Michael Jackson died yesterday, RIP 4 Real, which is when Twitter did what Twitter does worst: go completely crazy. Look, I understand that people want to get the word out there, but there’s something about Twitter’s implication that everyone is a newsmaker that is ridiculous. Everyone is not a newsmaker. No offense! By the time the third “tweet” (which, incidentally, I am an adult, and having to use the word “tweet” makes me angry because come on) about any particular news story shows up on your fweed, just trust that people are finding out about this stuff. Relax, Brian Williams. And then came the barrage of Twittered Michael Jackson jokes, because the internet is nothing if not the classiest lady of dignity and class.

All of this came just days after the Twitter eruption over Iran. I’m not talking about the actual Twitter eruption over Iran as conducted by Iranians. I’m talking about the Brooklyn co-option of the Twitter eruption over Iran. Of course, you can’t really say anything too mean about people changing the color of their avatar in support of a totally worthwhile cause, because even if it is completely meaningless, hearts are in the right places. But also haha. Really? It is going to be so hard for everyone to change their avatars back to normal while people are still dying, literally dying, over there. But people are going to change their avatars back because they like their avatars, and the green is getting boring to them.

So there were also lots of jokes about that on Twitter last night, too, about how Iran must be so mad that Michael Jackson’s death has taken over the one democratic means of overt dissent. Or about how quickly people threw Iran into the garbage now that Michael Jackson died. You know, jokes. And anyway, all of this is just to say that the ridiculousness of Twitter and this strange convergence of events was captured in this video perfectly:

@Twitter, #LOL.

(Via TheAwl.)

Comments (43)
  1. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  2. i made the (brave) choice not to tweet about mj because it’s like a drop in the ocean… what’s the point?
    we’re all urchins.

  3. Have I mentioned HOW MUCH I HATE Twittter? Cause it’s a lot.

    STUPID ASS WEBSITE is a stupid ass website. I wish it had died fo real.

    But yeah. Iran did get totally SCREWED OVER. It sucks. And I don’t mean Twitter. I mean how EVERY FUCKIN WEBSITE is flooded with Jacko news. I don’t get why I should feel so sad. I mean, I’m bummed he died, but I DIDN’T KNOW the guy! His death doesn’t greatly affect me! And I think the news should be giving the muffled voices that are trying to speak out against oppressive forces an outlet for telling their fuckin story! We don’t sit around and CRY ABOUT ALL THE PEOPLE OVER THERE ACTUALLY DYING BECAUSE THEY JUST WANT A FAIR ELECTION!

    What the FUCK, America?

    • Lindsay’s departure was an earthquake that shaked Videogum so hard the polarity of An American Patriots comment ratings were reversed.

      • YEAH, I noticed that too. No one’s on the damn HATE TRAIN today. One of my posts is up to 50! PERSONAL BEST! Let’s just hope this fuckin earthquake didn’t cause R’lyeh to rise to the surface.

        That shit would suuuuuuuuuuuuck.

  4. The entire second paragraph made my day. I know someone who started wearing one of those fucking green ribbons and won’t shut up about “how good it feels”. Yeah, go ahead, make that noble sacrifice of pinning a piece of cloth to your shirt. The people of Iran thank you for your stunning contribution.

  5. Man (in the Mirror), that video was Bad.

    /punches self in stomach

  6. Between Lindsay’s impending departure from Videogum and this unfortunately timed (yet nevertheless still terrible) video, it’s safe to say that today’s the day the LOL died. Hold us, Gabe; it’s getting so very dark.

  7. I bet Mark Sanford is breathing a sigh of relief.

  8. couldnt agreed more, these gabe rants are fantastic

  9. i always thought this song was about masturbating. boy was i wrong.

  10. Ugh. I’m sure you’ve all had your fill of hackneyed, perfunctory commemorations, but I simply have to write something somewhere. I’m perfectly aware of how ultimately pointless and hollow a Videogum comment is, but at least it is not Twitter.

    I’m not one to uselessly ache over celebrity deaths, as I obviously suffer no true grief from their passing. This case is no different, yet something has shifted, simply because of the enormous influence Michael Jackson has had on my life. He was my childhood hero; the biggest musical and cultural touchstone in my youth; the very person who inspired me to ever start dancing. Dance has since become a part of my career and an inextricable part of my life.

    For what it’s worth (not very much), I hope that more people will remember Michael Jackson as an incredible performer and timeless musician, rather than an eccentric criminal defendant and tabloid cover-shot. Michael will continue to serve as a great inspiration and role model in my creative endeavors, and I anticipate that this will be the case for many others.

    Death of an icon. Perpetuation of a legacy.

    • At the word “dancing” my eyes shifted to your avatar an then your username to try to determine gender. Anyone else?

    • He will be remembered for his contributions. My rss feed is filled with people talking about MJ’s part in their life, and even people who are annoyed with the endless commentary still have something to say. They can’t help it. Today I drove past a little ghetto bar by my house and there was a giant sign that read “Michael Jackson tribute tonight. RIP.” And on Amazon their top 13 albums are all MJ’s.

