Weekly Obsession: Making YouTube gold

Sunday, January 2, 2011 at 10:05pm

There’s a numbness that tends to follow the holiday season. After the tree’s been mulched and the lights wound up, after the New Year’s hangover — both of the literal and metaphorical varieties — subsides, it’s rather sad to return to the joyless, mirthless normal way of doing things, even though the holidays tend to offer anxiety alongside all the spreading of merriment.

After all, it’s a whole year until the unsullied joy of opening presents returns. The sparkling lights are put away until at least Thanksgiving.

And in Nashville, we’ll have to wait 12 months before seeing those flash mobbers doing their faux-spontaneous public routines again.

Or will we?

This year, Nashville experienced two flash mobs — an Internet Age-phenomenon wherein participants who’ve communicated in advance via the Web gather at some public place and do something with the hopes of attaining that ultimate marker of celebrity: YouTube viral status.

There was a group of Nashville International Airport employees surprising travelers in Terminal C with a completely choreographed “impromptu” lip-synced performance of the romantic Christmas movie staple “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey.

Across town at RiverGate Mall, the Nashville Flashmob was a little more postmodern: They simply froze in place for three predetermined minutes.

Presumably, the airport employees’ performance was a one-off holiday special, but members of the Nashville Flashmob say the shopping-center standstill was just the first of many pieces of public performance art. The group plans to flash-mob the city at least once monthly. They have a Facebook group (with membership approaching 1,000), a logo and, yes indeed, a YouTube channel.

Discussions are in the works for what the next big thing will be on the aforementioned Facebook page. There’s some talk of a Lady Gaga-themed dance routine in anticipation of the pop sensation’s Music City debut in the spring.

A thousand people wearing dresses made of meat and singing “Bad Romance”? YouTube gold.