FLIP IT TO WIN IT!
The Art of Water Bottle Flipping
by Donna De Chavez
To date,the video posted by Arlington Johnson in Youtube has 7,364,923 views. This video shows Michael Senatore flipping a water bottle at Crookston High School’s Talent Show in Minnesota. The video went viral and made water bottle flipping popular as well as Michael Senatore. He started flipping water bottles a year before their talent show, during his chemistry class, and he was able to master the trick. The video went viral across the world just last 2016.
When I first watched the video, I really thought that it was just a simple water bottle flipping activity. However, to my surprise, there is more to it than just an activity.
Just to give a brief background about water bottle flipping, it of course involves taking a plastic water bottle that is partially empty. The activity requires holding the neck of the bottle, and then force is applied with a flick, with the bottom of the bottle rotating away from the person. To be considered successful, there are two ways on how the bottle will land. First, it may land upright which is how it usually lands. It may also land upside-down or on its cap which is the second way. The second way is much difficult than the first one. There is actually a scientific explanation behind this activity. The amount of water inside the bottle greatly influences its success rate. Based on a study, it has been shown that filling the bottle with only 1/3 water improves the success rate. Another factor that can make a water bottle flipping successful is the type of the bottle itself. Since the activity originated from United States, a certain brand named Dear Park Spring Water is said to make the activity easier due to its shape. Behind this simple activity is complex physics that incorporates the concepts of fluid dynamics, angular momentum, force, and gravity. Since the activity is found to be related with science, just to think of it, maybe that is why Senatore was seen practicing the activity during his chemistry class.
The viral video is just 30 seconds and was posted last May 24, 2016. It shows Senatore entering the stage that already has a table in the center, with background music and of course with full emotions, then stood up near the table, and then he flipped the bottle successfully. The crowd gone wild and so the video went viral.
In reference to Newton’s Third Law of Interaction: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Since this viral video was able to get 7 million views, it of course did not get away from different reactions from different groups of people. Some people liked it and some did not.
Based on the screenshot of comments from the video itself, many people did not get the logic on why it became popular. After watching the video, I am still convincing myself to be amazed by it.
Despite of the video’s popularity that started last May 2016, it is surprisingly still famous to date. There are several videos of people doing the activity. The people are actually being competitive when it comes to this activity. Aside from small water bottles, there are videos surfacing the internet wherein some people, being competitive and challenged in nature, used big water containers.
After seeing the viral video, I really don’t think that Senatore expected that this would be a global phenomenon. People across the globe are still doing it and not just ordinary people, but as well as famous people. Senatore got featured in different shows, online and on television, letting him showcase his talent in water bottle flipping. Despite of many people being fond of this activity, of course it was not spared from people with negative comments. I myself still don’t get the logic behind this activity that is why I chose it as an example of new media idiocy. One thing is for sure though, many people were entertained by this activity despite of its simplicity.
I think that it got the attention of the people because since it is a talent show, people were expecting that he would do an extra ordinary thing. His act was very simple. In our norm, people do extra ordinary things for talent shows. They prepare costumes, props, and make sure that their talent is one of a kind and that there would be no flaws when they perform. But Senatore is different. He is a senior highschool and just went in with no other props aside from a table and a bottle of water. He did not even spend time in putting in an extravagant costume. I think that is one of the things that people loved about this viral video. Despite of the seriousness of a talent show, he was able to pull off a simple act that was able to entertain the people in a serious scenario. People love entertainment. If they find it funny, they will surely share it.
Though I remember that in the article by Jeffrey Lyons which is MEDIA GLOBALIZATION AND ITS EFFECT UPON INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITIES: SEEKING A COMMUNICATION THEORY PERSPECTIVE, the most common theme in media wherein the people would easily understand is violence. Compared to comedy, violence is much more universal than in comedy. Because in comedy, what is funny for a person, might not be funny for others. Unlike in violence, it is just between good and evil where most people would easily understand.
Going back to the article by Olga Goriunova “New Media Idiocy”, for a certain activity to be considered as part of New Media Idiocy, it should be “crafted, practiced, and re-enacted collectively.” This is evident in the viral video of Senatore. Aside from videos of people doing the activity, there are now online games that were inspired by this activity. The activity is still trending in social media platforms like Facebook and esp in Twitter. There are numerous videos that are linked once you use the hashtag #BottleFlip.
According to Goriunova, new media idiocy is correlated with simplicity. Simplicity is evident in this viral video as Senatore just flipped a water bottle for a talent show (though some people might find this activity hard, still, it is nothing compared to other talents being normally shown in talent shows). Another factor in the video that for me shows an idiocy is the way he entered the stage and started the activity. He was in slow motion, emotions run through his face and body, and then he also has background music despite of just flipping a water bottle.
People went wild after that maybe because there is complexity in his actions despite of just showing a simple act. This part is related to humor as indicated in the Goriunova’s article. “It is the humour of an amateur that needed to produce the simplicity explored above and to maintain a performance of idiocy in terms of its being made, spread, loved, and returned to.”People found humor in the action of Senatore. The action was made by Senatore, it was spread it in the internet, people loved it, and through the people’s reaction, they were able to return it by doing the act itself and post it in the internet.
Another facet in the activity that is related to New Media Idiocy is its Do It Yourself characteristic. According to Guriunova, “DIY character that recursively connects to the formalism and emotional base of simplicity touched upon above.” The viral video was just posted in the internet. The one who posted it, maybe one of Senatore’s friends, based on the quality of the video, just used his cellphone to record his friend. If it was done by a professional, it would not appear as to what we have seen. We can even still see how the “cameraman” jumped out of happiness as well as the crowd being wild. The emotions in the viral video were pure as you can feel their happiness after watching Senatore.
