Viral internet stars of the past: Where are they now?
The internet is a wholly unpredictable place, full of unforeseen plot twists at every click. One moment you're an Average Joe who has a kinda funny idea, the next you're a worldwide superstar, reaping the benefits of your 15 minutes of fame. The beautiful thing about the internet is the fact that no one has the ability to predict what's going to be a hit - and the not knowing is the thing that makes it even more thrilling. Hundreds of people out there have become millionaires from 30 seconds long clips that became top viral videos and you just never know, it could be your turn next.
However, after they've jostled their way into our hearts, minds and internet history, viral video stars have a habit of vanishing into thin air and the one question us addicts all need to know is, where are they? Lucky for you, we've dug deep into the depths of the internet, visiting online hemispheres no one ever needs to go to, to find out exactly what some of the biggest viral internet stars of the past are doing now.
Charlie Bit My Finger
Then: Baby Charlie catapulted to YouTube fame after biting his brother Harry's finger back in 2007, garnering 853,800,000 views on the video platform. Amazingly the family picked up about £1 million from the viral hit, which remains the 90th most viewed clip on YouTube - and gained internet stardom as they travel the world to make TV appearances and star in adverts for Renault, EE, Delta Air Lines, Ragu and Gerber; a firm that makes finger food for toddlers.
Now: A decade later the boys are all grown up and of course completely unrecognisable from their young selves with Harry, 13, hitting his teenage years and Charlie at the grand age of 11. The family now boasts two new brothers Rupert, six, and Jasper, nine, the former of which owes his existence to the viral video; his mum Shelley affirms that they wouldn't have had the freedom to have a fourth child if it weren't for the success of the video. So do the boys see internet domination in their future? Perhaps, we may be seeing more of Charlie, who says he is keen to become a vlogger, but his sibling seems content to move on from the Charlie Bit My Finger fuss stating: “It’s done, it’s had its day."
Leave Britney Alone
Then: After Britney Spears infamously shaved her head and bombed at the MTV Music Awards 2007, Chris Crocker was there to swoop in to tearfully defend her in one of the top viral videos of the year. He gained fame in September 2007 from Leave Britney Alone where he passionately defended the fallen superstar. Impressively, the clip received international media attention and hundreds of parodies, including one particularly memorable one from actor Seth Green.
Now: Chris has been incredibly busy since 2007 releasing an EP entitled The First Bite and having a brief stint as an adult entertainer; the good-looking young man has also done a spree of modelling for American Apparel. These days he's still living in Tennessee and working in the entertainment business - but the fame that came with his viral video wasn't always positive. On the 10 year anniversary of the video, he posted a heartfelt essay on Instagram, detailing the abuse he went through after it was published.
Then: Rebecca Black gained viral fame for making what was called the worst music video ever to exist in history. Financed by her parents, Friday was successful in more ways than one, being named the top YouTube video of the year in 2011 and the most disliked Youtube video of the year, gaining a total of more than 3,190,000 thumbs down on the video site. Similarly to Chris Crocker, the young girl's story shows that not all viral fame is good fame; the then 13-year-old received thousands of death threats and was forced to drop out of school due to bullying.
Now: Rebecca has stopped singing about different days of the week, instead these days croons about all sorts of other things. After continuing with her YouTube career, regularly posting videos on her channel, the 20-year-old woman had a fresh start in 2016 with her music career, releasing a song called The Great Divide. Since then we've had a flurry of new material including Foolish and Heart Full of Scars. Unfortunately, none of her new tunes have had as much success as Friday.
The Star Wars Kid
Then: Ghyslain Raza was the 15-year-old Quebec schoolboy who achieved unwanted international fame after footage of him enthusiastically practicing some Darth Maul-style moves with a golf ball retriever went viral. Dubbed the "Star Wars Kid", Raza never actually intended to release the clip online, but went big with an estimated billion views. But, as always, viral fame has a dark side; Raza was victim to cruel bullying from internet strangers and his peers at school. He told journalist Jonathan Trudel: “No matter how hard I tried to ignore people telling me to commit suicide, I couldn’t help but feel worthless, like my life wasn’t worth living.”
