She was simply trying to console her guy, who at that moment was inconsolable.
But what of us who don’t want the bothersome intrusion of viral replay? There are a few fairly easy ways to avoid it:
1. Avoid going to the game entirely. This will decrease your already slim odds of going viral to zero.
2. Don’t be an asshole. No stealing souvenirs from kids or people will know.
3. Don’t cry. Nothing sends out a bat signal to put your face on screen like fan tears.
4. Just go to the game and hope a small fleeting moment doesn’t catch some random viewer’s attention. Chances are you’ll escape unscathed. There were, after all, 70,000 other fans at that Ohio State game who were able to kiss their sidepiece goodbye after the game and the world was none the wiser.