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No offense, you guys, but let's face it: the Internet is a fickle audience. One day, you're all sharing a viral video of a cat squeezing itself into a flower pot, and before you know it, you've moved on to a cat saying "hey" without so much as a second thought as to how the first one got out of that pot. Well, that kitty starved to goddamn death in there, you guys.

OK, so that's almost certainly not true, but there are plenty of other viral sensations that took a screeching turn onto the Ohshitville Expressway shortly after we all shared them on Facebook and then promptly forgot about them. For example ...

5
The Pepper Spray Cop Got a Better Settlement Than the Students He Sprayed

Wayne Tilcock/The Davis Enterprise

If you've never seen this image of University of California Davis officer John Pike nonchalantly dousing a line of peacefully protesting students with an enormous canister of pepper spray --

Louise Macabitas
Which is only slightly more repulsive than spraying them with Axe.

-- then we'll assume you weren't alive in late 2011. And in that case, how are you reading Cracked when you're either a toddler or no longer paying your rent as a resident of the mortal plane? The incident exploded online thanks to public outrage, and resulted in the avalanche of memes we've come to expect by now. Wacky photoshops are how the Internet copes with the world's horrors.

Via Know Your Meme
They're lulzing on the outside, but crying on the inside.

Anyway, after the video of the incident went viral, Lieutenant Pike was suspended with pay from his $110,000-a-year job (that's not a typo) while the university conducted an investigation. While the officers claimed that they were trapped by the students and justified in their use of pepper spray (and totally not creaming their pants at the opportunity to finally try out their shiny new Judge Dredd gear, honest), an investigation found that the use of force was "objectively unreasonable" and that even the size of the pepper spray can was against regulations ("against regulations" being their fancy-pants way of saying "compensating for something").

In the end, Pike got the boot and we all gave peace a chance. Right?

The Tragic Aftermath:

Well, a couple months later, Pike filed for worker's comp because of the emotional trauma stemming from the death threats he and his family received after the incident (Which, to be fair, is right fucked up. Shame on you, Internet). Following a psychiatric evaluation, the university awarded him just over $38,000, which is approximately one dollar for each stinging tear shed by the 21 students.

Brian Nguyen/The Aggie
On the bright side, the theater department's production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory finally found its Oompa Loompas.

Meanwhile, said group of students filed suit with the university and were awarded a $1 million settlement. Now, before you get too excited, a huge chunk of that went to their lawyers, in addition to another chunk set aside for any other potential plaintiffs that might come forward, leaving them around $30,000 each. At least it's something, but when you compare that to the eight months of pay plus a larger settlement for the guy who taught those students that their freedom of assembly is null and void when weighed against the riot-gear-induced uber boner of a power-drunk campus cop, it seems more than a little ludicrous that they ended up with what basically amounted to a coupon for one free semester or one free chemistry textbook (offer not valid for both).

Quick, somebody arrange a protest.

4
Kai the Homeless Hitchhiker Turned out to Be a Murderous Psychopath

KMPH News

There are certain things that, in retrospect, we really should have all seen coming. Case in point: in February of 2013, a good-natured hippie best known as Kai the Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker showed us all the power of human kindness (and a well-placed hatchet to the cranium) when he face-axed a man who was allegedly attacking a young woman.

Witnesses praised Kai as a hero, and the Internet fell in love with what seemed to be the hobo stoner's answer to Bruce Wayne. Hell, Kai was so charming that "SUH-MASH!" became an immediate Internet buzzword, despite the fact that it was an onomatopoeia coined by a quite possibly mentally unstable person to describe the sound a hatchet makes when it meets a human skull.

But every new detail that emerged about Kai's life helped to solidify his modern-day folk hero status. While still a teen, he escaped from the fundamentalist cult in which he was raised. He took the name Kai following a "spirit walk" on an Indian reservation. He's been known to take the form of a snowy owl and whisper guilt trips into the ears of Alaskan loggers. OK, we may have made that last one up, but you get the point -- Kai wasn't some murderous drifter. He was a beautiful hybrid of Johnny Appleseed and the Highlander, born to roam the earth and teach us about peace and nature in between bloody acts of righteous badassery.

Jimmy Kimmel Live/ABC
And conditioning his hair for late-night appearances.

The Tragic Aftermath:

Actually, it turns out Kai was probably some murderous drifter. A scant few months after gaining international fame for nearly murdering a guy, Kai was arrested for -- you guessed it -- straight-up murdering a different guy.

