Shame Day: Taylor Swift, Charles Z., and The Internet

Exactly one week ago I was browsing imgur and saw that 4chan was up to its old tricks again. To break this down and provide some context as quickly as possible, 4chan, as defined by Urban Dictionary:

you have just entered the very heart, soul, and life force of the internet. this is a place beyond sanity, wild and untamed. there is nothing new here. “new” content on 4chan is not found; it is created from old material. every interesting, offensive, shocking, or debate inspiring topic youve seen elsewhere has been posted here ad infinitum. we are the reason for “not safe for work”. we are the anonymous army. cross us and you will fail. anonymous is everywhere. you depend on us every day. we bag your groceries, we fix your computers. anonymous sees you before you see him. sitting at desks around the world right now is a nameless, faceless, unforgiving mafia composed of the best of the best.

For anyone who doubts the ability of the users of this site to get things done, allow me to direct you to the winner of TIME Magazine‘s  2009 Most Influential Person of the Year, Christopher Poole, a.k.a. moot, a.k.a. the founder of 4chan. As a little icing on the cake, you can check out what happened to nominees 2 to 21.

With all of that out of the way, allow me to present to you exactly what I found last week:

Posted on reddit with the title: Currently on 4chan. Vote4Charles

Clicking on the image above will bring you to its page on imgur as well as all the comments about said image. The top comment is a link to the contest page, with other comments excitedly pointing out what place Charles Z. is in. Cue another post later that day:

Posted on reddit with the title: 4chan managed to get Charles Z to first place in a contest, so he could meet Taylor Swift and smell her hair. He beat out thousands of young girls.

Then, just three short days ago, the following post cropped up. It was linked by the 4chan subreddit just like the very first image:

Posted on reddit with the title: Those assholes just crushed an honest, hardworking 39 year old’s dreams. I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.

Cue cries of disappointment. For the sake of pulling from a more unbiased sample than the users of /r/4chan, below is a screenshot from the imgur comments section of the image above:


Now I realize that I’ve more or less jerked you along, forcing you to look at image after image after image without explaining why, but let me take the time to do that now by stating: the people who I have been calling attention to are disgusting.

I’m very familiar with 4chan’s antics, and there’s precedent for things like this happening. The site’s users once voted for North Korea to be the country where Justin Bieber next had a concert, and, keeping in the spirit of messing with young Ms. Swift, almost got her to play a show for the Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

The difference here is that in this case the internet [4chan, as well as both reddit and imgur] banded together to help a “creepy 39 year old” sniff Taylor Swift’s hair. I’m gonna be “that guy” and say it: that’s basically condoning sexual harassment.

Without moving into what some people might call the murky waters defining sexual harassment, let me pose the following question: How would you feel if the young woman in this scenario was replaced by a young woman you know personally? Would you feel comfortable knowing that your sister or cousin or friend or whoever else could be having her hair smelled by a guy who does so “cuz he’s into that”?

Normally censored profanity is reserved for Gordon’s Shame Day posts, but seriously, what the ****? Baeble Music offers their condolences by saying, “We’re sorry, Chuck. We sincerely hope that you one day live your dream.” How about we commiserate with Taylor Swift and say “We’re sorry that some creepy older guy almost sniffed your hair”?

What I don’t get is how Charles Z. has turned into some kind of hero that the internet is standing behind. I understand why ruining the hopes and aspirations of preteen girls can be is funny, but not how his actual goal in winning the contest can be ignored. Just yesterday this happened:

Posted on reddit with the title: #justice4charles

And you know what? If you click the image and read through you’ll see that this isn’t even for the real Charles Z, but his very name was enough to rouse the troops. Comments poured in using the hashtag #justice4charles, with one guy proclaiming that this “is true democracy.”

No, internet. This is ****ing gross. Kiss 108 may have been unfair in cancelling the contest due to Charles Z. getting so many votes, but if they did so knowing full well why this guy signed up to begin with I can’t hold it against them. I don’t see anything wrong with a lot of the things that 4chan and the internet does “for the lulz,” but I can’t condone this. You might think that I’m overreacting, and I might be, and if I am you should tell me, but that’s where I stand on this.

If you’re not okay with a 39-year-old man sniffing your hair then you shouldn’t be okay with it happening to anyone else, Taylor Swift or otherwise. That’s all there is to it.


6 responses to “Shame Day: Taylor Swift, Charles Z., and The Internet

  1. Very odd incident. I suppose its how bodyguards make their paycheck. Though I think 4chan pranks might be a poor audience for moral pleas. The well-being of the target isn’t exactly their first priority.

    I did enjoy one incident where they sent Pitbull to a Wal-Mart in Alaska. The man flipped the script by embracing it, and he mingled with the locals in the middle of nowhere all day. You can still find pictures. His music is still mediocre as tap water, but I have to give Pitbull credit for that. That and the fact that he evidently used to be a reasonably skilled battle rapper. I suppose that’s the Film Crit Hulk “Never Hate An Artist” angle.

    • I was actually going to link to Pitbull’s trip to Alaska, and how awesome he was about the whole thing. Guess it just got lost in the shuffle. Did not know that fact about him once being a battle rapper, that’s definitely respectable on some level.

      My post wasn’t so much a moral plea to 4chan users, but more of a “think about what you’re doing” for all the people tagging along, aka. those on reddit and imgur.

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