Special Entertainment created Brownmark Films and made the music video for an unpublished song by Samwell called “What What (In the Butt)”. The video premiered at the Green Gallery in Milwaukee and was uploaded to YouTube a few days later. It immediately went viral and has since become a worldwide sensation with over 50 million downloads so far on YouTube alone. VICE magazine recently wrote about the video, saying, “Viral isn’t the way to describe this thing: It became a basic building block of the Internet.” Daniel Tosh called the video “a masterpiece” and Entertainment Weekly called it “a viral video sensation.”
The video rocketed up the charts the day after it was released when Perez Hilton featured it on his popular blog PerezHilton.com. A year later, after the video had already been downloaded nearly nine million times, an episode of South Park aired that revolved around the What What phenomenon and featured a shot-for-shot re-creation of the video, starring Butters (a popular South Park character) in place of Samwell.
During the filming of Michael Mann’s Public Enemies, Academy Award winner (and Samwell fan) Marion Cotillard invited Samwell to the set to surprise her co-star Johnny Depp (who is also a Samwell fan).
In 2008, Samwell was a guest on the BBC television show Lily Allen and Friends, where his interview with Lily Allen was followed by a live performance of “What What (In the Butt)”, complete with choreographed male dancers. The “What What” song then surfaced on an episode of Sweden’s Got Talent in which four naked young men danced to the song while holding pancakes over their private parts. Members of the Israeli Army made a controversial fan remake of the video which became popular after being featured on Boing Boing.
What What (in the Butt) has been the #17 Top Rated YouTube Video of All Time and was listed on YouTube’s “Most Discussed Videos Of All Time” and “Most Watched Music Videos Of All Time” charts for over two years. The video has screened at the MIX Brasil Film Festival, the Milwaukee International Film Festival, and at numerous art galleries. To date, it’s received over 175,000 viewer comments, has been written about in over 1,500 blogs and news articles, and has been honored with over 1,000 response videos. In January 2010 the video won a Pill award for Best Animation at the Pill Awards show in New York.
The video has been mentioned in The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, CBS News, CNN, The Hollywood Reporter, TV Guide, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, The LA Times, E! Online, MTV, VH1, The Onion, NME, Gawker, BuzzFeed, Billboard, and many others. It’s also been listed on Google Trends Daily Hot List, was featured on KnowYourMeme.com, placed #69 on urlesque’s 100 Most Iconic Internet Videos of All Time list, and is listed in CollegeHumor’s Web Celeb Hall of Fame.
Samwell has his own line of merchandise (including T-Shirts, underwear, running shorts, and more); a new live phone call service called Special Greetings from Samwell; a music video promoting Safer Sex called Protect Respect available on YouTube; an iPhone App called Shaky Advice from Samwell available on iTunes; and a feature film called What What (In the Butt): The Movie which is currently in development. Brownmark Films has released 20 Samwell videos with more on the way.
Last year Samwell appeared on Tosh.0, a hit Comedy Central series about viral videos. The episode featured an extensive dialog between Daniel Tosh and Samwell in a sauna, followed by an unplugged duet version of the “What What” song by Samwell and Josh Homme, lead singer of Queens of the Stone Age and Them Crooked Vultures. Daniel Tosh said that Samwell was one of the best guests he’s had on the show and invited Samwell back for another episode where he was nominated for the Season Two MVP Award.
In February 2012 Brownmark Films projected Samwell’s pink zeppelin onto well-known buildings in Los Angeles to celebrate the five-year anniversary of the video. Documentation of the event premiered the next night at Machine Project gallery in Los Angeles.
Watch behind-the-scenes footage from the original “What What” green-screen shoot HERE !
Check out the new OFFICIAL SAMWELL website!