If there’s one thing many people who follow social media have witnessed over the past ten weeks of political unrest throughout the Middle East, it’s that YouTube is becoming a very powerful weapon when in the hands of the right people. Similar to Facebook (which is arguably receiving too much credit), YouTube has become the subtle giant slayer behind various uprisings/revolutions in that region, either by allowing users to post up to the moment coverage of what’s happening in the streets or by simply adding a necessary dose of humor at just the right moment.
The latest evidence is a new viral video put together by Israeli musician and journalist Noy Alooshe five days ago that has already amassed a staggering 1.25 million views online. It’s a spoof of Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi’s ridiculous speech last week in which he threatened to hunt down protesters “inch by inch, house by house, home by home, alleyway by alleyway.” As Qaddafi finished speaking, Alooshe, 31, sat down at his computer, played with the image, mixed in the beat from the popular Pitbull song “Hey Baby,” added some dancing girls, and put it online. Within a matter of hours, the “Zenga Zenga” video became immensely popular with both Arabs and Israelis in need of a good laugh.
The popularity of “Zenga Zenga,” which earned a write-up in the New York Times this morning, immediately speaks to two things: that while Qaddafi and his security forces have guns and bullets on their side, the people have YouTube, and amazingly, YouTube is arguably more powerful. As more and more images hit the Web each day that poke fun at a pompous dictator such as Qaddafi, his popular support wanes.
The second thing that comes to mind is that humor is a good healer at time when people often have to laugh in order to keep from crying. The human rights abuses happening across Libya on a daily basis are insane, disgusting, and drawing condemnation from all over the world. People in the Arab world need something to put a smile on their faces right now, and even if it’s just for two minutes and two seconds, “Zenga Zenga” does the trick.