I’ve been thinking a lot about things that go viral.
The music clip ‘This is America’ by Childish Gambino/Donald Glover, published to YouTube on May 5th, was viewed over 135 million times in the week after it was released. I’ve linked it here, but don’t watch it. It’s kinda yucky. Really violent and made me feel like I needed a shower. (I’m sensitive like that though.) The lyrics are a little obscure, but I think it is a comment on the paradox of violence and beauty of life as a person of colour in the USA. Half of the words sounded like gibberish to me, but I was probably missing a lot of cultural references.
Another thing going viral on the internet last week was the whole Laurel or Yanny thing. I don’t need to explain it because you, and the rest of the Western World, know exactly what I’m talking about.
And then there’s The Royal Wedding.
(Side note: Oh, how I loved it! The dress. The celebrities. The Choir. The 19-year-old cello player. The female clergy (yay!). The crowds. Kate’s side-eyes. The page boys. The flower girls. The hats. The American bride. Harry. The Relatives. The queen in a lime green dress. Zara Tindall looking bored. George Clooney’s wife. And best of all, the Most Reverend Michael Curry, whose passionate and energetic 14-minute gospel message about Jesus and love was watched around the world by 1.9 million people.)
That is quite incredible, really: last night, 1.9 million people watched the same thing!
But it’s got me thinking…
As the world becomes more and more connected through our shared online experiences, what will become of our unique national cultural identities?
How is national identity formed? Through shared experience, right? If we live our lives online, will we begin to lose a sense of what it means to be Australian/ Kiwi/ British/ Canadian etc?
And do I recognise that when a text like, ‘This is America’ is created, it is not created for a 37-year-old Australian, suburban, Christian mother of four? I am an onlooker there. I have no right to an opinion on that text. It wasn’t created for me, nor is there any obligation on the part of the author to make it relevant to me. It is his art, for his people and his cultural moment.
I just thought it was worth remembering that…