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Nowadays pop culture is a powerful tool of mass impact on people and their minds. At the same time, pop culture may consist of controversial and contentious elements that somehow resonate with the consumer. One of the qualities of the modern pop industry is that it is extremely changeable, though amenable to some influence from PR-managers, technologists, and marketers. Periodically, it rebels and gives off unexpected, unpredictable decisions and directions. It is also worth noting that cultural characteristics in some regions have a significant impact on the development and transformation of popular culture, giving the unique features to its products. However, this is not an obstacle for the object to reach the highest level of pop culture, interacting with other objects, not on a local but global level. Perhaps, the interest in a foreign pop culture is a result of people’s desire to see, hear and learn something new and unfamiliar. Every culture has its characteristics. People may like or dislike these differences, but they cause some interest to the cultural object. State of the art and pop culture is also influenced by economic, political, ideological and even historical factors in every country. Today Internet has a strong leading position in the speed of information dissemination as well as constant content updates. It is a powerful tool to promote products and ideas throughout the world. At the same time, the mood of users and areas of interest can change quite fast and not always in a predictable way. Internet users are focused on fun and pleasure, with minimal effort and as fast as possible. At the same time, the global network opens up the ability to access objects of pop-culture of different countries. There are many online resources to find the video of the desired category and desired style. Watching different videos is a trend, which increases the speed of propagation and the popularity of foreign cultural products among the target audience. In the light of the above information, it was decided to choose the video named “PPAP” by a Japanese comedian Kazuhito Kosaka as an object of popular culture for analysis, which in a short time has become popular in many countries.
Before proceeding directly to the analysis of the chosen cultural artifacts as a unit of the world of pop culture, it is necessary to identify and examine the factors and criteria that allow the product to reach international popularity in the pop industry, while other similar products failed to do it. This issue should be considered, because it is hard to predict whether a new music video can take the top position of world charts, or a week later, it will be forgotten; will a new video about kittens on the Top of YouTube.com or get lost among the hundreds of the same. Indeed, even if one is sure that a particular artifact is worthy of the mass attention, it does not mean that this will happen in fact.
One of the most powerful subcategory on the Internet is video. Video clips that scored the highest number of views in a relatively short period are called viral videos. However, the creation of viral video requires not just creativity and good fortune, but also a competent approach. According to Pozin, even the experts in this area have only 0.3% of the publications that have become well-known. It is hard not to accept that it is quite a low percentage. Additionally, experience shows that this type of video can only be created, but not copied. However, with the viral videos you can achieve excellent results.
Here is the list of characteristics that any video should have to increase the probability of its mass spread. Data should be presented briefly while having positive character. Currently, there is an overabundance of information, which leads to stress and scattered attention. Hence, it is recommended to limit the duration of the video to one minute. Additionally, funny or unusual content should be placed at the beginning of the video, and the material should be optimistic. There is a direct dependency between the number of video views and the character's emotional state. Positive emotions trigger is the most powerful tool to activate the emotional response. Optimism and a positive background of a pop-object are other features necessary to succeed. Understanding of trends, news, and topics (Internet memes, stories) increases the probability of creating product, which meets the requirements of modern society. Another important aspect is that to understand the needs of the target audience one should speak their language. Feedback creates positive reinforcement and increases the number of users who have shared the video. After all, information depth should be raised to the maximum level.
There are certain categories of video clips that have more opportunities to become viral: a parody on something regular and recognizable by people; something admirable that can inspire wonder; actions that raise questions like "Did this just happen?" It is worth mentioning that structure of viral video has some specific features. The first is permanent retention of human attention. One or more recapturing of attention should take place throughout the clip because of declining of concentration of viewers. Second, the amount of advertising information should be minimized to prevent any negative association. Third, involving of public persons can increase the credibility level for content products. Celebrities could rise the number of users’ activity since one will more likely follow a link if a well-known person or a friend shared it.
The video that has been selected as an artifact for analysis is called “PPAP” by Kazuhito Kosaka. This hit took 77th place in Hot 100 singles chart. Besides that Guinness World Records Committee confirmed it is the shortest song that ever got into HOT 100. This video has more than 177 million views since its launch on the Internet and to date, making it viral. In one interview, Kazuhito Kosaka told the history of it’s’ creation, and here are some facts. The words for the “Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen” (PPAP) song came thanks to the surrounding in the producer’s house. First, PPAP-song became popular among Japanese students, but in the autumn it rapidly gained its popularity far beyond Japan. The peak of activity in capturing the audience started after Justin Bieber mentioned the song in a post in his social network profile. The budget of the video clip amounted to $ 1,000 for the lease of a recording studio.
