Monthly Review: August 2011
In comparison of search interest, Michele Bachmaan’s Newsweek cover photo generated the highest volume of Google search queries, followed by the photo fad Horsemaning. The Anonymous’ Operation BART also yielded a minor spike on August 16th, following the successful “Bay of Rage” protest on the day before.
Anonymous Updates: Operation BART
Anonymous continued to stay in the headlines this month after picking more fights with government agencies and cybersecurity firms, such as the launch of Operation BART (#OpBART) in San Francisco and Shooting Sheriffs Saturday hacks.
The feud between Bay Area metro authorities and the online hacker ring began on August 11th, when BART authorities blocked cellphone signals across its stations in order to prevent a protest from taking place. On the same night, Bay Area commuters began tweeting complaints about the network outage using the hashtag #muBARTec, a clever allusion to the ex-Egyptian president Mubarak’s short-lived telecom ban in January 2011. Of course, Anonymous took this opportunity to launch Operation BART (#OpBART), a part-hacking, part-protest campaign targeting the transit authority’s websites; in the span of two weeks, Anonymous delivered their promise by hacking the websites of MyBART and BART Police Union and releasing private data on thousands of customers and hundreds of transit police officers.
Michele Bachman Newsweek Photo
The walking controversy and Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann became the latest poster child of crazy right-wing politics this month, when Newsweek published its August 15th issue featuring an unflattering portrait of the Republican presidential candidate nominee as the magazine cover. Following its release, TV pundit John Stewart claimed that Newsweek intentionally used the photo to make Bachmann appear insane, but it didn’t stop people from turning her wide-eyed expression into instant lulz on the Internet. Most likely inspired by the Buschemi Eyes that trended earlier this summer, the photoshopped series also spawned some parody videos and a debate among media critics over Newsweek’s editorial choice of the issue cover.
Have you ever watched a TV show called Ancient Aliens? For those who’re unfamiliar, it’s a History Channel documentary about the Ancient Astronaut Theory and its believers, who say that aliens came to earth through the ancient times and shaped our history. Among the staunchest advocates of this theory is the publisher of Legendary Times Giorgio A. Tsoukalos, who often makes ambiguous and sensational statements about aliens having played a role in monumental events throughout history. As early as in November 2010, his alien repertoire became a target of lulzy mockeries on 4chan’s /b/ (random) board, spawning a steady stream of image macros poking fun at Tsoukalos’ supposed obsession with “Ancient Astronaut Theory.”
Horsemaning is the latest spin-off to emerge from a running series of photo fads that first started with Planking back in April 2011. This two-person game involves laying flat on his/her back on a surface with the head hidden over the edge while another person hides behind the same object, only leaving the head exposed in the picture. These photographs are meant to appear as if the person is missing a head.
Spock Is Not Impressed
The latest photoshopping trend to come out of Tumblr features the half-vulcan, half-human Spock (Played by Leonard Nimoy) from Star Trek: The Original Series looking rather unimpressed with his arms crossed. Extracted from a scene in the Season 2 episode titled “Trouble with Tribbles,” the exploitable image was first introduced through Sean Bonner’s Tumblr Spock is not Impressed and went viral after a link to the blog was shared by former Star Trek cast member Wil Wheaton via Google Plus. The series’ main appeal lies in Spock’s indifference towards all other subjects and happenings portrayed in the background, similar to other photoshop hits in the past like Disaster Girl and Sad Keanu.
- United Kingdom Riots: The nation of United Kingdom experienced its very first social media riot this month, after an angry demonstration in north London exploded into an all-out street riot across the capital city and other towns across the country. During the week of riots, government officials and the media blamed BlackBerry and Twitter for enabling rioters to mobilize themselves, while the UK Prime Minister David Cameron proposed to implement a temporary ban on social media services during the times of civil unrest.
- East Coast Earthquake: Amidst the whirlwind of #earthquake tweets following Tuesday’s seismic activities on the east coast, some Internet users made jokes about the negligble damage it’s actually caused. Pictures of spilled juice, knocked over lawn chair and broken toy statues have been marked with the date 8/23/2001 and accompanied by the hyperbolic slogan “Never Forget” echoing from September 11th, 2001.
- Hurricane Irene: Hurricane Irene is a tropical cyclone that landed on the coast of North Carolina on August 28th, 2011 and moved across the eastern coastline of the United States. Due to the strength of the storm and its historical nature as the first hurricane to make landfall on the east coast since the 1930s, onilne discussions and gossips about Hurricane Irene dominated the U.S. news media as well as social networking sites and blogs on the web.
Back on the Map
- Jessi Slaughter’s Father Dies at 53: Gene Leonhardt, the father of teenage YouTube celeb Jessi Slaughter best known for his catchphrase “you dun goofed,” passed away late last week due to heart failure at age of 53. On the same day, his daughter Jessi returned to YouTube and publicly apologized for drama she had caused after making several viral videos that led to a massive wave of online harassment last year. Earlier this year, Mr. Leonhardt was arrested for allegedly striking his daughter, which led to rumors of Jessi being placed in foster care.
- Kanye West and Jay-Z Gives Shoutout to Eli Porter: Jay-Z and Kanye West referenced several Internet memes in their new collaborative album Watch the Throne. In the track “Gotta Have It”, Jay-Z references the popular photo fad planking in the rhyme, “I wish I could give you this feeling, I’m planking on a million.” Kanye West joins in on the single “H.A.M.” with a reference viral video star Eli Porter: “Like Eli I did it, jokes on you motherf**ker and I get it.” On a related note, a documentary about Porter’s life titled “People’s Champion” was released last month, featuring several interviews with high school classmates explaining how his famous rap battle came to be.
- Chris Brown’s Planking Tweet: After Chris Brown tweeted about only wanting to plank on top of a “sexy lady”, Fox News commentator Andy Levy replied to Brown’s tweet jabbing at his 2008 domestic violence case by saying “you spelled ‘punching’ wrong.” Their public exchange on Twitter quickly called the attention of Chris Brown fans who came to the R&B singer’s defense, to which Levy issued an obviously sarcastic apology on-air during his Halftime Report segment. The Fox News commentator’s apology clip was soon uploaded onto YouTube, gaining 700,000 views and landing on the front page of Reddit in the past week.
- “Google Santorum”: Ever since the former Republican senator Rick Santorum announced his bid for the Republican presidential nomination back in June 2011, his notorious Googlebomb has been slowly making its way back onto the media and the Internet. In recent months, the phrase “Google Santorum” has been uttered numerous times political pundit shows like Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart and Rachel Maddow, further boosting the term’s SEO profile in search results for Santorum’s last name.
- Lulzsec Spokesperson Released on Bail: The 18-years-old Lulzsec spokesperson Jake Davis (known by his online handle “Topiary”) appeared before the British court and the media earlier this month, marking the beginning of the government’s crackdown against Anonymous and similar hacking collectives. In retaliating against the prosecution of hackers, Antisec members struck back with yet another massive hack & leak campaign against 72 U.S. Sheriffs’ Offices under the code name “Shooting Sheriffs Saturday.”
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