In May of 2013, Kai (aka Caleb Lawrence McGillvary) was arrested for killing Joseph Galfy, an elderly New Jersey attorney, in his home. Now, maybe Kai was defending the defenseless once again, but since most people go their entire lives without ending up at a single violent crime scene, it's hard to give him the benefit of the doubt when he bloodied his hatchet twice within such a short time frame. Police quickly picked up McGillvary after a tip from a Starbucks employee who recognized his semi-famous face, thus demonstrating the importance of avoiding lengthy TV interviews and face tattoos that look like a third grader's geometry lesson on mescaline if you have a habit of beating people to death.

Damen Tesch
If that's a police repellent spell, it failed miserably.

When last we saw Kai, he had found himself an abundance of time for tattoo regret as he awaited trial in the Union County Jail. And in what is perhaps a telling measure of how many fucks the Internet truly gives about its viral heroes, at the time of this writing, an attempt to crowdfund his legal defense has raised less than nine percent of its goal in 16 months. Bummer, man.

Via GoFundMe
FUH-LOP

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3
The "Balloon Boy" Dad Serves Jail Time, Continues to Exploit His Kids

CNN

Even before the "balloon boy" incident, Richard Heene had a history of pimping out his wife and young children in his efforts to advance his nonexistent career as a Professional Famous Guy. After not one but two appearances on the reality show Wife Swap, Heene tried to force his family back into the spotlight in the most logical way possible: by cooking up an elaborate scheme to convince news outlets that his six-year-old son, Falcon, was floating to his death inside a weather balloon. Finally, international fame was his.

The "balloon boy" incident made headlines worldwide, and a certain 24-hour news network obsessed with airborne tragedy devoted most of its broadcast day to the white-knuckle drama. In the end, it turned out that Falcon had "fallen asleep" in the family's "attic" and "woke up" right after the boyless balloon crashed safely in a field.

Not surprisingly, the world began to smell an unbelievably ballsy rat, particularly after an interview with Wolf Blitzer, during which Falcon damningly mumbled, "we did this for the show," likely referring to the reality show concept that Richard Heene was trying to, um ... get off the ground. Falcon also vomited on air on the Today show, possibly in a much-delayed reaction to having been named Falcon.

The Tragic Aftermath:

Law enforcement officials were understandably not pleased with Heene for occupying dozens of cops and rescue workers for the better part of a day in the name of making himself a trending topic -- he was arrested and, in what was possibly the first logical decision of his life, copped a plea deal and ended up serving 90 days in jail. Fortunately, he used that time to devote himself to deep reflection and self-improvement, emerging as a selflessly devoted father, no longer obsessed with exploiting his family for his own personal gain.

Just kidding -- he immediately coerced his three sons into forming Heene Boyz, the self-proclaimed "World's Youngest Metal Band." Because what's the point of having kids if they're not earning you a fucking living?

Heene Boyz
Yes, his shirt says "I fingered it out." And yes, he's 12.

The Heene Boyz (with Falcon on bass and lead vocals) remain sadly unsigned, but with Richard's four-year probation up, he's got big plans to join the band for their nationwide "American Chili" tour. A recent interview revealed that the Boyz still haven't picked up their dad's talent for deception, with Bradford (the oldest) revealing that he knew squat about metal music before his father convinced them to start a band specializing in Dad's favorite genre. Their debut EP is the result of a homeschool assignment in which the elder Heene tasked his kids with writing songs based on a horror movie script he'd squeezed out about peyote, the Mexican-American War, and laxative-laced chili.

Heene Boyz BMI
Which helped him shit out this video.

You can't make this shit up ... unless, of course, you're Richard Heene, in which case you make it up and then force your impressionable children to play metal songs about it.

2
The "Kony 2012" Activist Was Suspected of Fraud (Also, Arrested for Public Masturbation)

Stuart Price/AFP/Getty Images

Joseph Kony is a Ugandan warlord accused of using an army of child soldiers to ethnically cleanse and generally be a gigantic gaping asshole to his small East African nation. Terrible stuff, to be sure, but despite his atrocities, if you asked the average American about Kony three years ago, they'd probably have guessed that he owned a theme park in Brooklyn.

Andrew Burton/Getty Images
And that 2012 was the number of hot dogs he scarfed down in under an hour.

That all changed in March of 2012, when a short film uploaded to YouTube by Invisible Children activist Jason Russell went beyond viral. Russell's video indictment of Kony has received an astonishing 99 million views, and the film created such an uproar that it continues to influence U.S. foreign policy to this day.

The Tragic Aftermath:

So what was Russell's next move after going from unknown videographer to world-renowned human rights advocate? Did he run for office? Become a U.N. ambassador? Run naked and screaming through downtown San Diego, wankin' it for the world to see?

Yeah, you've probably already heard that it was the wanking one. Russell was arrested for lewdness and indecent exposure following the now-famous bald midget wrestling match that he chalked up to a nervous breakdown. That may sound like a fairly inconsequential fuckup when compared to the achievement of alerting the world to massive-scale human rights violations, but the snafu marked the beginning of a shift in public opinion that left the once-lauded Russell defending his intentions and the truthfulness of his claims.

