Well, this is weird and unexpected: Paul “Bear” Vasquez, star of what’s got to be the breakout viral video of the summer, the Double Rainbow video, is now working for Microsoft as a pitchman for their Windows Live suite. He appears in two recently released videos advertising Windows Live Photo Gallery and Windows Live Essentials, respectively.
This is actually kind of a big deal, believe it or not: Company-made ads go viral, and artists occasionally ‘go viral’ too in that their online followings outpace the confidence that producers or labels might put in them otherwise and thereby give them their big break, but when has a genuine, grassroots viral video star embraced by and been embraced by a large corporation like this? It’s a little cool, but also a little weird.
I’m conflicted in how I feel about this: On the one hand, as Bear says in the Live Essentials video, “The Double Rainbow video is just one of the things that is part of who I am”: Having ‘gone viral,’ the guy still has to eat, and no one should begrudge him his chance to make the most of his unexpected fame. And the videos are well-done, belying the notion that Microsoft would uptightly handle something as fragile, cultural, and of the times as the Double Rainbow phenomenon. They’re knowing, funny, and most of all, they just let Bear be his chill self.
At the same time, it represents the commodification of everything that people enjoy: As Jason Kottke wrote about the ‘ladder parkour’ viral ads, “Welcome to 2010, when you can’t sort the ads from everything else.” The organically, serendipitously discovered and appreciated Double Rainbow video has been gobbled up by companies to sell their stuff. Welcome to capitalism, I guess? At least the Microsoft videos give Bear his due (and, presumably, his paycheck) rather than jumping on a widely appreciated catchphrase for moar hipness.