The ex-Congressman and convicted sex offender raises the question: can the commodification of shame really bring about ethical redemption?
It all started with a bit of bad luck. In 2012, an unflattering school yearbook photo of a teenager that was titled “Bad Luck Brian” went viral. The image became one of the most common memes of the 2010s, and its subject, Kyle Craven, the face of millions of jokes. But Craven’s photographic misfortune has now become a major financial gain – he and his friend, who uploaded the image, ended up selling the original meme for $36,000, as an NFT.
The NFT meme boom is now in full swing, with the forgotten stars of the 2010s selling their infamy for sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars. NFTs – non-fungible tokens – are certificates of ownership for digital items, verified through blockchain technology (essentially a digital ledger that tracks the finances attached to certain items). The woman featured in the Disaster Girl meme sold the original image for $473,000; the brothers who star in the “Charlie bit my finger” video sold the original clip for half a million pounds last week. Other subjects of derision from the late Noughties are starting to consider how much they could make if they converted the digital media that made them famous into NFTs.
Now, one of the most unlikely internet icons of the 2010s has hinted that he’ll be joining them: in a recent interview in the New York Times, ex-Congressman and failed New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner said he was thinking of “cashing in” on his public failures by turning his digital mistakes into NFTs.
Weiner first came to international prominence in 2011, after accidentally tweeting an explicit picture of himself originally meant for a private message. Alongside this tweet, other digital relics of Weiner’s past include embarrassing texts sent to mistresses …read more
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