The Internet is Weird: While We’re Waiting

Benny the Bull popcorn

I’m here to tell you a story. It’s a story about nothing, but not in the way Seinfeld was able to do so. It’s a story about a sprinting mascot, way too much popcorn, and the subsequent fallout of publishing a GIF of a sprinting mascot and way too much popcorn.

Two years ago this March, the Chicago Bulls mascot, Benny the Bull, engaged in one of his many popcorn-related incidents. You see, Benny has a thing for popcorn, taking part in various in-game stunts that typically end with popcorn being sprayed upon the United Center. Popcorn is perfect for this type of event as, for starters, it’s a commonly consumed snack within arenas and stadiums throughout the country, and it’s the type of snack that, when blasted into the air, makes a mess of hilarious proportions while being much easier to clean up than, say, a beer.

But two years ago this March, Benny took part in an in-game stunt where he was purported to be blindfolded. The trick, you see, was that a blindfolded Benny would run across the full length of the court, jump on the mini-tramp, and dunk a basketball. The rub, of course, is Benny being blindfolded which would make such a feat terribly difficult. The results are—as could be best described—unexpected.

Funny, right? It checks all the boxes. Sports. Mascots. Popcorn. In fact, that’s a shit ton of popcorn, and unsuspecting collisions are the things that keep America’s Funniest Home Videos on air after decades of other unsuspecting collisions.

Nevertheless, on Friday, I posted this two-year-old GIF on Twitter with a simple and innocuous and honest caption.

Now the term “viral” is always a moving target. It’s relative and subjective and is oftentimes in the eye of the beholder. Those of us at WFNY have a wide ranging target for when a post we publish does well, though “viral” is rarely in our wheelhouse. Similarly, we have targets of success for pieces doing well on Facebook and other referral sources. On Twitter, as I’m a fan of round numbers, 1,000 RTs is sort of my benchmark for when something does well. A couple hundred is cool, but seeing that “K” on the stats is just so much better. As of this column, however, that Benny the Bull GIF has been retweeted upwards of 28,000 times. Twenty. Eight. Thousand.

More than three million impressions. Over one million media views. Four-hundred thousand engagements—the number of people who replied to me, retweeted the post, or quoted the tweet in their own post. To put this in perspective, my sticky tweet has a little over 1,000 retweets and has been up since May, yet has fewer than three-hundred thousand impressions—ten percent of the Benny the Bull GIF. This is insane.

Lest anyone think that this is a #humblebrag of any sort, know that I benefit in no way whatsoever from this happening, nor was it my goal. I saw a GIF. I thought said GIF was funny. I shared said GIF with my followers. At some point along the way, however, things spiraled into a firestorm of replies and mentions that have been actively flooding my Twitter feed late into Sunday night.

These mentions, however, while not necessarily benefiting me in any capacity, were quite fun to watch unfold. The first run of replies/retweets came in the way of skull emojis (web speak for “dead” which is web speak for “died laughing.”) and laughing tears. Behold, the “Emojispeak” category.





Then came the variety of “life comes at you fast” and other social media memes. Let’s call this the “Meta Meme” category.

And some chatter about the basketball and competition, specifically the Bulls and their franchise. We’ll call this the “Close to Home” category.

The most common non-Emojispeak replies came in the way of inquisition. The have So. Many. Question. We’ll call these the “Curious” crowd.



The weirdest turn came when others blatantly took what was obviously catching some traction, and attempted to replicate it themselves in what I’d call the “Broken RT Button” category.

Special shout out to the now suspended account which didn’t even bother to change the caption.

Replies like those above would encompass what I would consider to be 95 percent of the tone—most of which were that of enjoyment. The saddest turn, however, came with the five percent or replies who were most determined to make sure the rest of the world knew that Benny the Bull never truly intended to dunk the basketball and that the entire scene was—wait for it…—staged!

Can you believe it? DO YOU REALIZE?

My favorite, you ask? The Popcorn Truther.

Bill, a Dolphins fan, has studied in-arena packaging to a level at which he felt compelled to let me know that the loose nature of the popcorn should have been my first clue. You know, not the countless other stunts Benny has pulled over the years, or the fact that Benny isn’t truly blindfolded as the guy inside isn’t looking through the bull’s plastic eyes. But hey—popcorn packaging.

I suspect that it will reach a point where the interactions with this Benny the Bull GIF slow down. Replies are still trickling in, some asking about the state or overall cost of the popcorn while the rest fall into the categories above.

