It is ironically fitting that just before the Waterford ball dropped in Times Square to usher in 2016, NBC broadcast a Vine parodying “Bye, Felicia,” one of the more pervasive Internet memes of the day. “Farewell, Felicia,” sniffs Michael Lopriore — wine glass nestled in his palm and grey wool scarf wrapped around his neck like an ascot — as he demonstrates “how rich snobby people say ‘Bye, Felicia’ when talking to their rich friends.”
Ten months later, despite having paid a reported $30 million for it in October 2013 before the app had officially launched independently, Twitter unceremoniously said, “Farewell, Vine.”
It now has given its community of creators until next Tuesday to download their work — sans followers — as it transitions to a “pared-down Vine Camera,” which will allow posts to its parent, Twitter. The Vine site will live on as an archive — sort of a mausoleum of the three years of its frenetic rise and sudden crash.
Lopriore’s six-and-a-half-second bit of tomfoolery has garnered 5,181,791 loops, 99.4K likes, 40.3K revines and 4,867 comments since it went live in February 2015. And if that weren’t enough to make an ink-stained trade journalist envious of the dopamine rush, Lopriore still has more than 1.6 million followers even though his output has been minimal for the last couple of years.
I was late to catch onto Vine. I realized how out of it I was, in fact, when a buddy of mine who is a retired media lawyer in his 70s was glowing about making his film debut in some Vines produced by his son and his friends in 2014. My friend was on a flip phone at the time and had never sent a text in his life, but his son’s friends included Michael Lopriore and several of his Vine-prolific cousins.
Lopriore fell into the app in its early days after seeing a Vine stop-action animation a friend of his had posted to her Facebook page. He was intrigued and started experimenting with some “artsy-fartsy stuff” himself. But he’d always enjoyed making people laugh, so when he started seeing some comedic Vines, he knew he’d found his calling.
In one popular series he created, he wakes up in random places — Yankee Stadium, for example. What “really blew me up,” he recalls, was a series called "Techno Waffle Frisbee" where he tosses waffles from a car with electronic music blasting.
But Lopriore didn't like the direction a lot of the content was taking on Vine, he says, and “I turned myself into sort of a social-media pariah.”
“A lot of it was racial humor or objectifying women …. A lot of it was just filth. I mean, I’ve done stuff that was immature, but a lot of this was just basic stupid stuff that I didn't want to make content about.”
And that, along with the death of a close friend that made making comedy difficult, curtailed a lot of his activity on the site since mid-2014.
Lopriore has already downloaded all of hisVines and reposted some of the earlier work that was particularly popular. And one of his fans has “revined” 16 of his own favorites, ranging from fashion advice to dudes who wear their pants too low to how to “be the angry guy at work.” (They may be NSFW if you’re toiling someplace that doesn’t have a ping-pong table where the reception desk used to go.)
Over the years, Lopriore’s produced influencer spots for the likes of Hot Pockets, Samsung, Best Buy, Riot Games and Hot or Not. He hasn't made anything near the “millions” he’s seen some of his former colleagues pull in as they moved on to other platforms such as Facebook Live, Instragram and YouTube Red. But a monthly check still arrives from Collab, the digital content studio and talent management firm he signed with in his Vine heyday.
Recently, Lopriore began creating 30-minute interactive shows for HYPE, the live video-broadcasting app created by Vine founders Rus Yusupov and Colin Kroll that launched in October. He only has about 800 subscribers right now, but Lopriore claims the technology is the “coolest live-streaming app that’s out there,” and feels loyal to the team behind it.
As for Vine, “you go to the app now, it’s like a graveyard. It’s worse than it was when I first started using it,” he laments. “It’s become weak again, the same way a baby eventually becomes an elderly man. It’s back at that stage when even though it’s got all this content on it, it’s nearly dead. And I honestly don’t understand why.”