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10 Landmark Moments in YouTube History

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I've really been getting into my Instagram app these days, exploring ways to manipulate it beyond the standard filters that come with it. My most recent experiment is taking pictures of things on my computer screen; the glossy reflection, depending on sunlight and room conditions make for some pretty beautiful patterns and effects. Below you'll find some shots I recently took off YouTube—a pictorial history of sorts.

1. Charlie Bit My Finger

Still my favorite online video of all time, and, judging by the number of views (it's now up to 366,792,355 as of this writing), many others' favorite, as well, "Charlie Bit My Finger" has everything a good homemade video should have: endearing subjects, little-to-no interference from the video's "director" and a heavily anticipated moment of action, in this case, the innocent chomping of a finger.

(YouTube channel page)

By the way, if you're wondering whether or not there's any money in posting YouTube videos, by my crude calculations, this little video has made about $734,000 for the family that uploaded it (based on a blended, average $2/CPM, which is fairly standard for YouTube partner channels). And that's just the one video! The channel has many, popular videos on it.

2. David After Dentist

As of this writing, more than 98 million people have viewed little David struggling to make sense of the world after his trip to the dentist’s office where he had oral surgery, preceded by a healthy dose of some wild anesthetic. Whether the video is exploitative and takes advantage of David for laughs is up to each viewer. But what’s indisputable is the fact that the video has earned its rightful place in the YouTube Hall of Fame.

(YouTube channel page)

3. Diet Coke + Mentos

If you haven't seen the crazy duo behind this experiment on Letterman or Ellen, you're missing part of the fun. Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz spent six months developing different Coke & Mentos geyser effects before they were ready to start shooting videos. The big video on YouTube employed more than 100 two-liter bottles of Diet Coke, more than 500 Mentos and was astonishingly shot in one take! To date, the vid has more than 14 million views.

(YouTube video link)

4. Dorkiness Prevails

I remember this video broke on the scene shortly after the mentalfloss blog launched and some of us were wondering if it was worth covering. Then Randy wrote about it a few months later, and, well, it might be the first time we ever wrote about something YouTubesque. Granted, there was a story here, right? This was the video that duped us all into thinking there really was a dorky hot chick, lonely, as her handle announced, vlogging daily from her little apartment. Soon though, we found out it was all concocted by some pretty smart Hollywood-types who had pulled the wool over our eyes and earned their spot in YouTube history.

5. Evolution of Dance

Comedian Judson Laipply made history when he uploaded his version of the 6-minute history of dance, moving seamlessly between eras, styles, fashions and moves. For a long time, this video held the most-viewed spot before Charlie came along. Still, to date it has more than 178 million views.

(YouTube channel page)

6. Yes We Can

This classic, uploaded in 2008, was assembled by will.i.am and features John Legend, Common and Scarlett Johansson. Together, they made a music video from one of Barack Obama's stump speeches during the 2006 primary campaign, highlighting his now famous slogan "Yes We Can." The timing of the release of the video helped to push support toward Obama at the right time in the 2008 election.

(YouTube video link)

7. Me at the Zoo

“Me at the zoo” was shot by Yakov Lapitsky. It's only 19 seconds long and only shows us Jawed Karim (one of the three founders of the Web site) at the San Diego Zoo. Still, it does hold the distinction of being the very first video uploaded to the site, so its place in history is secured for sure. Today, more than 48 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.

(YouTube channel page)

8. Kittens Inspired by Kittens

What pictorial history of YouTube would be complete without a cat video, eh? "Kittens Inspired by Kittens" features an adorable 6-year-old inserting her own literal narrative to the photos in a children's book titled Kittens. It's been seen more than 13 million times as of today.

(YouTube video link)

9. JK Wedding Entrance Dance

More than 68 million views later, Kevin and Jill's wedding ceremony is still going strong. The choreographed processional to Chris Brown's "Forever" has allowed them to raise more than $26,000 for the Sheila Wellstone Institute. Yep, they're putting most of the income to charity—something few of us would do. Well, then again, how many of us would create a dance like that in the first place?!