A notable fact is that the video does not carry any useful information. White background does not take any viewer's attention, allowing concentrating on the actor. Dance moves are as simple as possible, performed to the music with a simple but unforgettable rhythm, and uncomplicated melody. The lyrics consist of words, which are among the first each person gets to know as he or she starts learning English - a pen, an apple, pineapple. However, despite its simplicity, this project has not only received the highest rating and was evaluated by network users, but also has inspired many people to create own parodies (over 40 thousand video uploads were made).
It seems logical to analyze and find out how many of the criteria listed above can be found in this media product. The duration of the video corresponds to the value, referred as an optimum, and lasts for 45 seconds; thus, it is not tiring the audience, which reduces the risk of loss of user’s interest. The content of the song is completely pointless; just a few words are used in the text. Then non-existent imaginary objects are constructed. However, apparently, this song is instantly recognizable and popular precisely because of these simple phrases. The words "pen", "apple" and "a pineapple" is easy to pronounce, and any of these items is not difficult to imagine. With these words the English lessons start. Therefore, the target audience is widespread, because almost all the people with Internet access have a sufficient level of English to understand what actor talks during the video. From the outset, the artist manages to intrigue the viewer, denoting imaginary objects. The question "What will happen next?" immediately arises. The content has a minimum size, in some way it is almost reaching the point of absurdity - the singer takes imaginary objects and combines them to get something awkward that will never meet in everyday life. In this case, the viewer's imagination easily depicts the object, about which the author sings - a hybrid of pen and apple (or pineapple). The musical accompaniment makes the viewer get involved, shaking his or her head to the music – the transparent rhythm does not give a chance to remain motionless. Lightweight and silly dance also help to create a positive mood in the viewer. Undoubtedly, the emotional state after watching the clip is positive. Creating an extended version of the song, according to the wishes and ideas expressed after the recognition of the first edition of the “PPAP” clip, as well as communication with fans, the parodies responses, and other reasons, can be an example of the feedback in the project. After analyzing some points in the video, it can be concluded that this illustration contains all the criteria that have been specified as essential to the successful dissemination of videos on a global scale. However, it should be remembered that the presence of all the characteristics in the project does not guarantee that it will become popular all over the world.
The appearance of the video provoked a worldwide reaction of users. The evidence is the huge number of skits in which people are trying to either repeat the original video or demonstrate creativity and complement the clip with some scenes. In this case, the age, sex, level of education are not significant variables. Positive emotional response to the video clip and the desire to express these emotions are the key factors.
The cultural aspect, in this case, is ambiguous. On the one hand, the Japanese are known for the non-trivial, sometimes even confusing and challenging ideas, which make the products of the pop culture even weirder, while harder to understand for people from different cultures. On the other hand, the positive outcome of these specific cultural features is the originality. Perhaps the clip has been adapted for people with more traditional views, but the small imprint of madness is still present. In this case, the usage of English words allows evaluating the idea of the author without experiencing the difficulties in translation or interpretation of the phrases. For example, Pikotaro has not only this video but also several other clips: each of them can be recognized thanks to the common patterns – white background, the same costume, silly dance. Nevertheless, the main issue that occurs during the watching is that one do not understand anything if he or she does not speak Japanese. This is a simple illustration of how the same factor has effect on the pop culture objects, helping or hindering it becoming well-known and widespread all over the world.
It can be said for sure that the Internet as modern technology is an indispensable tool for PR of pop culture products. In consequence of it, every person who wants to become involved in pop culture and to contribute to its development has such opportunity thanks to access to the global network. It is necessary to follow some rules to ensure popularity for a pop video. Among them are short length, ease of understanding of content and author's ideas, positive emotions after viewing and correct feedback to the target audience requests. The presence of albeit small, but memorable, distinctive feature, which makes the product unique, its availability and transnational adaptation are preferred as well.
The maximum simplicity of the story, dance, lyrics, music and background are making the video “PPAP” by Pikotaro easy and funny, keeping positive emotions after seeing it. Subtitles are used in this video as the adaptation to the masses. In general, this theme does not contain any specific moments, jokes, situations that would be understood only by a small group of people.