The audience in the video actually played a vital role in making it viral. The first thing that we have to consider is their reaction after watching Senatore flipped the water bottle. Imagine if after he performed that activity and the audience booed him or did not even react at all. Would the video still be viral? I don’t really think so. Their sincere reaction to Senatore’s act gave a “push” to the viewers of the video to react the same. Another factor is how the people who were able to view the video reacted to it. Many people, after watching the video, re-enacted the activity. There are now tons of water bottle flipping videos over the internet done by different types of people starting from nationality, class, and popularity.
The audience actually became the “co-creators, participants, and performers of idiocy” in relation to the viral video. This is one of the important factors in New Media Idiocy. People started doing the activity and sharing it in social media sites where we know that with just one click, can spread in a blink of an eye. According to the article by Goriunova, “the practice of idiocy is emphasized, drawing into the analysis such terms as unrestricted ‘creativity’”.It is hard to define what creativity as we are now living in post-truth era where what you believe in may be true to you but for others, it is not. For other people, there might be no creativity in the viral video. But for me, there is. I think that to be creative means getting out of the box and thinking and doing things that are not normally done by people. In a talent show, we often see the contestants sing, dance, or play an instrument but with Senatore’s act, it is indeed one of a kind. Imagine people exerting effort and sometimes doing unimaginable and dangerous acts for talent shows and then you have Senatore, flipping water bottle. It is really out of the ordinary. Not to sound sarcastic but hey, why would someone just flip a water bottle during a talent show which may happen just once a year. Some people even go “gaga” in preparing for talent shows!
“New Media Idiocy’s ‘participation’ can be usually applied in the production through the participation of the people. There should be a “practice”, “performance”, and “collaboration”. Based on the videos of people joining this idiocy, they really are into it. They practice the act, perform the act, and collaborate with other people. “New media idiocy manufactures modes of living, manners of individuation as a performance and a craft, and it is through joining in, taking parts in its production, through re-enaction of the performances of idiocy that individuation occurs.” According to Google and Wikipedia, individuation means “knowing yourself”. It is an idea wherein a thing or a person is identified as an individual thing/person that is “not something else”. We can see individuation in the videos made by the “participants”. Though they are continuously just re-enacting what Senatore did, they are still different from him. They might be doing the same act but other than that, everything is still different. Being different or being an individual is never ending as what is said by Goriunova. It goes back and forth. To add to individuation, people are now actually doing the act beyond what it really is about. They have life-challenging tricks that actually made water bottle flipping more exciting and interesting.
In new media idiocy, it is hard to find sorrow. There is a certain phrase in the article that shows Senatore’s act as a new media idiocy: “the happy idiot is a non-dangerous, friendly idiot whose performance is discovered and greeted instantly through the networks, by multitudes”. We can say that Senatore is the happy idiot who did not expect that his act would be viral. The “like” and “share” button in Facebook also played an important role in spreading the video. Without social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, I don’t really think that this act would go viral. With globalization, it became popular across the globe. We cannot really underestimate the power of internet and social media.
Despite of this act being “non-dangerous”, other people wanted to ban it esp school officials and parents. According to some articles like The Wall Street Journal, school officials and parents are disturbed by this act. The students, according to them, are distracted in school because instead of studying, they are practicing water bottle flipping. With this, some of the teachers and parents got annoyed. According to MailOnline, the head of FulstonManor School already announced a ban on water bottles itself, of course adding the ban on water bottle flipping. According the school, they have banned the taking of water bottles in their campus to avoid the students in doing the act of flipping it. Some parents protested with the school’s order as this can have a negative impact for children esp those with medical condition. But the school stood firm in its decision. They made sure that despite the ban on water bottles in their school, they are sure that there would be no prospect of students becoming hydrated as the school provides in house water which they can drink during their breaks. Another effect of this viral video is on the students and parents again. According to a report by Boston Globe, children in the US have been spending $30 dollars a week on bottled waters just to do the act. That’s already Php 1,500! The teachers and parents are also irritated with the sound that water bottle flipping has created. According to them, the monotonous thud of plastic connecting with the ground is really irritating. Another reason that some schools are also banning water bottle flipping is because of the safety of others. In St. Claire Recreation Center, they banned water bottle flipping because it causes slippery because of the water spilled from flipping the bottle.
I like how our generation differs from our parents’ generation JThe opinions of the two generations are really different. This is a proof that what is right for you, might not be right for others. The younger generation is entertained by the act while the older generation is irritated.
On the other side, there are school and parents that are okay with this act. In Mona Vale Public School on Sydney, they have embraced the art of water bottle flipping as this is an alternative way to distract their kids from being glued to a tablet like iPad. With water bottle flipping as well, this is a chance for their kids to interact with other kids sharing the same passion for this. I actually found a website that teaches parents on how to stop their kids in doing the water bottle flipping act.
As for me, it is okay to ban the act during class but not during the free time of the kids as this might serve as an ice-breaker for them.
The effect of water bottle flipping is similar to Pokemon Go. It is really hard to stop people from doing it. Some people might find it annoying but for others, it is not.
Is water bottle flipping already a part of our culture? Yes as it is already a trend and is obviously popular.
Will it die just like Pokemon Go? Not today though. We cannot really know when a trend will die as we cannot even know when an act is going to be popular.
With this generation, we have to understand that because of life’s complexity, people’s happiness can be found even in the simplest or idiotic things like water bottle flipping.
With globalization and new media idiocy, we really have to be prepared in the upcoming trends. They might be stupid or idiotic, but hey, it can still entertain us even in a short period of time. It is true that with new media idiocy, things are really irritating but that is part of life. You don’t get to choose what will be the next “trending culture”.
It’s the simplest things in life that are the most extraordinary– Paulo Coelho