Gal Volinez had a feeling his reworking of Britney Spears’ Work Bitch video would go viral. He just didn’t know that his body-doubling stunt – “Hi Brit” –would reel in over two million views.
“The exposure makes me happy but I’m taking it in proportion. I’m not a reality star and it doesn’t interest me to be one,” Volinez tells ISRAEL21c. “When I decided to do this video, I wanted to make it viral so I chose a well-known song and video and made my changes. It doesn’t surprise me that people are writing about it. But I didn’t think I’d succeed this fast.”
Here’s how it happened.
Volinez, a visual artist, began working on the idea a few months back but shelved it for a while in favor of other work. After returning to his one-man project – he filmed himself and self-edited – he hyped the video on his personal Facebook feed, uploading snapshots. His friends posted encouraging messages.
Finally, on June 10, 2014, he uploaded his hilarious and brilliant adaptation of Work Bitch.
The online community buzzed. From celebrity gossip king Perez Hilton to TIME’s online blog, everyone is still full of beans about the video.
Some people misunderstood it. Others got the meaning. But above all, the idea of replacing the central pop star singing in her music video scored huge success the world over.
“To start a new video trend will be amazing from my perspective. That’s not what I thought would happen,” he says.
For Volinez, however, the most important part of his video is his message.
“I’m interested in Britney Spears as a brand that lacks substance. This song is about materialism; nothing is real. By putting myself [a 286-pound man] in the video, in front of a camera and replacing Spears, it’s extreme and it makes viewers reexamine social norms. That was the purpose,” says the 31-year-old Tel Aviv resident, who clarifies that he is no Britney Spears fan.
He says dealing with the human body and its problematic image of perfection in the media is a common theme in his works. “I’m always trying to create dissonance that opens new conversation, new discourse. That’s what interests me,” he tells ISRAEL21c.
Volinez says he learned the global pop star’s moves by watching her video over and over. He provides some fantastic tongue-in-cheek body-doubling, complete with whip, filming himself in his apartment and then digitally editing his image onto hers.
In another video called “Love U Brit,” he examines self-reflection by mirroring the bubbly pop star while she repeats, “I’m sad.”
Though the world wants to see another music video featuring Volinez as a body-double, he’s leaving the YouTube space for others to fill.
“I’m not working on another one just yet,” he says. “It doesn’t interest me to recycle myself.”