Opinion

Some web celebs

Updated 9:18 PM ET, Thu February 16, 2012
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Kate Upton went from (relative) obscurity as a model to the coveted gig of Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover girl after she uploaded a video of herself doing a bouncy version of "The Dougie" at an L.A. Clippers game. It quickly went viral, and her path to fame was set. Her 190,467 Twitter followers haven't hurt either. AFP/Getty Images
The viral music video of Rebecca Black's song "Friday" was trashed by critics, the vanity release dubbed "the worst song ever." Really? It had about 167 million views on YouTube, which named it 2011's top video of the year. The Internet pop star went on to host MTV's first online awards show, appear on Jay Leno, and have her song performed on "Glee." Getty Images/file
When he was just a boy in Ontario, Justin Bieber uploaded videos to YouTube of himself performing R&B tunes. He collected an Internet following that soon included the R&B star Usher, who signed him to his media group/record label. Since then, Bieber has become a teenage heartthrob, selling more than 4.5 million copies of his three albums and millions more of his digitally downloaded singles. Getty Images
Comedian Louis CK, already a popular regular-guy comedian, confounded the standard distribution and marketing machine by bypassing it completely and offering his standup video for download on his own site. His enterprise bumped his fame to a new level -- and also made $1 million in 12 days. Getty Images/file
Turkish photographer Mahir Cagri's home page welcomed viewers with a big "I KISS YOU!!!!!" message, followed by an enthusiastic explanation of his interests -- with pictures -- in not-so-great English. He was an early example (1999) of celebrity conferred on an unsuspecting subject by an Internet audience who hadn't realized they could actually do that. In 2006, the site was included in PC World's "The 25 Worst Web Sites" list. From www.istanbul.tc/mahir/mahir
Joe Moses found Internet fame in the role of Severus Snape, which he performed as part of a musical theatre troupe at the University of Michigan in the viral sensation "A Very Potter Musical." The troupe Team StarKid grew a rabid Internet fan base of tweens and teens that has stuck with Moses even as he moved his talents to Brooklyn, where he works as a bartender, performs in a one-man show, and continues to upload video sketches on his YouTube channel. From Joe Moses/Facebook
Eduard Khil's cheerful, lounge-singer rendition in 1976 of a Russian folk tune, soon dubbed "The Trololo Song," languished in obscurity until it was uploaded to YouTube. It was picked up by ironic websites far and wide, as well as "The Colbert Report," and parodied mercilessly. Khil, in his 70s and living in St. Petersburg, Russia, says he learned from his 13-year-old grandson that he was a viral sensation. From Trololololololololololo.com