While You Were Offline: His Name Was Prince and He Was Funky
Well, that was certainly a rough week. Prince passed away on Thursday (we’ll get to in a second), and before that the world lost Chyna, Negativland’s Richard Lyons, and British comedian Victoria Wood. This was also the week where fans who grew up listening to the Smashing Pumpkins had to deal with what Billy Corgan has become these days, so you know, there was that. While you’ve been struggling through the last seven days, however, there were maybe some things you missed. That’s why we’re all here right now, to trawl (troll?) the underside of the last week’s World Wide Web.
His Name Was Prince and He Was Funky
What Happened: The Internet tried to come to terms with the news of Prince’s death.
Where It Blew Up: Everywhere
What Really Happened: Let’s be honest: 2016 has been a horrible, horrible year when it comes to celebrity deaths. Not that any year is necessarily good for such things, but 2016 has been especially brutal, a fact drilled home by the death on Thursday of Prince Rogers Nelson, at age 57. In pop culture terms, losing this 5’2″ giant is a loss comparable only to someone like David Bowie, who just passed in January (again, 2016 has been terrible).
The way Bowie was an idol for white kids who were different. Prince was an idol for black kids who were different. pic.twitter.com/ELpyxYX8Zc
— 4.23 (@caymann_) April 21, 2016
Prince was the patron saint of black weirdos.
— Ijeoma Oluo (@IjeomaOluo) April 21, 2016
Imagine being a skinny, awkward, black kid growing up in Minneapolis in the 80s and having Prince to let you know it’s all going to be ok.
— Justin Ellis (@JustinNXT) April 21, 2016
As a kid I rejected restrictive blue and pink ideas about gender- then I saw #Prince and he was all purple and it was just wonderful.
— Melanie Dahling (@SugarDahling) April 21, 2016
Prince was really out here blurring gender roles to a point of world wide confusion. He gave us the key to enjoy being sexual creatures.
— BLAC KARDASHIAN (@WhereBaeAt) April 21, 2016
Prince helped countless men feel OK to be different, to wear makeup, heels, to transcend gender, boundaries and expectations. He rocked.
— Patrick Strudwick (@PatrickStrud) April 21, 2016
Prince is larger than life. He was a boundary-breaker, a challenge to conventional gender norms, a proto-Afrofuturist. He was everything.
— Ari C. (@lit_ari_ture) April 21, 2016
There were, as you might expect, multiple think pieces written about how Prince defied social norms, almost as many as those written celebrating his musical career. But perhaps the best sign o’ the times (sorry, couldn’t resist) was the impact Prince’s death had on Wikipedia:
Prince’s Wikipedia page right now pic.twitter.com/kZxjgo3T0F
— Michael Sebastian (@msebastian) April 21, 2016
— Michael Konopasek (@MikeKonopasek) April 21, 2016
You’ll be missed, Purple One.
The Takeaway: Even nature itself took notice:
A rainbow tonight over Prince’s Paisley Park.
— MPR News (@MPRnews) April 21, 2016
Well, it was the weather for it, apparently.
— Guardian Design (@GuardianDesign) April 21, 2016
And All Those Who Sail in Her
What Happened: The votes are in, and the United Kingdom has demanded that the winner, well, not actually win. Wait, what?
Where It Blew Up: Twitter, media think pieces
What Really Happened: Perhaps you recall the public vote in the UK to name a new research ship run by the Natural Environment Research Council. Even if you don’t, you’re likely to remember the name that was leading the poll—and easily winning the hearts and minds of most of the Internet in the process: Boaty McBoatface. This week, it was revealed that Boaty had easily won the poll. And that was where the trouble started.
It all began when British science minister Jo Johnson told the BBC that the government would “review” the names suggested in the poll, adding that “many of them were imaginative, some were more suitable than others.” Boaty McBoatface was, it was suggested, one of the latter. “I think we were clear when launching the competition that we were looking for a name that would be in keeping with the mission,” Johnson said. “You want a name that fits the gravity and the importance of the subjects that this boat is going to be doing science into.”
Twitter, of course, was not pleased:
Boaty McBoatface to receive fake stage name that no one will use because obviously it’s Boaty McBoatface https://t.co/IhpnQ4FIgp
— Ed Yong (@edyong209) April 19, 2016
Boaty McBoatface “Unsuitable name for a research vessel,” Says Science Minister Sir Frumpy Allen Wetblanket. pic.twitter.com/1DWi0xrDWn
— Kevin Murphy (@kwmurphy) April 19, 2016
Boaty McBoatface is a stupid name, says Rear Admiral Dick pic.twitter.com/xVKiBh2F4y
— Felicity Morse (@FelicityMorse) April 20, 2016
U.K. Science minister… A-hole McA-hole: https://t.co/RVW8rLjv6Y
— Joel McHale (@joelmchale) April 20, 2016
The Takeaway: Should the ship not end up being called Boaty McBoatface, there’s only one thing for it: Someone has to use that name for a pirate vessel. One captained by Pirate McPirateface, obviously.
They Did It All for the LuLz
What Happened: The Internet convinced lots of people that Limp Bizkit were playing a surprise gig at a gas station on 420. In related news, people still remember Limp Bizkit.
