Know Your Meme: David After Dentist Revisited

Last February, I blogged about the Internet meme “David After the Dentist” and tried to frame the video in the context of media literacy and digital identity. Almost 6 months and 30 millions views later, Rocketboom has put together a short but detailed history of the meme that includes a description of its origin through “user error”, an overview of remixes and parodies, ties to the culture of childhood fame/ridicule, monetization of the meme, and David’s personal story. The short video is worth watching, and I do believe it is important that we better understand how and why media spread, and the resulting effects of Internet fame, especially upon our youth.

Is This Forever?

One of the videos I showed last night during my Media Literacy presentation was the recent “David After Dentist” video. The scene is of a seven year old boy who just left the Dentist’s office and was still feeling the effects of sedation. I’ve posted the video to Twitter, and while most people report it to be quite funny, others were more critical of this scene being posted to Youtube for all to see. The original video (posted below) was posted January 30, 2009, and has already been viewed over 7 million times.

Boing Boing, a highly influential group blog, posted the video on September 3. At that time, there had already been a few remixes. Since the Boing Boing mention, the number of remixes has exploded. Two of my favourite are found below:


Chad (Vader) After Dentist

There are dozens more!

How does this relate to media literacy? During his state of sedation, the boy asks “is this forever?” While the dad reassures him that it isn’t, in the (digital) media sense, it is forever. Whether the boy likes it or not, he is now an Internet star. The scene will likely follow him into classrooms, into careers, into relationships; it will forever be part of his identity. Whether he accepts his fame as mostly positive (see Gary Brolsma) or especially negative (see Ghyslain Raza) is yet to be seen. What is certain is that the distribution of this video, a piece of David’s identity, is no longer in anyone’s full control.