My Day of Reckoning: I Claimed the @DirtyDancingABC Twitter Two Years Ago and Finally Faced the Internet’s Wrath Last Night
4:59:57. 4:59:58. 4:59:59.
The sound pierces through the click-clacks of the office keyboards. It’s a signal — a long-awaited hallelujah — proclaiming that yet another workday has, mercifully, concluded.
“Here,” the text from your wife reads. She has to pick you up from work because you only have one car.
She has a bad cold so you just kiss her on the cheek after getting in the car, but if she were healthy you’d kiss her on the lips because you’re married.
It’s hot: almost 100 degrees, with the temperature showing no signs of relenting even as the sunset approaches.
“Good golly, it’s hot,” you think.
A short car ride later and you find yourself in a gym locker room, in an attempt to blow off the steam accumulated over your long day of typing.
You’re surrounded by fully nude men and a bunch of children who are going to the pool.
One of the fully nude men is kinda pulling his butt apart while peeing into a urinal. He doesn’t even have sandals on and he’s just standing at the urinal like it’s normal to be all bareassed and -footed. Isn’t that gross? Honestly I don’t mind that he’s naked, but he’s gonna get a fungus or something and he’s naked to boot. Dang.
Another piercing shriek of the phone, another notification — but this one unexpected, this one, off schedule. You look down, and to your horror see this:
This is the terrifying reality you faced last night.
Your day of reckoning is here.
MY day, that is. My day of cosmic retribution. My call to answer for my sins. My crucifixion.
This is my story.
Two-ish Years Ago
Okay, I’m gonna stop writing like that.
About two years ago, I contributed to a now-defunct Onion sister-site called “StarWipe.” It was around for less than a year. I had a fun time doing it, though, and 6 or 7 times I even got to cash a check that said “The Onion” at the top, which was always a genuine thrill.
Basically, the site was a TMZ-style takeoff on celebrity gossip, with all its topical headlines rooted in that day’s stories. I was an email contributor, which meant that 5 days a week I could send in 5 headline pitches, and 1 day a week I could send in 10 “feature” pitches. Generally, I tried to pitch every single day.
In practice, this meant that, each weeknight, I would comb through http://people.com/news/, http://ew.com/news, and http://usweekly.com/todays-news (among a few others), pick out a few stories, and write a bitchy little joke about it.
On December 8, 2015, I wrote a headline about this story: http://ew.com/article/2015/12/08/dirty-dancing-abc/. Sometimes, StarWipe did “stunty” kinds of stuff that went outside its typical format (one time, for instance, they sent a picture of Jared Fogle to OJ Simpson in prison (?)) , so I thought maybe I’d try something like that to get in on the fun.
My pitch was: “Dirty Dancing” Reboot Ordered to TV, and we Snagged up the @DirtyDancingABC Twitter Account Just to Rustle Some Jimmies”
In order to really sell this pitch, I went ahead and registered the account and even sent out its first tweet:
StarWipe didn’t bite, which makes sense, because it’s not a very funny idea. My goal, I think, was to get an official person from ABC to politely ask me to stop or request the handle itself, I guess? I don’t remember, really.
The Next Day
Some people, probably after reading the same stories as me, were quick to jump in on the hate. Take @jcladyluv, for instance:
How did she find me? That I’ll never know, but — engorged with power from my new platform — I decided it was my duty to respond to this fan:
Or take @ATailGatersLife, who somehow found me three months later:
Pretty quickly bored with this approach of simply being nice, I decided to go rogue:
No one noticed this, though, and the @DirtyDancingABC account sadly went into the land of Forgotten Ideas along with other hilarious content I’ve put online over the years, like my Pinterest board that was just hundreds of pictures of tanning beds, or my webcomic that was not good, never caught on, and which I’ve now deleted all online evidence of.
One Year Later
In March of this year, I began receiving occasional notifications that @DirtyDancingABC had been tagged in updates from lazy journalists and bargain-bin bloggers who had I guess lucked into some credentials for official “Dirty Dancing” press events.
Stuff like this:
Even Andy Cohen’s account @Andy tagged me in something!
These did not seem like they would be that fun to engage with, though, so I did not engage with them. I also decided that I would not lurk the actual “official” #DirtyDancing / #DirtyDancingABC hashtags and respond to stuff that wasn’t specifically directed at me, because that would be even more sad than how sad the thing I was already doing was.
However, emboldened by this renewed interest, I decided to go back to swearing:
I also faced a second backlash: this time, my detractors were again few, but I also got a fan!
(Note: she never claimed her hat)
And my beautiful, beautiful fan:
Wow! I checked and she seemed to have not enjoyed the actual program last night, though.
With the premiere fast approaching and once again feeling starved of attention, I decided to try a new comedic angle: confusing Dirty Dancing with Ghost:
This angle, too, went unnoticed, however, and did not integrate itself into the eventual official persona of the @DirtyDancingABC account. I leave it here only in the interest of transparency and as a monument to my misstep.
All Hell Breaks Loose
I actually did get my first bit of bad feedback in the gym locker room. (I’m assuming that that’s right when the show started airing on the east coast? I’m not gonna check!)
I have yet to watch the actual program and probably won’t, but people seem to have really hated it and were extremely eager to rip into it.
The hashtag #DirtyDancing was trending on twitter last night, and it seems some people wanted so badly to let an “official” spokesperson for the show hear their complaints that they were willing to settle for my very-obviously fake account.
It’s a little hard to capture now because of the design of Twitter’s notification system, but for a solid three hours, my notifications were a steady stream of stuff like this:
Over and over! If you go to this search page, you can see most of them for yourself.
One route I could’ve taken was to have a big public meltdown and respond to everyone with desperation and anger, but I decided it’d be more fun for me to just tell them I love them instead:
I did this a lot more, probably 60 times.
Another innovation I landed on was to pin this tweet at the top of my page,
and then retweet (within reason) every bit of the overwhelming amount of negative feedback so that it would show up right below it. A very funny contrast, I thought.
This made some people very upset!
Out of hundreds of tweets directed at me, literally only one person seemed to grasp that I was not actually affiliated with ABC.
Another person also commended me for my jokes, but somehow still thought that I was an official ABC employee:
Also — and this is really funny to me — some people were pissed that Last Man Standing had been canceled recently and were eager to blame @DirtyDancingABC for its demise:
(As you might notice, the Ann Marie replying to this has a “Back the Blue” profile picture, one of three people infuriated with @DirtyDancingABC who had a “Blue Lives Matter”-adjacent profile pic.)
With the west coast airing brought some new people who were pissed, but it was mostly more of the same, and my responses did not evolve any further than just telling everyone that I love them, which NO ONE ever responded to as if it were weird. This was as close as I got:
Everyone else, I guess, just thought it was normal for a corporate Twitter account that they were mad at to tell them “I love you.”
What I Learned From This
- I did not learn anything
- I guess I could half-ass some sort of thesis about how this is a reflection of new media and how people fall for fake news or whatever, but that sucks
- I will say, though, that of those whose political beliefs were clear from their profiles, the demo was probably 95% people who were very, very loudly conservative, and 5% people who wanted to try out a Trump joke:
Where Do I Go From Here?
Well, I guess from here I go back into obscurity. ABC never contacted me asking for me to stop or for access to the handle, and the notifications have mostly dried up as of this afternoon. All in all, what I got was a drop in the ocean of the hatred #DirtyDancingABC faced last night.
Maybe in a couple months I’ll get bored and send some more swears out into the internet again, or maybe — just maybe — this’ll join my tanning bed Pinterest in the graveyard of fallen ideas.
Fare thee well, @DirtyDancingABC.
Fare thee well.