Jig is up for ‘NBA Impersonator’ Brandon Armstrong
Miko Malabute | Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Dating back to this summer of 2015, former professional basketball player Brandon Armstrong took the Internet by storm with a quick video clip of him impersonating Oklahoma City Thunder’s fiery superstar point guard Russell Westbrook. It was funny, it was pretty accurate and — most importantly — it was new. Novel. Nothing like it existed on the Internet up to that point, especially not by someone of that caliber done in that type of capacity.
However, just like anything and everything on the Internet nowadays, this viral sensation was overkilled and overdone. What sets this latest casualty to the Internet’s accessibility apart from the rest of the former viral sensations, however, is the fact that Armstrong did this to himself. His niche became a gimmick, which devolved into a desperate cry for attention.
Today, Armstrong released his latest impersonation act, mimicking New York Knicks icon Carmelo Anthony. It started off funny, especially with actual in-game commentary spliced into the clip to mimic what viewers at home get to see on a nightly basis during the NBA season. This effect set the stage for the rest of the video perfectly, as viewers could mentally juxtapose Armstrong with Anthony and — with a bit of revisionist history — see some of Anthony’s antics and tendencies in Armstrong’s reenactment.
If it were that simple, however, then there would be no problem. Sadly, Armstrong decides to stray from what got him this “fame” (if we were to even call it that), and instead of imitating Anthony he decides just to rehash some of his same jokes. The video quickly gets old, and I am personally reminded as to why Armstrong seems perfectly content making these short viral clips.
This video seems like another example of an Internet that is too big, too fast and too accessible for its own good. Nowadays, almost every Twitter user can regard themselves as a pseudo-comedian or a faux-reporter once they reach a certain number of followers. It is easy to feel a sense of vindication and satisfaction once you build an online following, and it is because of that ease in reaching out to a mass population that viral sensations like Armstrong are so quick to burn out and fade away after a short period of time. People are just over-saturated with this kind of content. Everywhere they turn there’s someone or something that swears they’re the next big thing. The quality content just fits right alongside with the rest of the material out there in the digital sea of the Internet, and thus everything becomes noise.
It was fun while it lasted, but Armstrong’s 15 seconds of fame had an expiration date as soon as it began simply because of the nature of what made him so relevant (at least for the time being). He got some buzz going by impersonating celebrities and churning out small videos of them; but, as can be demonstrated throughout history, what helps someone stay relevant is innovation and ingenuity, not just copying other people’s work. I understand this is not by any means Armstrong’s new career goal and is more of a thing he does for fun and attention. I simply hope he realizes that too.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.