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On the back of Arsenal beating Man Utd in this season’s FA Cup (2014/2015), I came into work the next morning with a number of Tweets in my stream linking to videos asking “Where is Andy Tate?”. Despite working and living amongst social media, I had never heard of Andy Tate before and I didn’t know what this was all about. My quest for answers revealed a side to Internet stardom I had never come across before.
The videos in question were for Arsenal TV, a YouTube fan channel which tries to capture the reaction of “real” fans before and after games.
The videos on the Arsenal channel were in response to a “challenge” set by Tate a few days before the game to an Arsenal fan called Claude to chat with him outside the stadium. Man Utd lost the game and Tate was nowhere to be seen, prompting “Where is Andy Tate” comments.
But who on earth is he?
A quick search on Google and I saw a stream of results of various web pages and YouTube clips related to the guy – AND A KNOWLEDGE GRAPH.
What? It turns out he’s somewhat of a celebrity.
This guy has his own Wikipedia entry and it appears there has even been an app developed called iTate based on phrases taken from interviews he has carried out on a Man Utd fan channel.
Welcome to the world of the Internet Celebrity.
A world in which you can literally become an overnight sensation. One minute you could be giving an interview to some Internet channel, the next morning you could be waking to find your face everywhere – simply for being you.
In this post I look at some examples of this new breed of celebrity and the stories attached to them.
Some have used the Internet for their own gains, some have been unsuspecting celebrities and some try to do something good with their 15 minutes of fame.
The Dancing Man
The Internet can be a cruel place. Social Media gives everyone the opportunity to have a voice. An opinion can be made in real-time to a huge network of people. Use the right outreach tactics and you can even voice your opinion to people anywhere in the world, whether you know them or not.
Technology is a great thing and giving people the power to do this is amazing. The world is now a smaller place. However, the flip side to this is – everyone now has a voice, no matter who they are or how cruel their intentions. It is now possible to bully on a global platform rather than a few people down the pub or kids on the way home from school (for example).
That said, the Internet also provides amazing people with a voice and can also be a great place full of great people.
Our unsuspecting Internet celebrity witnessed both of these worlds within a matter of hours.
Sean O’Brien was recently enjoying a night out when he unwillingly became the subject of cyber bullying; images of Sean dancing were posted mockingly on a site called 4chan (an image based bulletin board).
The bullying in question was based on “body-shaming”. As attention was drawn to Sean, a group ended up openly laughing at him causing him to stop dancing. The image of Sean looking down to the ground, clearly feeling embarrassed is quite upsetting.
However, as mentioned the ridicule didn’t end there for Sean with the images taken that night then posted on 4chan for all to see. However, within the 4chan community not everyone saw the ‘funny’ side. Cue a writer from California called Cassandra Fairbanks.
Having seen this bullying she acted and acted quickly to do something positive. And so she set out on a mission to find Sean via Social Media. The hashtag #FindDancingMan was born and the public were up for it.
The Internet started to weave its magic and turn something horrid into something amazing. Awesome people started to do awesome things. Not only was the hunt now on for Sean, but it was also the start of the planning process for one hell of a party.
The following morning Sean had seen the Interest and created a Twitter account and replied to Cassandra. The party was on. But how potentially big is this party?
Well at the time of writing, over 2,000 women will be in attendance to join Sean in Los Angeles. 2,000 women and Sean. When good people use Social Media to its full potential – awesome things happen.
There is of course one stumbling block, it’s all very well sticking up for the guy and inviting him to a party in Los Angeles but how is he going to get there? Most people can’t just jump a plane, it costs a fortune.
Ah well, those ladies have taken care of it, in fact they have taken care of everything including the cost of the party. They set up a donation page on gofundme with a huge target of $20,000.
But such was the momentum of this story and this event by day 6 they had raised over $40,000 with over 2,200 people donating.
As this is already more than double what they were looking to raise, the group have proposed that there can also now be substantial donations made to anti-bulling charities in both American and the UK. Even more awesomeness.
However, you can’t have a party without entertainment. Well this story didn’t go unnoticed by some famous musicians. Moby, Pharrell Williams and Elle Goulding have all offered their services for the night free of charge.
Parties don’t get any better than that. Well they do if the LA Memorial Coliseum then offers to host the party (the 1984 Olympic stadium).
A great story and a great example of how amazing Social Media can be. It’s become a worldwide story including all the main networks picking up this story in America.
