RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – It started off as a social experiment, but it’s ended as one of the week’s most watched and talked about viral videos.
Thomas Cramer, 24, of Richmond, and his friends at production group chill hill media created a social experiment video earlier this month at MacArthur Center mall in Norfolk.
They wanted to see how shoppers reacted if they believed there was a celebrity in the mall.
So Cramer, who is also an actor, and a team of about 10 people created the scene in which three or four people would “recognize” the “celebrity.”
Cramer said he got the idea after he saw singer Pharrell in a mall one day and noticed how some people, who had no idea who Pharrell was, still took pictures and created a frenzy.
Cramer said he told his friends to converge at a specific time, one would ask for an autograph, another took pictures. In a matter of minutes, Cramer said a crowd formed around him some taking pictures, some asking who he was, some doing both. He said he signed about 40 autographs as rumors spread that he was an actor from Spider-man or the Hunger Games.
"Surprisingly it was very calming," Cramer said about his experience. He said at one point mall security approached and asked if he wanted to go through a private corridor to avoid the crowd.
"It was fun trying to balance us acting it and believing it," the James Madison University graduate said about the experience.
Cramer said he posted the video online this week and already its been viewed tens of thousands of times and garnered thousands of comments.
So what did Cramer learn from his experiment?
"People definitely get more caught up in moment than using their best judgement," he said. "I think society holds celebrity status higher than it should."
Although he quickly added he is enjoying his brief brush with celebrity.