Badgers, badgers, badgers, badgers, badgers, badgers, badgers, badgers, badgers, badgers, badgers, badgers, Mushroom! Mushroom!
In the fall of 2003 I was a pimply-faced freshman in high school. In the town where I grew up the freshmen all went to one building (creatively called the Freshmen Center). It was just us. No middle schoolers cramping our style, and no meathead seniors giving us swirlies in rarely used toilets. It was nice. I suppose in hindsight it was more like a prison that puts all of the different gangs/sympathizers in one area, but at the time it was a level of freedom and grown-uppedness we had not experienced before. It was also when I was first introduced, really, to the concept of a viral Internet video.
I didn’t take a computer class my freshmen year, but there was a bank of computers in the library and occasionally we’d have some mundane assignment in a non-computer class that would conveniently take us to that computer bank. You must remember that this was before everyone had Wi-Fi. Most people I knew had a dedicated computer room and if they were lucky they had DSL, but plenty of people were still on dial-up. The school, however, had excellent Internet and people began using that school computer time to catch up on whatever else the Internet had to offer.
One day an acquaintance sat next to me at the computer bank. “Dude. My cousin from Indiana came in town last week and he showed me the funniest thing. He’s 17 and said it’s all anyone at his high school is talking about.” (Isn’t it always some slightly older cousin from out of state?) Then he pulled up The Badger Song.
This was pre-YouTube, and I honest to God don’t even remember where we used to go to watch this video, but watch it we did and enthralled we were. Just chant-singing “badger badger badger badger . . . ” all day was an unofficial pastime. Then the “mushroom” part begins, then before you know it a hilariously faux-frightened voice is going “snaaake snaaaake!” It was brilliant and absolutely perfect for high school students around the world. It made me feel like I was on the cusp of pop culture, really, for the first time. It was the first viral video I can ever remember seeing, and my life has been a continuous viewing of various viral videos ever since.
I won’t really go into the history of the video because I spent too long talking about my freshmen year of high school, but there is a Wikipedia article on it and it’s mildly fascinating. But you’re here for the video, and I’m not one to disappoint: