Star Wars Kid

Star Wars Kid

Part of a series on Viral Videos. [View Related Entries]

Updated Mar 07, 2014 at 08:23PM EST by James.

Added Dec 12, 2008 at 03:10PM EST by Jamie Dubs.

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About

Star Wars Kid is the nickname given to Ghyslain Raza, a Canadian teenager who filmed himself fighting against imaginary sentries with a golf-ball retriever, as though it were a double-sided light saber wielded by the antagonist Darth Maul in Star Wars: Episode I. Over the last decade, it is estimated that the original, unmodified Star Wars Kid video has accumulated over one billion views.

Origin

On November 2nd, 2002, Raza recorded an 8mm movie of himself pretend-fighting with a club in his high school studio, but forgot to take the cassette tape home with him. Unbeknownst to Raza, the footage was eventually discovered by three of his classmates on April 19th, 2003 and posted online via Kazaa, a popular P2P file-sharing network, on April 14th, 2003.



Spread

On April 22nd, 2003, game developer Bryan Dube[1] blogged the first CGI-edited version of Raza’s video, now equipped with a glowing lightsaber and appropriate science fiction sound effects. On April 29th, 2003, blogger Andy Baio[2] published both the original and CGI-edited versions on his website, naming the video file “Star_Wars_Kid.wmv” (shown below).



In May of 2003, remix videos of Star Wars Kid began surfacing on internet humor sites like Albino Black Sheep [3], FARK [4] and Newgrounds [5], further triggering a new series of parodies, mashups and other CGI-edited videos.

On May 19th, 2003, Star Wars Kid began receiving coverage from major tech-related blogs and forums like Metafilter [6], BoingBoing [7] and Wired News [8].

Legal Battle

On July 16th, 2003, following the mass exposure on Star Wars Kid, Andy Baio and over 400 fans of the video raised $4,334.44 in donations and sent Raza a 30GB iPod, a gift certificate for an electronics store and a “Thank You” letter [9]. However, Raza’s parents filed a quarter million-dollar harassment lawsuit against the families of his schoolmates for emotional sufferings and psychological damages, raising serious concerns of privacy invasion for the first time in a new age of the Internet.



Notable Examples



Impact

The Star Wars Kid phenomenon coincided with the adoption of broadband internet subscriptions in the United States which jumped 23% between 2000 and 2003. Having initially circulated prior to the emergence of video-sharing sites like YouTube, the Star Wars Kid phenomenon may be seen as one of the first instances of a massively consumed online video, a forebear to a now robust online video culture supporting a much deeper dimension for regular feedback, mashups and parody. In 2006, the video was estimated to have been viewed over 900 million times by The Viral Factory. [10]



Aftermath

By the end of May 2003, the video had received extensive coverage from mainstream news media outlets, including The New York Times.[11] Unfortunately, Raza was humiliated and finished school in a psychiatric ward.

Excerpt from MSNBC article:

Ghyslain, devastated by his sudden celebrity and the relentless teasing that came with it, dropped out of school and reportedly finished the semester in a psychiatric ward. His parents sued the families of the teenagers responsible for the video’s world premiere, in a suit that maintained, “Ghyslain had to endure, and still endures today, harassment and derision from his high-school mates and the public at large.” Also, he “will be under psychiatric care for an indefinite amount of time.” It also stated that the stigma could make it difficult for the kid to continue his education, find employment, and might necessitate that he change his name.

Vice Article

On June 1, 2010, the Vice Magazine technology website Motherboard[12] revealed that Raza is now the president of the Patrimoine Trois-Rivières, a society dedicated to the conservation of his hometown, and that he was studying law at McGill University in Montreal.



L’Actualite Interview

On May 8th, 2013, the French-language Quebec magazine L’Actualite published an exclusive interview with Raza, in which he revealed that his experience of viral fame in the early 2000s was “a very dark period,” marked by fallout with his friends in school, harassment from people urging him to commit suicide and therapy sessions.



“No matter how hard I tried to ignore people telling me to commit suicide, I couldn’t help but feel worthless, like my life wasn’t worth living.”

Raza, who said he was inspired to come forward by several cyberbullying cases that had pushed their victims to suicide, also urged other victims of harassments to “overcome (their) shame” and find help.

“You’ll survive. You’ll get through it,” he said. “And you’re not alone. You are surrounded by people who love you.”

On the following day, the English edition of the interview was published by the Canadian weekly news magazine Maclean’s.[13]

Search Interest

External References

[1]Bryan Dube – Shoalin Monk? You Make The Call / 4-22-2003

[2]Andy Baio – Finding the Star Wars Kid / 5-13-2003

[3]Albino Blacksheep – Star Wars Kid Remix / 5-26-2003

[4]FARKThe Star Wars Kid Enter The Matrix / 5-29-2003

[5]EbaumsWorld – Star Wars Kid – Attack Of The Clones / 8-10-2003

[6]Metafilter – Star Wars Kid Suing / 5-30-2003

[7]BoingBoing – Star Wars Kid Found, Geeks Launch Online Fundraiser / 5-15-2003

[8]Wired News – Star Wars Kid Gets Bucks from Blogs / 5-19-2003

[9]Waxy – Finding The Star Wars Kid / 5-13-2003

[10]BBC News – Star Wars Kid is Top Viral Video / 11-27-2006

[11]New York Times – Compressed Data; Fame Is No Laughing Matter for the Star Wars Kid / 5-19-2003

[12]MotherBoard.TV – After Lawsuits and Therapy, Star Wars Kid is Back / 6-01-2010

[13]Macleans – 10 years later Star Wars Kid speaks out

Recent Videos 14 total

Recent Images 33 total

Top Comments

Durvarowe
Durvarowe

You know what would be awesome? If J.J. Abrams named one of the new Jedi in Star Wars Episode 7 after this guy.

“Ghyslain Razaa” sorta sounds like the name of a Star Wars character, doesn’t it?

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