A (almost) Year In The Life Of An Internet Meme

014

As I write this, it will be about 2 weeks before our (Cassie,  my daughter and I) one year anniversary of “breaking the Internet” with our photos.
It all started out innocently enough.
I was on Facebook when I noticed a “racy” photo my daughter had posted. As with Facebook, under the photo, sometimes you can see comments made and this photo was no different.
Except for one thing.
The crude comments left underneath.
Being a passive/aggressive dad and understanding that arguing and getting upset with someone on the Internet would be futile, so I did the only thing I could think of.
Make fun of myself.
I decided to let the “boys” know, not only was I watching, but also, to show my daughter what it looks like when someone posts a “racy” photo who’s not really pretty. It was teasing her, but that’s the relationship we had.
Cassie was living 40 minutes away and this was how we checked in on each other. With jokes, so essentially, I was killing two birds with one stone.
We had some laughs, some of the boys laughed, others deleted their comments and left.
As the days went on, I posted a couple more photos, nothing really harsh, just to get a laugh and “checking in on her”, basically letting her know I was still thinking of her, even miles away.
Then, one day while watching tv, my wife came home and threw me a white tank top, laughing and saying, “Cassie posted a photo you HAVE to copy.”
So I found the photo and went into the bathroom to draw on some fake tattoos. It took me almost 20 minutes to copy her, as we were both laughing at how stupidly I looked in this too tight of a tank top and leaves on my head.
I posted it and we all had a good laugh. I really didn’t think anything more about it.
Then about a week later, I came home from work and my wife had the strangest look on her face. She said, “Have you seen your photo?”
I said, “No.” and then she showed me how multiple sites had started posting our Instagram photos everywhere. Mashable was the first. Then more. And more. Hundreds were posting them. My gmail exploded from people asking to use them, copyright issues, contracts, etc.
We spent the entire night answering emails and granting approvals. I was suddenly talking to people all over the World!
But there was a dark side to the fame.
You see, as much as I was being adored, my daughter was getting hate mail.
“Slut”, “shameful”, “Sinner”, even called a Satanist because of a Supernatural tattoo. Yes, from a tv show. People were emailing someone they didn’t know, telling her what they thought about her and calling her names. People were taking time out of their day, to bash a teenager who’s dad made her famous. I later learned she spent hours crying because of the mean things people were writing about her.
Now don’t get me wrong. There were smarter people out there who understood the joke. Parents who had kids, other teenagers, even celebrities like Ashton Kutcher and George Takei were “getting the joke” and posting about it.
My anxiety hit an all time high. I was not only worried about strangers coming to the door, but the safety of my daughter, not to mention how the guys at my work would take it.
I work with a lot of truck driving, blue collar, rough, drinking guys and while my private life friends knew I dressed in costumes for charity events, etc. I never worried about what they would say, my “work” life had no idea.
Monday came and so did the tv interviews. Luckily, Cassie was able to tell her side and show how it was just a way we teased each other. More and more people started to laugh with her. Yes, there was still the occasional “You should have taken her phone!” and “I wouldn’t let MY daughter dress like that!” comments from people who again, didn’t even know us.
Couldn’t tell me her birthday. Didn’t know the name of her first pet or even tell me what caused her incredible pain when she was little. So much pain in fact, she couldn’t move. We had to take her to the hospital, leaving one of the first times I broke down in front of her.
Let it be known, the Internet is full of armchair psychologists.
More days passed and the interviews kept coming. We had a blast skyping to people from all over the World. China had about 4 interviews. We did remote interviews with our local tv station that allowed us to talk to Australia and the UK.
Cassie was finally getting some real positive feedback and I was actually nominated as “Hero of the Week” by listeners of Premiere London.
My youngest daughter had a ball seeing my emails from Australia (“Champion”) and the UK (“Cheers”) and more email etiquette I was trying to learn on the fly.
I was also getting heartbreaking emails from kids.
“You remind me of my father”
“You make me wish my dad was still alive”
“I never knew my dad, but I like to think he might be like you”
You can’t just take those lightly.
Then came the tv appearance we wished would come. A new show was starting and wanted us on. (No, I won’t mention it here, just out of kindness.) They wanted us to “go dark”. Don’t post anything else, let them know what we were doing all the time and tell them more about our past. In other words, they wanted a broken family to fix.
I finally told them, that wasn’t us.
It could have changed our lives forever, what with the huge tv coverage. We were seen all over in other countries, but for some reason, here in America, tv appearances were not happening. They preferred to get the videos we already did with other Internet sites.
I just didn’t want them going through our past. I’ll admit, it wasn’t a perfect past. Who’s is? We’d had some problems, but we overcame them. Why dig them up again?