Have a great party Sean.
Josie is a normal mum of two; there isn’t anything particularly special about her. She lives in a modest house and her sole focus is supporting her children in an attempt to make sure they are comfy enough in life to have a good upbringing. No different to any parent.
But in 2013 Josie was front page news after a breast enhancing operation that was funded by the NHS. The uproar this caused was amazing. Josie was also a wannabe model – the public and the press put two and two together and came up with a hate campaign.
The reality was that Josie was offered the procedure and didn’t ask for it. There wasn’t anything seedy about what had happened. Josie’s only crime was to choose to go “big” – seeing as she was going to have the operation anyway, what size she went up to is hugely irrelevant. However it was great cannon fodder for the tabloid media.
This saw the start of an amazing reaction and a whole world of hate for Josie. The onslaught was unrelenting. But at this point Josie wasn’t so much an Internet celebrity as more just a target for the press.
That is until a guy called Rob Cooper jumped in. He contacted Josie and asked her if she would be interested in getting something out of her situation. Rob had a plan where by Josie could actually earn from the media hype.
And it worked.
Josie became an Internet celebrity, but a very deliberate one. Rob’s master plan was to create outrage on the back of Josie’s every move.
The knock-on effect was an insane amount of social activity. But the real benefit for Josie comes from the media interest.
Rob’s plan was to outrage her army of haters and stir up media interest. The Josie we see online is very different to the real Josie.
The genius is that her whole year is mapped out on a whiteboard in Rob’s office. Everything is very deliberate. Every shocking point of view, every shocking tweet – it’s all planned. All the time Josie is hated – Josie is earning and looking after her children’s futures.
A recent Channel 4 Documentary uncovered just how calculated the whole operation is. Within minutes of a shocking Josie tweet – ITV’s This Morning are on the phone asking for her to come on the show. The Sun are on the phone wanting an interview, radio stations want to talk to her.
The public lap it all up and both the Internet and the press are wrapped around her finger.
It’s irrelevant that everything we see is made up, but what is relevant is that this is all very deliberate. In order for all of this to succeed she needs to remain an Internet celebrity.
The Wealdstone Raider
Now unless you have avoided all Internet activity for a year you will have heard of The Wealdstone Raider.
Gordon Hill, his real name, became famous after his filmed reaction to some football banter led to his outburst becoming a viral hit on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.
Gordon’s “you want some” reaction took off, especially amongst football audiences.
Before long people were on the hunt for the raider by going along to games at Wealdstone to get a selfie with Gordon. There was no let up and Gordon became a bigger and bigger Internet celebrity.
Nearly a year after the video had come out Gordon was releasing a single aimed at becoming a Christmas Number One.
And he nearly made it too, peaking at Number 5.
In the lead up to Christmas, Gordon spent all of his time going back and forth to interviews with TV and Radio. A seriously hectic timetable for someone who was propelled into the public eye simply by being caught on a smartphone while at a football match.
But Gordon was making the most of the situation handed to him. Managed by the owner of Wealdstone FC, Gordon wanted to simply raise as much money for charity as he could with no personal gain whatsoever.
And his Number 5 chart position over Christmas 2014 meant he raised over an amazing £30,000 for three charities.
All he wants to do now is go about his normal life believing his moment is done.
Social platforms have changed everything.
They have opened up a world of celebrity to anyone who is willing to exploit it.
Platforms such as Twitter have given everyone a voice and a platform to react before truly knowing anything about the subject that has so outraged them.
Social allows you to be who you want – be it you or a persona. You can create whatever you want.
You can outreach to the world, something we have never been able to do before.
Anyone can be a celebrity – anyone. You just need to find the angle.
However celebrity is celebrity and the attention that you can bring to yourself is no different. It doesn’t matter if you are a TV celebrity or an Internet celebrity. The exposure can be just a brutal. The difference is someone pursuing a TV career is actively looking for fame. Internet celebrities aren’t (necessarily).
As a result they may not be ready for what is to follow and they may not want it. This potentially could be a very dangerous thing.
The bigger these people become the more unwanted fame could ruin people’s lives.
Have we created something we can’t control?
As for Andy Tate – well all you need to do is search for his name and you will find out everything you need to know – including the knowledge graph.
What do you think? I’d love to read your thoughts below or tweet me @Koozai_Andy.
Images by Bigstockphoto.com