Blame the collision of Friday the 13th and Mercury being in retrograde—not to mention the sad news that The Toast was closing—but it’s been a particularly combative week on this most Inter of nets. In comments sections, on social media, even on auction sites, people were spoiling for a virtual fight even more than usual; the best anyone could do was keep their head down and hope to make it to the weekend. But now that we’ve all made it, there might be things that you missed along the way. No problem; that’s why we’re here.

The Most Hated Man in America Regains His Crown

What Happened: In case you’d retained the barest shred of faith in humanity, George Zimmerman is trying to auction off the gun he used to kill teenager Trayvon Martin back in 2012.

Where It Blew Up: Twitter, blogs

What Really Happened: There really isn’t much preamble needed before we get to the terrible, so let’s just say it: George Zimmerman is trying to auction off the gun he used to kill Trayvon Martin.

You remember Zimmerman, right? He’s the guy who fatally shot the unarmed teenager in 2012, only to initially escape prosecution because of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. Later, following outcry, he was charged with murder by a special prosecutor, only to be acquitted for lack of evidence and then blame President Obama for having “overstretched, overreached [and] even broke the law in certain aspects.” In other words, great guy.

He’s also a broke guy, which led him to putting the 9mm gun up for auction earlier this week. According to the initial auction notice on, Zimmerman was “honored and humbled to announce the sale of an American Firearm Icon.” Furthermore, he wrote, “Many have expressed interest in owning and displaying the firearm including The Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. This is a piece of American History.” Anything to say about this, Twitter?

It should be pointed out that Zimmerman’s claim about those expressing interest in buying the gun turned out to be—shockingly!—untrue:

Treyvon Martin’s father responded to the auction announcement with a surprisingly restrained statement:

Less restrained, surprisingly, was the site where Zimmerman was trying to auction the weapon, which pulled the listing before the auction even started. “Our site rules state that we reserve the right to reject listings at our sole discretion, and have done so with the Zimmerman listing,” explained in a statement. “We want no part in the listing on our web site or in any of the publicity it is receiving.”

Zimmerman then relisted the weapon on the site of United Gun Group, which then also rejected it, explaining in its own statement, “Our mission is to esteem the 2nd amendment and provide a safe and secure platform for firearms enthusiasts and law-abiding citizens; our association with Mr. Zimmerman does not help us achieve that objective.” However, they later reversed that decision, allowing the auction to proceed… only for it to get swamped by trolls driving the price up with obviously fake accounts. At time of writing, the top bid is $65 million.

The Takeaway: As has been pointed out, there are some more dependable ways for Zimmerman to profit off his actions:

Farrow the Leader

What Happened: Woody Allen’s son penned a column taking his dad to task for sexual abuse. The Internet responded—which is good, because Woody Allen won’t.

Where It Blew Up: Twitter, media think pieces

What Really Happened: With Woody Allen’s latest movie, Café Society, debuting at Cannes, his son Ronan Farrow wrote a guest column for the Hollywood Reporter about his sister Dylan’s allegations of sexual abuse against their father, and the media’s unwillingness to address them, much less treat Allen as a sexual abuser.

“That kind of silence isn’t just wrong. It’s dangerous,” he wrote. “It sends a message to victims that it’s not worth the anguish of coming forward. It sends a message about who we are as a society, what we’ll overlook, who we’ll ignore, who matters and who doesn’t.”

It didn’t have the kind of impact Farrow would have wanted, at least initially:

That’s not to say Farrow’s comments didn’t spread across the Internet; there were plenty of think pieces published in response, and Twitter was hardly silent on the subject:

Oh, and there was certainly some impact: the Hollywood Reporter was banned from an Allen event at Cannes, with Allen’s publicist, Leslee Dart, explaining, “It’s only natural that I would show displeasure when the press—in this case, The Hollywood Reporter—goes out of its way to be harmful to my client.”

But at least Allen would be forced to address the allegations after all of this, right? Right? “I’ve said all I can say about it,” he was quoted as saying by the New York Times. “I have so moved on that I never think about it. I work, I do my movies and hope that people like them.”

The Takeaway: Jen Kirkman, I think you can sum things up here:

The KISS Smarmy

What Happened: Speaking of the dearly departed Purple One, here’s a quick question. Imagine you’re a faded rock star and you feel the need to comment on the death of Prince. Do you (a) say something about his genius and how he’ll be missed, or (b) something reductive and insulting to the man and his fans? Gene Simmons chose wrong.

Where It Blew Up: Twitter, blogs

What Really Happened: In a recent interview with Newsweek, Kiss frontman Gene Simmons got to talking about the death of Prince. He shouldn’t have.

“His drugs killed him. What do you think, he died from a cold?” Simmons said. “I think Prince was heads, hands and feet above all the rest of them. I thought he left [Michael] Jackson in the dust. Prince was way beyond that. But how pathetic that he killed himself. Don’t kid yourself, that’s what he did. Slowly, I’ll grant you… but that’s what drugs and alcohol is: a slow death.”