(YouTube video link)

10. RickRoll'D

Rick Astley's 1987 video "Never Gonna Give You Up" got new life in 2008 when a 4Chan user promised a video-game trailer and instead linked readers to Astley's video. The trick, dubbed Rickrolling, has become an April Fools staple, racking up more than 51 million views to date.

(Don't do it!)

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Ape Meets Girl
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Pop Culture
Epic Gremlins Poster Contains More Than 80 References to Classic Movies
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Ape Meets Girl

It’s easy to see why Gremlins (1984) appeals to movie nerds. Executive produced by Steven Spielberg and written by Chris Columbus, the film has horror, humor, and awesome 1980s special effects that strike a balance between campy and creepy. Perhaps it’s the movie’s status as a pop culture treasure that inspired artist Kevin Wilson to make it the center of his epic hidden-image puzzle of movie references.

According to io9, Wilson, who works under the pseudonym Ape Meets Girl, has hidden 84 nods to different movies in this Gremlins poster. The scene is taken from the movie’s opening, when Randall enters a shop in Chinatown looking for a gift for his son and leaves with a mysterious creature. Like in the film, Mr. Wing’s shop in the poster is filled with mysterious artifacts, but look closely and you’ll find some objects that look familiar. Tucked onto the bottom shelf is a Chucky doll from Child’s Play (1988); above Randall’s head is a plank of wood from the Orca ship made famous by Jaws (1975); behind Mr. Wing’s counter, which is draped with a rug from The Shining’s (1980) Overlook Hotel, is the painting of Vigo the Carpathian from Ghostbusters II (1989). The poster was released by the Hero Complex Gallery at New York Comic Con earlier this month.

“Early on, myself and HCG had talked about having a few '80s Easter Eggs, but as we started making a list it got longer and longer,” Wilson told Mental Floss. “It soon expanded from '80s to any prop or McGuffin that would fit the curio shop setting. I had to stop somewhere so I stopped at 84, the year Gremlins was released. Since then I’ve thought of dozens more I wish I’d included.”

The ambitious artwork has already sold out, but fortunately cinema buffs can take as much time as they like scouring the poster from their computers. Once you think you’ve found all the references you can possibly find, you can check out Wilson’s key below to see what you missed (and yes, he already knows No. 1 should be Clash of the Titans [1981], not Jason and the Argonauts [1963]). For more pop culture-inspired art, follow Ape Meets Girl on Facebook and Instagram.

Key for hidden image puzzle.
Ape Meets Girl

[h/t io9]

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Kehinde Wiley Studio, Inc., Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
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Barack Obama Taps Kehinde Wiley to Paint His Official Presidential Portrait
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Kehinde Wiley
Kehinde Wiley Studio, Inc., Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Kehinde Wiley, an American artist known for his grand portraits of African-American subjects, has painted Michael Jackson, Ice-T, and The Notorious B.I.G. in his work. Now the artist will have the honor of adding Barack Obama to that list. According to the Smithsonian, the former president has selected Wiley to paint his official presidential portrait, which will hang in the National Portrait Gallery.

Wiley’s portraits typically depict black people in powerful poses. Sometimes he models his work after classic paintings, as was the case with "Napoleon Leading the Army Over the Alps.” The subjects are often dressed in hip-hop-style clothing and placed against decorative backdrops.

Portrait by Kehinde Wiley
"Le Roi a la Chasse"
Kehinde Wiley, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0

Smithsonian also announced that Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald has been chosen by former first lady Michelle Obama to paint her portrait for the gallery. Like Wiley, Sherald uses her work to challenge stereotypes of African-Americans in art.

“The Portrait Gallery is absolutely delighted that Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald have agreed to create the official portraits of our former president and first lady,” Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery, said in a press release. “Both have achieved enormous success as artists, but even more, they make art that reflects the power and potential of portraiture in the 21st century.”

The tradition of the president and first lady posing for portraits for the National Portrait Gallery dates back to George H.W. Bush. Both Wiley’s and Sherald’s pieces will be revealed in early 2018 as permanent additions to the gallery in Washington, D.C.

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