Watch this kid on poor resolution looking like he's having the time of his life. It makes us smile and I think those of us that 'get it' all wish we could reach that pinnacle of joy that Gary seems to be enjoying.
- Gary Brolsma's Fan Mail.
Gary Brolsma's unnamed Internet video is a strangely captivating phenomenon. The sight of a 19-year-old man lip-synching along to an obscure pop song in his bedroom may not sound like the most obvious way to achieving celebrity, but Gary certainly achieved his 15 minutes this way.
I was sitting in my room, bored, and I found a random song and I thought it would be funny to show friends.
- Gary Brolsma. Unless otherwise stated, all quotes in this Entry are attributed to Brolsma.
On 6 December, 2004, 19-year-old Gary Brolsma, of Saddle Brook, New Jersey, USA uploaded a video to the Newgrounds website, which hosts animations from Internet users for free. Brolsma had seen a version of the song Dragostea Din Tei1, by Moldovan pop group O-Zone, set to an animation of cats by a Japanese Internet user. Out of sheer boredom, Brolsma had decided to create his own version for the amusement of his friends, and posted it to the site.
Many versions of the video exist – Brolsma himself has released several – but you can watch the original version.
It's something I never expected. I make a silly video for my friends and now everybody's watching it.
News of the video spread quickly, as viewers emailed a link to friends around the world. Within three months, it had attracted so much attention that the press became involved.
Gary Brolsma, 19, who lives with his parents in Saddle Brook, has the lip-synching talent of Ashlee Simpson and the physique of the Pilsbury Doughboy. But a clip of him manically bopping to O-Zone's international hit, 'Dragostea Din Tei', which translates as 'Love Among the Linden Trees', has blazed through cyberspace and made him a global icon.
- Tracy Connor, Daily News.
By February 2005, Brolsma's video had attracted over two million hits and was by far Newgrounds's most popular ever. He appeared on ABC's Good Morning America show, and the video was played on both VH-1 and CNN. Fox News also ended a bulletin with a version. Round the world, people began recording their own versions – now everyone from Disney's Chicken Little, through to the Lego Men - to a thousand unknown Internet wannabes has recorded a 'Numa Numa'.
But not all were happy; especially the New York Times, who on 26 February, 2005, under the headline Internet Fame Is Cruel Mistress For Video Dancer, printed an article on Brolsma and his video:
There was a time when embarrassing talents were a purely private matter. If you could sing 'The Star-spangled Banner' in the voice of Daffy Duck, nobody but your friends and family would ever have to know. But with the Internet, humiliation - like everything else - has now gone public.
Upload a video of yourself playing flute with your nose or dancing in your underwear, and people from Toledo to Turkmenistan can watch. Here, then, is the cautionary tale of Gary Brolsma, 19, amateur videographer and guy from New Jersey, who made the grave mistake of placing on the Internet a brief clip of himself dancing along to a Moldovan pop song.
...earnest but painful... like celebrity sex tapes...
Gary Brolsma is not the first guy to rocket out of anonymity on a starship of embarrassment.
The article was scathing of Brolsma and his performance, even suggesting that his life has been destroyed by the experience and that eighth-grade students, when shown the video, asked 'What else does he do?' It even quoted his grandmother as saying 'I want this to end.' The article begrudgingly admitted that schoolfriends had always thought Brolsma a funny guy who helped to fix the school's computers when they broke down.
Perhaps the negative tone of the article has something to do with Brolsma's media-shy attitude; quickly growing bored of the media interest, he had cancelled a scheduled appearance on the NBC Today Show on 17 February, 2005, and totally refused to answer questions for the New York Times, whose article appeared just over a week later.
Numa Numa Today
Brolsma is now using the experience to begin a career in web design.