“Schadenfreude”, YouTube & Viral Videos


Have you ever heard of Schadenfruede ? No? Well, neither had I until a trip to New York a few years back when I attended a hilariously funny, highly politically incorrect musical called Avenue Q. Maybe you’ve heard of it . . . It’s the popular Broadway show in which muppet-looking puppets sing about lots of PG-13 to R rated topics and issues.  I didn’t know what the show was about when I went, but despite the odd content I really enjoyed the performance. The songs are funny but quite innappropriate to post here without a warning to prevent kids from viewing. A YouTube search of Avenue Q will glean lots of good results though for those of you who are curious as to what I’m talking about. 🙂

Back to the topic though . . . One of the songs is called “Schadenfreude” After hearing it, I looked up the term to see if it was real It was, of course. According to the non-academic, but highly informative, Wikipedia, Schadenfreude is exactly as they describe on Avenue Q:

Schadenfreude (pronounced /ˈʃɑːdənfrɔɪdə/ About this sound Audio (US) (help·info)German pronunciation: [ˈʃaːdənˌfʁɔʏdə]) is pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others. This German word is used as a loanword in English and some other languages, and has been calqued in Danish and Norwegian as skadefryd andSwedish as skadeglädje.

But, are the Germans the only ones who can be accused of Schadenfreude? I don’t think so. Let’s look at a few YouTube viral videos to see what I’m talking about.

This poor girl actually seems to think she’s doing a good job of imitating this song from the 90s. Um, she’s not. Also, my roommates and I determined she must have some type of disability. Someone convinced her to take down the original video, but by then it had been copied and you can now find quite a few versions (as well as response videos) on YouTube.

I have no clue what the guys idea was behind filming and posting this video, but it is just awkward. Someone should have let him know he looked like an idiot. But, we laugh at it and the video ranks below only the official video for the song.

And, this is by far the CUTEST one ever. “That really hurt Charlie, and it’s still hurting”. I laugh every time!

So, what makes a viral video popular? You can argue that it’s not our vaguely disguised desire for Schadenfreude. But, then what would you do with Rebecca Black? Her Friday video can be classified as nothing but a misfortune for her and the human race.

She doesn’t seem to understand that the video was a DISASTER (she even thinks she could do a duet with Bieber!), but the numbers speak for themselves.

I learned in Kindergarten that red means STOP! And, we all know that when it comes to singing with Rebecca Black, even Bieber will break his vow to “Never Say Never”. But, Rebecca Black thinks she’s super-cool.

So, next time you’re watching your favorite viral video on YouTube, ask yourself if you are indulging in a bit of Schadenfreude. 🙂