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The Viral Veteran: opera in four ingredients

The Viral Veteran: opera in four ingredients

Jim Wolf veterano Usa

And for the viral video of the week: the makeover of homeless veteran Jim Wolf. The video has been seen by 13 million people in just a couple of days. Here it is:

Why has it gone viral? A couple of possible suggestions that might be worth keeping in mind when producing a video.

1) Time-lapses are fun. Always. If they are not too long. It is physically gratifying to watch something that normally takes a long time, happen in a couple of minutes; it makes you feel powerful because it helps you escape from the slowness of your daily grind.

2) The Cinderella syndrome. Make-overs are fantastic stories. The sad becoming happy, the poor becoming rich, the homeless finally buying a house; the lonely finding love and so on.

3) The f-word. The producer Rob Bliss (I mean, what a great name!) says that the virality of a video – and he does this for living – is linked to the f-eeling it produces in the person watching it: the stronger the f-eeling the more likely to become viral. Almost obvious, one would say. In this case the Cinderella feeling obviously worked, but would it work with any strong feeling, even negative, such as disgust or anger? I would say yes, but would love to find a good example.

4) Maybe not, but could another reason of its success be that the protagonist looks like Chuck Norris’ brother or Brad Pitt’s older cousin?

I am all for virality when it raises awareness – and a lot of money as it seems – for important issues, homelessness in this case. But, is it me or does the man not look really happy when he watches himself in the mirror?  I know that the video says that he has taken control of his own life and he is going to AA meetings. I don’t dispute that he is better now. I am just saying that he did not seem to like himself after all the hard work to make him look just like…. everyone else his age. And it leaves a bit of a bitter taste at the end. It’s must be just me.

Anyway, well done to Bliss and Wolf.  

Virginia Mucchi