Fame or dignity. It’s a decision I’ll have to wonder about for the rest of my life.
Slowly the interviews died down. The emails went from 20-30 a day to about five. I would (sadly), wake up and immediately check my phone for messages. It was like a drug wearing off. Cassie was worse because no one was contacting her, just me, since I was the parent. Those days when nothing came, I’ll admit, I felt like crap.
Then the wave hit again. I had accumulated twice as many followers as Cassie and that was the new angle. I’d gone from 69 followers months ago, to over 120k. More interviews, (Australia, China, London, Germany) and every now and then, followers would email me photos of magazines from their country with our faces on them.
Cassie and I were flown down to film a small segment about Internet fame for the TD Jakes Show, and while we had a great time doing it and everyone was SO nice, the segment never aired.
Needless to say, we were a little heartbroken.
I was constantly asked how much we were making for all this coverage because “Chewbacca Mom” just got a book deal. “Chewbacca Mom” just got to ride in a car with JJ Abrams. “Charlie bit my finger” kid got a scholarship.
We were now being compared to other Internet Memes and trust me, we weren’t adding up. I’ll be honest.
All in all, we received about as much money as a small down payment on a mediocre hot tub or barely running car.
We helped Cassie with a bill and bought a bargain price tv from Walmart for Christmas.
It’s been a few months since then and things have really calmed. I still get the occasional email from someone saying “Hi” and our story still gets posted on Facebook about 20 times a month, but nothing like it used to.
As I look back on what happened and what could have been, I’ll be honest again. I wished it were more.
We tried to get on Ellen, as that would be the final straw in our dream, but nothing happened. I had AMAZING friends who tried to help us by tweeting and posting our story. I was really touched on how many people tried for us.
It was about this time I learned the “cas’me ouside, how ’bout dat” girl was to make about $20,000 by lip syncing a concert with a Q&A afterward.
That….uh…..that one really hurt.
Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast. Cassie and I experienced something few ever will. We talked to people from all over the World. Not bad for a guy who’s only been to Canada twice and Tijuana once (just to say I did).
It gave me an opportunity to start up a podcast, something I love doing, and also, meet some really great, new friends. Comedians and more. People I might never have worked up the courage to talk to.
I also had an adventure with my daughter. One we can talk about forever. The whole experience in fact, was one in a million for a parent and child.
My one regret is, well……me.
I wish I was better at keeping the fame.
Should I have said yes more? Should I have gotten an agent? Should I have NOT done something? So many questions I’ll have to live with, without ever knowing the answer.
As a parent, you want more for your children. You want them to not have to worry about things. You want them to have the best life.
And here I was, famous around the World. A guy who made the whole World laugh, in any language. A guy who was told that he “broke the Internet”
Yet here I am, seeing my sons car totaled by a reckless driver with no insurance and no way to help him replace it.
The guy dubbed “Selfiedad” who’s had a crack in his car window for months.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m still happy. I’ve had amazing opportunities to talk to great people and see my face in different countries magazines. Not many can say that, but as the song goes, “regrets….I have a few…”
What strikes me as one of the funniest things about the whole event is, that my mom and dad still don’t understand how big it was. They still treat it like it was an article in the local shopper magazine.
So while our anniversary comes near, I’ll start seeing “Facebook Memories” that were at the time, great, now though, I’m hoping they won’t be a painful “What if”.
Of course, if nothing ever happened, I’d never know about the woman with the autistic daughter, who shares our photos and has a precious laugh with her daughter.
Or the man who lost his daughter to a car accident, who laughed for the first time in months because of us.
Those are things happening all over the World, right now. People finding what we did, in a positive light and making them feel good.
How do you tell yourself you wished it never happened?
Someday, Cassie will have kids of her own and she’ll be able to show them.
“Yes, this is your grandpa….”
I want to thank everyone who was so kind.
Kind to me and especially kind to my daughter.
Friends who stood by me.
Friends (and family) who took my “celebrity” in stride.
Followers, who I call friends, that have stayed with me and those who have wished me well in emails, etc.
I’ve changed in so many ways because of this. I’m more aware of women’s rights. Gay rights. Humanity in itself. Things I would make fun of before, I now want to champion and help. That’s all because of the people I’ve talked with.
I wish everyone could have just one day of talking to people from around the World.
I really believe there would be more peace.
More understanding.
Less being afraid, leading to hate.
I’ve learned a good lot of us just want to laugh, be with family and watch sunsets.
I wish the next Internet Meme good luck and if I had any advice, I’d say, stay smart. Think about whats going on, but also, just enjoy it.
Enjoy the moment.
And of course, take pictures.

Batman – The Killing Joke review

We need to talk.

About you.

About me.

bat5

I’m old. I watched Star Wars at a Drive Inn and I watched the old Batman series on a black and white television in a tack room while my parents trained horses.

I tell you this because I think there’s a divide, a difference, in how I see Batman and how others, younger than me, see Batman.

Now, I’ll warn you now, there’s minor spoilers, but the book has been out for over a decade, so if you haven’t read it by now, well….

I had heard many things about the new Killing Joke movie. At first, I was excited to see it. It was an absolute game changer when it came out. Much like Dark Knight Returns, it was an “adult” book. It pushed Joker to the absolute edge. You finally got see how evil real evil could be.

I won’t go into too much detail on the story, because if you’re here, you know the story.

In fastest terms possible, Batman tries to stop the Joker from either getting killed by him or Joker killing Batman. Bats finds out he’s escaped and during his freedom, Joker shoots Barbara (Batgirl) Gordon into paralysis and kidnaps her father, trying to get him to go insane, proving all it takes is one bad day to become something else.

Now apparently, studios won’t let you release an hour long animated movie no matter what its based on, so the writers added an extra half hour to the story.

This is the only reason I can tell they did it, because the original story was perfectly fine and the added story is basically like throwing on another full layer of ketchup on a gourmet burger.

I mean, a LOT of ketchup. Like so much, it doesn’t add to the taste, but takes away what could have been a really good burger.

bat4

The added story involves a younger style criminal thinking he can do better than his older Uncle. Barbara tries to take him on and in the end, gets into more trouble.

There’s that Older/Younger theme starting.

bats8

So here comes that added layer of ketchup.

Bruce tells Barbara she’s off the case completely. She screwed it up too much. Now, all during this first half hour, we hear Barbara tell a co-worker how much she’s in love with Batman. Now, hearing she’s not good enough, starts to fight Batman. She ends up landing a couple of good blows, knocking him down. Then, in a moment of passion, pins him down and takes off her shirt, where we the audience are told later, they had sex.

For the last 5 or so minutes, we’re treated ( /endsarcasm) to Barbara calling Batman to apologize and wanting things back to normal. She ends up quitting, handing in her uniform.

Why, we’re never told, since there didn’t need to be a ceremony. She could have just quit, but in this day and age of Facebook, she had to let someone know her reasons.

Again, maybe I’m just older and don’t get it.

