The Web Hostess: Online manners, memes and must-see video

May 16, 2012

A weekly chat about the best ways to kill time online. Our Web Hostess, Monica Hesse, sifts the Internet so you don't have to, searching for meaning, manners and the next great meme.

Afternoon, everyone, and thanks for stopping by.


Please begin the afternoon by watching this video, if you have not already. It depicts the Harvard Men's baseball team goofing off to "Call Me Maybe." It has garnered six million views in less than two weeks.


Next, please watch this video. It is the SMU women's rowing teams' response to the Harvard video. It has also made the rounds of morning talk shows and a myriad of blogs.

Now. Please choose the answere that most closely reflects your feelings.


The Harvard video received so much attention:

A) Deservedly. It was cute and funny and well-choreographed.

B) Because we are culturally attuned to thinking it is funny when athletic men dance, especially to girly music.

C) Because they go to Harvard. The same video from Oberlin College would not have received this attention.

D) I do not know why it received so much attention.

The second video from SMU received so much attention:


A) Because it was cute and funny.


B) Because it was commentary on the male video, and a message of oneupsmanship.


C) Because it was riding Harvard's coattails, and any related video spoof would have spread this way.


D) I do not know why it received this much attention.

(Stand by. The SMU video has gone missing, apparently, since I linked to it a few hours ago. I'm on the case).

All right. Try this link for now. It's from a clip show, and you won't be able to see the whole thing. But the 20 seconds it shows will give you the gist. I'll look for a more complete link in the five minutes we have before we start.

And finally! Here is the crew team's video.

Was this officially the longest, most convoluted intro we've ever had? It was! Let's begin!

The SMU video has been removed by owner so we can't watch (or talk about) it. :(

(Try the new link I added. This should solve your problem and allow us all to spend too much time watching and talking about it).

Hey, why is your tag "Humor" today? Isn't it usually "web?"

Are you saying I'm not funny?

No, you're right -- I don't know how it became a "humor" chat suddenly. Let's do our best to live up to it. Who knows a good knock-knock joke?

The whole cupcakery is fun, but why the web people called your chat "humor" is a little odd.

We just need to roll with it. It's fine. We'll all be fine.

I can't think of another video that I have such a love hate relationship with. Its silly (and the lip syncs are even more over the top). Its catchy, but it also is a little over the top like a polished version of Rebecca Black.

Someone has invoked Rebecca Black. Those are harsh words, my friend.

The only thing I liked about the Harvard video was the sleeping guy, though I suspect he was faking.

So you are voting that the original video received attention solely because of its Harvard status -- and that the follow up video received attention because it was riding on the coattails of the video which had received attention due to its Harvard status.

Agree? Disagree?

(I'm going to stay out of it, for at least the beginning).

OK, I hadn't gotten around to watching this video until now... this is it? Pretty bad on all levels if you ask me, so I have to answer "D" to your poll. The choreography is pretty dumb (though I guess you can't do too much in the back of a van). The first thing I wondered when watching this was what is their record? A quick Google told me they were 12-30 last year... pretty awful. Maybe this team wouldn't completely suck if they practiced baseball, and not crappy music videos.

Oh, come on. You could have done this in the back of a van. (Click on it. It's totally safe for work, I swear).

If so, someone please tell my kid! (who at this moment is somewhere torturing someone with "... banana. banana who?")

Wait, is this the one that ends, "Orange you glad I didn't say banana?"

now that i'm no longer working, I can chat live with you again! yeah! and I'm moving to the west coast, so you'll be on before lunch...;)

Start your day off right! Welcome back.

So I have this friend who feels compelled to post every.single.thing on FB. Whether it's photos of her stomach, or discussions about her impending first time after she gets married (seriously, there are multiple posts about this), she has no boundaries. A post where she complained about her future in-laws only giving them $1000 for the wedding ("which wouldn't even cover part of one plane ticket for the honeymoon!" she said) was eventually removed, so she can have sense when she wants to...but yeah. Is there any hope for this person? Or should I just enjoy the craziness? I dread the day when we discover she's pregnant, because I'm sure daily belly photos will start appearing in my feed. I know I could hide her, but then I'd miss the drama. (Self-imposed problems, I know.)

