The reluctant internet stars: where are they now?Mikey 3 comments
We laugh at their expense, and then we forward their shame on. Web sites like Youtube provide the tools to make a narcissistic generation become overnight Jackass clones, also make it easy to post a video of an unwitting colleague doing something really embarrassing, or doing nothing at all.
It might seem like harmless fun to the purveyors, but the victims of ill-gotten fame more often than not end up psychologically scared, effecting a large part of their entire lives.
So what has become of these reluctant stars? Let's have a look, in no particular order, at some of the more well known instances and their consequences.
Star Wars Kid.
In 2004 Ghyslain Raza filmed himself imitating light sabre moves seen in the Star Wars films. He forgot about the video tape and it was eventually discovered by some of his classmates, who found it amusing enough to share online.
Raza who already had low self esteem due to his obesity, suffered considerable embarrassment and was taunted at school. "It was simply unbearable" he said. Raza's family filed a lawsuit against the families of the boys who placed the video online. An out of court settlement was eventually reached, but Raza will never shake the Star Wars Kid' moniker.
Boom goes the dynamite.
Brian Collins, a young sports presenter who's career stopped before it had began, was the unfortunate victim of a teleprompter malfunction. He did his best to stagger through what turned out to be a train wreck of a report. This video is still considered among the most painful to watch.
Collins said "You do get hate mail from people who just come after you. You get lots of phone calls. At one point, we had to unplug our phone at school just because of how many phone calls we were getting."
In 2004 Gary Brolsma (then 19) made a video of himself energetically lip-synching to a well known european pop song. Blosma naively submitted the video to the Newgrounds web site, and it wasn't long before unwanted fame followed. Gary was in high demand from media outlets around the world, but the embarrassment caused him to cancel all interview requests. He has since tried to leverage some of his fame into a web design business, but the traffic to his site killed his bandwidth and the site has remained dormant since. It's not all bad news for Brolsma though. He did eventually come to terms with his celebrity status and has since posted a .
An 18 year old Pole Vaulter innocently posted an interview video on Youtube describing her vaulting technique. Within days pictures of the attractive athlete which had been taken at a track meet started appearing online, and subsequently launched her into 'unwanted internet sex symbol' fame. The innocent photos gained many comments, most of a sexual nature by teenage boys and men who had no interest in her sport. The attention became too much for Stokke, who became reclusive and rarely ventured outside. Her father scoured the internet for possible stalkers, and employed the services of a media consultant to block hundreds of interview and photo session requests.
I thought to end this one a positive note, a case where unwanted fame didn't do the harm you would have expected. In 2003 Qian Zhijun unexpectedly had his photo taken, which eventually found its way online. The photo soon became a source of inspiration on a popular Photoshopping web site, and eventually the altered versions started appearing on thousands more web sites. When Zhijun stumbled on one of the photos his immediate reaction was to sue, but he soon realised people were laughing out of good will, and he quickly accepted his new found fame.
"I like it when they put me on the body of heroes, such as Russell Crowe in The Gladiator. But I hate it when they place me on the shoulder of naked women or when the touch-up job is terrible" he said.
Qian also went on to launch his own web site.