Who was the first Internet celebrity?
Long before the Numa Numa guy and the Star Wars Kid became the stuff of legend, the Internet was making unwitting celebrities of ordinary people. Let's meet four people who got a lot more than their 15 minutes of fame, and experienced the power of the Internet to change a life forever. You never know... the next cyber celebrity may be YOU. Read on!
Mahir Cagri Kisses You
Late in 1999, a Turkish teacher named Mahir Cagri had a friend put up a simple website with some photos and personal commentary which began with "Welcome To My Home Page!!!!!!!!! I Kiss You!!!!!" But due to a "trick of technology", things spiraled out of control and Mahir ended up in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most visits to a personal homepage, with an estimated 12 million hits.
Perhaps the whole truth will never be known, but Mahir claims that his page was copied, modified without his consent and before long the "I Kiss You" guy was famous enough to be spoofed on the Saturday Night Live comedy show, and later in the Borat movie.
Craig Shergold - Still Getting Carded
Although Mahir Cagri may claim to be the world's first Internet celebrity, Craig Shergold beat him by ten years. In 1989, Craig was a 10 year old boy hospitalized with a brain tumor. His doctor noted the abundance of get-well cards strung up above his hospital bed, and he suggested he go for the Guiness Book of Records.
A family friend contacted local companies and newspapers to get the campaign rolling. Within months, over a million cards had been received. At some point, the campaign started spreading by email and cards began to pour in by the ton, year after year. Even though Craig was cured in 1991 and his family made public appeals for the cards to stop, their pleas were no match for the power and longevity of the email chain letter.
Over the next 15 years, over a hundred million cards were received from well-wishers who believed they were helping to grant the wish of a dying child. In reality, they were filling the recycle bins in and around Carshallton, Surrey, UK. The Craig Shergold chain letter morphed and spawned a wave of "sick child" emails that have caused untold grief to other families who were the targets of pranksters, as well as financial harm to charities such as the Make A Wish Foundation. Read more about it here:
"There is no try..."
In November 2002 a 15-year-old in Quebec was having a little fun, videotaping himself practicing his Star Wars light saber technique. Ghyslain never intended for his video to be seen by anyone, but most unfortunately he had borrowed the videotape from a friend. After returning the cassette, his friends discovered the contents and uploaded it to Kazaa, the popular file-sharing service.
Millions of people downloaded the funny but embarassing video and Ghyslain became The Star Wars Kid, and another unwilling celebrity. His parents are suing the families of the classmates who uploaded the video, and the poor kid is under psychiatric care. More here:
The Daily News calls Gary Brolsma's performance "like William Hung channeling the Star Wars Kid." It's another case of home videos taking on a life of their own, and embarassing the heck out of a teenage boy. Gary videotaped himself expertly lip-synching the words to a Romanian pop song, while performing an arm-flailing, eyebrow- twitching dance -- without ever leaving his chair.
Well, he DID upload the video to the Internet all by himself. So don't cry too many tears for this guy. Read the story and see the video here:
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 17 Jun 2005
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Who was the first Internet celebrity? (Posted: 17 Jun 2005)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved