An article on popular website BuzzFeed has launched the biggest internet controversy since cats vs. dogs. In an article entitled, "The Secrets Of The Internet's Most Beloved Viral Marketer," written by BuzzFeed contributing writer Jack Stuef, Oatmeal creator Matthew Inman is so thoroughly and inaccurately vilified that Inman himself responded with a scathing rebuttal.Fighting Words
In his article, Stuef points out that Inman recently came under fire for making a "rape joke" in one of his comics. Though Inman has a long history of putting a comedic slant on controversial issues, Stuef paints Inman as someone who plays it safe and panders to both his audience and his advertisers. Stuef contests that Inman is nothing more than a viral marketer with a background in Search Engine Optimization, (SEO), who only writes comics based on web trends and themes that have proven traction with internet readers.Finding Faults, Not Facts
Perhaps the most laughable part about Stuef's insulting and badly-researched tirade is when he points to a personal profile on a website in order to drive home his point about Inman's personal life and political leanings. Sadly, this profile was not created by Inman at all, and due to Stuef's blatant lack of research, he published an article with actual lies and falsities that call his entire article, and indeed the entire website's journalistic integrity, into question. You see, even the most casual Oatmeal fan has gleaned some personal information about Inman from his social media presence and countless media interviews.The Truth
Here's what anyone who has ever casually browsed The Oatmeal's website, Facebook, and Twitter pages can tell you: He is a 30-something hipster-type who lives in Seattle, Washington. He is not married, though he has mentioned a girlfriend. He is slim, athletic, wears Chuck Taylors, and has a dog, but no children. He is a Democrat who supported Barack Obama during the 2012 election. Most notably, he is just as blown away by his own success as anyone else is, and when he updates his Facebook page, his tone is sincere, friendly, and completely transparent. This is the real Matthew Inman addressing his legions of fans, not some intern or staff member representing a brand.Pageview Journalism
In his article, Stuef suggests that Inman earning money for his work is some sort of nefarious undertaking. As Inman points out in his response, this suggestion is ironic considering that it's coming from BuzzFeed, whose entire business plan is to earn money via viral content. When Stuef chose to rip Inman apart on BuzzFeed, he knew that doing so would bring in massive traffic to the site and earn him money every time someone clicked on his article. Do we have a pot calling the kettle black situation here?
Stuef is no doubt regretting his article today, as Inman has responded with a lengthy post that not only rebukes Stuef's points one by one, but also points out some rather unpleasant and embarrassing facts about Stuef's own twisted career path and noteworthy lack of good taste. Inman dug up a little dirt of his own about Stuef, who apparently got fired from his former writing job because he made inappropriate and offensive remarks about Sarah Palin's young son, who has Downs Syndrome. Ouch.Misfire, Backfire, You're Fired
Inman has repeatedly used his massive internet clout to raise money for charitable causes. He admits in his response to Stuef that he spent a good portion of his earnings on purchasing a new home for his sister and her children, and most of The Oatmeal's staff members are retired friends of his mother. In short, he's a good guy, he's funny, and there's a reason why he and his work are popular.
Stuef's article, while intending to point out the flaws of one of the internet's most beloved web comedians, has shed light on Inman's virtues instead. Stuef managed to make himself and BuzzFeed look like hacks who use incendiary and false remarks to get clicks. Instead of calling Inman's rape joke under fire, they've initiated a backlash from Inman, angry fans, and readers who are incensed that a "journalist" can print bold-faced lies about someone whose actions have been beyond reproof.
Let this story serve as a cautionary tale; if you mess with The Oatmeal, prepare to take your lumps.