When I first saw the video clip of this young mountain biker getting hit by a Red Hartebeest the other day, I thought it was pretty amazing. I watched it again and again, almost in disbelief. What are the chances: A. of it happening at all? B. of the person and/or the antelope surviving largely unscathed? and C. why did the antelope go for the biker in such a leap/tackle with so much space available? All these factors make for the most crazy unrehearsed and watchable video you will proably ever see.
And following the meteoric rise of this quite bizarre footage in the last few days it has been fascinating. With 6.5 million hits already on the original video in just 4 days, it is fast becomeing by far the biggest viral news to come out of Southern Africa ever. Currently it is second only to the legendary Battle at Kruger, filmed in 2007, which by now has 63 million hits, but took a month to reach 5 million!
Evan van der Spuy, the 17 year old scholar from Kwazulu Natal who was fly-tackled off his bike by the errant antelope on Sunday, seems to be taking this all in his stride, enjoying his new found fame as “Buck Norris”. And surprisingly, the only injuries he has to deal with are minor concussion, a bit of whiplash and a stiff neck. He has been given a new mountain bike by sponsors (even though the other bike is undamaged!) and is the talk of the town (and world!). Evan has already given various interviews to magazines, newspapers, radio and television networks from all over the world. I saw the story on BBC World News on Tuesday night on TV, plus it was covered by Sky News, ESPN, CNN and the list goes on.
The likes of online media powerhouses such as Huffington Post were onto the story early in the week, followed by myriads of blogs and websites who have been posting reports on the sensational footage. I was even phoned by a Reuters correspondent on Tuesday, looking for the video maker’s contact details so they could ask for permission to use the footage. And that was on the back of my random blog post on Tuesday. And now many Youtube users have already been hard at work posting copycat versions, at least 20 of which appear above the original video in the Google search rankings.
Here is an exclusive interview with Evan “Buck” vd Spuy by local bicycling website and magazine Bicycling.co.za which introduces the young man to the world and gives more insight into his side of the story.
And here is another angle to the power of today’s viral media: imagine how pleased the helmet manufacturers are with this amount of worldwide positive pubicity that they are scoring. Evan’s Specialized helmet saved his life. Full stop. Specialized Bicycles and accessories could never have dreamed up a more successful way to punt their classy product and brand. Oh, and the budget required for this ad campaign: zero! How is this for material, from Evan direct:“My helmet probably saved my life,” said Van der Spuy, adding. “The footage shows me moving on the ground, but I don’t remember anything at all. I don’t even remember standing in front of the camera afterwards! The irony is that I don’t do any road cycling because our roads are so dangerous.”
Testament to the topical nature of this news, is the coverage by cartoonists like Zapiro and Madame and Eve, appearing in South african newspapers and online today.
Even the satirical website Hayibo have written an article about the incident/video. It starts like this: “As Youtube sensation ‘Buck Norris’ becomes the most-watched film ever produced in South Africa, local filmmakers say it is time to accept that “people want movies in which animals collide with cyclists”. According to industry insiders, work has already begun on an ambitious re-remake of ‘Jock of the Bushveld’, in which a plucky Staffordshire Bull Terrier is fired out of a circus cannon at a man on a penny-farthing.” Read full article.