I was all prepared to address your problem thoughtfully, and then I got to the end. You really have no problem, correct? Because your friend is driving you crazy, and yet you love to hate her. Free entertainment for everyone!

Honestly, she could stop posting this stuff on Facebook, but it wouldn't provide her with what she really needs, which is a clue. If she weren't moaning to her extended friend circle about her stingy in-laws, she might be emailing you directly. And isn't it better that everyone gets to see the crazy?

I know what memes are but, when discussing them with my son the other day, it dawned on me that I don't know how to pronounce the word. Is it me-me, with two long e sounds, or memes with only one syllable and a long e, or are the Es short. Suddenly, I feel so ignorant! Thanks for your help; I love this chat (& even try to catch it while at work).

Meeeeeeem is the correct pronunciation. Though Me-Me would be pretty great.

Harvard clip was sorta stupid (FWIW I have a graduate degree from Harvard), but the stab from the SMU crew was rather more clever since it was, ya know, a stab at Harvard jocks.

It really was the Ginger Rogers line -- Everything Fred Astaire did, she did in high heels and backwards. Except in this case it was "barefoot and upside down."

I thought they were both cute. They took me back to my days riding in vans before & after games. (FWIW-Female, mid-forties)

A fan!

My favorite goes like this: Me: Hey Monica, I've get a great knock-knock joke. Wanna hear it? Monica: Sure. Me: OK, you start it. Monica: OK, knock-knock. Me: Who's there? Monica: Um, er, uh. (or just confused look on face). Me: (laughing my butt off)


C. They wouldn't have come up with that idea if it weren't for the Harvard video.

Well, I think it's safe to say that they wouldn't have come up with it -- the question is whether it was a good idea period, no matter who came up with it, and if it's actually funny.

Having had relatives who attended Harvard and Oberlin, I don't ge the distinction you're drawing. Yeomen and women are more likely to do silly things? They're more musical (at least the Connies)? Help me Obi wan.

Instead of Oberlin, I could have picked Illinois State, Swarthmore College, George Mason U, etc. etc.

The point I'm making is I wonder whether the school's Ivy League background had something to do with its popularity. Like, "Oh Look! Not only does Harvard have a baseball team, which you might not have thought about, but they have a goofy, silly baseball team who makes spoofy videos." Because goofy and silly are not typically words associated with a place like Harvard.

I think they were both cute and well choreographed, but alone they're not half as good or funny as they are together! The side-by-side video is hilarious!

And I think someone sent in a link to that. Lemme find it.

of people who never heard about these videos until your intro. I think I was happier that way.


What disturbs me most about the videos is the blatant lack of seatbelt usage. Both vans were in motion and the passengers were not belted in. And don't get me started on the SMU women not properly sitting in their seats. Sincerely, old fogey.

Oh, Mom!

is my favorite Knock Knock joke. Knock, Knock Who's there? Interrupting Cow Then while the person is asking "Interrupting Cow who?" you bellow out a MOOOO that makes it clear what happens when an interrupting cow comes to your door.

I cannot believe how many people are sending in their favorite knock-knock jokes now.

The video is terrible in every way... now I'm really curious. Why the popularity?


I hate the Harvard video. I hate it with a passion that surprises even me. The "choreography" is lame, simple, boring. There is no excuse for it to run on for three minutes. There is no excuse for it to be so uninspired -- even if one only spent three minutes coming up with it.


To me, the video's popularity is based entirely on two things -- our continued insistence that it's intrinsically funny when males dance or sing, and the fact that these boys were from Harvard. I am quite certain that a video produced by women at another college, or in any other setting, would not have received a fifth of the attention this video has received.


So I suppose I don't actually hate the video -- I'm glad the boys had fun making it, and there are worse things to do on a roadtrip. I hate the people who made this video viral. This is an elitist viral video.


There, I said it.

I think the Harvard one was more funny because the guys looked so serious. Actually, what really made that video was the one guy sleeping in a corner--it was really perfect detail (even if accidental). The girls were clearly trying to be cute and sexy, and therefore just looked silly and overwrought.

And now I'm going to post a few alternate responses, from people who clearly did not see the videos as signs of Everything Wrong With Everything.

