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May 8, 2008

Angry Man Smash Computer

Gelf knew we had come across internet video gold when a friend first forwarded the YouTube video "man freaks out in coffee shop"—a clip of a man breaking down and attacking his computer. The breakdown may or may not have been faked (we grew skeptical when he claimed to have his half-written novel on his laptop). But the reason we knew this was going to be a hit is because it lies at the intersection of two strangely popular YouTube genres: man-on-machine violence and guy freaks out in public.

Man 1, Laptop 0

Any discussion of man-on-machine violence has to start with the scene in Office Space, where three co-workers take a bat to a printer. In fact, that scene has been parodied more than once on YouTube.

An homage to Michael Bolton

People suffering from office and computer frustration find catharsis on YouTube in the form of videos of people who have had enough and risen up against the machines. This employee, known only by his moniker, "Angry Man," shoves his computer to the ground. Another hero of the workplace places the machines in conflict with each other, by sticking his monitor into a copy machine. Who can forget the internet star of two years ago, the cellphone slamming professor? In the spirit of equal opportunity, there is also a female computer basher. And for those who don't want to go through the trouble of viewing them individually, there is a compilation of the best of computer violence video. For more of an interactive experience, check out the screensmasher, which offers all of the fun of beating up your screen, and none of the repercussions.

Poor monitor

The public breakdown is an internet video staple in its own right. From politics to sports, celebrity breakdowns are always popular. However, in the age of Web 2.0, user-generated content, and "you" as the person of the year, the essence of this new artform is found in the footage of random people losing their cool. No unstable person is safe from having his or her mental collapse shared with thousands of strangers on the internet. Not the weatherman, not the convict, not even the concerned citizen worried about rogue helicopter pilots in his neighborhood. In fact, the most interesting thing about "man freaks out in coffee shop" may be the fact that it was recorded simultaneously bytwo amateur videotapers, and that all of the customers who left the scene did so only to capture it on their cellphone from a safer distance.

Same freakout, different angle







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