Saturday, November 24, 2007
'I like turtles' boy comes out of his shell after online frenzy
12:44 PM PDT on Monday, July 9, 2007
By NANCY FRANCIS, KGW Staff
The 10-year-old star of a video clip that has become an Internet sensation surfaced over the weekend after his teenage sister heard about his fame on the Web site MySpace.
Jonathon Ware of Milwaukie, Oregon just finished fourth grade at Riverside Elementary. His claim to fame: He likes turtles.
For weeks, a video of a May 31 KGW interview of a young boy in zombie face paint at the Rose Festival has had hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube and other video websites and blogs.
Asked by a reporter what he thought of his elaborate face paint, Jonathon stared zombie-like into the camera lens and said, “I like turtles!”
Once someone posted it on YouTube, the video clip seemed to take on a life of its own. Hundreds of Internet viewers have written comments on the “I like turtles” video, giving Jonathon cult-like status.
“He’s the greatest kid ever,” says one.
The video “gets even better when the reporter doesn’t know how to respond,” says another.
Jonathon was oblivious to his fame until his sister Kim told him about a message from a friend on her MySpace page. It said, “Kim, Do you know about your brother? He’s freakin’ famous!”
Jonathon said he likes the attention. “I’m thinking I’m famouser (sic) than a lot of other people. It’s really funny to me.”
So…why did he say he liked turtles?
At the Waterfront Village during the Rose Festival, before getting his face painted, Jonathon and his sisters stopped at a nearby display of turtles. They clearly made a big impression on Jonathon, and he said he was still thinking about them during the television interview.
“I was just having nervous thoughts in my mind and thinking about turtles,” he said. “I found a snapping turtle there that was really cool and I just wanted to blurt it all out.”
Before he knew it, Jonathon had a cult following, complete with one Web site (Cafepress.com)selling “I Like Turtles” merchandise. It includes T-shirts, caps, buttons and messenger bags with Jonathon’s zombie face and his iconic comment.
Brian Berger, a Portland publicist who closely follows Internet trends, said it’s a dramatic example of the power of the Internet and “viral” marketing.
“It spreads like wildfire,” he said. “All you need is one or two highly populated Web sites to pick up your clip and you’re off and running. And sometimes it spawns a secondary market with merchandise, whether it’s hats or T-shirts."
Johnathon's family was shocked by the attention this has brought.
“Just unbelievable,” said Brian Ware, his father.
“Some of my friends want to buy the shirts with my brother’s face on it,” said sister Kim. “It’s still kind of weird.”
Perhaps the weirdest thing of all is that Jonathon does not have a turtle. The animal-loving family has three dogs, four cats, two birds, two hermit crabs, a lizard and a gecko.
But now, considering recent events, Jonathon’s mother has made a decision: She’s going to get her son some turtles.