I haven’t been wondering a lot about Chewbacca Mom, but I can’t say she’s not been on my mind, and I’m really sorry about that.
At this early point, I feel I should remind you about who she is. (But why?)
A Texas mom named Candace Payne bought a talking Chewbacca mask at a Kohl’s because it cracked her up. In her car, she took out her cellphone, put the mask on and created a video of herself laughing, and laughing, and laughing. Hysterically.
She posted it on Facebook Live. It went viral, and now it has over 154 million views, more than any Facebook Live video has ever received. She’s been all over TV. Time Money estimates she has received at least $420,000 in gifts, from Kohl’s and other places, since it’s happened.
The video Kohl’s made delivering her gifts grabbed 33 million views. Afterward, Kohl’s app went to the top at the iOS store.
Mary Meeker noted the Chewbacca Mask Incident in her influential trends report.
It has been given deep, deep meaning.
“Observers feeling contagious joy triggered by Payne's laughter now carry that emotion with them,” wrote Dacher Keltner, a professor of psychology at UC Berkeley, on the CNN site. ”Feeling more joyous, they themselves will show the signs of joy and be disposed to share, cooperate and connect with others to broaden and build their social networks.
"Through these viral processes, suggest studies by James Fowler, our joy spreads virally to friends and acquaintances in our social networks, lifting their spirits later in time.”
Candace Payne and her family are good Christians. When the president of Southeastern University, a Christian school in Florida, learned that, the entire family was given scholarships to the school. That caused a few people on social media and a writer on the MSN site to grouse about “white mediocrity” and that caused right wingers to pout about liberals and blacks always finding racism in every little thing, including the Chewbacca mask incident.
Once, even in this century, little odd news items were given space in alternative newspapers in a syndicated feature called “News of the Weird.” David Letterman featured both stupid pet and stupid human tricks. The attention seemed appropriate.
Now, ordinarily silliness has meaning. It drives commerce and culture and technology. Joel Espelien, at The Diffusion Group, explained how Chewbacca Mom was a legitimizing event for the newish Facebook Live:
“Facebook clearly got it, which is why the Facebook Live team flew her to out to Menlo Park and gave her the hero’s welcome. And that team deserves some credit as well. Their small (but incredibly critical) contribution to the live mobile streaming space has been to auto-save the live videos to VOD as they stream.
"This feature allowed the Chewbacca Mom video to begin as a live post (to basically no one) and transition to a sharable clip that is still generating views worldwide. Candace Payne deserves credit as the first, but most certainly not the last, Facebook mom with more than 100 million video views.”
I’m so unsure. Once in this country, you could put on a mask that made you laugh hysterically, and that was that. And that was that, because it’s all that was worth. No controversy. No accomplishment, either. I can’t help but believe in a little while many more people will realize that’s all Chewbacca Mom should mean to any of us.
God, I hope so.