      Michael Jackson is an icon. His influence has spanned many generations of people and no matter what fucked up shit may have happened in his later life, what he contributed to music, to dance, to music videos, and to you will not be forgotten or lessened.

  11. That’s your Mom’s mashup. She sends you Lots of Love! And call her. It’s no Hall and Oates with Keyboard cat, I guess, is it?

  12. Today, youtube replaced the featured Iranian videos for Michael Jackson featured videos… priorities

  13. Isn’t it possible that people are aware of both celebrity deaths and Iran? What’s with this crazy you’re either with it or not attitude? I watch the news. I have a slight grasp of the plight in Iran, and I stress SLIGHT because I am not in Iran. I can only understand, and try to hope that those people can come out as as democratic and not as under a militant dictatorship.

    I can also hope that Mexico will stop beheading police officers, and can make a turn around from the drug war like Columbia has.

    Also, hope for what coup d’etat is happening in the Honduras quells itself, and bring a peaceful revolution of some sort.

    I could say “RIP Farrah Fawcett” and have a new awareness of Anal cancer….I can do all of this while fucking listening to Thriller.

    So seriously, can we just admit that our generation and the one following us has been through a lot of historical shit and stop typing in caps on Twitter?!

    sorry I know this isn’t rantgum…but as Gob would say “OH C’MON.”

  14. Twitter? You mean “the people I personally choose to follow on Twitter?” Oh yeah, those people. Look, Gabe, I know you probably follow a lot of celebrities for professional reasons, but normal people don’t have to do that. You are your Twitter feed, and if it’s not you, then clean house. No big deal!

    And as to the Iran part: Sure, no one’s changing the world with their little green avatars in Brooklyn. I accept that, but like you might root for the football guys in Friday Night Lights, I like rooting for the Iranian protesters. And just like you like to point out racism that you find in popular web videos (which I love reading), I want to talk about Iran every once in a while. Maybe that’s selfish because I’m a nobody on this one (and most ones). I want that election nullified, and I’m glad there are already major cracks in the Supreme Leader’s aura of authority — and I think many westerners are helping in that effort. Not me with the occasional video link or observation, but OK. I’m talking primarily about real bloggers (Andrew Sullivan, that guy Nico at the Huffington Post who got to pose a question from an Iranian to Obama), and also Iranian Americans — there’s maybe 600-700K of them — who are still in contact with folks back home. We are the world and shit.

    Did you watch CNN two weekends ago? It was ridiculous. Larry King had the Jonas Brothers on while Tehran was in the midst of the biggest uprising in 30 years. On Sunday night they were replaying little 30 second chats with Amanpour from Saturday morning, after a whole new day of actual stuff had happened. No hourly updates from Tehran. They had no analysis about the results of the election, how Ahmadinejad had won every single locale by a suspiciously similar landslide. It was just “Some are calling the election results ‘fishy’. Others disagree.” Something’s gonna fill that void, and at the moment it’s the Twitter. That your friends have taken to reposting stories/videos and sharing their feelings about the situation is, yes, pretty inconsequential, but not completely. It would be a lot scarier if they weren’t.

    • Hey! I agree with you!

    • Hey trevor, I agree with you about it being great that Americans are even showing some semblance of awareness, even though I have a deep-seated loathing of awareness ribbons and bracelets in general, because honestly I found it hard to stomach headlines about Wimbledon when I was just dying to know the progress or lack thereof being made in Iran and alllllll the status updates except for a few ungodly self-righteous ones on Facebook were about tennis or soccer or something. And since I don’t Twitter, I take the general consensus of status updates on Facebook to be representative samples of the collective youth, to an extent. And it’s so discouraging to feel that even if the youth in America had any way whatsoever to affect change positively in Iran, none of them care or know anyway. So I do appreciate the green ribbons and avatars, to an extent. I wish that the protesters could know how much I don’t want them to give up, and sometimes I think our mere acknowledgments over here in the West help to encourage them even a little bit. (Dislike about the Friday Night Lights analogy though, but I won’t get into that.)

      • I agree with you to an extent, but speaking as somebody who had a soccer update on facebook the other day, the US national team had a pretty historic win against Spain. I am going to say something about it. I would love to help change the political atmosphere in Iran. I would also like to give my three or four friends on facebook who actually give a shit about soccer a virtual high five. I am in no way educated in Iranian politics to engage in punditry. Aren’t there other ways I can show support that aren’t so goddamned self serving.

    • Trevor, your engagement with the situation in Iran is commendable and beyond reproach, and I don’t think anyone, least of all I, ever suggested otherwise. But I’m also pretty sure none of my friends are actually sharing their thoughts and feelings about Iran over Twitter. They might be changing their avatars to the color green, but then they are getting back to the business at hand of reminding everyone what they had for lunch or playing some new #movietitlegame. The thing with inconsequential activism such as the Iranian-solidarity-green-Twitter-avatar movement is that, sure, it represents a certain level of interest in world events, kind of, but a) it is often the lowest possible investment, because it takes less time to change your avatar than it does to read a single news article about what’s actually happening, and b) it often allows the participant to opt out of any further engagement. You (not you, but one) have done your part. You stood up for freedom! Now, back to Michael Jackson jokes.

