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Scumbag Steve Is Self-Aware

About two weeks ago, the meme-loving Internet created the character of Scumbag Steve based upon the photo of the real-life Blake Boston. How is Blake coping with his newfound Internet fame? There have been growing pains, and unfortunately I'm partially to blame.

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  • Over the last two weeks, some former coworkers of mine at Know Your Meme and my current coworkers here at BuzzFeed have been in contact with Blake (we hope) and have had ring-side seats as the self-proclaimed Beantown mafioso has come to grips with his attention.

  • Know Your Meme's position in all of this has been a strict stance of documentation while trying not to interfere much with the meme's natural progression, much like Star Trek's prime directive. Ever since leaving Know Your Meme to work here at BuzzFeed, I've been indulging a bit in shaking up the natural order: actively promoting different memes and aiding in their spread. With Scumbag Steve I initially didn't want to get involved. But I had been watching as he made contact, reaching out to those who were writing about him, openly embracing the joke.

  • Blake Boston knew fully well that Scumbag Steve was simply the product of other people's past experiences with other shady looking individuals. He knew that the joke wasn't a personal attack on him, and he voiced it publicly.

  • That's when I got concerned. If Scumbag Steve is okay with being Scumbag Steve, then the attention could fade off quickly before really blowing up. Hoping to see Scumbag Steve to continue to grow, I told my colleagues that he should continue to give the people what they want: play the part of Scumbag Steve. But he continued to express that he thought the meme was funny. The real Blake Boston turned out to be a genuinely nice person without any plans to cultivate the persona that the internet wrote for him.

  • The problem here is that the real Blake Boston isn't what captured the internet's imagination. It was the character that everyone loved to hate. Ginger Youtuber Coppercab knew immediately how to retain his audience by consistently playing the popular villain (or self-imposed victim) which is exactly the strategy that Blake could have adopted to his own advantage.

  • Unfortunately while trying to give this advice to my colleagues, Blake came across my comments and took a great deal of offense. Was I being offensive? Sure. Rude? Absolutely. Was it even good advice? I don't know. Probably not. I often say things online that leads to unfortunate situations like what inspired the image above. That's a story for another day.

  • I think it might be too late at this point for Blake to do much more with the Steve character because the discourse happened in public and Urlesque's Nick Douglas has a great write-up on how it played out. Now the internet is completely aware of the line between the Scumbag Steve character and the unassuming, almost innocent Blake Boston, it seems like the story is coming to an end. By trying to help the victim of unintentional memehood take advantage of his role as an anti-hero and contribute to the controversy fueling the attention, it seems I've spoiled the meme like over-fertilizing a tomato plant. This is why we can't have nice things.

  • My hat's off to you, Blake Boston! I wish you nothing but the best. And to Scumbag Steve, I know that was you that walked off with my iPod after the party at my place last weekend. You'll get yours.