Monthly Review: July 2011
This month’s highlights from the Internet: The Anonymous collective takes the baton from Lulzsec in the latest hacking sprees against government and corporate websites codenamed Operation Antisec; Twitter users poke fun at their petty problems in the modern world (like not getting invited onto Google Plus or the iPhone battery not lasting longer) with the hashtag #firstworldproblems; ABC Family’s made-for-TV flim Cyberbully becomes the target of ridicule on the Internet for its over-dramatization of cyberbullying; Owling becomes the next Planking; Horrifying Houseguest the creepy macro series strikes 4chan; The beta launch of Google Plus generates lots of buzz and qualms with Facebook fans, the Casey Anthony trial also spawned lots of conversations; Isaiah Mustafa the Old Spice Guy is put up against the new Old Spice Guy Fabio and more!
“Owling” dominated the search interest in July 2011, proving the aftereffect of “Planking” craze still continues. Search queries for “Operation Antisec” also experienced a peak early on in the month, possibly due to the release of account and password information obtained from an Apple survey server.
Operation Antisec is an international hacktivist campaign launched by a coalition of Anonymous hackers including former members of Lulzsec in late June 2011. The operation officially began with the attacks against UK’s Serious Organized Crime Agency on June 20th, 2011 and still continues with high-profile targets in private business, government and even military sectors. The groups involved claim that the operation aims to protest government censorship and monitoring of the internet. Meanwhile, at least 14 people allegedly involved with Operation Payback were arrested by the FBI this month in an ongoing investigation against the Anonymous hacks.
First World Problems
The frustrations of privileged citizens around the world became a trending topic on Twitter with #FirstWorldProblems, a hashtag used to make light of the minor inconveniences that people of advanced societies often complain about, like having too many tabs open or still being hungry after brushing teeth. While the term has been used as early as in a 1995 song “Omissions of the Omen” by Matthews Good Band, an amateur music video recently uploaded by YouTuber funnyz entitled “The First World Problems Rap” seems to have boosted its popularity this month.
ABC Home Movie Cyberbully
ABC Family’s latest TV movie Cyberbully premiered this month, a story about a teenage girl who becomes a victim of cyberstalking after joining a social networking site. The film was filled to the brim with hyperbolic scenarios and coming-of-age melodrama cliches, culminating in an absurd suicide attempt during which the protagonist Taylor gives up because she cannot “get the [child-proof] cap off” a prescription bottle. A close-up shot of an IM chat window with the words “Ur a liar lindsay” also became a popular exploitable template, spawning a large number of Photoshopped derivatives replacing the original text with something funny.
The craze of Planking game continued to linger with another participatory photo meme called Owling, a distinct camera pose that involves sitting in a perched position and looking off into the distance, as to mimic the posture of an owl. This all began on July 11th on the social media hubsite Reddit, as a direct response to the game of planking with a thread entitled "Seems to be an increase in planking photos, so…” which featured demotivational poster of a woman perching on a railing with the caption reading: “OWLING because planking is so two months ago.”
Horrifying Houseguest is an eerie image macro series based on a pencil sketch of a creepy-looking ghost and accompanied by one-liners evoking creepy images, such as the fear of having to use the bathroom in the dark or having your feet exposed from the blanket while lying in bed. The drawing of the ghost was originally posted in late June via /b/ (random) board and later spread to /x/ (paranormal) board, where it snowballed into a series of creepy image macros with well over 200 image replies.
In the Media
The Trial of Casey Anthony
People on the Internet became furious with the trial verdict of Casey Anthony, a 25-year-old woman from Florida who was charged on suspicion of murdering her two-year-old daughter Caylee back in October 2008. As the three-year-long trial came to an end on Tuesday afternoon, the public expressed their outrage and disgust over the jury’s “not guilty” verdict, triggering a whirlwind of social media frenzy on Twitter and Facebook. According to the news site AllFacebook, up to “ten status updates relating to the trial were posted every second” while the social intelligence firm Crimson Hexagon reported “over 325,283 tweets relating to Casey Anthony” were posted on Tuesday. The jokesters on 4chan also responded with a variety of image macros commenting on the verdict, many of them drawing references to the trial of OJ Simpson, the Kanye West interruption, as well as the fictional character of a serial killer from the cable TV show Dexter.
Google Plus is a social networking service launched by Google Inc. on June 28th, 2011. The platform integrates Google Profiles and Google Buzz, and introduces many new features including Circles, Hangouts, Sparks and Huddles. Upon its announcement, many Internet users perceived it to be Google’s attempt to compete with Facebook.
Old Spice: Mano a Mano el Bano
In the latest viral marketing stunt by male grooming product giant Old Spice, Italian model Fabio Lanzoni was briefly introduced as the New Old Spice Guy, challenging the former spokesman Isaiah Mustafah to a popularity contest on YouTube. Entitled “Mano a Mano el Bano” (Face-to-Face in the Bathroom), the two characters dueled off in an audience-requested challenge of writing the perfect love letter. However, the gig didn’t last long for Fabio, as Mustafa came out on top as the crowd-pleaser and reclaimed his “Old Spice Guy” title by sending Fabio to a distant planet in the last video.
Back on the Map
- The 52-year-old former host of NBC’s “To Catch A Predator” Chris Hansen was outed by The National Enquirer this month for cheating on his wife with a 30 year-old Florida news anchor. In 2007, Hansen became a popular figure on the Anonymous online community 4chan for his association with the investigative news series, and has been since portrayed as the nemesis to Pedobear, an imaginary cartoon bear that somehow came to symbolize pedophilia. Considering Hansen’s public image as a vigilant journalist chasing after individuals attempting sexual misconduct, the story of his affair came as especially ironic to those who were aware of his iconic status on the web.
- Earlier this month, rapper and actor Xzibit, who is an internet icon himself for the hilarious Yo Dawg jokes, tweeted that “Planking” is offensive because of its resemblance to the way African slaves were transported, face down against wooden planks in the cramped up hulls of ships. Throughout the second week of July, celebrity news sites like TMZ, MTV and BET reported on the possible link between slave trade and planking and sparked a minor debate on Twitter and other planking-related websites. In a distantly related story, the comedian / talkshow host Tom Green claimed the title of the “orignal planker” with an old footage of his act from 1994, featuring himself lying flat on the ground in front of a busy supermarket store.
- Rebecca Black made her comeback with a new music video called “My Moment” about her sudden rise to fame. The video features a constantly grinning Rebecca Black performing with a mute band, dancing with back-up dancers and finally ending up at a red carpet event in her honor. Armed with pop music cliches and unsubtle references to her Internet fame, the music video racked up over 2.6 million views in less than 24 hours, and reached 11 million views in just 3 days. Parodies have already begun, including a “no auto-tune” version of the song.
- KYM Monthly Review – Complete Listing of Past Issues