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Top Ten Viral Videos of 2011

Community activist Pauline Pearce shot to prominence in the summer of 2011 after being filmed confronting looters during the London riots.

Community activist Pauline Pearce shot to prominence in the summer of 2011 after being filmed confronting looters during the London riots.

As is now customary in the Internet age, there were plenty of videos that caught the public's imagination and spread like wildfire across social media in 2011.

Here's our selection of the funny, downright weird, and sometimes shocking clips that caught our attention in the past year.

As usual, it's by no means a comprehensive list, so feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments box below.

10) The dawn of "catvertising"

It seems that 2011 was the year we eventually realized that "The Internet Is Made Of Cats." As this catchy ditty suggests, the seemingly inexorable and exponential rise of online felines means that hardly a day goes by without some cute kitty charming millions of net surfers with its "hilarious" antics.

So much so that it all got a bit much for comedienne Cara Hartmann.

In the past 12 months alone, millions of people have watched a ridiculously sweet clip of a mother cuddling her kitten, the incredible poise and balance of yoga cat, the frenetic Jackson-esque dance moves of “Thriller” cat, a very bossy Japanese cat, and a cat with impeccable comic timing.

As these are just a few of the felines who have made a name for themselves in the past year, it's no wonder that someone has decided to harness the star power of pussycats for commercial gain. (To be honest, we're not sure if they are joking or not...):

9) The Dozing Dormouse

Besides the ubiquitous cats, last year also produced clips of some little-known creatures who suddenly became unlikely Internet sensations, such as the ferocious honey badger and some ferociously cute owls.

Other animal videos that went viral include this antelope's impression of an NFL linebacker, some laboratory chimps finally seeing the light after 30 years, and the irrepressible "Fenton" (or is it "Benton"?).

For our money though, the cutest critter clip of 2012 has to be this little hibernating dormouse, who is something of a heavy sleeper:

8) Emerson and his mother's nose

If "catvertising" is set to be the big thing in 2012, then "kidvertising" can't be far behind.

Last year, millions of Internet users went nuts for some talking twins as well as Ellie and her amazing vocabulary (or is it early onset Tourette's?).

Our favorite kiddy clip of 2012, however, has to be 5 1/2-month-old Emerson and his fascination with his mother's nose:

7) Suicide bombing game

Although Internet users have now become accustomed to seeing a variety of kid videos showing children doing cute and funny stuff, some videos of kid's games are neither cute nor funny.

Given the growing prevalence of underage suicide attacks in South Asia, this disturbing footage, which seems to be from either Pakistan or Afghanistan and shows youngsters playing a "suicide bomber game," is particularly chilling:

6) The Czech president “steals” a pen

The Czech Republic’s forthright President Vaclav Klaus is no stranger to controversy. But while he normally grabs headlines for his contentious views on global warming and the EU, earlier this year he became embroiled in a kerfuffle over a pen he was apparently filmed appropriating while on a state visit to Chile.

Klaus denied he had stolen a pen after the video went viral. Instead, he insisted, it was a “just a stylus.”

A spokesman later said that it was customary to receive such items when on state visits. If this is the case, then Klaus’s pocketing of his stylus does seem needlessly furtive:

5) The “Hackney Heroine”

The riots that swept through London and other British cities produced some horrible footage of seemingly wanton violence and destruction.

As the United Kingdom reeled from the shock of seeing grim recordings of daylight robbery, as well as mindless arson and looting, one woman emerged from the rubble to offer a welcome glimpse of another side of Britain.

When Pauline Pearce -- later dubbed the “Heroine of Hackney” -- was filmed confronting some looters near her east London home, she could have little idea that her words would strike such a chord with so many people across the country.

The community activist was propelled to prominence when this clip of her berating rioters was watched by millions. She has since exploited her new found fame to bend the ear of London Mayor Boris Johnson and British Prime Minister David Cameron about the social inequalities that she believes helped fuel the riots:

4) Graffiti spray fail

Not surprisingly, the street violence in Britain resulted in hundreds of column inches being devoted to the shortcomings of contemporary youth. It’s a safe bet to say that many of these polemicists who came down hard on the "kids of today" would have been heartened by this rather botched counterculture escapade:

3) Veena Malik takes on the mufti

Pakistani actress Veena Malik has been making headlines recently for her notorious appearance in the Indian version of men's magazine FHM.

The former model is used to raising some people's hackles, however. Early in 2011, Pakistan watched spellbound as she engaged in a shouting match on live television with a religious mufti who claimed she had been "disgracing Islam" with her behavior on an Indian reality-TV show.

Malik's spirited defense of her actions provoked much debate about youth and social mores in the deeply conservative country where over two thirds of the population are now under 30:

2) Webcam 101 for seniors

When 86-year-old Bruce Huffman and his 79-year-old wife, Esther, tried to use their new computer to record a video for their grandchildren, they had little idea that their efforts would end up being watched by more than 9 million people after their granddaughter posted it on YouTube.

After watching this short clip, it's easy to see why it was such a hit, as there is something endearingly funny and heartwarming about these senior citizens joking and flirting with each other.

Happily, the couple are taking their newfound celebrity in their stride. "We certainly didn't plan it, but there is so much bad news out there. We are glad we could put something fun out...," said Esther in an interview with "The Huffington Post."

"We like to have a good time and if it makes people laugh, that's OK."

1) Public outpourings of grief

At the end of 2011, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and former Czech President Vaclav Havel died within a day of each other.

Within hours the Internet was awash with videos showing the public reaction in both countries to the demise of their former leaders.

The differences in how North Koreans and Czechs grieved for Kim and Havel, respectively, speaks volumes about the different styles and methods of leadership that they embodied.

North Korean reaction to Kim Jong Il's death

Czech reaction to Vaclav Havel's death

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