Before we go any further, let’s get this out of the way first: Yes, you should probably Google image search your first name and “glamour shot” for comic effect. Quite what brought that meme, which did the rounds last October, back to life this week remains a mystery, but let’s just say that the Internet knew on some deep level that we needed a little bit of levity to ease us into 2016. After all, elsewhere it was bad decisions on Twitter’s part, mistaken identities, and really poorly considered headlines. (Don’t worry; there’s also something positive when it comes to Star Wars toys.) This, my friends, is the show that never ends. Here are the highlights of what you might have missed on the World Wide Web recently.

He Got That Ambition Baby, Look in His Eyes

What Happened: Apparently, Kanye West has fallen on hard times. He’d been reduced to auditioning for reality shows, as America saw this week.

Where It Blew Up: Twitter, blogs, media think pieces

What Really Happened: As a ratings stunt to bring in eyeballs for the show’s final season premiere, American Idol had a surprise guest during its auditions: none other than Mr. Kanye West himself, playing it humble for the judges (above).

On Twitter, host Ryan Seacrest explained how it all came together:

As is traditional for modern media surprises, it was actually released online ahead of the episode airing, with the resultant headlines doing their job to promote the show. American Idol Twitter, however, was unconvinced:

The Takeaway: As a ratings stunt, it didn’t really work; the episode turned out to be the lowest-rated opener in the show’s history. Still, at least Kanye got away with his credibility intact, right…?

Yeah, OK, maybe not.

This Week, In Unfortunate Headlines

What Happened: It’s only the first week of the year, but Slate might have already peaked with a story about lesbians touching penises for the first time. No, really.

Where It Blew Up: Twitter, blogs, media think pieces

What Really Happened: The Internet was unprepared, so early in the year, to see something like this show up on Twitter:

Did I say “unprepared”? I meant “amused and appalled.”

The actual story is arguably less problematic than the headline. The piece itself is about a video by lesbian YouTube stars Bria and Chrissy on lesbians touching penises for the first time, and why the presentation is troublesome. “The headlines and online discussion around the video feel a lot like a thing lesbians do not need more of—namely, erasure,” the story notes … before, admittedly, going on to define lesbianism as “an affirmative, legitimate-on-its-own attraction to women and women-built social worlds and political philosophies apart from men.” How did that go?

The Takeaway: Well, we can hope Slate learned its lesson with the feedback from this headline and won’t publish any other sensationalist, lesbian-baiting headli—goddammit.

Mistweeted Identity

What Happened: Twitter took action against a suspected ISIS leader. Only problem was, they had the wrong guy.

Where It Blew Up: Twitter, blogs

What Really Happened: As the world careens towards disaster, you can’t really blame Twitter for wanting to take some kind of action to help in the fight against terror. What you can do is blame them for taking the fight against terror to the wrong target, as happened when the service temporarily suspended the account of Iyad El-Baghdadi, believing him to be a leader of ISIS despite the fact that his profile clearly states that he is, in fact, an Arab Spring activist expelled from the United Arab Emirates.

The suspension follows El-Baghdadi being misidentified as ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi by an Indonesian news organization, something that led to Iyad El-Baghdadi to demand an apology on Twitter … shortly before his ability to post tweets was taken away from him.

The mistake was reported across the globe, but that wasn’t enough to make Twitter apologize for the error, it seems:

The Takeaway: Of course, this isn’t the only undeserved suspension Twitter has pulled in recent days. On the one hand, at least it’s trying to be proactive about hate speech. On the other, it’s doing a very bad job of it based on this evidence.

How to Make Twitter Almost 100 Times Better? Increase The Word Count By Almost 100 Times, Obviously

What Happened: What if Twitter’s character limit went from 140 to 10,000? Those of you who picked “disaster,” are probably right.

Where It Blew Up: Twitter, blogs, media think pieces

What Really Happened: Speaking of Twitter making unwise decisions, it emerged this week that the company was considering allowing users to post longer messages on the service. As in 10,000 characters long. (That’s the same length as the new direct message limit, for those wondering why that figure.)

Of course, the idea spawned countless think pieces, as well as plenty of speculative and analytic posts. But what did the people who actually use Twitter think of the idea?

This will clearly be a success, then.

The Takeaway: Judging from the response, the very idea of expanding the character limit on Twitter is something that few (if any) who use the service actually want. Which means it’ll probably happen sooner than the ability to edit tweets after posting them.

The Gender Bias Awakens

What Happened: For those wondering how to bring about gender equality in movie merchandise, the answer appears to be “tweet a letter from a child who doesn’t know any better.”

Where It Blew Up: Twitter, blogs, media think pieces

What Really Happened: The lack of toys for female characters in big genre movies is, sadly, nothing new; both Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Age of Ultron were accompanied with social media hashtags asking #WheresGamora and #WheresBlackWidow, respectively. It was sadly no surprise, then, that Star Wars: The Force Awakens came with a #WheresRey movement on social media, but what is surprising is that Hasbro actually replied this time.

The problem wasn’t that Rey—spoilers, the main character in the movie—wasn’t represented in action figure lines or other merchandise, as might be cynically expected (true, she could be on more, but that’s a conversation for another day). Instead, it was that Rey was missing from the new Force Awakens edition of Star Wars: Monopoly, which instead featured Kylo Ren and Finn from the new movie. And, specifically, it was that Rey’s absence from that game prompted the following tweet:

The sadness of an eight-year-old is hard to ignore, and soon enough, many mainstream outlets were asking where’s Rey? So many, in fact, that Hasbro responded.

The official Hasbro statement reads, in full, “We love the passion fans have for Rey, and are happy to announce that we will be making a running change to include her in the Monopoly: Star Wars game available later this year. The Star Wars: Monopoly set was released in September, months before the movie’s release, and Rey was not originally included to avoid revealing a key plot line that she takes on Kylo Ren and joins the Rebel Alliance. Rey is featured in the following Star Wars games: Hands Down, Guess Who and Chess as well as our 6-inch Black Series figures, 3 3/4-inch Figures and Vehicles, Black Series Titanium and Micromachines. Additionally, fans will see more Rey product hitting store shelves this month, including 6-inch and 12-inch Rey action figures. We are thrilled with the popularity of this compelling character and will continue to look for ways to showcase Rey across all of our product lines.”

Putting aside the idea that it would’ve been a spoiler to suggest that Rey joined the Resistance and took on Kylo Ren, this is pretty much a win for all involved. Certainly, Carrie Goldman, the mother of the eight-year-old in question, thought so:

The Takeaway: On the plus side, Star Wars: Monopoly will soon have the lead character of The Force Awakens. On the minus, really: Why wasn’t she there from the start? That spoiler excuse really doesn’t make that much sense, when you think about it.


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