In a recent clip posted on YouTube, Diddy makes a trip to Burger King, proclaiming himself "the king of music and fashion" while he orders a Whopper "my way," complete with onions, cheese, ketchup, mayonnaise, and salt and pepper.
On the surface, it was a strangely appealing video diary of ego and one man's unrequited love for condiments. But as is the case with everything Diddy does, the video also served a much grander purpose: It heralded the launch of Diddy TV, a YouTube channel he started with the fast-food giant.
And to a nation of loyal YouTube users — already reeling from what they see as the increased commercialization of the site — the spot's about as welcome as, well, a Whopper at a PETA convention.
Within hours of the clip being added to the site, more than 1,700 YouTubers left comments, the overwhelming majority of which were negative (samples include "I won't eat there now, I'll go to Wendy's" and "The end is very f----in' nigh"). And soon after, in a lightning-quick show of solidarity, a host of parody videos — of varying degrees of quality and humor — began to crop up too.
One of the first so-called "response" clips to be posted was a spot-on parody by a YouTube user named LisaNova, which details her visit to a neighborhood fruit stand. In the clip, she orders a fruit bowl "with everything on it" and announces that she's joining forces with the stand to buy a channel on YouTube, "even though they're free — just 'cause we're that smart." In his spot, Diddy announces that he and Burger King are "buying" a channel on YouTube, even though, as a spokesperson for the site told MTV News, "Anyone can set up a channel — even if it's for commercial profit. They're free."
And for Nova — who's also made clips parodying now-debunked YouTube phenom lonelygirl15 (see "Internet Phenom Lonelygirl15 Reveals Secrets, Says Bree Is Someone 'Everybody Can Relate To' ") — the purpose of making the clip was twofold. For one, she wanted to express her displeasure over what she sees as "an outsider trying to use the [YouTube] community." But secondly — and, most importantly — she saw it as a way to poke fun at the walking ego that is Diddy.
"Really, I just thought his video was hysterical — he was a bit, shall we say, overconfident about people's excitement to his news," she told MTV News in an e-mail. "I think that was the joke for me, that people would actually be thrilled that he and Burger King had formed some sort of an alliance. It was meant to be funny. ... If there is a joke to be made, then make it."
But not all YouTube users were as kind to Diddy as LisaNova. Take, for example, David Dorn, who heads up Reno, Nevada's Lost in the Fog Productions. One day after the Diddy/BK clip hit the site, he had posted an animated response video featuring a surly-looking creature that rips Combs for attempting to "take over YouTube" and calls him "a virus."
"How dare you?" the creature asks. "How 'bout, on October 17, I just push 'stop'?" (Combs' new album, Press Play, hits stores on that same date.) It's a sentiment Dorn echoes in real life too.
"I don't want him to be popular on YouTube," Dorn wrote in an e-mail. "I don't want the reason that so many people come to YouTube be because of him, but that is the way it looks like it's going to be. [And] I know that many of the YouTube users would agree with me on that. He's pretty full of himself to think that by just 'buying' a channel and talking about his 'everyday life,' it makes him 'normal.' I think he should leave YouTube alone."
And there are plenty of users like Dorn, expressing their frustration in manners both increasingly bizarre (the U.K.'s BlackAdderExtras, who took Diddy's spot and turned it into a rather tedious house track) and disturbing (one rant, by a wide-eyed blond kid, borders on racist psycho-babble). But will the rising negative sentiments be enough to pull the plug on Diddy TV?
Well, according to Burger King, which on Monday announced a multiyear, multiplatform campaign showcasing Combs, the answer is "no."
"We can't speak for Diddy, but we're thrilled that so many people have tuned in and taken notice, and we've found some of the parodies extremely creative and entertaining," a spokesperson for Burger King (who asked not to be identified) told MTV News. "YouTube is all about free expression, and Burger King wants consumers to continue to 'have it your way.' "
Combs himself could not be reached for comment on the matter, but in the meantime, it doesn't seem like the tide of negative reactions to Diddy TV will subside anytime soon. And with the news of YouTube's $1.6 billion sale to Google (see "May We Suggest GooTube? Google Buys YouTube In $1.6 Billion Deal") still fresh in their minds, many users see this campaign as their last stand in the formerly wild frontier of the site.
"Parody videos ... just come with the territory, but the bad comments are another thing, and he had more negative feedback than I had ever seen," Nova added. "It was actually kinda shocking how pissed everyone was. So I guess only time will tell what will happen."
"If celebrities such as Diddy continue to emerge on YouTube, that will be the end [of the site]," Dorn wrote. "So my suggestion is, continue your negative comments and video replies, but if it seems he doesn't care and he just keeps putting videos out, then tell everyone you know to simply stop watching them."