5 Recent Internet Personalities With Whaaat? Backstories
The internet may be our primary means of communication, particularly in these difficult times (i.e., when we are pooping). But it also remains a very strange beast, granting fame to nobodies and then forcing us to reckon with who they really are. In the end, many of them wish they'd stuck to speaking using smoke signals, considering how ...
"Friday" Guy Patrice Wilson Had A Breakdown Years Later
We recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of Rebecca Black's "Friday," which gives us the chance to appreciate just how much the internet has changed in a decade. Sure, people still cringe at some random video, and mercilessly mock whoever's at the center of it, and we even still have loons happy to level death threats at the hapless figure at the center of it all. But back then, internet obsessions stretched out so much longer. Today, we'd move on to the next target in 18 hours, tops. And nowadays, if late night shows get in on the action, people groan, not cheer, at them for jumping on a dead meme.
Another change from 10 years ago: amateur media skills. In 2011, charging parents a couple grand to film a music video starring their kid made for a viable business, just as it might have in 1991. Today? By the time a kid is 13, they're expected to be able to plan, shoot, and edit their own videos, with a level of skill adults can only aspire to. Perhaps that's why Patrice Wilson -- the producer of "Friday," also the rapper in the video -- and his Ark Music Factory did not last or take over the world.
He tried. After recording various unremarkable vanity tracks for kids, he followed up "Friday" with the similarly ridiculous "Thanksgiving." But there was nothing to laugh at anymore because it was clear now Wilson was in on the joke, and maybe he had been all along. By the time he released a video about how much a girl loves Chinese food (Wilson dressed in a panda suit this time), there was no point in even pointing out that, um, geishas aren't Chinese. That would just feed the troll.
In the years that followed, many people tried doing postmortems about Ark Music Factory. Then Wilson deleted all his channel's videos and replaced it with a countdown, showing images of a graveyard and the name of a YouTuber who'd spoken about him. Said YouTuber feared for his life. When the clock ran down, it revealed a video of Patrice explaining that he was the victim in all this, and critics had been trying to push him to kill himself. People had accused him of being a pedophile, of eating children (we can't track down that accusation, but if it happened, someone was probably joking). Worst of all, they'd even called him "Fat Usher."
This is deeply moving, or at least is manufactured to be. And it marked the start of the next phase of Wilson's career, during which nothing happened. As for Rebecca Black, she managed to win the rights to "Friday" and celebrated the anniversary by releasing a remix that's ... somehow worse than the original? How is that possible? Someone, hire a few 2021 13-year-olds to do their own remix. Only they can fix this.
Gatekeeper Anime Dude Has A Schtick He Will Never Stop With
Below each post, Twitter separates the numbers counting the "retweets" and the "quote retweets." It makes no difference to Twitter, who just want you engaging any way you can, but it's useful to us to see how many people are boosting a message and how many people are quoting it just to mock it. For example, you have the following heavily ratio'd tweet, from an account that is clearly just a front for the FBI (or someone who eats children):
Then there's the following tweet, which has been quote-tweeted (refuted, mostly) some 30 times as often as it's been retweeted. It was posted on February 15, so we can only assume that it came after a Valentine's Day in which BlackSageD's date was perfect except for one thing: She was able to name no more than 12 different animes!
Judging by the ludicrously long list of series he says you can watch while still being denied fan status, you might assume this is satire, making fun of gatekeeping. It would be a pretty good joke were that the case. But no, this guy is very sincere about his gatekeeping -- which he actually calls "gatekeeping," confusing as that may be to those who've only ever heard that term used when talking about what people shouldn't do. He gatekeeps anime because if normies take the fandom over, they may push for anime girls to wear clothes on top of their underwear, or for fewer family members to spy on anime girls showering, changes that would undermine the very foundation of anime.
But this isn't the first time BlackSageD went viral for his sage anime opinions. Just a couple months earlier, Megan Thee Stallion posted some cosplay of a character from Kakegurui, a series that's not on BlackSageD's normie list, so you might think that would make her legit in his book. Not so. In a post quote-tweeted 45 times as often as it was retweeted, he took a stand against this slipshod attempt to leave the yawn-inducing life of a chart-topping hip-hop artist and break into the far more elite world of anime fans:
Considering his crusade for girls showing skin, you'd think the guy would welcome Megan Thee Stallion's entry into the arena, but no; BlackSageD apparently likes his women strictly 2-D. We can't find any record of Megan denying anime fans that get bullied -- though, if you search for relevant keywords, Google will highlight for you an anti-bullying resource, which is currently a dead link. Of course anime fans have suffered from bullying. That's why the idea of gatekeeping anime comes off as so strange. The whole reason our ancestors invented gates that close was to keep anime fans out.
Seth Abramson Is Just Some Guy Who Randomly Became A Political Commentator
Twitter is a gamble. You see some post that sounds very authoritative, but you don't recognize who wrote it. They don't appear to belong to any news organization, as far as their profile says. They have a book and a private blog, which may be because they started writing independently after amassing 17 Pulitzers, or maybe they were kicked out of
So, who reading this knows who Seth Abramson is? You might have seen his Twitter threads, sometimes hundreds of tweets long. He boasts having written columns for a bunch of publications, gigs he appears to have got after becoming Twitter famous, as he began his writing career as a poet. He also wrote three books about the Trump administration, Proof of Collusion, Proof of Conspiracy, and Proof of Corruption. He wrote the first of these in just 19 days.
