07 Jun 2006

Bus Uncle Video

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The Wall Street Journal’s amusement feature today was about the latest Internet phenomenon in the Orient. A passenger on a Hong Kong bus took a video on his cell phone of the six minute tirade by an older man over a request by a younger fellow to lower the volume of his cell phone conversation.

His repeated “I’ve got pressure,” (in Chinese) has become a popular slogan, available on to shirts and coffee mugs.

While riding public bus 68X on the night of April 29, Elvis Ho tapped the shoulder of a passenger sitting in front of him who was talking on a cellphone. The 23-year-old Mr. Ho asked the man to lower his voice. Mr. Ho called him “uncle,” a familiar way of addressing an elder male in Cantonese.

Instead of complying, the man turned around and berated Mr. Ho for nearly six minutes, peppering his outburst with obscenities.

“I’ve got pressure, you’ve got pressure!” the older man exploded. “Why did you have to provoke me?” A nearby passenger who found the encounter interesting captured most of it on video with his own cellphone, and it was posted on the Web.

“Bus Uncle,” as the older man is now known, has since become a Hong Kong sensation. The video, including subtitled versions, has been downloaded nearly five million times from YouTube.com, a popular Web site for video clips.

Teenagers and adults here sprinkle their conversations with phrases borrowed from Bus Uncle’s rant, such as “I’ve got pressure!” and “It’s not over!” (shouted when the young man tried to end the conversation several times by saying, “It’s over”). Also, there are several insults involving mothers. Web sites peddle T-shirts with a cartoon of Bus Uncle and the famous phrases. They are also available as mobile-phone ringtones.

Fans have edited the footage into music-video versions of disco, rap and pop songs that have themselves become popular online. One video projects a slowed-down version of Bus Uncle’s voice over an image of Darth Vader. Another sets Bus Uncle audio clips to Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings,” beginning with a title that says, “All he wanted to do…was to talk on his phone and relax from his stress…but someone HAD to tap him on the back.”

Jon Fong, the 21-year-old accountant and night-school psychology student who captured the bus incident on his Sony Ericsson cellphone, has become famous, too. Mr. Fong has told reporters that he often takes videos as a hobby, and had just planned to share this one with friends. “Next time, I’ll put myself in the frame,” he told Hong Kong’s Cable TV news.

The Internet has allowed the Bus Uncle video to join a slew of other instant amateur films in attracting a global audience. Here in Hong Kong, it has a special resonance. For many, Bus Uncle personifies the stresses of life in their city.

the video (contains obscenities – uncensored)

the video (cleaned-up subtitles)

Bus Uncle rant set to Sammi Cheng pop song

Motherload of Bus Uncle links

StumbleUpon.com
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