Of course, his comments quickly went viral, with even Simmons’ bandmate Paul Stanley seemingly stunned by what the singer had said:

Still, that was a nicer response than the rest of Twitter was able to muster:

Simmons took to Twitter to apologize for his comments, writing, “I was raised in a culture/crowd where drug addicts were written off as losers, and since that’s the narrative I grew up with, it’s been hard to change with the times”:

The Takeaway: Of course, everyone upset about Simmons’ comments was forgetting one important element:

A Sinking YACHT

What Happened: A band pretended that someone had leaked their sex tape to the Internet, but even as the sympathy and support was coming in, there were signs that all wasn’t as it seemed.

Where It Blew Up: Twitter, media think pieces

What Really Happened: On Monday, indie Band YACHT took to Facebook to announce that a sex tape featuring band members Jona Bechtolt and Claire L. Evans had been leaked online due to “a series of technological missteps and one morally abject person,” and that they were seeking legal action against the latter. (Disclosure: Evans has written for WIRED.) Hours later, they updated the situation by saying that they were so empowered by the outpouring of support—which was overflowing in the comments sections of both posts—that they would be selling the sex tape themselves online.

“This video is out there now,” they reasoned. “We can’t change that. But we can try to be ‘as YACHT as possible’ about it and take some kind of ownership over what has happened. So we’re asking you one thing: if you feel like you 100% have to see this tape, don’t stream it on some tube site, or download a torrent. Instead, we beg of you to download the video, Louis C.K.-style, directly from us.”

If that decision seems a little fishy to you, it should. It did, after all, seem fishy to someone with experience with leaked sex tapes:

Things got even more suspicious when anyone attempting to buy the tape got an error message, and found that their card hadn’t been charged. But apparently, some celebrity friends of the band had managed to purchase it…

So here’s the thing: it was all a hoax to promote the band’s new release. An initial statement from the band—which, like both Facebook posts, has been deleted—explained that “we created a story that was quickly revealed as fiction by the internet. We expected interest, skepticism, and laughter. We didn’t anticipate the outpouring of genuine support, due partially to the credulity with which this story was so extensively and immediately reported.” Take that, media, for not immediately assuming that people were lying about having been victimized by someone leaking a private sex tape!

Well, not to worry; stories about how shitty and insensitive the hoax was were soon all over the Internet, to make up for it. On Twitter, the response was similarly disapproving:

How bad was this, on a PR front? Bad enough that the band’s PR firm distanced itself from the whole thing publicly in a series of tweets:

In one final Facebook post (the only one that remains, unsurprisingly), the band offered a mea culpa of sorts: “The reaction to this endeavor highlights a glaring error we made in positioning ourselves as the victims of a leaked sex tape. We understand that positioning it that way from the beginning was an egregious mistake, and are so ashamed we hadn’t considered this beforehand,” the post began, continuing, “We take full responsibility for what has happened, and we are truly sorry. We know we’ve broken a bond of trust with many of our fans and friends. Thank you to those that called us out and helped us to understand the gravity of the mistake we made. We should not have hinged this entire project on the fiction that we were the victims of a leaked tape, and we’re equally disappointed in ourselves for taking so long to get over being shocked at the response and write this apology. After all is said and done, of course you should be mad at us. We’re mad at us too.”

The Takeaway: If only David Caruso could wrap this one up for us…

A #Curry Response to a Banks Shot

What Happened: Azealia Banks’ latest Twitter beef went too far for the service, ending up with her account suspended—while also launching a new hashtag identifier for Indian women across the Internet.

Where It Blew Up: Twitter, media think pieces

What Really Happened: Azaelia Banks’ tendency to feud with other celebrities online is so well-known that there are online resources devoted to it—so maybe it shouldn’t have been a surprise when she turned her attention towards former One Direction singer Zayn Malik earlier this week. What was surprising, though, was how racist and homophobic she got. After suggesting that Malike’s new video had been influenced by her work, she called him a “faggot” and a “hairy curry scented bitch.” (Those were from two different now-deleted tweets. Not that it matters.)

Those tweets prompted multiple responses. Firstly, it turned Twitter against Banks just about unanimously—a rare feat. Secondly, it got Banks’ Twitter account shut down, prompting all kinds of negative media coverage that money can’t buy. Thirdly, it led to the cancellation of her headline gig at an upcoming London music festival, with organizers releasing a statement that the festival was “created for EVERYONE. We celebrate inclusivity and equality.”

Most wonderfully, though, it led to Indian women reclaiming the insult “curry scented bitch” as a hashtag of pride on Twitter:

Meanwhile, Banks tried to return to Twitter with a second account that also got suspended, before taking to Instagram for a series of posts that promised an essay called “Whiteness Is A Mental Illness” before making her account private. This story will run and run, it seems…

The Takeaway: As terrible as Banks’ comments were, there’s something heartening about the speed with which people rhetorical-judoed her insults into a source of pride. Let’s take that as a moment of positivity; out here in the online wilds, those are few and far between.

Original article:  

While You Were Offline: We’re All Just So Tired of Horrible People