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Chris Crocker is the stage name of Christopher Darren Cunningham, a YouTube vlogger best known for the 2007 viral video Leave Britney Alone. His often comedic videos range from personal stories to general commentary.
Chris Crocker began his online life in 2000 after unsuccessfully attempting to start a gay-straight alliance at his middle school. He began an e-mail zine about coming out for his peers, which quickly gathered 3000 subscribers. Prior to the launch of YouTube, Crocker made numerous videos on MySpace that garnered him enough popularity by May 2007, he had more friends than rapper Lil Kim on the social networking site. On February 25th, 2007, a fan of Crocker created a YouTube account for the videoblogger with a video titled “This & that,” which was originally uploaded by Crocker via MySpace on December 28th, 2006. In the 47-second clip, Crocker addresses his internet haters and encourages them to come up to him in real life and fight him.
Eventually, Crocker’s MySpace video archives were transferred to the fan-made YouTube account and after receving several million hits, the fan handed over the account ownership to Crocker. As of June 2012, his YouTube channel has 424 videos, 355,828 subscribers, 255,491,575 overall views and receives an average of 131,089 views per day. Outside of YouTube, there is a single topic Tumblr for Chris Crocker fans as well as a Facbook fanpage which was 14,100 likes as of June 2012.
Leave Britney Alone
On September 10th, 2007, Chris Crocker uploaded a video titled “Leave Britney Alone!” in which he tearfully defended pop singer Britney Spears amidst the backlash from both critics and other celebrities after her lackluster 2007 Video Music Awards performance. In the first two hours of its upload, the video garnered over 2 million views. As of June 2012, the video has 43,893,186 views.
The ranting video quickly established Crocker as a YouTube celebrity, leading to interview appearances on news outlets including MSNBC, Salon and USA Today throughout September 2007. Ten days after the video was uploaded, ABC Newsreported that he had signed a reality television show deal, but in April 2008, Crocker uploaded a vlog revealing that he decided to opt out after the unnamed network told him that he was not allowed to use obscenities while working with them.
In August 2011, a Kickstarter project was created by filmmaker Chris Moukarbel and director Valerie Veatch to fund a documentary about Chris Crocker’s rise to internet fame titled Me at the Zoo, named after the first YouTube video uploaded by co-founder Jawed Karim. The fundraiser brought in $29,000, exceeding its goal by more than $10,000, and the film was completed and premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 21st, 2012. That month, the film rights were purchased by cable movie network HBO for its summer documentary series. After the HBO premiere on June 25th, 2012, it was reviewed on Gizmodo, the Huffington Post, the Washington Post and the New York Times. Crocker was also interviewed by Queerty and Gawker, in which he discussed his YouTube history, gender identity and the possibility of a pornography career.
Crocker is known for presenting himself as both male and female throughout his videos. He addressed the recurring theme of gender-obscurity in a vlog from October 20th, 2009, explaining that he does not feel like he is definitively a male or female. He has also uploaded videos comparing his male self to his female self in boasting his fluid gender presentation. Since 2007, there have been more than 1200 questions on Yahoo! Answers on whether or not Crocker is a male or female.
While most of his videos are humorous, Chris Crocker also combats serious topics including AIDS (below left) and bullying (below right). His ability to cover more serious topics has been mentioned on Yahoo! Music and the Examiner.
In May 2008, Crocker was invited to appear in Weezer’s music video “Pork and Beans” with an ensemble cast of other viral video stars. In 2009, Crocker appeared in a Sierra Mist commercial and an episode of Tosh.0’s Web Redemptionseries. As of June 2012, he’s released 13 songs on iTunes along with a racy music video for the song “Freak of Nature” in January 2011, in which he appeared as both the male and female versions of himself.
Christopher Darren Cunningham was born on December 7th, 1987 and raised by his grandparents in rural Tennessee. After being harassed at a young age, he was homeschooled throughout high school. As of June 2012, he is planning on moving to New York City to pursue a film career and he can be found on Tumblr, Twitter and Instagram.
The Washington Post – HBO’s ‘Me @ the Zoo’: Chris Crocker and the perils of viral fame
The New York Times – Watching Others Watching Me, or Reflection in the YouTube Age