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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"Wolfpack or Tar Heels," and an interview with its creator

After State's loss to the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill two years ago, Rhett (State fan) and his wife (Tar Heel fan) broke the news to their young son, Locke. Knowing Locke was a huge State fan, Rhett decided to film his reaction.

What they ended up with ultimately became an internet hit. Thousands upon thousands of viewers empathized with the heartbreak in Locke's reaction and shared it with their friends. Who then shared it with their friends. Who then shared it with their friends...

Over 200,000 views later, it's still going strong on YouTube.

But the backstory here is that Locke's dad Rhett is not your average serendipitous YouTube success story. Rhett is, in fact, part of an internet comedy duo with childhood friend Link (the aptly named "Rhett and Link") whose Facebook Song has been viewed over 2,000,000 times. They release a regular bevy of videos featuring a variety of themes (one of their most recent collaborations featured guacamole, just in time for the Super Bowl), took a sponsored cross-country road trip on Alka-Seltzer's dime producing food-related videos, and host a live internet show every Thursday night from "an undisclosed location in Lillington, NC."

In short, Rhett and Link make their living as internet celebrities. What you call your diversion from work, they call their office. Not bad for a couple of N.C. State engineering graduates.

Which makes it all the more interesting that Locke, Rhett's son, has become somewhat of an internet celebrity in his own right.

I had a chance to speak with Rhett about the video, his son's internet fame at an early age and what it means to be a State fan:


I guess the first question is about how the video came about in the first place: Did you know Locke would react like that to hearing the news, hence the reason it was filmed, or was it just a spur of the moment thing where you happened to have the camera running at the time?
We knew he was passionate about the subject, but we were surprised at the intensity. So we grabbed the camera and encouraged him to vent. He rolled with it.
Once you filmed it, did you know you had something YouTube-worthy?
Not really, which is kind of funny, considering that Youtube is my business. I thought it would be something funny for friends and family, so I put it on my family youtube channel, which has since become inactive. The video was taken down twice for some reason, so I uploaded it to the RhettandLink channel.
Tell me about the initial reaction folks had to the video. It sounds like, based on the video description, that there was a measure of controversy about it from some of the viewers.
I think that a lot of non-sports fans thought it seemed like child abuse because Locke looked so tortured about the rivalry. But those folks are just ignorant of what it's like to be a State fan in NC.
I think you captured the essence of what it means to be a Wolfpack fan when you said "They're going to be really good...someday." Do you kind of feel a sense of conflicted pride and guilt in raising such a die hard Wolfpack fan?
Being a State fan is character building. It helps you deal with adversity in all sorts of areas of your life. If a kid can grow up as a State fan, he's pretty much ready for anything. So, no, I feel no guilt.
There's a moment where you can see on Locke's face the disappointment he feels when he learns that mommy is a Tar Heel...what did your wife think about the video, Locke's reaction when he found out mommy pulled for the other side, and about her son appearing in some of your other videos (like the Guacamole Song, most recently)?
We're always a little uneasy about putting our kids on the internet, but sometimes the stuff they do is just too good to keep to ourselves. My wife feels the same way.
At over 208,000 views and counting, are you surprised at the number of views its gotten to this point? What about the video do you think resonates with viewers far removed from the State/Carolina rivalry?
Once I thought about it, I wasn't surprised. I think that the majority of the views come from local people, but I do think that everyone who's on one side of a rivalry anywhere can relate.
The Alka Seltzer Great American Road Trip was a hit with internetainment viewers...what's the next great project on tap for Rhett and Link?
We are constantly working on something new. Most of the stuff coming out now is one video here or there. We hope to have a series that rivals the scale of the Road Trip in 2009. Stay tuned to find out.
You can subscribe to Rhett and Link's YouTube channel for the latest from the internet duo here.

1 comment:

  1. My nephew used to be the same way about NCSU at a similar age. Although his Dad was a Dookie, and his Mom was a Tarhole (sorry sis). Yet, we would take him to ANY NC State game, in any sport, against any opponent, and if we lost...same reaction...distain, anger, denial,tears and eventually a pseudo depression that would last into the next day. He has gotten better with age (he's 11 now) but he is still very passionate about the Red and White.