Exposing the Idiocy of Videocy: Case Study # 1

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Alexandra Wallace

Alexandra Wallace, a former UCLA student who posted the infamous video “Asians in the Library,” illuminates how most people often do not understand the rapid impact that digital delivery can have on their lives. In Wallace’s case, the UCLA Chancellor took to the YouTube “airwaves” himself in an effort to distance the institution from Wallace’s behavior. Psychologists even weighed in, trying to make sense of and rationalize Wallace’s blatant and unrelenting racism (see Lau). With Wallace we see how participatory culture can often fire back with a troubling and provocative fervor of its own. In a public statement, Wallace writes “I could write apology letters all day and night, but I know they wouldn't erase the video from your memory, nor would they act to reverse my inappropriate action."

Wallace’s video serves as a catalyst for hurtling racist views into an online culture ready to respond, remix, and provoke, as evident in parodies like comedian Jimmy Wong’s popular response song “Ching Chong.” We see the public and private imploding and exploding together in many of the other videos and comments related to this video that continue to morph and take on new roles within the cultural vernacular.