RT to Kill: It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Tweets a Death Threat
On the night of March 11, a Twitter user with the handle @StillDMC stood at a window in downtown Los Angeles and took a photo of his rifle, the barrel aimed at what appeared to be a couple of pedestrians standing on a street corner in the distance. At 12:09 AM, he tweeted.
“100 RT’s and I’ll shoot someone walking,” he wrote alongside the picture, which quickly racked up well over 100 retweets. An hour later, he followed up: “Man down. Mission Completed.”
This time the image showed a young man lying on the ground, clutching his torso—along with what looked, in the pixelated dark, like a chest wound.
The next day, LAPD detectives arrested 20-year-old Dakkari McAnuff. The police report states that investigating officers had “discovered multiple pictures displaying an unknown type of rifle pointing in the direction of various Los Angles city streets [sic],” determined McAnuff was @StillDMC, and confirmed his location. At midday, police officers arrived at 22-year-old Zain Abbasi’s high-rise condo building, where McAnuff was a guest.
According to Abbasi’s account of the arrest, the building’s property manager summoned him to his office, where detectives placed him and another friend in handcuffs. Helicopters circled the building, snipers took aim from a complex across the street, and multiple police cars blocked the parking lot.
The detectives told Abbasi to call McAnuff and to instruct him to come down to join them. As soon as he left the condo, McAnuff was apprehended by ten LAPD officers who were lying in wait, their guns drawn. The officers searched Abbasi’s apartment and found the weapon pictured in the tweet: an unloaded air rifle.
The entire group was handcuffed and taken into custody. McAnuff was “jailed on suspicion of making criminal threats,” and his bail was set at $50,000.
It was all supposed to be a joke, of course.
Weird Al Explains How He Conquered the Internet
When I said I was going to interview “Weird Al” Yankovic this past weekend, people asked me how he was going to find the time. The guy is everywhere right now. I was a little confused myself about how he could possibly squeeze in a casual conversation in the lounge at The Standard Hollywood, a hotel on the Sunset Strip.
It wasn’t until I actually saw him stroll into the lobby that I really believed the All-Time King of Song Parody, and reigning Emperor of the Internet could take a moment away from darting all over the digital landscape to talk to the likes of me. He had an entrourage of one in tow: Jay Levey, his manager, creative soulmate and director of UHF (a movie that was released 25 years ago yesterday). Jay is a small, taciturn, businesslike man who puts Al’s elastic, always-on persona in stark relief.
But when Yankovic sat down wearing low-key, normal people colors, it was clear that he wasn’t out of breath, and he was capable of devoting his full attention to an interview. I couldn’t help but ask how this was possible.
"I have to say, the synchronicity with the release of ["Mandatory Fun"] is pretty mind boggling even before we get into all that," he said. "I had been doing all sorts of promotional stuff, like, months and months before I even knew I had an album coming out, and everything started to happen right around the time of the release." He was referring to his recent appearances in other people’s work: "Epic Rap Battles of History,” where he rapped with animal agression while dressed as Isaac Newton, and Drunk History with Derek Waters, in which he played Hitler.
But he emphasized that some of his recent everywhere-ness was happenstance, his performance as Hitler being a prime example. “It tied into the whole totalitarian theme on the album art. And there are things that are coming out over the next few weeks, like ‘Hotwives of Orlando.’ I did a little bit on that show, and that came out the same day as the album. All this stuff is sort of happening, y’know, at the same time.”
Which Twin Peaks Character Are You? – Taken by Westboro member Steve Drain.
Q. Pick a movie
A. Fargo (“I like the Coen Brothers a lot. Their films tend to be morality plays.”)
Q. What term best describes you?
A. Loyal (“I hope to be loyal in my service to God.”)
Q. Pick a song
A. “Money” by Pink Floyd (“I think they’re a very underrated band.”)
Q. What’s your ideal Friday night?
A. Hanging with your significant other (“I love my wife, she’s the wife of my youth. And the Lord tells us to rejoice with the wife of thy youth.”)