If you ask me, this pretentious winter runner tweet, which got an infinitesimal amount of traction, was much better. But hey—numbers don’t lie.

The internet is weird, you guys.

  • NankirPhelge

    For better or worse, social media is an alternate universe populated by alter egos freed from many social constraints and courtesies. But it’s pretty nice that only 5% of your population disappointed you.

    (You do know it was staged, don’t you?)

    P.S. If you cared enough, you might have pointed out to the Dolphin truther that the popcorn was clearly in tubs.

  • Harv

    If I saw this is grade school I might see a bully. In high school, slapstick gold. During the NFL playoffs, idly wondering what kind of questions are asked of a popcorn vendor in the concussion protocol.

  • Chris


  • Garry_Owen

    Interesting stuff. Sociology proves that people are weird.

    Help me understand, though: Why are thousands of banal tweets laughing and enjoying this the way you did okay, while hundreds(?) of banal tweets pointing out that it’s staged are “sad”? Isn’t the latter as legitimate a thing to tweet as the former? I mean, plenty of people posed the question whether this was an accident or staged, and this was okay. Why was it sad that some answered the question? Is it because everyone was supposed to presume that everyone already knew it was staged?

  • Garry_Owen

    Your astute observation clearly proves that in some areas my mind is clearly locked in high school. This is, indeed, slapstick gold.

    (As a man well into my forties, my biggest questions are how the vendor protected his hips and how is he able to walk today. I’m sore on his behalf.)

  • jpftribe

    “look at this tray. Do you see 3 mediums and 2 larges or 2 larges and 3 mediums?”

  • I characterize anything that has an impulsive reaction to poke holes in something that’s enjoyable or fun as “sad.” To me, it’s like seeing a fantastic highlight in any sport , and saying a penalty should have been called (ie. TRAVEL!!). if your gut reaction is to question something that is fun—and is being predominantly received as such—I feel bad for you.

  • ” If you cared enough…”

    Therein lies the rub.

  • Harv

    same. Middle-age sympathy winces occur daily. Only way a younger person can understand it is to remind them what they do when they see a shot to some other guy’s lower midsection.

  • Garry_Owen

    Thanks. Makes sense. I guess I just look at the whole platform as basically banal. Running into Captain Obvious (and General Buzzkill, and all the rest) is just part of the price of admission.

  • Garry_Owen

    When I watch football now, every single play evinces an “ouch!” from me. I so easily forget that young, fit human beings can withstand that type of abuse. The me that used to do that stuff seems like an entirely different being, and one whom I never knew.

  • swig

    At a fairly young age I would catch myself going down these question worm holes. I realized by level 3 or 4 (now I’m imagining “Inception”) that I should simply stop thinking about it. This skill has treated me well.

    Unfortunately social media gives each of these thought steps a platform and when people get to level 3 or 4 they think they’re at level 1 offering insightful commentary.

    I think I just proved this very comment is invalid.

    /shows self out

  • Garry_Owen

    This is why WFNY is my only “social media,” which also explains why I offer Level 1 stuff on occasion. I’m working on my first Level 4 comment. I plan to unveil it in one of next year’s articles on the Browns uniform choice.

  • Harv

    now THAT’S comedy gold

  • Chris

    “Here… pop a couple of Cracker Jacks and get back out there! These fans need you!”

  • Chris
  • scripty

    Popcorn salesman HATE him.

  • jshmeezy6

    FTR that girl slipping on the ice gif has been around for a couple years. It is gold, but I’ve seen it at least 20 different times. But the Benny one was hilarious. I watched it for 5 minutes straight when I first saw you tweet it lol. It was kinda funny to see Conrad Kaczmarek retweet the Pepe one instead of yours though.

  • jshmeezy6

    Also, the “Million Dollar Baby” responses were definitely the best. I laughed twice as hard because of those.

  • Hopwin

    My uncle popcorn vendor earned $97 per hour from Chicago Bulls. Now drives he a BMW I-6 and $5400 per salary week!

  • RGB

    We have three more seasons to see if they have the cojones to go full-pumpkin.

  • Garry_Owen

    I have a whole series of Level 4 gifs at the ready for when they do.

  • Oh, I know ice girl has been around for a while. Was just saying that it’s more my style. And yeah, [shakes fist at Conrad]

  • JM85

    That video made my day.

  • I would hope a few more than asked of a nearly-decapitated QB


  • nj0

    A Steeler leading with his helmet? Why I never….

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