Peter Kramer/NBC
Miraculously, while clothed.

So just what facts did Russell get wrong, and what might motivate him to bullshit the world? Well, to address the bullshit motivator first, Russell makes close to six figures annually working with Invisible Children, and the organization itself brought in an estimated $20 million in contributions in the year following the release of the film.

As for those pesky facts: the Ugandan government claims Kony hasn't lived in or operated out of the country in years, and there are many who claim that, in all likelihood, Kony's been dead since even before Russell's video hit YouTube. Good news, right? Well, yeah, but it means hundreds of troops have been sent to sniff around the jungles of Africa on a wild goose chase, all because some dude who really knows his way around iMovie wanted to make a name for himself. And even if Kony is still alive and kicking, the Ugandans didn't need a white savior to come to their rescue -- in 2013, the Central African Republic issued a statement that was basically the geopolitical equivalent of "It's cool, we got this."

Journeyman Pictures
"We showed him all the angry retweets and Facebook shares and he cried and totally turned himself in, honest."

The Council on Foreign Relations has even publicly accused Invisible Children of "manipulating facts for strategic purposes, exaggerating the scale of LRA abductions and murders." And in doing so, Russell and company may well have diverted resources away from the more serious fuckedupness happening in places like the Sudan. So yeah the whole public indecency thing is kind of a minor footnote we suppose.

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1
Rob Ford is a Lovable Chris Farley Clone (If Chris Farley Had Been a Homophobic Cockbag)

David Cooper/Toronto Star/Getty Images

In 2013, Toronto mayor Rob Ford bumbled into our world, tripped, and splayed himself onto the prop table of our hearts. Sure, he may have smoked crack that one time, but it's hard not to love a guy whose every public appearance turns into an effortless punchline for late night TV and comedy websites alike. If Chris Farley had stuck around long enough to make a movie in which he played a Canadian politician, that movie would have been about Rob Ford.

Vince Talotta/Toronto Star/Getty Images
Co-starring David Spade as the long-suffering deputy who's so over his boss's shit.

Never change, Rob Ford, you lovable living cartoon character, you.

The Tragic Aftermath:

Remember how Ford insisted that he'd cleaned up his act after trying crack that once? Well, it turns out he was using The Politician's Dictionary of the English Language's definition of "once," as evidenced by yet another recent crack-smoking video. And it's shockingly clear, considering that you'd think he'd be more careful about having his troubling behavior videotaped by now -- even Anthony Weiner would think something was up if his mistress suddenly asked for more dick pics, but this time could he maybe hold up his driver's license in there for her?

The Globe and Mail
"Is the crack pipe blurry? Make sure the crack pipe's not blurry."

Perhaps even more disturbing is a secret audio recording of Ford going on an assholish tirade at a bar, during which he waxes poetic about female mayoral contender Karen Stintz ("I'd like to fucking jam her"), shares his progressive views on flying the gay pride flag at City Hall ("They put this fucking flag up ahead of our Canadian flag, I said, 'No, I'm sorry. Bullshit'"), and eloquently expresses his dissatisfaction with the bar's service ("Give me a shot right now or I'll fucking break your legs. I want another one. If you don't give me a shot I'm going to knock your fucking teeth out").

His reaction to the recording was to claim he didn't remember the night and that, "I wouldn't say that -- I wouldn't say the word, 'jam,' -- that's not my terminology" (Apparently, he's more of a "meatslap" kind of guy). And sure, we've all had our crazy nights, but when you realize that this is just the latest recording of Ford's myriad violent outbursts -- in one from November of 2013, he raved, "I need fucking 10 minutes to make sure he's dead. I'm going to kill that fucking guy. I'm telling you, it's first-degree murder" -- he starts to look a lot less "adorable slapstick" and a lot more "dangerous scumbag."

Colin McConnell/Toronto Star/Getty Images
"I will bury your corpse under a van down by the river."

The good news is that these latest episodes of Drunken Fun Time with Mayor Rob Ford finally convinced him that a break from politicking to check into rehab was in order. He's still on the ballot for reelection though, proving that we now live in a world where a politician could straight-up murder a dude, so long as he actually fulfills his campaign promises.


Follow Chris over at Lafffington.com or on his Twittery thing. Tyler Johnson is a writer for The Hollywood Gossip where he provides daily updates on the state of Lindsay Lohan's liver. Follow him on Twitter for drunken ramblings about whatever TV show he happens to be watching at the moment.

For more backstories on famous Internet trends, check out 7 Viral Videos You Didn't Know Were Staged (and How They Did It) and The 22 Most Misleading Viral Photos (Explained).

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