Gwyneth Paltrow can elude street-level detractors by dyeing her hair brown, but there’s really nowhere online for celebrities to hide. As if to counteract the all-consuming ooze of Oscar and Golden Globe ‘buzz,’ anti-celebrity rage sites have proliferated on the Web, subjecting icons like Britney Spears and Pokémon to a bewildering array of TORTURE and humiliation scenarios—once again confirming the old adage that in cyberspace, everyone can hear you scream. While gratuitous celebrity-dissing in the corporate media domain rarely ventures beyond veiled insults and telling sidelong glances, on the Net the general rule of thumb is: Desecrate idols in as loud and visually disconcerting a way as possible, and watch the page-hit counter go crazy.
In navigating this domain of anti-celeb spleen, it’s best to start off light—say, with a visit to the Celebrity Dartboard http://www.fabland.co.uk/celebdarts/index.html
This week’s guest target is none other than Virgin Mega-head Richard Branson, whose selection is justified with characteristically specious references to his lush lifestyle and the occasional tendency of his high-speed “Virgin trains” to crash into other, slower-moving trains: “After screwing up the rail system of this country so much, he deserves it. Maybe the darts will puncture his overinflated ego.” By contrast, the Media Dunk Tank, at http://www.four-corners.com/welcome4.html (which requires a download), gives visitors the chance to toss a ball, hit a target, and plunge a rotating roster of cartoon celebrities, from Sharon Stone to Rush Limbaugh, in a vat of acid. The fun of the game is somewhat eroded by the incessant, catharsis-denying carnival music. Meanwhile, there’s evidently an entire subculture of people who see Pokémon as Japanese payback for Hiroshima, and they’ve established a home at www.mustbedestroyed.com. There, Pokémon haters vote on whether the annoying creatures should be dropped from a 10-story building into a blender, thrown into a giant industrial fan, or crushed on a bed of nails. To drive home the point, the site also features a Quicktime video of Pikachu being eviscerated in what appears to be a branch slicer.
It’s an online world of pain and retribution that Yahoo!, always the thoughtful search engine, places at your fingertips via its Interactive Celebrity Violence Directory http://dir.yahoo.com/ Recreation/Games/Computer_Games/ Internet_Games/Web_Games/Celebrities/. Divided into such user-friendly categories as Killing, Picture Warping, and Punching, Yahoo! links celeb-haters to premium sites like Anti-Pschutt, Inc. http://api.vclub.com, whose Webmaster, D. Mentia, proudly claims to be “at the forefront of internet pseudo-violence.” API’s main issues are with those who “raise celebrities to the levels of Gods and make religions and martyrs from fan clubs and groupies”; the clever site allows users to choose among hostile acts: clothing the Spice Girls, feeding Kate Moss until she explodes, or punching Drew Barrymore. Just click on the photo images and watch their progressive deterioration.
On a softer note (believe it or not), log on to www.whowouldyoukill.com, which boasts a Nick-at-Nite-meets-Son-of-Sam formula in which visitors choose the most expendable character on famous TV shows. In this community of loathing, you may find that you’re not alone in singling out Carmine (a/k/a “The Big Ragu”) as the human sacrifice of choice on Laverne and Shirley. For the most surreal celebrity death spectacle imaginable, watch Britney Spears meet her end in an Evel Knievel-monster truck conflagration brought to you by Assassin http://www.newgrounds.com/assassin/spears/index.html, celebrity-death purveyors whose mantra is “Remember, the dumber they think you are, the more surprised they’ll be when you kill them!”
Given all the sweat, tears, and Java script it takes to mount and maintain a rage site, online celebrity-bashing begs the question: is it really hate, or just the angry side of love? Actually, anti-celeb sites are often at odds with themselves, given that they seek the same type of celebrity they decry—albeit a darker, more misanthropic fame derived almost entirely from assailing other people.