Does the Success of the “Cheetah Chases Impala into Car” Video Convey a Greater Optimism in the Future?

With well over three million views in a day, the YouTube video “Cheetah Chases Impala Antelope Into Tourists on Safari,” has become one of the fastest growing viral videos. But while watching the video is certainly exciting, is there some way to explain this widespread enthusiasm?

First the facts. We start off with a typical scene on a road in Kruger National Park. Tourists were enjoying their day at the safari, and one of them happened to be filming. Then, suddenly, two cheetahs and a herd of impalas come quickly into sight. It becomes clear quite fast that they have chosen their intended prey. As they pursue it, it … jumps into an awaiting vehicle.

I’d like to suggest a reason for why this video took off the way it did. It’s probably not the only explanation, but it’s something that made sense to me.

Our typical experience of man with the natural world is one of encroachment. Animals were living peacefully for thousands of years, then all of a sudden, humans started chopping down trees, hunting, and so forth. Ostensibly, even though Kruger is a safe haven for these animals, still a man-made road was paved through the park. Initially the scene, albeit more beneficial than not, was still one of humans entering the domain of animals.

So why then were the results so surprising? Because at least for that impala, this “encroachment” on its natural habitat, actually worked out in its favor. This is not a story about preventing cheetahs from getting their prey, especially since it is known that they caught another meal up the road. Instead it’s a story that portrays the unexpected. Instead of humans working against the natural world, in this case, human “encroachment” was very much welcomed … again, at least for that impala.

But more than just a nice story, maybe there is also a message here for all of us. That maybe the reason we became excited from watching it, was that we also share the same hope for the future. That humankind will somehow find a way to work together with nature, rather than against it. That someday hopefully soon, we’ll figure out a way to obtain the resources we need, without leaving a path of destruction in our wake.

One way to test if these observations are on target or not, is to imagine them being used by marketers. Let’s assume we work for Chevy, and as a result of the success of this video, we want to make a commercial about it to promote our Impala line:

Welcome to the all new 2014 Chevy Impala! While you may know the Impala as an environmentally friendly vehicle with high gas mileage and low emissions, we also recently discovered another unexpected benefit.

[CUT TO VIDEO CLIP]

So in order to test out this newly discovered feature, we decided to take our new Impala to the San Diego Zoo for a test drive.

[CUT TO SCENE WITH NEW CAR, AN ACTUAL IMPALA, AND ZOO KEEPERS]

Hello guys, thanks for letting us come try out the new feature. Okay, let’s see it in action.

[ANNOUNCER OPENS THE DOOR, AND SCENE ENDS ONCE DOOR IS CLOSED, AND THE IMPALA IS LOOKING OUT THE FRONT WINDOW].

The all new 2014 Impala. Environmentally friendly … in ways you wouldn’t expect.

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