The Story of Technoviking is a fun and thoughtful look at how one piece of internet content garnered a massive global audience, what the material in question reveals about the online users who propagated it, and the murky waters of intellectual property rights in a widely unregulated online landscape.
The infamous video was captured during a provocative Berlin street parade in 2000. Shot by Matthias Fritsch and titled Kneecam No. 1, the clip shows us a half-naked man dancing aggressively amongst a sea of horrified and amused spectators. Fritsch uploaded his video onto YouTube and thought little more of it. Then, well over a year later, he discovered his work had gone viral, ultimately accumulating more than 80 million views.
This all occurred without the consent of the video's original creator. The unprecedented spread of his work was due in large part to its manipulation in the hands of others. Re-titled Technoviking and set to throbbing club music, the naked dancer became an internet meme sensation, and was inserted into various scenes and situations both humorous and shocking. Young people from all over the world posted their own re-enactments of his every precise movement.
Techno Viking has become a looming figure in our culture, but one that has permeated the most popular platforms like Google, Facebook and Twitter. His universal popularity speaks to the mass appeal of social media, and our propensity to communicate through images like never before.
While he was responsible for shooting the source footage, Fritsch had little role in securing its worldwide audience. Have his property rights been trampled upon, or is it understood that content in the digital age is open to reinterpretation? The actual figure known in pop culture circles as Techno Viking also had little say in his internet fame, and he's unhappy with the association. He successfully sued Fritsch for infringement of personality rights in 2013.
Through interviews with a variety of experts from the world of digital media and law, The Story of Technoviking examines the stream of challenges, unresolved questions and legal disputes that have followed in the wake of this phenomenon.
Directed by: Matthias Fritsch