Shut Up Little Man Looks At Going Viral For The First Time

With todays wide spread accessibility of the internet the best way to gain that infamous 15 minutes of fame is to tape something or write something or create something and, Go Viral!! 25 years ago the term going viral wasn’t part of the populations vocabulary. That didn’t stop unique videos, recordings and from being an underground phenomenon. One such situation took place in the late 80’s and carried on thru the 90’s when two recent college chose to move to the iconic neighborhood of Haight St. in San Francisco in what could be the dumpiest apartment building in the city. What they soon discovered was they had the two most unique neighbors anyone could ask for.

What was initially a severe annoyance of two men who drank all day and as a result viciously argued and fought all night, quickly became a fascination and underground hit. While the neighbors, Peter and Ray constantly argued it took a turn from annoying to hilarious at some point and out fear, fear for either ones life and that it may become legally necessary, the two began recording the nights occurrences.

The recordings soon piled up to two years worth and found themselves covering the country with various people looking to cash in on them in various ways from comic books to movies to plays.

The documentary, Shut Up Little Man, taken from Peter’s favorite line to Ray, is not only a look into the two young men, Eddie and Mitch and not only their time on Haight St. next to Peter and Ray but the struggle and control of the phenomenon they had created.

With various legal and ethical issues at hand they had been thrust into a world and situation that they had no knowledge of and had not prepared for. With everyone looking to profit on the crazy characters Peter and Ray no doubt were various legal and ethical questions were raised and ultimately kept the Shut Up Little Man tapes and story from hitting the mainstream.

The documentary also hits on several other levels and while the arguments are funny, although extremely profanity laced, there is a sadness to the lives the two men had come to live late in life. Both obvious severe alcoholics and Peter being a homosexual and Ray vocally having a hatred for them made for a very volatile relationship, of which there is some mystery and question, and ultimately a toxic life together.

What has been called the first pop culture viral break out, calls morals and ethics into question with what seems so easily accessible today. A deep look into what popularity these tapes had and how they were really light years ahead of anything of it’s kind, Shut Up Little Man is about so much more than the tapes and recordings, it’s about the lives of the two men on those tapes and the lives they unknowingly affected by bringing laughter and joy to millions and by affecting the lives of all who tried to profit from their misery and sad lives. It will make laugh no doubt because that is just our nature as people but it will make you think as well and feel for the men who unknowingly were just like rock stars.

4 thoughts on “Shut Up Little Man Looks At Going Viral For The First Time”

  1. I recently saw this documentary and was considering writing about it. It really says a lot about popular culture and how things go “viral.” I find it interesting that at least three different groups tried to get a movie off the ground, but how they should go about it is telling the back story like the documentary did, just dramatizing it. Ultimately, this is a very sad story all around for all participants.

  2. Even when writing or filming the truth, there is a potential for lawsuits. Was that one of the things that held up things? I think of authors like former police detective Joseph Wambaugh who had to write around or disguise some of the characters in a horrific murder case in Pennsylvania. He had the facts, but that doesn’t mean someone can’t go after the author/filmmaker for publicizing their role in a crime.

    1. Most of the legal issues that held everything up was that they recorded the two men without their knowledge and somewhat illegaly almost like bugging their apartment

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