Wake up, babe! Early 2010s Tumblr fandom is back, and we have Josh Hutcherson to thank for it.
In the past two weeks, a fan-made video known as the “Josh Hutcherson ‘Whistle’ edit” has gone viral on social media platforms like TikTok. Originally posted to YouTube in 2014, the video combines photos of Josh Hutcherson with a cover of the song “Whistle” by Flo Rida. Sure, the video looks a bit paltry compared to the snazzy edits of anime characters and K-pop stars you so often seen today. Still, it’s a weirdly important video in the annals of internet history and served as one of the early progenitors of viral thrist edits that are everywhere today.
Now, thanks to the release of the new Hunger Games movie, A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, the edit is making the rounds and has become a bona fide viral video. It’s truly iconic, so we’ll give you the rundown of the popular meme.
What is the Josh Hutcherson ‘Whistle’ edit?
The Josh Hutcherson “Whistle” edit is a fan-made video that compiles several photos of the American actor set to a cover of Flo Rida’s “Whistle,” sung by Joel Merry. The video is still hosted on YouTube; you can view it via MetroGirlzStation’s channel. Overall, it’s a strong example of the aesthetic tastes of the era. The images are edited with pinkish hues, and the video uses the Ken Burns effect.
Some fans, depending on age, have also called the video a fancam or a fan-made music video (FMV). I tend to reserve the prior usage for actual recordings of performers, but you still see people use the term with this video.
Why do people care about the Josh Hutcherson ‘Whistle’ edit?
The fandom around Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series inspired an avid online fandom in the early 2010s. The first Hunger Games movie came out in 2012; Hutcherson played one of two major love interests of the series, Peeta Mallark. For years, Hunger Games fans debated the merits of being on team Peeta or team Gale, with some thirsting over Hutcherson. This edit exemplifies the tastes of an entire era of fandom (or, rather, half the fandom).
Why is the Josh Hutcherson ‘Whistle’ edit popular again?
Lionsgate released The Hunger Games: A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes on Nov. 17. Although Hutcherson doesn’t appear in the movie, its release drummed up interest for the original Hunger Games — and its cast. On top of that, Hutcherson’s role in the Five Nights at Freddy’s movie further bolstered interest in him online. In other words, the star basically became relevant again in a big way, driving fans to start making fan edits of him again.
These new fans also started digging back into the old fandom. This particular edit likely took off precisely because it looks a little scuffed. The style captures a nostalgia for an older era of fandom, so it likely appealed to the original millennial-aged Hunger Games fans. However, people also found a way to make it relevant to newer audiences.
Fans started editing videos visually so the music video would appear in surprising places as a joke. One video with text layered over a video of a fan picking up an ice cube says, “THIS COULD HAPPEN WHEN YOU FILL YOUR ICE TRAYS BE CAREFUL,” when suddenly Hutcherson’s face appears on an ice cube. The joke format took off and the video has become a Rickroll on places like TikTok.
Here are some other great examples of similar jokes, using the infamous whistle edit.
Now, TikTok is filled with jokey videos riffing on this original edit. The video has seen such a big resurgence that the original creator even came out and responded to the video’s viral fame.
The creator said in a YouTube comment, “My little sister showed me all the videos on her TikTok and I think it’s hilarious what you guys have done with it. [...] I had so much fun making this edit back then and it warms my heart to see a wave of new fans having fun with it.”