The Five Reasons Why Jimmy Kimmel's Twerking Video Prank Was Successful

by Angela Ruhinda

Pranks can be humiliating, but they can also teach you a lot about yourself. A lot of people, including myself, fell victim to an Internet prank that actually wasn’t orchestrated by Ashton Kutcher as a segment for “Punk’d.” Who was the mastermind behind it all? Talk show host Jimmy Kimmel deliberated the whole thing, and nobody saw it coming.

Last week, a video of a woman twerking went viral. This isn’t surprising seeing as twerking is the latest dance craze obsession. For Pete’s sake, it’s even officially a word. Thanks a lot, Oxford. I can’t wait to see a little kid use it in a sentence at his next spelling bee.

In the video, a young woman is seen twerking near a door, and then she turns upside-down and begins twerking against the door. Just when her skill starts to get impressive, the girl’s roommate walks in and causes her to fall onto the glass coffee table, knocking over the candles and eventually lighting her twerking behind on fire. Watching this, I remember thinking that this girl must have the worst luck in the world, but we all laughed anyway. It was amusing, and we shared the entertainment with our friends via Facebook and Twitter.

Jimmy Kimmel confessed that the video was a fake, and he actually set it up himself. The young woman in the video was, in fact, a stuntwoman and an actress. We’d been had.

I’ll be the first to admit that ever since that confession, I don’t believe anything I see on the Internet anymore. Vines and Instagram videos, be damned. However, I was thoroughly impressed with the execution. It got my wheels turning. With that, I think the prank by one of our favorite late night hosts deserves a little examination. Here’s the breakdown of why Jimmy Kimmel’s twerking prank worked so effortlessly.

Jimmy exploited our obsession with twerking

This phenomenon is so popular that another white girl twerking was certain to get the people’s attention. And ever since Miley Cyrus introduced the very old, provocative, ‘urban’ dance to mainstream media, white girls everywhere have been following suit. Twerking is the biggest -and if you ask some, lamest - fad of the year, so it was a perfect choice for a viral prank video. It would fit right in with the trend and not raise any eyebrows.

Jimmy knows that women love to record themselves dancing

Women love dancing. Women like to see what they look like dancing. Do I look sexy? Do I look silly? If you want cyber attention, your Instagram filters aren’t going to show everyone what you’re working with. So why not make a video, instead? Nothing shows off a woman’s self-confidence like shaking her tail feather (I’m just tired of using the word ‘twerk’ at this point) for millions of perverted strangers. And the perverts always enjoy the show.

Jimmy knows that we live in a ‘sharing’ era

I’m not talking about sharing your feelings with your roommate, either. We live in a time when anytime you see something even remotely amusing, you share it with your coworkers at the press of a button. Without ever leaving your desk, you’ve passed the funny forward and then your coworker passes it forward to everyone they know.

Before you know it, that cute video of a boy dancing to “don’t drop that thu, thun, thun” has gone viral. In his confession, Kimmel admitted that he didn’t even share or market the video himself. It all happened organically. In one week, that poor girl who twerked herself into flames was an Internet star for all the wrong reasons.

We were all hoping that it would inspire Miley Cyrus to stop twerking

It sounds mean, but it’s so very true. Deep down, everyone that watched this video was thinking “Ha! Maybe now Miley Cyrus and her followers will stop trying so hard.” Here’s the thing: there’s nothing wrong with trying new things. But it gets really old, really fast. People cannot wait for Miley to get over the dance and move on to something else. Remember the Harlem Shake (well, the mainstream version of 2013) that Baaeur introduced us to? I haven’t seen a Harlem Shake video in months. Have you?

People love to see a hot mess

It’s the most disgusting reason, but that’s what makes us human. When there’s a car accident, people gather around to see the damage. In today’s world, whenever something awful is happening, someone records it on their phone and uploads it to World Star Hip Hop, instead of calling 911. It’s ass-backwards, and I’ll never get it, but that’s the world we live in. People get some sort of sick pleasure out of watching a complete stranger set herself on fire.

Although, I pride myself on being the kind of viewer who wondered why she had so many lit candles and liquor on the table - it was like a foreshadowing of traumatic events to follow. I played that video back and paused at crucial moments like a detective with a surveillance tape - but I digress.

Jimmy Kimmel might have played with our emotions. But he also pulled off an exceptional social experiment, and the results should tell us that we’re a bunch of sad beings, seeing as it proved our upmost appreciation for something as stupid as a video of someone being completely humiliated. Kimmel also taught us that twerking can be seriously hazardous. Thanks, Jimmy!

Top Photo Courtesy: YouTube