Who the Hell is Matt, 20 million views later
If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend the "Where the Hell is Matt" video that's been all the rage on YouTube lately. The video shows a man, Matt, doing the same awkward dance with locals in 42 countries around the world. The Tyee ran a piece today that gets at the man behind the myth.
I have to admit I was a little disappointed when I learned Matt was sponsored by a gum company, but at least the logo is inobtrusively placed near the end.
Some heady types have suggested the video represents a kind of neo-colonialism, but I think they're thinking about it too much. I thought the point was more about how everyone around the world has a goofball side--the universality of merriment, if you will.
Full disclosure: I've been known not to think about things enough
Matt, an average-looking, young American, has been viewed online an un-average 20 million times on YouTube alone. (His most recent vid was the most viewed video worldwide last month)
In Where the Hell is Matt?, he poses in unlikely spots around the globe -- Jordan, Peru and Rwanda, to name a few. In every shot, he's dancing, always dancing, and doing it badly. And people love it.
So who the hell is this Matt guy anyway? In his own words, Matt Harding is a 31-year-old deadbeat from Connecticut who used to think that all he ever wanted to do in life was make and play videogames. In February 2003, he quit his job and used the money he'd saved to wander around Asia until it ran out.
A few months into his trip, while standing around taking pictures in Hanoi, a travel buddy gave Matt an idea: "Hey, why don't you stand over there and do that dance. I'll record it."
It's a simple dance, a bad dance, with nothing fancy about it. But the trip's resulting video dance-montage caught on.
Matt landed a sponsorship deal with a gum company, and has since gone on two major dance tours around the globe. Then, in 2006, Matt took a six-month trip through 39 countries on all seven continents. That's the video that has been watched 15 million times.
Matt has become a cult hero of sorts, partly because of the Internet mythos that elevates the regular guy to superstar status. Matt plays on this idea on his website. When he was younger, he writes in his bio, he could hang seven spoons on his face at once. He's also left-handed, as if that matters, and his Xbox Live screen name is "BadDancer." (Matt even made a point to dance with the original YouTube star/loser, the Numa Numa guy.