WATCH THE TRAILER HERE
First, the Recap:
Stardom. Fame. To be recognized the world over, having complete and total acknowledgement of your accomplishments. Along with it all, to be paid to do what you love. It’s the dream of us all, if we’re sincere with ourselves, or at least to some extent. Even if any potentially ego-driven sense of achievement isn’t the actual goal, there’s still at minimum the inherent desire to have your efforts rewarded. Meet Senan Byrne and Eddie Whelan, two of the most popular people you may not even know, unless you follow their madcap antics via the infectious, 6-second videos, called “vines”, they produce as the duo “Fupin Eejits” on Vine.co. Yet, what some would see as true success eludes this creative and determined Irish duo.
Earning their way through working as psychiatric nurses in small town Ireland, the pair have invested amazing amounts of their own free time to create, as the BBC described, “mesmerizing 6-second slices of ordinary life”, via these comedic short videos that have captured the attention of a country and the world, along the way making them the Emerald Isle’s most viewed users. Having had as many as 70,000 notifications from just one or more posts, they know they don’t desire to take themselves seriously, having this as a release from “normal” life, yet the attention garnered and businesses they’ve been contacted by have yet to yield a single bit of financial gain. While money is not the goal but instead bringing laughter to millions, it still paints an interesting and dynamic portrait of celebrity.
Next, my Mind:
Director/producer Charlo Johnson’s 8-minute documentary short brings with it, for this reviewer, a sense of both inspiration and subtle heartbreak in viewing how much passion, amusement, bravado, and outright resolve Byrne and Whelan put into their “vine”-ing, while only getting a certain level of actual, tangible reward for it, despite having been viewed over 200 million times as of February 2016 and the completion of this film. Knowing financial recompense, as stated above, is not their primary goal, it still stands to reason in this day and age that at least one of the companies they’ve been contacted by about their content and success with it would yield the ability to possibly do what they love full time via sponsorship or other provided means. Yet, it remains the elusive aspect of an already amazing, ongoing accomplishment. Beautifully shot interviews with Byrne and Whelan make this effort so endearingly human, and the inclusion of multiple examples of their vines only adds weight to this look into two friend’s personal journeys and the incalculable amount of effort put forth.
Totally relatable, down-to-earth, and completely self-effacing, Byrne and Whelan marvel at the incredible amount of viewings their vines have received, the number of notifications, personal messages, and positive “likes” and emojis they’ve witnessed on their Vine account, even some hints of the celebrity response they’ve garnered. But, they also indicate some of the down sides of putting yourself out there, having had critical remarks leveled against them, explicit material sent to them, even sexist/racist remarks posted about them. Yet, despite any personal sense of attack felt from this, they continue to accept the fact it’s all a part of being online and being yourself. Constant ideas are flowing from the twosome, whether via individual vines or ones together, and it keeps it interesting and ever-fluctuating. Dealing with the fact some of what they feel is their best material wasn’t even liked/acknowledged that much illustrates another facet of things that remains a challenge, yet again, they soldier on, loving the greater results, and adapting a needed “whatever happens, happens” attitude.
In total, “Gone Viral” is a necessary, vital, and real world-based portrait of hard work and success that illustrates the drive and satisfaction drawn from it goes far beyond money, but instead into the hearts, minds, and lives of millions around the world who are laughing with them. We could all stand more of that.
As always, this is all for your consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading!