Is there any doubt that we will rick roll the anthropologists who will study us? Will they wonder how and why it all started with that Rick Astley hit song….
Article Continues Below Ad
It’s called the “rick-roll”. You’re innocently browsing an apparently useful website and see a link to something else that might be of interest, but when you click through to that destination you instead find yourself confronted with Astley’s boyish smile, his manly croon, his awkward 1987 dance-moves.
The link was a fake, a trap, a dummy with the nefarious purpose of… bringing you face-to-face with the ridiculous.
As with so many stupid internet fads, the rick-roll trend had its start at 4chan, a message-board whose lunatic, juvenile community is at once brilliant, ridiculous and alarming. 4chan users had taken to “duck-rolling” each other – tricking one-another into viewing a video of a, er, duck with wheels. In the spring of 2007 some enterprising prodigy branched off from this into the rick-roll. And the rest is history.
The internet began to swarm with rick-rollers – from Slashdot to the World of Warcraft, and certainly to Wikipedia. At YouTube, one posting of the video has had more than seven million views since last May; you can be assured that few of these were intentional. There are online databases of fake rick-roll URLs, and countless jokers have created sham web-browser plugins purporting to block rick-rolls while instead sending visitors to you-know-what. (More.)
We found this interview with Rick Astley, king of the ‘Rickroll,’ quite fascinating…..
“It’s a bit spooky, innit?” said Rick Astley, the singer who made the song famous in 1987 and who is not dead. With considerable help, including assists from RCA Records, the webmaster of Astley’s U.K. fan site, and his manager at Sony BMG, I tracked down Astley at his home in London last weekend. He spoke for the first time about the phenomenon called Rickrolling, best described by example: You are reading your favorite Hollywood gossip blog and arrive at a link urging you to “Click here for exclusive video of Britney’s latest freakout!!” Click you do, but instead of Britney, it’s a dashing 21-year-old Briton that pops onto the screen. You, sir, have been Rickroll’d.
Over the last year or so, Astley has watched with puzzled amazement as “Never Gonna Give You Up” has been mocked, celebrated, remixed and reprised, its original music video viewed millions of times on YouTube, all by a generation that could barely swallow its Gerber carrots when the song first topped the pop charts.
“I think it’s just one of those odd things where something gets picked up and people run with it,” Astley said. “But that’s what brilliant about the Internet.”
Saying he thought “Anonymous” Rickrolling Scientology was “hilarious”
Search for Astley’s name on YouTube and you’ll find dozens of instances of the campy, infectious video, which features a heavily coiffed Astley bobbing and swaying behind oversized sunglasses. He’s flanked by two blond backup dancers (one of whom apparently didn’t have the footwork down), and a male bartender in short shorts who excels at spontaneous back flips.
Rickrolling is an example of an Internet “meme” (defined by Wikipedia as “any unit of cultural information … that gets transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another”). Its less sophisticated memetic forebear is the “duckroll,” where the roll-ee is misdirected to an image of a duck on wheels. And the Rickroll has sired many memelets, including the Fresh Prince roll, the rainroll (plopping you in front of a video of Tay Zonday’s “Chocolate Rain”) and even the Reichroll, where Astley’s song is spliced with footage of Adolf Hitler for an unsettling sort of lip sync.
With all the online momentum it’s gathered, the Rickroll has now trundled its way into the real world, too. The spectacle of trench-coated pranksters blaring the song into unsuspecting crowds has become a symbol of harmless, geeky rebellion. As the blog LAist.com noted last week, and the New York Times reported Tuesday, a recent basketball game at Eastern Washington University was interrupted by a dancing Astley imitator, and there’s now a small YouTube library of the anti-Scientology group “Anonymous” Rickrolling different church locations. (More.)
There are many variations on the Rick Roll theme….Such as…..
“RICKROLL´D Indian Style”
The Muppets get rickrolled under the title “Hilarious Muppet Bloopers!”
There is even a pie chart…..
Read more about Rick Rolling (guaranteed genuine non-Rick Roll’d links):
- Rick Rolling: A Timeline
- Web humour: a guide to rickrolling
- Rickroll article on Wikipedia
- Rick Astley bio on Wikipedia
- Rick Ashley, “Greatest Hits” Album