The YouTube Hall of Fame: Monkey Smells Finger

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Okay, the YouTube Hall of Fame exists only in concept at the moment. But it will one day be a real place where you can visit and receive little guided tours from people who used to be sort of famous.

But it has to start somewhere, and that somewhere is here. So NMR: Weekend Edition is kicking off the YouTube Hall of Fame induction campaign. Every time we decide someone is a worthy inductee into the Hall of Fame, we build a case for why they deserve to be there. This does not mean they are in any actual HoF yet, we’re just telling you who we think ought to be in there and why they ought to be in there. Right now, we’re just saying, “Hey! This person, place or thing (yes, places and objects can be inducted — we’re like the Smithsonian that way) is/was an important part of making YouTube into the entity it is and is becoming.

This week’s entry: Monkey Smells Finger, Falls Out of Tree

Yup, an animal sticking a finger in its asshole and then smelling it to disastrous results is our pick for the second entry into the YouTube Hall of Fame.

Here’s why:

This is the clip that built YouTube. It actually predates YouTube, first showing up on America’s Funniest Home Videos, hosted by Bob Saget, but there’s a better than good chance that it was the first clip you saw on YouTube. This was basically YouTube’s way of sneaking into your house — someone sent you the clip or showed it to you or posted it somewhere that redirected you to the site. And from there … many an afternoon/evening/life was wasted.

I can’t even point you in the direction of the very first clip of it — the one we pulled is from seven years ago, but it only has a little more than 2 million views. A cursory glance tells you that this clip has been uploaded hundreds of times by different accounts to YouTube though, and many of them are in the thousands and hundreds of thousands of views. This alone merits its inclusion on the list: it was the Johnny Appleseed of videos — it spread and spread and spread. Everybody sort of gets to claim authorship of it, because in effect, nobody can. There is no provenance to speak of — this clip belongs to everybody. Or if you believe the watermark, E! Television.

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Some notations:

Nadda. Everybody has the video and it has been name-checked plenty in pop culture, but nobody has background or specific references. But considering we ALL know it exists, it belongs in the YouTube Hall of Fame.

There is a lot of culture in the zeitgeist that is YouTube, some things will take longer than you want to “get in” and some things that you think are totally deserving will NEVER get in. There is no chronology at play here, only items as we come across them and weigh their merit. That being said:

If there is something you absolutely think deserves to be in the YOUTUBE HALL OF FAME, recommend it in the comments below. And do some article sharing, wouldja?