Q. Pick a food
A. Maraschino cherries (“I put maraschino cherries in soda. I think it spices it up.”)
Q. Describe your personal style
A. No. (“I don’t think any of the other stuff really describes me very well.”)
Q. Pick a TV show
A. Breaking Bad (“It’s a very interesting story. It’s complex. I don’t like stories where you already know what’s going to happen. Though I’ve gotta tell you, with all of his supposed love for his wife and son, rather than deciding to be a meth kingpin, he could’ve just trusted that the Lord would take care of his son and wife.”)
"Who is that? I guess he’s one of the prime suspects for killing the girl. He looks like he’s a good-looking, clean-cut kid. Which means he doesn’t at all resemble me."
See more Buzzfeed quizzes taken by Westboro Baptist Church members
Which Pop Star Should Be Your Best Friend? – Taken by Westboro Baptist Church member Rebekah Phelps-Roper.
Q. What would you like to do for a night out?
A. Go see some live music. (“We sing a lot of parodies of popular music. I sing the Lorde one, you can hear it on our Soundcloud.”)
Q. What do you usually talk about?
A. How to make the world a better place. (“By preaching, because that is the only way anything can get better.”)
Q. What should your best friend do if you get dumped?
A. Try to make you laugh. (“I don’t date, so I’m answering as though a man at a picket yelled at me.”)
Q. How do you feel about gossip?
A. Haters gonna hate. (“That pretty much describes everyone who talks about us, including the media.”)
Q. Which show would you binge watch?
A. Adventure Time. (“I haven’t binge watched a show since Grey’s Anatomy.”)
Q. And what would you like to eat while you’re watching it?
A. Popcorn and Diet Coke. (“Whatever you’re going to eat, make sure it’s in moderation, because that’s how you’re meant to live your life.”)
Q. How would your best friend celebrate your birthday?
A. Bake you a cake. (“I love celebrating things with cakes, including birthdays.”)
Q. What should be the tone of their toast at your wedding?
A. Earnest. (“Because weddings are, of course, solemn things.”)
"We picketed Taylor Swift! She would not be my best friend, because I would tell her very kindly and gently, ‘you have to stop sleeping around with men, girl.’ The Lord hates that."
See more Buzzfeed quizzes taken by Westboro Baptist Church members
We Got Members of the Westboro Baptist Church to Take Buzzfeed Quizzes
As I’m sure you’ve heard, Fred Phelps, founder and head-dickhead of the Westboro Baptist Church, has died.
Presumably this has been a game changer in the Westboro world, and I wanted to get to know the new them. And what better way to get to know someone than making them do a bunch of Buzzfeed quizzes? They have told me many, many things about myself and others that I never knew (and also probably didn’t want to know, TBH.)
Below is how the members of the church answered the quizzes I sent to them. The answer they selected is presented with a short quote from them explaining their choice. Enjoy!
Which Sex and the City Guy Is Your Soulmate? – Taken by Westboro member Mara Phelps
Q. Pick a dress color for your first date
A. Black ("Black is the color of the human soul. We have no good in us.")
Q. Pick the activity for your first date
A. Dancing (“King David danced in the street after seeing the Lord’s divine rule acted out.”)
Q. Where do you want to sleep right now?
A. A four poster bed. (“It reminds me of Roman times, when people had the word of God with them.”)
Q. What would you want for your anniversary?
A. A dog. (“Because dogs are loyal.”)
Q. Pick a dog
A. A terrier. (“It reminds me of a dog called April that we used to have. And someone, in the middle of the night, broke in and slit her throat.”)
Q. Pick a flower
A. An iris (“When we first moved to this house, we could see these flowers outside.”)
Q. Which New York City tourist attraction would you actually like to visit?
A. The Empire State Building. (“It couldn’t have been made unless God had given the engineers and the people who built it the ability to do so.”)
