In many ways, there are no real rules on the internet. As long as your behavior is relatively legal, people are free to say and do just about anything about others with very few ramifications. Even the very wealthy and powerful run into occasions where they are powerless to stop the internet from making fun of them, which is what President Barack Obama and superstar Beyonce Knowles both learned this week.Taking Aim At The President
In February 2013, in an attempt to assuage GOP critics who are wary about the president's stance on gun control, the White House released a publicity photograph of the president shooting a rifle. By showing that Obama enjoys skeet shooting at Camp David, they thought it would soften his critics' hearts and show that the president is just like them.
Even though the White House released an official statement along with the photo, urging people not to use the image in a negative manner and not to manipulate it in any way, the people of the interwebz responded with a resounding, "No." Within hours of issuing the statement and photo, countless Photoshopped images of the president hit the web.
As usual, the 'shopped images ranged from the political to the absurd, and in spite of the U.S. government's warning not to make fun of the Commander and Chief, that's exactly what people did.It's a free country
A similar nose-thumbing incident took place after BuzzFeed published this post about how "fierce" Beyonce Knowles was during her performance at the Super Bowl halftime show. The post was complimentary in nature, however the still shots and photos from Beyonce's performance were far from attractive.A Publicist's Plea
The day after the post went live, Beyonce's publicist sent BuzzFeed an email asking them to remove seven pictures from the post that Beyonce's camp deemed "unflattering." Sensing a chance to capitalize on the situation, BuzzFeed promptly made a new post called, The "Unflattering" Photos Beyonce's Publicist doesn't want you to see. Why? Because big controversy means big page views, and page views mean big money.
Just as the Obama shooting meme was taking off, the funny Photoshoppers of the world cracked their knuckles and got to work on those unflattering photos of Beyonce. Before the day was done, pictures of Beyonce's weird faces had been turned into She-Hulk, weight lifters, wrestlers, and more. Once again keeping its finger on the pulse of the web, BuzzFeed's next move was to compile all of those funny Photoshops of the unflattering Beyonce pictures into a new article.
The Best of The Internet's Response to Beyonce's Unflattering Photos hit the web on February 7, 2013, causing Beyonce's publicist's plan to backfire in a very public, and a very hilarious way. Now, not only were people laughing at the ugly pictures and resulting Photoshops, but they were also laughing because a publicist tried to put a muzzle on the internet, which just isn't possible.
If the old saying, "There's no such thing as bad publicity" is true, perhaps the offended parties are the real winners in the long run. Images spread virally online, and even if the pictures are unflattering or derogatory, viral spread means that a lot more people will see them and think of them. Never underestimate the power of internet notoriety.All In Good Fun
In most cases, these internet hijinks are meant to amuse and entertain, not denigrate or slander. Plus, there's nothing the web likes better than a celebrity who can laugh at him or herself. Hopefully Beyonce and Obama don't have any hard feelings. There really are no losers in this kind of situation, and most importantly, asking the internet not to be a trickster is like asking a dog not to bark or wag his tail.