Where It Blew Up: Twitter, blogs
What Really Happened: This plays out like a cautionary tale about … stoners? Limp Bizkit fans? Ohioans? Perhaps all three. It all started with a Facebook event page that announced that Fred Durst’s rap-rockers were holding a secret show on 420 at, of all places, a Sunoco gas station in Dayton, Ohio. Thousands of people were invited, but even more impressively, more than 1,500 said they would definitely be attending.
The only problem?
NOT TRUE – don’t let them pull one on you https://t.co/Qqcszn6Nsx
— Fred Durst (@freddurst) April 19, 2016
The fake gig quickly went viral in a manner that was genuinely confusing: were people in on the joke and ironically talking about the concert, or did they actually believe it was going to happen?
the word is out on the street about fred durst and his sweet secret show https://t.co/3KEW2GGBZp
— finstergrrrl (@finstergrrrl) April 19, 2016
Is anyone in Ohio going to see Limp Bizkit at the Dayton Sunoco on 4/20?
— Tom Nix (@TheTomNix) April 19, 2016
— Justin Wood (@Justin_Wood_) April 19, 2016
There was enough excitement about the event that the local police department had to tell people that it really, honestly, wasn’t happening:
BE AWARE: There is NO Limp Bizkit concert Wed. 4/20 at Sunoco station at Keowee St. & Wayne Ave. These ads FALSE. pic.twitter.com/wMo7bYxa9p
— Dayton Police Dept. (@DaytonPolice) April 19, 2016
The punchline to the whole thing? Now it seems that the gig could actually end up happening in the future.
@JairKessinger then we just might have to figure something out, somehow
— Fred Durst (@freddurst) April 21, 2016
The Takeaway: Really, who could have seen it coming that when it came down to it, it turned out to be the highway, not his way?
The Best Use Yet for The ‘I Voted’ Stickers
What Happened: Ever wondered what the purpose of those “I Voted” stickers was? New Yorkers came up with a pretty great answer.
Where It Blew Up: Twitter, media think pieces
What Really Happened: It probably didn’t escape your attention that this Tuesday was primary day in New York state. There was even an attempt to make “I Voted” stickers into a meme on the day, but it turned out that that honor would end up going elsewhere. Namely, onto the gravestone of a very important woman.
Powerful image of Susan B. Anthony’s gravestone from today’s NY primary pic.twitter.com/SnS8MtQ97X
— Adam Blickstein (@AdamBlickstein) April 20, 2016
For those unfamiliar with Anthony, you should probably read up on her, because she’s kind of a big deal, but what’s important at this point is the role she played in the women’s suffrage movement in the US. Basically, without her, women might not have the vote—which makes the fact that so many women gave their “I Voted” stickers to her grave so poignant.
Poignant enough, in fact, that the image of the sticker-covered gravestone quickly went viral, and subsequently became a much-shared and discussed image across the Internet.
The Takeaway: It was such a simple thing, yet so oddly effective.
Be Glad You Weren’t Dating in the ’90s
What Happened: You think dating today is hard? Twitter got behind a hashtag to consider what it would’ve been like 20 years ago.
Where It Blew Up: Twitter
What Really Happened: The hashtag #90sPersonalAds started trending late Thursday, revealing two important facts. Firstly, even the concept of a “personal ad” feels dated in an era of online dating—Craigslist hookups aside, I guess—and secondly, lots of people today have very curious ideas of what the 1990s were actually like. (Napster wasn’t even released until mid-1999, you young hooligans! Get off my lawn!)
Bored and looking for something to do? Introducing the World Wide Web! #90sPersonalAds
— Daniel (@wickedfedora) April 21, 2016
We can turn on my blacklight and I’ll download November Rain off Napster. #90sPersonalAds
— SockItTBTMe (@SockItTBTMe) April 21, 2016
#90sPersonalAds Must love AOL & Geocities. Netscape optional.
— Dave McCullough (@sad_dave121) April 21, 2016
— Paul Green (@bigsexy_tote) April 21, 2016
#90sPersonalAds Let’s move to Seattle and start a band.
— Ashley E.V. (@ash_like_whoa) April 21, 2016
Let’s find Waldo together!
— Heather! (@heathercore) April 21, 2016
Looking For Someone To Stop, Collaborate, And Listen#90sPersonalAds
— McMannofthepeople (@McMannofthepeop) April 21, 2016
Come rewind cassette tapes with me. Bring a pencil and an appetite for adventure #90sPersonalAds
— Aidan forgets why he (@aidno) April 21, 2016
— Jared Montana (@Jarmadillos) April 21, 2016
— J.K.Callaway (@realJKCallaway) April 21, 2016
If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends. #90sPersonalAds
— Rae of Sunshine (@Exqu1siteCorpse) April 21, 2016
Looking for Nirvana? I wanna Pearl Jam your Soundgarden with my Smashing Pumpkins. Oh, Nevermind. #90sPersonalAds
— Jamie A. That’s All (@snowyjim1) April 21, 2016
The Takeaway: That said, you can tell those who definitely lived through the 1990s. They’re the ones who post things like this:
— Yaron Melman (@NrouteHQ) April 21, 2016
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