Q. Pick a romantic comedy
A. Pretty Woman (“She was supposedly a prostitute with a heart of gold. This generation has been raised to think being promiscuous is something to be proud of. And it is not.”)
Q. Which word makes you squirm?
A. Ooze (“There’s a sickness to it. The Lord has cursed fags with AIDS which causes them to have sores that ooze.”)
Q. When looking for a boyfriend, which of the following is most important?
A. Loyalty. (“It’s important for people to have loyalty to one’s brothers.”)
Q. Pick a brunch dish
A. Grapefruit. (“It looks really healthy.”)
"I’m not familiar with this character or the show at all. It says he expects the perfect wife. A lot of people expect things to be perfect for them even though they don’t deserve it."
This Week in Racism: The #CancelColbert Debate Is the Funniest Thing to Ever Happen
-If there’s one thing I believe the human race can totally agree on, it’s that comedy only gets better the more you dissect it. For instance, the classic joke, “Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side,” surprises the recipient of the joke with its literal, non-punchline. It’s a pure form of anti-comedy, the “Nick Cannon in whiteface" of one-liners. Isn’t that joke so much funnier now that I’ve explained it? I thought so.
Last week was a real golden age of comedy, thanks in no small part to the#CancelColbert controversy. Like with all the best art (textbooks, CliffsNotes, the Transformers movie series), the meaning needs to be super clear, or it’s not good. That’s not a suggestion. That’s, like, a rule.
Writer/activist/excellent comedian Suey Park and TV personality/white person Stephen Colbert both learned this powerful lesson through the course of last week’s controversy over Colbert’s joke about the Washington Redskins’ Native American outreach foundation. The Twitter account for The Colbert Report tweeted an out-of-context quote on the subject that contained a racial slur against Asians. That caused Park to create the #CancelColbert hashtag and blow up the internet for a few days. Conservative pundits, often the ones getting accused of racism, jumped at the chance to give their hybrid-driving competition a taste of their own medicine. You go, Michelle Malkin! You’ve really earned it.
Eventually, Colbert went on his show and explained that what everyone was upset about was a joke, specifically a satirical dig at Redskins owner Dan Snyder’s insistence on his football team having a racially insensitive nickname. At that point, the joke took off, growing from a mildly amusing larva of social commentary into a full-blown comedy butterfly. And yet… something was missing. What if there was yet another layer of sarcasm at play here? What if… Suey Park was just kidding the whole time too?
Shit’s about to get real.
In an interview with popular comedy blog Salon.com, Suey Park explained—in agonizingly funny detail—how she’s actually a fan of Colbert and that she was merely trying to point out how white people are allowed the benefit of context, but minorities don’t receive the same privilege. Allow Ms. Park to explain further:
"A lot of white America and so-called liberal people of color, along with conservatives, ask, “Do I understand context?” And that’s part of wanting to completely humanize the oppressor. To see the white man as always reasonable, always pure, always deliberate, always complex and always innocent. And to see the woman of color as literal. Both my intent behind the hashtag and in my [unintelligible] distance, is always about forcing an apology on me for not understanding their context when, in reality, they misunderstood us when they made us a punch line again. So it’s always this logic of how can we understand whiteness better, and that’s never been my politics. I’ve always been about occupying the margins and strengthening the margins and what that means is that, for a long time, whiteness has also occupied the margins. Like, people of color get in circles with no white people in the room and we see that whiteness still operates. So I think it’s kind of a shock for America that whiteness has dominant society already, it also seeps into the margins. What happens the one time when the margins seep into the whiteness and we encroach on their space? It’s like the sky is falling."
