Published July 19, 2011
The latest viral phenomenon to hit the Internet has nothing to do with dancing babies or snoring puppies. Instead, it’s ordinary folks using YouTube to ask celebs on dates, specifically members of the Marines asking celebs to their Marine Corps Ball, a trend FoxNews.com sparked earlier this month.
It began a couple of weeks ago, when Sgt. Scott Moore, of the 3rd Battalion 2nd Marines based in Musa Qala, Afghanistan, posted a video to YouTube asking “Friends With Benefits” star Mila Kunis to accompany him to the Marine Corps Ball on November 18 in Greenville, N.C.
On Monday’s “Today" show, Kunis relayed the story, imitating our Pop Tarts columnist Hollie McKay asking her if she had seen the Marine’s YouTube video, which kicked off the trend.
In front of FoxNews.com cameras, and with some persuasion from her co-star Justin Timberlake, the actress agreed to the date.
But that was just the beginning. Next up, Cpl. Kelsey De Santis invited Timberlake to her Marine Corps Ball in Washington D.C. He also agreed to attend.
“I got an invitation to a completely different ball,” Timberlake said on “Today.“ We want to pay honor to our country and embrace their balls.”
Ba dum bum.
But all jokes aside, social media and YouTube is the hottest new way that Marines and celebrities have been able to connect in a way they wouldn’t otherwise have been able to.
“They have built this excitement and buzz that has allowed these videos to go viral,” Jacques Hebert, spokesman for YouTube’s Global Communications and Public Affairs office told Fox411. “It demonstrates the power of the platform that someone can upload the video, share it with their friends, watch the media take hold of it and then get it viewed by these celebrities.”
And the general public is eating it up.
Searches for “marine” on YouTube are up 208 percent since the week of June 5, and searches for “Mila Kunis” are up 189 percent, according to Hebert.
But the trend didn’t end with the “Friends With Benefits” stars. The latest celeb to get an invite to the ball is “Hot in Cleveland” star Betty White.
In his video proposal, Sgt. Ray Lewis praised White while inviting her to his ball.
“She’s funny. She’s sweet. She’s mature. She’s the all-around perfect woman,” Lewis says in his video, which posted on YouTube on July 16.
White respectfully declined, saying, “… everyone knows I love a man in uniform, but unfortunately I cannot accept, as I will be taping an episode of ‘Hot in Cleveland’.”
But despite White’s declining the offer, this trend is showing no sign of slowing down.
Marines spokesman Maj. Stewart Upton said he doesn’t know if the viral invitations have reached their endpoint and he believes that is a good thing for the Marines.
“These videos are a way for the Marines to connect with the American public and show that the Marine Corps is a diverse institution and we are able to have some fun while we are carrying out our duties,” Maj. Upton told Fox411. “It has definitely increased the interest and excitement for the Balls for everybody.”
According to Reece Pacheco, CEO of social video application Shelby TV, one of the major reason videos like this one go viral is that they start out within a tight-knit community, in this case the Marines.
“There's an installed base of people, [like the] Marines, who provide the kindling for the meme to catch fire,” Pacheco tells Fox411.
Through social media, the soldiers have also put of pressure on their celebrity targets. When publicly courted by a man or a woman serving our country, it’s difficult for a celebrity to say no without coming across as a major jerk.
“By putting their request out into the world, there is societal pressure for the celebs to say yes, and fulfill their 'duty' to their fans,” Pacheco said.