“After working for several hours, I was fed up and wanted to mess around,” says Ghyslain Raza in Star Wars Kid: The Rise of the Digital Shadows. “And that ended up being the video that you all know. It was never meant to be serious. It was a slapstick video that was meant to be for my eyes only.”
Raza dishes for the first time about being the world’s first viral phenomenon in Star Wars Kid. The documentary by Mathieu Fournier, which was released today for free streaming from the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), explores how and why the video of Raza blowing off steam by wielding a golf club like a lightsabre exploded in popularity. Raza joins other talking heads to reflect upon the implications of the viral video—a point that is especially pressing mere days after clips of Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars netted more eyeballs than the show itself.
Star Wars Kid considers why such videos take off with such fury. Moreover, Raza shares how one experiences far more than the presumed fifteen-minutes of fame in the internet age. Thanks to the explosion of popularity over a video that was shared by his schoolmates without his consent, Raza explains the long process of living in infamy as “the Star Wars kid.” Before Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and other social sites, Raza’s 18-minutes of play made him a Guinea pig for the internet’s capacity for meanness.
“Old-fashioned schoolyard intimidation has not disappeared,” says Raza in an interview with the NFB. “But there have been new dynamics added to it. They are fed by human nature combined with social media. We have a hunger for these sorts of things. It’s a bit like this new moral absolutism, in which 140 characters can come back and haunt you at any time.”
Fournier, meanwhile, wonders is Raza’s story is a cautionary tale about sharing without thinking. “It’s not intimidation coming from bad intentions,” observes Fournier. “It goes along with the way the web was built.”
Watch Star Wars Kid below from the NFB. (And maybe give it a thoughtful share!)
Presented in partnership with the NFB.