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Image: valleywag.com
valleywag.com
Helen Popkin
By
msnbc.com
updated 10/20/2008 9:08:08 AM ET 2008-10-20T13:08:08

It's so rare in this day and age that one has the opportunity to use “irony” in its true sense.

Ever since the movie “Slacker” or maybe that insipid Alanis Morissette, kids have no respect for the word — carelessly tossing it about to describe synthetic fiber slacks or an unfortunate happenstance involving weather.

I’d like to think that’s the reason the bloodthirsty blogosphere clamped on to an allegedly leaked viral video exhibiting the tomfoolery of a bunch of Silicon Alley 20-somethings and their meticulously choreographed lip-sync of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.”

You see, the video in question was filmed at a stratospherically-loaded investment banker’s Mediterranean vacation home, and features his son Sam Lessin, the young CEO of drop.io, a Web start-up based completely on the attainment of Internet privacy.

Oh! Oh! The popular musical number also features Lessin’s GF, Wall Street Journal tech reporter Jessica Vascellaro, partying with the very employees of the industry she covers. What’s more, this Bonfire of the Ironies went down at the exact same moment the economy did.

Sweet delicious expression of contradictory or complementary impulses, how we've missed you!

Alas, the reason behind the video's massive page views is far uglier than a grammatical smackdown. Unsurprising, given the economical ugliness of the past few weeks. This recorded rookery of “tech elite,” as dubbed by Tech Crunch, popped up on the Internet —whether by choice or chance — right around the time Silicon Alley started melting down: eBay layoffs, Google’s stock tanking and Yahoo’s implosion, etc.

Apparently, nothing makes the proletariat get our “Eat The Rich” on like a bunch of successful Ivy League brats mouthing the words to an '80s rock anthem at a gleaming white seaside estate in Cyprus.

“Team Cyprus: Alcohol + Bad Judgment + Really Poor Timing,” read a Tech Crunch entry featuring the Vimeo-posted video that members of the group attempted to removed from the Internet.  (Yeah, good luck with that.)

“It's the end of Web 2.0 as we know it,” trumpeted Valleywag, Gawker’s Silicon Alley blog — the headline of one of several entries dedicated to the deconstruction of the silly little film featuring kids who work at Google, Blip.tv and Facebook.

All Things D Kara Swisher didn’t pull any punches in her BoomTown blog, writing this: “Um, kids, here’s a reflection: While you swim in that pricey infinity pool in your luxury villa, Silicon Valley is tanking all over the place. You might want to check your email and see if Sequoia Capital or Ron Conway has cost-cutted you out of a job!”

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Swisher, who is co-executive editor at All Things D (a site is owned by Dow Jones, publisher of The Wall Street Journal, where Swisher previously worked covering digital issues) also called out WJS tech reporter Vascellaro with an italicized “well, um, eek, bad idea, awkward!”

Sigh. While this new generation may possess a myriad of talents, discretion is not one of them.

“The video was made by friends, for friends, and I would have liked for it to have stayed that way,” Lessin told Technotica via e-mail. “It didn't and we have all lived and learned.”

Lived, learned and latched on to an opportunity to promote his product press-release style! “If anything, the video and resulting media exposure helps convey the mission, approach and story of drop.io.” Zzzzz…huh? Wha? Oh ...

Lessin and his fellow performers may maintain the video was “accidentally” leaked online — that the poster somehow forgot to click “private” on Vimeo where it first showed up — but doubtful anybody’s buying it. (Not in this economy anyway LOL.)

“Is that what they’re saying?” Swisher responded dryly when told about the claim.

Valleywag managing editor Owen Thomas — who’s really, I mean really thought about this, to the point of analyzing line by line the lyrics to “Don’t Stop Believing” — can pony up a mountain of circumstantial evidence pointing to the contrary. Not the least of which, the most obvious:

“C’mon!” he said. “You’ve got people who work at Google and Facebook. They know all the Web tools. Are we supposed to believe that they just forgot to hit private? And the song … if you look at the lyrics, it’s rather depressing and nihilistic, sort of living on the edge.”

Oh, don’t get him started.

One should note that offline (and on the telephone) neither Valleywag’s Thomas or Swisher seemed to feel this sin of capricious youth called for the guillotine. That forgiving sentiment isn’t shared by a whole heck of a lot of blog-reading Les Misérables.

“Why is it so hard for Valleywag just to call these folks out as the coddled egomaniacs that they are?” wrote the lucky FIRST! poster on the Valleywag entry.

The commenter continued with a viscous bile shared by many. ”It's the patently worst subculture to come out of the Valley. They are tolerated and friended on Facebook during the financial good-times, but as the hard times hit, people realize they're just a bunch of rich kids seeking the world's approval.”

Yeah, well there’s that.

Not a whole lot of posters saw past their blinding red rage and/or glowing green jealously to note that, as far as lip-dub videos go, this one is fairly excellent. It’s composed of a single tracking shot, no edits. Real Orson Welles-type stuff! Every single performer hit his or her mark with precision.

“And they did it on the first take,” Vallywag’s Thomas told me, as was told to him by some of those involved.

Thomas also defended the “Cyprus 20” in his blog posts and our telephone interview, pointing out that this adventure wasn’t one that needed a whole heck of a lot of dough, just plane tickets because they had a free place to stay.

(The cost of the matching houndstooth swim suits worn by the women in the clip is an unknown, currently.)

Thomas added that these kids aren’t Tyco, partying away shareholder money.

Not directly anyway, as one particularly cranky friend who would like to remain anonymous pointed out. “These kids are the beneficiaries of trickle-down economics,” he or she (who isn’t me) said. “Their parents are rich so they’re rich.”

He or she then added that this story does have a bright side. “The economy is going to catch up with them, too.”

Hooray?

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