The Unsettling Epilogues of Four Famous Memes
We don’t tend to think a lot about what happens to someone after they become a meme. It’s the nature of the medium — your buddy sends it to the group chat, you respond with the laughing emoji, and you go back to masturbating to Zillow listings, never to think about it again.
That’s usually fine because the people thrust into memehood are usually normal people who are just as happy to fade into obscurity, but sometimes, the internet turns its spotlight on someone whose life veers wildly off the rails. For example…
The Man Whose Wedding ‘The Dress’ Was Bought For Was Charged With Attempting to Kill His Wife
Surely, you remember “the dress” that changed color depending on who looked at it thanks to the accidental magic of digital photography, but did you ever wonder why someone posted this janky-ass photo of a random dress to begin with? Well, “someone” was Cecelia Bleasdale, who was considering buying the dress for the upcoming wedding of her daughter, Grace, so she took the picture to show her. That’s how the whole controversy started: Grace thought the blue dress was white, and wearing white to a wedding is one of the worst things you can do to a bride.
Buuuuut definitely not the worst. That honor, allegedly, goes to Grace’s now-husband, Keir Johnston, who was charged in 2023 with the attempted murder of his wife. According to prosecutors, for the previous 11 years (so… about as long as we’ve been talking about his wedding’s dress code), Johnston regularly beat his wife, strangled her and threatened her with a knife. Bizarrely, this isn’t the first time “the dress” has been connected to domestic violence. It was previously used in a PSA by the Salvation Army of South Africa, which asked, “Why is it so hard to see black and blue?” It was kind of tasteless at the time, but now it’s… yeah, wow, still tasteless.
The ‘GraTaTa Guy’ Was Arrested for Kidnapping His Teenage Girlfriend at Gunpoint
We don’t know what we expected from a man who became famous for pointing a gunhand in the mirror and making machine-gun noises with his mouth, but it probably should have included having a 17-year-old girlfriend and pointing an actual gun at her. In 2016, two years after he became famous on Vine, Brian Silva’s girlfriend told police she’d narrowly escaped his house, where he had been holding her against her will at gunpoint. After a three-hour standoff that Silva posted right through, inviting the cops to “suck (his) monster dick,” he was literally caught with his pants down and arrested on charges of abduction and firearm possession. He struck a deal to plead guilty only on the weapons charges, but there’s no bargaining that shot of his boxer briefs off the internet.
But those were only the beginnings of Silva’s post-fame legal troubles, which included a stalking conviction and a no-trespass order from a local mall after Silva threatened an employee who had his car towed. He was even briefly a suspect in the 2022 mass shooting at the University of Virginia after he threatened university employees on social media on the day of the shooting. It turned out to be a tragic coincidence, but police did catch him in possession of cocaine and — you guessed it — ammunition. Like a moth to the flame, so goes GraTaTa Guy to the gat.
The ‘Grinning Girl’ Died at 16
If you’ve seen the image of a dark-haired girl in a purple shirt looking off to the side and pulling her face and lips back in the universal expression of “gonna get me some of that,” you know why it’s the perfect symbol of hungry approval. It’s leering, but it’s a little girl, so it’s not creepy. It’s actually taken from an episode of Toddlers & Tiaras, which featured Kailia Posey on and off between 2010 and 2016.
It’s also the ghost of a very, very sad girl. In 2022, 16-year-old Posey was found dead in a park near her home in Washington state, apparently by suicide. Her family struggled to explain what they called a “rash decision,” telling TMZ that “her highly acclaimed talent as a contortionist had already led to professional touring job offers, and she had recently been selected to be a cheerleader at her high school next fall.”
For once, we’re at a loss for jokes. This is just a super bummer. Moving right along.
Kai the Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker is a Hatchet-Wielding Murderer
In 2013, Caleb Lawrence McGillvary, who acquired the nickname Kai the Hatchet-Wielding Hitchhiker, was hailed as a hero for stopping a truck driver’s murderous rampage via, you know, hatchet-wielding. His affable personality and description of “smash, smash, suh-mash”-ing the attacker made him a YouTube star, but the cogs in the media machine who flocked to him noticed there was something not quite right with McGillvary. He was found “heavily inebriated (and publicly urinating)” before his appearances on Jimmy Kimmel’s late night show, and he’d signed a contract for a reality TV show in hieroglyphics. Also, he seemed really, really into smashing.
Fewer than six months later, when Joseph Galfy was found dead in his New Jersey home and all signs pointed to McGillvary, police were unconvinced by his explanation, amounting to, “Would you believe I was forced to bash in another guy’s head?” McGillvary had spent the last several months living off the generosity of his fans, including Galfy, who’d offered him food, a place to stay, a train ticket and a sexual encounter of indeterminate consensuality. McGillvary says he was assaulted, but with no signs of struggle, his self-defense plea was unsuccessful and he was sentenced to 57 years in prison for first-degree murder. Fortunately, there’s not a lot he can do from there, or we’d be worried that the Netflix documentary about him that was released in 2023 would only make him more famous.