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How the 'double rainbow' video blew up

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'Double Rainbow' guy: No sex, drugs here
  • In January, Paul Vasquez, aka "Hungry Bear," spent an hour marveling at a double rainbow
  • Jimmy Kimmel tweeted a link to the video to his 90,000 followers over July Fourth weekend
  • Within a week CBS News and other outlets were interviewing Hungry Bear
  • As Twitter, other social networking tools become more ubiquitous, memes grow faster

(CNN) -- It is usually the simplest expressions that take off like wildfire. Everyone's been talking this week about "double rainbows," based on a goofy home video recorded more than six months ago.

In early January, Paul Vasquez, also known as "Hungry Bear," spent an hour videotaping, and marveling at, a beautiful double rainbow at Yosemite National Park.

Some 3½ minutes of his "rainbowing" were caught on tape, and it's Vasquez's reaction to the rainbows -- not the rainbows themselves -- that's drawing viewers.

"Hungry Bear" oohs over the double rainbow, asks existential questions like "what does it mean?" and eventually sounds like he's going into hysterics -- perhaps laughing, perhaps crying, or maybe doing both. Some observers think he sounds orgasmic, or stoned.

Why are we just talking about it now? Two words: Jimmy Kimmel. The ABC late-night host tweeted a link to the double rainbow video to his 90,000 followers over the July Fourth weekend. Within a week CBS News and other outlets were interviewing Hungry Bear. The original double rainbow YouTube clip has now racked up more than 4.8 million views.

The sheer speed of this meme is pretty impressive, especially since there is already a double rainbow song available on iTunes. The "DOUBLE RAINBOW SONG!!" is a two-minute, auto-tuned song with the repeated refrain, "It's a double rainbow. What does it mean?" Its website says all proceeds from the song go to Hungry Bear and Yosemite.

By this time next week, there will definitely be another "double rainbow" parody going viral on the web.

See iReporters' pictures and stories of double rainbows

Apparently, Hungry Bear already had some interesting adventures before he encountered the double rainbow. has a great history of Hungry Bear's colorful life, which includes time spent as a cage fighter. It seems like the big guy is both a lover and a fighter.

So what, exactly, can we learn from this "double rainbow" phenomenon?

In pure numbers, it shows that as Twitter, Facebook and other social-networking tools become more ubiquitous, memes like this will grow faster -- and, perhaps, die faster, too.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Damon Brown.


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