Now: Nowadays, ten years after his phenomenal internet success, Raza is thankfully living a happier life. Despite temporarily dropping out of school after becoming "Star Wars Boy", he enrolled again and went on to graduate from law school, eventually becoming president of a heritage conservation society in Trois-Rivieres. He has since spoke out about the dangers of becoming a worldwide star lending some inspirational word to others out there who go through it: "You’ll survive. You’ll get through it... you’re not alone. You are surrounded by people who love you."
Numa Numa guy
Then: "Mai ya hee, mai ya hoo, mai ya hah, mai ya hah hah!" If you've never danced around to this song, you haven't done life right. But there was one man who bested all of us. The then 19-year-old Gary Brolsma went viral when he recorded a video of him lip-syncing and sent it to his friends, having no idea that he would soon be known across the globe as the Numa Numa Guy. Thanks to Numa Numa stardom, Brolsma would go on to star in a 2009 Geico ad, the 2010 Super Bowl commercial for Vizio and in an episode of South Park.
Now: For a brief period Gary was the lead singer of a band called The Nonetheless, showcasing his vocal skills once more. But these days, Numa Numa Guy describes himself on social media as a "musician, web designer and all around cool guy". He continues to post on YouTube - including a remastered version of the Numa Numa dance which you should probably check out straight away.
Greatest freak out ever kid
Then: Stephen Quire was the boy who came home to find his World of Warcraft account has been canceled and wasn't too impressed with it. You have to watch the original video for the full effect, but it basically takes a turn for the worst when he throws an all-encompassing tantrum in his room. The footage was followed by numerous other clips which document the story of the young actor's intense anger issues. Watch and let hilarity ensue.
Now: Although his acting career seems to be over, these days Stephan is still thriving in life having been officially certified with the National Acadamy of Sports Medicine in 2016. He now works as a fitness trainer which is no surprise, considering the size of his muscles. Do he still freak out over the smallest of things? We really hope so.
JK Wedding Entrance Dance
Then: Jill Peterson and Kevin Heinz were the couple who did away with the traditional wedding entrance and danced down the aisle to Chris Brown's Forever in their St. Paul, Minnesota ceremony. Since then, the JK Wedding Entrance Dance has been watched almost 100 million times and remains one of the most popular YouTube videos of all time, sparking all sorts of spoofs and spinoffs.
Now: Unlike most celebrity marriages, Jill and Kevin are still together and went on to become a completely normal, well-adjusted married couple. Kevin is principal attorney and founder of Heinz Law whereas Jill, who thought up the whole wedding boogie, earned a Ph.D. in psychology and works as a college professor of criminal justice. With the profits from the video, they gave more than $50,000 for the Sheila Wellstone Foundation, a charity which works to end domestic violence. Turns out this kindhearted pair could do much, much more than just dance.
CPDRC Dancing Inmates
Then: Some genius came up with the idea to make maximum security prisoners perform dance routines as a form of daily exercise and it went completely viral back in 2007. The inmate's viral stardom kicked off with a rendition of Michael Jackson's Thriller which was uploaded to Youtube and received 57 million views. Their international fame even earnt them a visit from Jackson's choreographer in 2010, who arrived to teach them the They Don’t Care About Us routine.
Now: Although we cannot account for every single inmate who featured in the video, we can tell you that that dance program is still going strong and was even launched at other prison facilities, references by TV shows and featured in several documentaries. In fact, a few years ago, 12 former members of the crew formed a group of their own under the guidance of former Capitol security consultant Byron Garcia and began accepting bookings and invitations from their many, many fans. So next time you need to book an act for a party, look no further.
David After Dentist
Then: David was the little boy who asked the question we all ask after waking up from anesthesia - "Is this real life?" He hit the viral video hall of fame after being caught on camera woozy and confused by his father after a trip to the dentist. I think we can all agree that 136,182,032 views ain't bad at all.
Now: Eight years later, David has recovered from his trip to the dentist and is winning in life, having attended private school thanks to the profits gained from the footage. "Yeah, we've made a little bit of money thanks to YouTube and their partner program," Dad revealed. "But it's all gone to, you know, help the family, and particularly help William [David's brother] and David stay in private school." Not bad for one dad's recording of his kid's post-dentist trauma. Check out what David's looking like these days here.
It's fantastic to catch up with our old viral pals from yesteryear and we're glad to hear they're all doing well after producing some of the top viral videos ever. Although their 15 minutes of fame are over, we know we'll never forget them.