      And I’m not saying that everyone needs to be chaining themselves to bulldozers (the surest way to show that you care about a secular, democratic Iran?), and Lord knows I am the last person to talk about contributing to society. I’m a total waste. It just strikes me as achingly disingenuous when everyone jumps on a particular bandwagon that actually bears some relevance to a real thing that is happening and that is important in a way that is, especially in the case of this particular Twitter situation, almost completely aesthetic and without genuine merit.

      I agree 100 percent with your complaints about CNN, of course, but I do not think that is what this post was about.

      • Points taken. Generalities excused. The words that struck me were “coopt” and “meaningless.” Coopt is actually valid, it just set me off because it usually means “to steal in a vacant, culturally oblivious manner.” But literally, yup. Coopting their struggle. Meaningless? I don’t think so. I really do think paying attention and talking and sharing is a big deal. Sure, a lot of the time it’s slap a Free Tibet sticker on your car and then resume your hedonism. It’s certainly easy to complain about “activism,” and there’s a very good reason for that: most activities that activism comprises are undertaken for one’s self rather than for the putative “cause.” Definitely. But give the youths some credit every once in a while! Or at least, like, fall back! I’ll take engaged and ineffectual (but kinda trying) over jaded and ineffectual any day.

      • Gabe, you are the definitely of a GENTLEMAN.

      • I dunno, Gabe. I think it’s questionable to call something “inconsequential activism” and suggest that there’s such a thing as “consequential activism,” as if either thing was measurable.

        Isn’t there something to be said for bearing witness? The green avatars are an easy sort of activism, done by “1-click” as the program advertises, but they add up, right? If one person lazily considers Iran for just a moment, evaluates that the life he/she has right now, driving in an air-conditioned and sound-proofed vehicle to Starbucks (take your pick of cliches of the outrageous luxuries Americans enjoy), is at all privileged in comparison to other people’s hardships in other countries unidentifiable on a world map, isn’t that something beyond the alternative–nothing? Is the alternative of “nothing” better, if it is seems more “honest” and consistent with the ignorant reality of this hypothetical American person’s life? Dostoevsky used to say something to the effect of morality springing from the idea of making yourself a minor character in someone else’s story. I think when people consider the lives beyond themselves, even briefly and lazily as you describe it, it’s a good thing.

        A novel I liked, “Cloud Atlas,” ends with one of the most moral statements I’ve ever encountered. The narrator says that people will regard your life as meaningless, that “your life amounted to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean! Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?” It’s all drops, and drops are something. There’s my contribution to literarygum.

      • Hmm I kinda have to agree with Gabe on this one, to a point. As an Iranian American, I’ve grown up knowing the history of Iran (and the U.S.’s part in it) and my family is still there, so obviously it’s been hard for us. I can tell you that many Iranians look at the green ribbons and green avatars and such and say, “Really? Where were you in 1953? Or how about 79? 1999? No?” It’s a sort of “why do you care all of a sudden when we needed you for so long” feeling. The U.S.-backed Shah slaughtered his own people (threw my father in jail) and the Ayatollahs have been doing the same for 30 years. It’s definitely easy to wax poetic about romantic democratic notions and shout encouragement from across oceans when you aren’t the one having your house raided at 3am.

        That being said, young Iranians also greatly admire Americans, and I think they are just grateful that we are actually starting to pay attention to what’s been happening there for years. They do appreciate knowing that the world is on their side. They just hold grudges (rightly so) and don’t like Johnny come latelys (Johnnys come lately?) There’s my contribution to Iranianhistoryslashelectioncoveragegum.

        • That’s all fair enough. But most people following things on FB and Twitter aren’t old enough to remember 1979 much less 1953. I’m old as shit but I was only 6 in 1979, I didn’t know Iran existed. My world was big wheels and star wars. So cut the kids some slack. Again I take your points I don’t mean to argue with you but when you’re genuinely trying to support people you don’t like to hear “where were you last time.” Especially when you weren’t even born yet.

          Obviously it’s complicated and messy cuz, like you know, human nature ‘n shit. We’re full of contradictory beliefs and emotions.

    • Nothing wrong with fotbal updates, it is a big deal for US soccer to beat Spain. However what’s happening in Iran is much more important. The outcome of the uprising will have major effects on the whole world. If the people are successful and win a free gov’t that region will much safer and maybe we can draw down our presence there some more. It would also let Israel take a breath and not worry about getting nuked. Whatever people think of Israel I think it’s safe to say that it is better if they feel less threatened.

  15. Talk about irony.

  16. My problem with that video: the soundtrack made me feel like what is going on in Iran is wicked awesome, which it isn’t.

  17. It’s interesting, the other day I was looking at all the Michael Jackson stuff that was still in the trending topics and I was wondering who could still be talking about him so much. After clicking on it, I realized that most of the “people” still “talking” about Michael Jackson are spambots. As in “CHECK OUT MY SEXY NEW PICS LOL -tinyurl- #ripmichaeljackson #iranelection #trueblood”

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