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Cebu inmates’ ‘Thriller’ in Time most-watched list

By Kate V. Pedroso
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 03:02:00 12/21/2007

Filed Under: Internet, Prison

MANILA, Philippines -- The 1,500 Cebu prison inmates who danced their way to global fame when their music video ?Thriller? popped up on YouTube have conquered the print medium as well.

They have made it to the pages of Time -- on the international magazine?s list of the most watchable Internet videos for 2007.

The convicts? interpretation of Michael Jackson?s pop hit was No. 5 of the 10 ?most popular viral videos? of the year, or the ?Web clips we couldn?t stop watching.? The list included international celebrities like Britney Spears and Hillary Clinton.

The dance video by the inmates at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center has been downloaded more than nine million times, Time said.

The magazine described the performance of the ?orange-jumpsuited accused murderers, rapists and drug dealers? as a ?homage? to Jackson?s ?Thriller.?

?Questions arose about whether the 1,500 Filipino jailhouse rockers were enjoying some well-choreographed creative expression or suffering abuse at the hands of prison officials with MTV aspirations,? it said.

The video was posted on YouTube by Cebu provincial consultant on security Byron Garcia on July 18. Two days later, the video had some 266,000 views. A week later, it had over a million hits.

Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia had said the ?Thriller? video showed the prisoners in a ?routine practice? for a number they were presenting on Aug. 1, the 438th founding anniversary of Cebu province.

Part of exercise

Dancing, Garcia said, has been part of the prisoners? daily exercise under the jail?s rehabilitation program, which began in April 2006. The prisoners exercise from 6:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. and again from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The inmates have presented other dance numbers during monthly celebrations held at the facility, including the movie Sister Act 1?s ?I Will Follow You,? Sister Act 2?s ?Hail Holy Queen? and the Algorithm march, all of which have been uploaded on YouTube.

The other videos that made Time?s list were ?Leave Britney Alone,? where a gay teen sobs in defense of ?a fallen pop princess,? with 18 million downloads; ?The Landlord,? with Will Ferrell, with 50 million downloads;

Ms South Carolina Teen USA?s answer on ?Why Americans are Unable to Locate the US on the Map;? ?Hillary 1984,? a ?political attack ad? depicting Clinton as ?Big Brother.?



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