I'm a dad, dang-nabbit. But seriously, how many kids will copy the video sans seatbelts? Won't somebody think of the children?

Perhaps you can launch a campaign -- viral videos that also promote healthy behaviors! "Behold, the Harvard football team eats brussell sprouts!"

Why do I still check people's Facebook pages? It is never a good idea. Now I know my ex is engaged to a girl he's only been with for less than a year. This shouldn't bother me but it has me wondering why he never proposed to me. I broke up with him. I wouldn't want to marry him. So why does it still bother me?

Because it would bother anyone. I'm so sorry. You're in for a few down days, until you're able to objectively think of how much a better place you're in now than you would be if you were soon-to-be Mrs. Ex.

Diablo III was launched yesterday, but many who tried to log on to play were met with a full server, resulting in the now famous "Error 37." Disgruntled users who have been waiting like 12 years for the newest Diablo release used humor to cope.

Now, this is a virally spreading meme I can get behind. And I don't even play Diablo.

The "sleeping guy" is our family friend Jack Colton who was classmates with my son in high school, and he was, in fact, really asleep. Thus I vote "A" because anything less would make Jack feel bad. ;)

Jack was the best part of the video, obviously.

I recall you were thinking about attending the Nebulka Awards again this year. So are you planning to go for the weekend or just the free book signing event Friday evening?

Ooh, I can't believe that this weekend already. Who's going to be there? Anyone good? I have family in town, so if I make it anywhere it will just be for the signing.

I thought the Harvard clip was cute, because I find baseball boys inherently adorable. It reminds me of the various stunts professional players get up to in their down time.


me: Knock Knock you: Who's there? me: Did you ever hear the one about the broken pencil? you: ??? me: (helping) Did you ever hear the one about the broken pencil who... never mind, it's pointless.

Okay, that's pretty good. Inasfar as any knock knock joke can ever be anything more than awful.

I would be desperately hoping she did see this, although considering the degree of cluelessness she is probably incapable of recognizing herself.

True. (And how do people like this never see themselves?)

I have come to terms with the fact that my older self does not think that Carly Rae Jepsen is more of a threat to Western Civilization than Jamie Dimon. (15 years ago, no such admission would have crossed my indie-rock lovin' lips.) Anyway, I vote both A and C. The wink from the one guy was really well timed, but the fact that they were seeeerious Harvard athletes choreographing a routine to a light pop song makes for an interesting juxtaposition. For SMU, I vote C. It *was* cute and funny, but the lip synching was more obvious and gesture-laden, so there wasn't the same "serious students, silly pop song" cognitive dissonance.

Maybe Carly Rae Jepson can run JP Morgan next? No?

Is indeed a valid point. Just ask Jeremy Lin. As for the actual dancing, neither group can come close to the rain delay danceoff between Nebraska and USF

This is obviously wonderful, and worth far more than the 13,000 clicks it currently has.

What do you think about flash mobs? I think their time came & went several years ago, but someone I know participates in a music group, and that group's leaders think that flash mobs are a great idea & a way for them to showcase themselves. Ugh. I think that what once was creative and fun is now boring and tedious. My friend does not care for them either.

I think you're right -- that they're an older idea whose popularity peaked probably in 2006 or 2007. But sometimes older ideas are amusing. So I don't hate them.

But do you ever wonder if there's something you are clueless about and just can't ever see it? I think we all have this problem at least about something in our lives.

Yes, but I have very blunt friends. I really think they already point out all the annoying things I do.

A viral video of Brussels sprouts wearing seat belts? Sign me up!

Maybe the kids from Oberlin can work on it.

"Monica Hesse : I cannot believe how many people are sending in their favorite knock-knock jokes now" That's what happens when you advertise as a humor chat. Unrelated, I'm halfway through The Book of Three and am liking it but not loving it. Wonder if it's better for the nostalgia value of those who read it at a young age. I'll probably pick up Black Cauldron and hope that the story continues to grow on me (please tell me that Gurgi becomes less Jar Jar Binks-like as the books progress).

It's been too long for me to remember this series that fully. I do recall that Gurgi was never my favorite. But you must remember that this series was written in the 1960s. So if anything, you know, Jar Jar Bings was ripping off Gurgi, not the other way around.

