The summer of 2000 dawned with the successful passing of the Y2K problem. Unbeknownst to the crowd gathering in Berlin, Germany on that beautiful day of July 8th, a meme was about to be born. One of the earliest and most enduring internet memes since the creation of the technology that enabled them. The occasion? The annual Fuckparade, originally held in protest against the excess of commercialism in public life.
That year, an aspiring videographer named Matthias Fritsch, would capture 4 minutes of video glory on his misnamed "kneecam No. 1." In it we see a man enter the frame and shove a young woman, who is rescued by what can only be described as Thor himself come to life.
Our hero, is a tall, strapping, shirtless German who swiftly and sternly sends the goon on his way. This is a man who is clearly not the type to be fucked with and once he's dispatched with the problem, does something unexpected and wonderful. Taking his cue from the throbbing music reaching his brainstem, he begins to dance with pure abandon and an infectious joy in life that many viewers found unforgettable, present company included. The clip went viral and the man now dubbed "Techno Viking" entered internet lore.
I always wondered what happened to him, imagining that he leveraged his fame into club appearances (meet Techno Viking!), A DJ, maybe he was offered movie roles as an action star and who knows, even a line of viking-themed plush toys. Surely, he parlayed this into something, right?
Well, the truth could not be more different. When I lived in Germany, one of the things I was told about was their strong privacy laws and it turned out our stern Viking was not pleased to have his personal privacy invaded. Far from being happy at an opportunity for fame and fortune, he ended up suing the filmmaker and won, driving Mr. Fritsch into bankruptcy.
Floating down the revenue stream
If looked at from a purely business perspective, it's easy to see the loss of a potentially lucrative revenue stream. However, I think I can understand his wish to avoid having his life become completely commercialized and losing the ability to walk (or dance) down the street like a normal person.
Imagine the paparazzi stalking him wherever he went, the endless con men seeking to separate him from his money, not to mention the newfound "friends" popping up on every corner. Some of you may remember Abraham Shakespeare and how the allure of money and fame brought the wrong people into his life who ended up blotting out his own light.
So looking at the big picture, maybe Techno Viking made the right decision to control his own destiny by keeping internet fame at bay. Still maintaining his anonymity, he's free to go wherever he pleases without a care in the world. Life is more than just profit and loss and carries more meaning if well-lived. The flip side is that maybe it's better to earn from your own image instead of watching others do so. Do you think he made the right choice? What would you do if faced with his level of sudden internet fame?
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