I’m not sure who’s being misunderstood, who’s lacking context, or what “margins seep into the whiteness” means (maybe a Sarah McLachlan lyric?) What I do know is that the above block of text is very, very funny. I encourage comedians everywhere to explain themselves more. Based on the media’s fixation with this story, it seems like a sure way to up your Klout score. HILARIOUS
Continue reading this week in racism
How Sad Young Douchebags Took Over Modern Britain
Venture out into the towns and cities of the UK on any weekend and you’ll find it hard to avoid the conclusion that young British men are in the midst of a crisis. A crisis of time and role, of maturity and masculinity. A crisis that, in their search for purpose, has driven many of them to become completely contradictory lifeforms. The sort of people who wear face masks to bed but will happily neck a pint of piss for a dare. People who train all year round for Ibiza’s party season, only to suck up legal highs they bought off strangers on the internet. Their heads are too small for their bodies, their shoulders are wider than a pub television, and they have shit Robbie Williams tattoos. They look dreadful and bizarre; they are the modern British douchebag—pumped, primed, terrifyingly sexualized high-street gigolos. They have no concept of subtlety and they don’t care.
You probably know this already, especially if you’ve seen the TV shows The Only Way Is Essex and Geordie Shore,and any other primary documents of life in the UK. We all know that a lot of young British men now look like Ken dolls dipped in tea and covered in biro. What we don’t really know is how and why it happened. It’s easy to dismiss them as just a more extreme strand of lad culture—the Rancid to the lads’ Green Day. But there are some vital differences between these two cultural types.
Most notably, douchebags don’t have friends—they have wingmen. And while the lad might have to be cajoled by those mates into approaching a girl after a few beers, the modern British douchebag already knows every line he’ll be using to snare his prey before he leaves the house for another evening of Monster cocktails and creatine. He has a far more cynical view of a night out. He’s in it for the posturing, the posing, and the pussy, and he’ll stalk the light-paneled dancefloors of the UK’s shittiest nightclubs until he’s proved it.
Did you hear? We went to another one of Corey Feldman’s parties. Cameras were banned, so this time we brought artist Johnny Ryan with us.
Inside the Sad World of Adults Pretending to Be Kids for Retweets
Can you imagine taking a few hours out of your day to sit down with a crayon and forge a child’s exam paper? Or trying to convince thousands of people that one of your kids picked up a bra and dropped a witty quip about it being a “booby trap”? If the answer is “yes,” then you might not be as weird as you think. You might just be one of the legions of “Twitter comedians” who present clearly fabricated child-related anecdotes as things that really, definitely happened, purely to pick up brownie points from strangers on the internet.
That’s right: adults lying about stuff kids said is the new animals doing funny faces on the internet. After all, what are kids but animals with slightly better communication skills?
In terms of the trend’s Twitter popularity, it’s not yet up there with people arguing about David Moyes or RTing “Brazil smiles when Niall Horan smiles.” But these types of fake tweet are slowly colonizing the platform and the multitude of viral websites that feed off of it. It’s a phenomenon that is clearly bullshit; bad jokes told like news stories, fallen for and spread by idiots. A bit like crop circles.
The formula is simple: Think of a phonetic mistake that’s vaguely amusing but that a child is unlikely to have made in real life—getting “the Smurfs” mixed up with “The Smiths,” for example. In an ideal world, this phonetic mistake will hint at some higher truth about humanity; the more sentimental, the more chance your fake tweet has of being picked up by UpWorthy and shunted around the internet by moms who just got Facebook. Attribute this quote to your unknowing children, post it on Twitter, and hope it goes down as well as this one did with all the twee people on there who spend their time making jokes about badgers and biscuits:
Like most twee things, it’s difficult to figure out quite why it’s so annoying. It’s not that it harms the world in any specific, grievous way. There are certainly far more worrying things to stress about. And it’s not like I make a habit of playing Twitter cop. There are many other types of lies on Twitter that I don’t understand but that I don’t give a second thought to. There’s just something about this trend and its flagrant attention seeking—not to mention its cynical use of kids as props for added “ahhhh” factor—that really grates on me. If you’re being highfalutin, it’s a weird and sad nadir in the continued internet-driven devolution that’s turning fully-grown adults into infants. If I’m saying it straight, I just wish irritating people would stop trying to con me.