You know what I hate: when some Presidential motorcade blocks you. Doesn't anyone else around here get irritated when that happens?

Looks like someone else commutes down 14th Street!

Yes, Mr. Obama made me 20 minutes late this morning.

Have you seen this?

It really only seemed to get good near the end, no? All of the ones who died in battle -- I mean, if you're a Roman emperor, don't you sort of think that's what's going to happen?

Well Connie Willis will be there to receive Her Grandmaster award. John Scalzi as president of SFWA and other board members. Full publicity list:

Love Connie Willis -- though I did get to meet her last year, so I won't cry in my pudding if I can't go again.

John Scalzi has been all over my Facebook recently for this piece he wrote comparing being a straight white male to playing a video game on the lowest difficulty settings.

A friend of mine needed a place to stay for a couple weeks while we looked for an apartment. I told her she could sleep on my couch for a few weeks. She stayed for over 3 months and it was a huge source of stress in my life. One day she was telling me about a friend of hers a work who had someone living on their couch for 2 months and how clueless this guy was, he wasn't really looking for an apartment, yadda yadda yadda. Suddenly she got very quiet. After about 15 seconds she said "oh no, I'm that guy aren't I?" She moved out the next week.

Good for her, for opening her own eyes. I think in most cases, it's more common for someone to say, "Except in MY case, what's different is..."

Oh, I think Jame Gumb would disagree....

It puts the lotion in the basket.

Harvard was (B) and maybe a little (A). The first time I watched it, I had little idea it was Harvard. SMU was probably (A), (B), AND (C). I want to see a military spoof of it!!!

The military would dominate this spoof. They are disciplined, they have boring hours to fill -- I too would like to see this.

The OPs comment is probably the number 1 reason I am not on FB. Too many people just use it as a mechanism to brag. Nowadays that cute children are seen as status symbols and everyone tries to outdo everyone else on Pinterest-worthy weddings, it gets tiresome very quickly.

I'll only quibble with "Nowadays." Anybody who has ever been around a parent or grandparent knows that cute-kid photos have been whipped out of wallets for decades and decades before Facebook.

Know what I hate? When Union Station trains are blocked from us daily commuters by someone and their detail who just has to make an appearance to catch a train during rush hour. Really? Rush hour? So of course they get the right of way while we stand behind locked doors and wait to be released, hoping that someone actually remembers to hold the trains for us (although it's promised, this doesn't always happen).

This happens? With who?!


Traffic issues that exists only in Washington..

That Commodus died in his bathroom.


is the tiny kids doing a near shot-for-shot homage to Sabotage by the Beastie Boys. Note I said *near*. The Connect Four substitution? [dies]

I haven't seen, but will look up -- thanks!

would accept "101 Knock-Knock Jokes" by Monica Hesse?

"Editor, I just really think that knock knock jokes are coming back..."

Substitute "kid" with "pet" - yes, you people drive me batty.

So do the kid posts not drive you crazy? (Do you have kids?)

Over 800 comments before he shut it down for travel reasons. I was amazed at the number of people who complained that he <gasp> moderated comments on his blog. Angered that he controlled what people saw on HIS page. And there were merits to his comparison of Straight White Males and the easy setting of video games.

That -was- interesting, the number of people who thought it was appalling that he dare t restrict -their- free speech to comment...on a site they did not run or pay for.

I guess it's not really a health food.

Important related notice: Trader Joe's is now selling chocolate almond spread, next to the Nutella-esque products. But it is not nearly as good. Stick to the hazelnut.

I think I know the music group the poster is talking about, and their leader is a totally nice but completely dorky dude who thinks flashmobs are the wackest thing ever. He also thinks 'wack' is a 'hip' term.

Oh, well that's just kind of adorable, really.

Better knock knock jokes than Elephant jokes...

I'm too proud to admit I can't think of any elephant jokes.

Facebook, YouTube and Google walk into a bar.... after that, I got nothing.

Maybe instead they, um, walk into this chat, and then...No. No, I got nothing.

Probably means its time to sign off. See you next week. (GSTQ)

In This Chat
Monica Hesse
Monica Hesse is a staff writer for the Post Style section. She frequently writes about culture, the Web and the intersection of the two.

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