Back in November, a video collaboration between wildly popular vlogger Shane Dawson and web comedy originators The Fine Brothers hit YouTube. Within a week, it had gathered a whopping 2 million views. The video (above) was a parody of the Canadian teen drama Degrassi: The Next Generation, which would explain some of the success in terms of targeting a large and passionate audience. But what was interesting about the popularity of this video was the fact that it is over 10 minutes long and was actually viewed more often than the source material it was spoofing.
This weekend, a second video parody is going to hit the internet. Titled Girls Gone Wild On Degrassi, a sneak peek of the video (below) reveals that the collaborators are going to kick it up a notch…by actually including a member of the Degrassi cast, Lauren Collins, who plays the girl girls love to hate, Paige. On how she became a part of this installment, Collins said: “It’s all thanks to the Twitterverse! I received a ton of @’s about Shane’s first Degrassi video so I had to check it out! I thought it was hilarious. Dirty, vulgar and slightly inappropriate…sure. But that’s what made it so much fun. Jokes aside…what impressed me the most was the amount of detail that went into the writing. I knew that Shane and the Fine Brothers were huge fans and really appreciated the show. So I tweeted Shane and we kept in touch from there. I happened to be in LA while they were shooting Part 2, which worked out nicely.”
The Fine Brothers (whose fourth edition of their “Spoilers” series premiered this week in preparation for the Oscars this Sunday), always having strong, well-developed opinions on the New Media space as a whole, feels that the implications of their fan-generated content has great potential. “We think it is one of the few case studies of the power of web video that is often overlooked by traditional media, as well as the new media community itself. View counts have been de-valued in the space due to views being either non existent for most shows, full of fraud, or just flat out bought. It’s the elephant in the room. No one wants to talk about views, and those who boast them can’t transparently back them up, but Shane Dawson can, as can we with our own content. This is a situation where a top YouTube star with a real sustained fanbase and viewership does indeed have the power to make content that rivals television numbers- and beyond that, grab the attention of everyone from the executive producer of Degrassi to getting a cast member to join the cast. There is no money here in terms of the production itself, a 2 person crew (both of us), no company, no big press roll out or marketing budget…it’s a true brand, a true star, and true viewership with the kind of power that can change the way people look at the web space. We feel these Degrassi spoofs have done just that, and there is a bright future for companies that are smart enough to work with the right people that have proven they understand web video and can prove they can get the eyeballs to build a sustainable business model off of.”
“Also we want to give Degrassi some huge thanks and appreciation for completely embracing what we are doing,” the Brothers continued. “Many shows could learn a thing or two about the value and power of the web, and it’s amazing to see the show supporting us. As fans, we can’t even express how good it feels to know we can actually give back to people who have brought so much entertainment to us. And talk about surreal when you then have the actress in person, right there reading lines you wrote. If that’s not what being a web creator is all about, we don’t know what is!”
And there is still more to come from this pairing. “I would love to continue working with the Fine Brothers,” 2010 Streamy Award-nominated Dawson said. “I know we are both obsessed with the show Saved By The Bell so I think that should be our next project. Playing Zack Morris has been a dream of mine since I was 5. If only I could be as cool as him…one could dream. As far as other projects outside of YouTube, television has always been the goal and we are taking all the steps to get there. It may take some time but when it happens I know it will be amazing. There needs to be more wigs and cross dressing on television and I think I can make that happen!”