Why the UK is in love with Benton (or is it Fenton?)

“Benton! Benton!!!” Yes, the now-famous Labrador’s name* was being played in offices up and down the country today as an apparently genuine phone-shot video went viral on YouTube.

So, what made it a hit, when millions of other videos go unnoticed on YouTube every day?

Well, unlike so many video virals it appears to be genuine – i.e. it doesn’t feature suspiciously good looking girls in tight shorts or shot on good-quality-but-deliberately-shaky film. But the real reason, of course, is that it’s bloody funny. Here’s what a few people are saying on YouTube:

I must have watched it 20 times now and it doesn’t stop being funny. Makes me cry with laughter every time!

I need to stop watching this, I’m gonna be sick from laughing

Film studies students could have a whole course on this 47 seconds. The way it starts with a simple pastoral scene, builds to a crescendo and then trails off with Benton’s owner disappearing into the distance …

What’s strange is that the video suddenly become popular. It was uploaded on the 13th November, got some Facebook referrals, picked up on a cycle forum, an Arsenal forum, a couple of Twitter hits. Then went nuts. At time of writing it has had almost 400,000 views. This time tomorrow, it could be ten times that.

One of the main beneficiaries was The Poke, which was amongst the first today to carry the Benton story. And a celebrity tweet from the likes of Graham Linehan always helps a viral along its way too.

Just checked today's site traffic - Benton you legend! on Twitpic

Of course, this kind of video’s popularity generates tributes. There’s a Twitter feed @BentonsOwner and the alternatively named @fentonthedog.

Then there’s the mashups, such as the American Werewolf in London, Jesus Christ in Jurassic Park, Jesus Christ in King Kong and a (predictable) Downfall version. Yes, you can expect pretty much any film with a stampede to be Fenton/Bentoned soon.

So, where next for Fenton/Benton?

Well, there’s plenty more parodies to be had. I imagine various sketch show writers will be warming fingers on keyboards. No doubt, there’ll be a quest to find the the dog’s owner (although according to some papers, he could be fined) and the guy who shot the video. Merchandising is an obvious one (though Jaggl113 – aka 13 year old Jake Goodyear, according to the Telegraph – will have to move fast to get in on the action) and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone’s working on an iPhone game right now (although Android would be more appropriate, given it was shot on an Android phone).

Whatever happens, like most fans, I’m just hoping that the whole thing isn’t a ruse to sell dog food or pet insurance. For now, it gets my video viral of the month nomination.

* Jake Goodyear, who shot the video, insists that the dog’s name was Fenton, not Benton.


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