That's amazing, but a little less so when you learn it wasn't a book of original research, which Abramson rarely does. He instead favors what he calls "meta-journalism" -- he aggregates information from other sources and presents them to readers. So, kind of like the site you're currently reading, only with fewer out-of-nowhere jokes about semen. Though, we hopefully don't use our track record for sharing already published info to get you to also believe false stuff.
Yeah, if you saw the above tweet in November 2017, claiming there was real proof of Trump and Putin cutting a secret deal, you might have leaned back and said, "Awww yeah, it's all man gravy, baby." Then came a whole lot of detailed investigating by teams of journalists and a special prosecutor that determined, uh, no, doesn't look like that happened. Wow, slips like that almost make you doubt Abramson on truly important matters, like when he says he's advised CNN or inspired Shia LaBeouf (Abramson fiercely insists he did both).
There's a broader lesson here about who to trust on Twitter, and for more on that, well ...
Turns Out The Lincoln Project Is A Butt Place To Work
A lot of us evaluate internet outlets like this: "Huh. This place says stuff I agree with. I guess this is worth checking out." But take heed -- when you find such a place, that's when you must be most on your guard. Someone who always agrees with you might just be reinforcing something wrong that you believe. They can also freely lie to you because you're naturally less skeptical when you hear something consistent with what you already think. And they may just be agreeing with you because that's their scheme to get rich.
The Lincoln Project would seem to be the exact opposite of the sort of pandering grifter we just described. They formed as a group of Republicans aiming to convince Republicans to vote against the leader of the Republicans. And yet they didn't rake in $90 million in donations from Trump supporters happy to be challenged. They raked in $90 million in donations from Trump opponents who saw ads they liked -- and the Project transferred the bulk of this $90 million to companies owned by The Lincoln Project's founders. Asked to account for financial shenanigans, reps suggested that the Trump campaign was surely embezzling even more, which isn't really a defense.
Their campaigns weren't quite as successful as they'd predicted. They won none of the individual races where they concentrated their efforts. As for the broad anti-Trump ads, they were certainly a hit with liberal donors, but it's unclear how much they persuaded anyone. One study on 3,000 people found that the more viral the Lincoln Project ad (the better it was at attracting money and engagement) the less effective it was at resonating with actual voters. Though the Lincoln Project didn't make the ad below, it shows the sort of thing we're talking about:
Then after the election, the really seedy stuff came out. Founder John Weaver had been propositioning a boatload of male staffers, and though the organization claimed they knew nothing about this, they'd allegedly kept it under wraps because "he's a predator" was a their big argument against Trump, and it works less well when they're guilty of something at all similar. "People in glass houses shouldn't pull their dick out," as the old saying goes. Note: John Weaver did not actually pull his dick out, but he did text about what an impressive sight that would be, and he texted one applicant offering a temp job then immediately texted him offering a rim job.
A lot of people in charge like to mix business and pleasure that way. For another example ...
Cat Lawyer Seems Like A Jerk
When Ilana Lipsen came as a college freshman to Alpine, Texas, she met a lawyer named Rod Ponton. She was planning to open a ranch for Arabian horses, and he invited her over to look at the team he owned, possibly planning to hire her to work with them. According to Lipsen, they hooked up, but she broke things off soon after, even after he allegedly kept driving by her house stalkerishly (never a good move) and offered to
We don't know if all that is relevant to rest of this story. But Lipsen suspected some connection between that and how Ponton, now district attorney, ordered a raid in 2012 on the store she'd opened. The object of the search was synthetic cannabinoids, aka "spice," a drug that Ponton's office called "a derivative of methamphetamine ... worse than meth, similar to cocaine, meth or heroin" (it isn't). Lipsen got charged for selling these cannabinoids, even though selling them was in fact legal.
Then in 2014, her store got raided again. This time, though Ponton's office had again requested the raid, the officers came from the DEA, border control, and Homeland Security, possibly seeing a terrorist connection in Lipsen's interest in "Arabian" horses. They trashed the place and also seized a bunch of computer equipment from a neighbor of Lipsen's, without a warrant, because they got the address wrong. This raid turned up nothing. But they did manage to charge Lipsen's sister for assaulting an officer, and they charged Lipsen with the obscure crime of receiving ammunition while under indictment. To get out of these, she agreed to plead guilty to selling those controlled substances in 2012 -- for selling items that, we mention again, were not controlled substances.
If all that didn't push this case into the realm of the absurd, one final part did. As part of her bail conditions, before she'd even pleaded anything or been tried, the judge made Lipsen sign a letter to various newspapers, falsely declaring that the DEA had raided her legitimately. This demand was probably illegal. But here's the real twist that makes the whole story relevant to you. That man, District Attorney Rod Ponton -- who later lost reelection, and then was fired as the city attorney because the council did not trust him? That man ... was you.
No, sorry. That man was Cat Lawyer. Remember Cat Lawyer, the guy last month who got stuck in a cat filter on a Zoom call?
Yeah, that was Rod Ponton. He endeared himself to us all by being overwhelmed by newfangled technology, but we should have been wary, since the very name "cat lawyer" suggests a hybrid of the two most evil creatures. And Ponton should have known that internet fame would bring his past misdeeds to light. "I'm not a cat," Ponton said, in the call. But on the internet, everybody knows you're a dog.