My first experience with “Star Wars Kid” was on a favorite show of mine, Arrested Development. George Michael was embarrassed as his video was accidentally shown to the Bluth family. Arrested Development had spoofed many things, but I wasn’t aware of an original “Star Wars Kid” until now.
“Star Wars Kid” was one of the first videos to ever become viral. Canadian Ghyslain Raza recorded himself as he wielded a saber against imaginary antagonists in his school’s recording studio. He forgot to take the 8mm recording with him when he left for the day, and months later, it was later found by classmates of his. They thought it would be funny to post it on Kazaa, a peer-to-peer file sharing site that originated in 2001. (As of August 2012, the Kazaa website is no longer active). This was in April 2003.
Original “Star Wars Kid” video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPPj6viIBmU#t=56.
Almost as soon as the video hit the internet, people began remixing it, adding sounds and glowing light-saber-like effects to the stick Raza brandished in the video. The original and remixed videos began appearing all over the internet on popular humor sites. As soon as classmates at his school found out about the video, Raza was humiliated to no end. They harassed him by saying he should just kill himself because he was such an embarrassment.
In July 2003, the students who originally posted the video and hundreds of other fans of the video raised over $4,000. As a way to say thank you, they bought Raza a 30GB iPod and a large gift certificate to an electronics store. But because of the mortification Raza faced, he had to drop out of school and seek psychological help. His parents sued the classmates’ families for emotional and psychological damages, seeking a quarter million dollars. This was the first time privacy invasion became a concern on the internet, and has been a hot topic since.
Since Ghyslain Raza’s portrayal of Darth Maul was first uploaded to the internet in 2003, it has been estimated that the original, unmodified “Star Wars Kid” video has accumulated well over one billion views. Even before social media as we know it today, interesting content found its way around the internet. Raza’s original and remixed versions of “Star Wars Kid” still receive views, although interest level has waned.
Today, Raza is the president of Patrimoine Trois-Rivières, a company dedicated to the conservation of his hometown. He also studied law at McGill University in Montreal. Raza has recently been inspired to come forward to speak out against cyberbullying. Because of the rise in suicides resulting from bullying, he is taking steps to do something.
For more info: http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/star-wars-kid.
Arrested Development’s George Michael recreating the Star Wars Kid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-EouZi1mvQ
“Star Wars Kid” picture from: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/story-behind-the-star-wars-kid-20110805-1ie0k.html.