One photographer.One ridiculously photogenic guy. One Internet.
Let’s not kid ourselves: you know who Zeddie Little is - otherwise, why the hell are you here? If the name doesn’t ring a bell, maybe the face will. He’s that gorgeous bastard with the perfect smile and the flowing hair that’s been invading your twitter/facebook/reddit/whatever site-you-usually-procrastinate-with feed under the titile of ‘Ridiculously Photogenic Guy’. In the past few days, this completely random man who happened to smile into a camera during a marathon has become synonymous within the internet community with absolute perfection and desirability. Through no effort of his own, he has gone viral and become a meme, something which millions of people hitting themselves in the nuts and posting it on youtube attempt to achieve every day.
He is not the only one: several other examples of perfectly ordinary folk who suddenly became internationally famous faces come to mind. People who follow the strange humor trend that is the world of memes will be familiar with a guy we call ‘Good Guy Greg’, a friendly-looking balding man smiling at the camera and smoking a joint. In the same way that Little has risen to fame as ‘The Perfect Man’, ‘Good Guy Greg’’s is a face we will automatically associate with kindness and generosity. In perfect keep with his character, the real man behind the photo has never tried to take advantage of his fame and remains quite elusive. However, internet fame is not always something as flattering. Spare a second for Good Guy Greg’s antithesis, Scumbag Steve, a man who has become so intrinsically linked to dickishness that his hat has spawned a series of memes of its own. Unlike his joint-smoking counterpart, the real man behind the meme made himself known as Blake Boston, a normal guy who was initially very much upset and confused at having become the most hated guy on the internet. But as this interview shows, even such negative example of immediate internet celebrity can be very much beneficial. Following his online success, Boston has received offers for musical projects –he’s into rapping- and thousands of hits on his songs. Let us remind ourselves that this man’s only claim to fame is having a picture taken of him by his mother. Of course, there are cases like last year’s infamous ‘musical’ phenomenon Rebecca Black, a young 13 year old girl whose rich parents had simply bought her a music video because that’s a thing you can do, and who overnight became one of the most hated people on the planet. It was easy to pity her as millions of people consumed a serious, burning rage against her for no particular reason and proceeded to insult, threaten, and bully a young girl because she happened to star in a s****y video. But more than anything, I pity Rebecca Black in the same way that I pity Blake Boston and that I will perhaps come around to pitying Zeddie Little, depending on how well he chooses to handle his fame: these people now believe they have a genuine claim to stardom. Do any of you remember Rebecca Black’s second single, My Moment? If the answer is yes, then you, as myself, spend far too much time online for your own good and should get out more. If the answer is no, that’s probably because it was terrible, and this time, nobody cared. There is nothing sadder and more cringe-worthy than watching this teenage girl actually believe that she has a chance at a musical career because one of her videos was considered funny once. I don’t say this to be mean, I say this because I genuinely feel for her. Because, like every single one of us, she has dreamt of fame and fortune at some point in her life, but unlike every single one of us, a bunch of strangers on the internet have given her a taste of that dream and made it so much more difficult for her to grow up and accept that she’ll never be more than a meme, an joke that by nature will explode and die out completely in a matter of weeks.
So, back to our ridiculously handsome marathon runner. So far he seems to be dealing with his fame in the most modest and adorable of fashions, answering people’s tweets and claiming ‘I’m not a celebrity guys, I’m just a normal person!’, which is only reinforcing the internet’s crush on this man. Hopefully, when the joke dies out in a couple of days/weeks (which it inevitably will), Zeddie Little will be able to return to his normal life with nothing but a couple of strangers recognizing him in the street once in a while and a funny story to tell his grandkids about the time Grandpa’s head was photoshopped onto Jesus Christ. However, given his level of fame, I wouldn’t be surprised if we ended up seeing more of him under the form of advertising, sponsored viral videos, or anything of the sort. Hell, he could even sell a couple t-shirts. And that’s what bugs me slightly. Don’t get me wrong, I find it as impossible to dislike this man as anybody else, but doesn’t it seem a bit…off?
We are always complaining about the fame-worshipping society we live in, where people can become instantly famous by going on a reality show and being the biggest sleaze imaginable, or releasing a sex tape, or simply having famous parents (often those end up being combined). Sure, most of these internet celebrities have done nothing wrong, and they haven’t asked for it, but isn’t it slightly weird that we’re just handing it to them anyways? The thing that gets to us when we see a talentless teenager dressed like a garbage truck making millions is the fact that they are talentless. We think ‘They can’t do anything I can’t do, why am I not rich? Why don’t I have a TV show and a book deal?’. So why are we doing this, making random people famous, even worshipping them, if we know that they have no talent whatsoever except maybe making a good/funny picture? And it’s worse if the person in question seems like a perfectly likeable and reasonable individual like Little, because we are only giving them a taste of the fame, enough for them to want it, knowing that we’ll take it back as soon as we think the meme has been overused. So by the time the media tries to use his image to their advantage, he will have become ‘too mainstream’ and then we will reject him and place him in the back of our minds as one of those things that was really big one time but that we don’t want to hear about anymore. Because let’s face, we the Internet, as a collective, are a bit of an asshole.
Unless of course I’m wrong and Zeddie Little proves us all wrong by being the man who was so beautiful the Internet never got tired of him. I mean, come on, just look at that face.