by Luke Baumgarten & r & & r & eCrash and eBurn & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & S & lt;/span & pokane's Luke Barats and Joe Bereta, two of YouTube's biggest celebrities, have donated their faces and antics to an official Barenaked Ladies video. On "Sound of Your Voice," they and other handpicked YouTube celebutantes get kooky over a saccharine BNL ballad.
The thinking, clearly, is that such a grouping of eStars would be an instant eSuccess. Barats and Bereta's YouTube page has more than 38,000 subscribers, people who care enough about them to want to know everything they do. The duo's popularity has already led NBC to ink a six-figure development deal with the pair. Three of the other Tube-celebs featured on the BNL video have even broader fan support than Barats and Bereta.
Last Monday, a week after it was posted to YouTube, "Sound of Your Voice" was blogged about on cyberpunk portal boingboing.net. That day alone, approximately 79,000 eyes saw the link and read the site's rather fawning description of the video. The Barenaked Ladies' handlers aren't off-base, then, thinking this would incite buzz. Indeed, it's hard to think of a better scenario for Web success.
Despite that, fewer than 100,000 people have actually watched the clip, meaning that two weeks into its life cycle (late middle-age by viral Net standards), what should have been a geek awareness home run has largely failed. So where's the disconnect?
Though eStar status and boingboing have the power to drive hits initially, the only way videos get huge is by being favorited by viewers and passed on to friends. That hasn't happened here because frankly, the video is boring as hell. Barats and Bereta reenact "Mother's Day," the video that made them famous... nearly a year ago. The other participants do similar rehashes. None of these people is Jon Stewart. There's no built-in cachet. They remain popular because they reinvent themselves video to video within given parameters.
It's fitting that a characterless love song be paired with rehashed video content. It's also instructive for all those in digital-commerce-land who live under the silly assumption that anything transmitted over a line as a collection of 1s and 0s has intrinsic value.