In One Word, Why Chewbacca Mom Went Viral

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Competition winners.
Why do we love cosplayers? Same reason as we love Chewbacca Mom: Joy. Cosplay Competition winners at ECCC, photo by Will James

By now you’ve probably seen the video of Candace Payne, otherwise known as the Chewbacca Mom. The video of her excitement over a noise-making mask broke all records for viral videos and vaulted her to appearances on several talk shows as well as a bicycle tour of Facebook HQ with Chewie himself.

I think I am not alone in thinking that the more I see Candace interviewed, the more I’d like to be her friend. The reason we are all drawn to her is the same reason her video had skyrocketing views. She didn’t just make us laugh. She oozed childlike delight through the computer and into our ordinary days. In a word, she brought us JOY.

There have been many viral videos that we all laughed about through the past few years. The double rainbow guy. The Pizza rat. Heck, who besides me still remembers Charlie Bit My Finger?

They made us laugh, sure. But they didn’t really bring us joy. Candace brought us joy.

Joy! image by kilgarron via flickr.
Joy! image by kilgarron via flickr, availabe for resuse.

In her Good Morning America appearance, Candace mentioned that one of the online comments that touched her the most was from a mom whose autistic daughter was normally very quiet. After going several months with little interaction, including no laughing, her daughter watched the Chewie video and laughed. She came out of her silence and laughed. Any parent can imagine how remarkable that would be.

For all the good it can bring, from helpful medical advice to reuniting us with long lost family members, from finding healthy recipes to finding a good support group, the online community can be a positive one.

Sure, there’s the bad stuff. There’s no need to point it out. And there is a lot out there that generally entertains us. Millions of memes circle around. Endless amusing kitty videos and Youtube clips fill our Facebook news feeds. But very few of them actually bring us joy. They make us smile, or chuckle, or even inspire us to turn to the person next to us and say, “Hey, look at this!” But very few bring us true elation.

Candace brought me joy the day I first saw her radiant smile, beaming through the pointy teeth of that Chewbacca mask. She was a mom, a lot like me, running errands, who decided to make an impulse purchase that, in the end, made her belly laugh while sitting behind the wheel of her car. Fortunately for all of us, she decided to video tape the moment.

There are not that many parts of the internet that bring true delight. Entertainment, maybe. A distraction from some mundane task we should be doing, sure. But a laugh that comes from a deep place rarely accessed, not so much. We all welcomed the surprise of that video. The shock of finding a moment of true delight in the middle of an ordinary day.

Thank you, Candace. You and Chewie made our day.