Once all that’s over, we finally get into the actual Killing Joke story, which is laid out almost frame by frame.

The ending is just as open as the book. Did Batman kill Joker? Why is he the only one laughing in the end? Why did Batman laugh at all? We also see, in a mid credit scene, Barbara take on the mantle of Oracle, the cyberspace avenger that helped make her a staple of the DC Universe, helping to form the Birds of Prey.

bat 1

First, the good news.

If you’re a fan of the comic and skip the first half hour, you’ll no doubt be entertained. There’s some great moments that seem to leap right out off the page.

Mark Hamil and Kevin Conroy do the voices and let’s face it, they’re the only people that should be allowed to do so.

bats7

Both men are famous for doing the voices on the award winning cartoon and they don’t disappoint here. In fact, I was struck in awe with the way Batman was drawn and Conroy’s voice, which is slightly older, so it reminded me of an older, more distinguished Batman.

The other talent comes off great as well. Not once did it feel like someone couldn’t act or a voice didn’t fit a certain characters’ features.

Now the bad.

The animation felt uneven. There were times when characters moved smooth and other times felt jerky. There were also other times where it seemed they changed the way characters were drawn, I can only assume for effect, but when the effect comes, it makes you wish for either one or the other.

Here’s an example.

In the first photo, Joker has just shot Barbara. In the next photo, Joker has “changed” from the red hood to Joker, smiling for the camera.

Again, effect, but I’d clearly prefer the latter throughout the film, as now, the previous feels weak and lazy.

I also feel Batman was drawn rather strangely. His body looked weird to me.

Now, that sex scene.

Remember earlier when I told you I’m old?

Well, this is how I was introduced to Batman and Batgirl. Barbara was always the independent woman who decided to fight crime. She looked to Batman as a mentor, but also an equal of sorts.

They were never, and I can’t stress this enough, lovers.

bat9

The scene, which is only about 30 seconds long including the fight to floor move, feels not only inserted for controversial sake, but to also……..

No, no that’s it. Just to be controversial.

It not only takes Barbara from student, but takes her “to 13 year old temper tantrum spouting, spoiled little girl who is mad she didn’t get a good grade.”

It absolutely ruins the film so much, it’s all I could think about for the rest of the time. Maybe that’s the intent. So controversial, you’ll never forget it.

Coming soon to a bumper sticker: Killing Joke. Never Forget

The film takes Barbara, who in the Killing Joke book, had a decent, respectable history as Batgirl, but has decided to hang it up for a while.

In the movie, we not only see what feels like a creepy teacher/student sex scene, but a weak willed girl who falls in love with her mentor. It not only cheapens the history of Batgirl, but takes away almost all of her strong, independent personality.

Sucker Punch did more for women than this movie did for Batgirl.

And let’s not forget Batman. He not only has sex with her in her lowest moment, he takes advantage of his student and worst of all, Jim Gordons trust.

Batman has a history with Gordon that goes back years. He knew Barbara when she was a baby and this is how he treats his best friend?

It was so completely out of character, I thought someone spliced in some fan fiction and had me checking the title again.

Batman, the “father” of the Bat Family, has sex with Batgirl.

I’m actually surprised, and yet not surprised knowing Hollywood, that the scene was allowed.

Now, again, remember when I told you about me being old? I’ve noticed younger audiences don’t seem to mind the scene, while some even blow it off. (No pun intended) #lowblow

Perhaps they haven’t grown up with the Batman I knew or maybe it really ISN’T a big deal to them. I guess that choice is up to you.

As for the movie, I give the last hour a 4 out 5 (wish they would’ve spent more money on the animation) but overall, I’d give it a 2 out 5.

I guess when it comes down to it, it’s just like Batman v Superman.

Its not terrible, it just could have been a whole lot better. I have to ask though, how many swings are we going to let DC have until we ask for a new batter?

Oh well, Suicide Squad opens soon and Wonder Wonder Woman doesn’t look too bad.