My addiction to Twitter parody accounts.
Exploring one of the greatest pockets of Twitter.
The scene: An afternoon in my open-office workspace. I’m glued to my computer, letting out random bursts of laughter, probably irritating my coworkers.
But I can’t help it.
The cause of all this commotion? A Twitter feed called WWE Subway. To describe it is to answer the question: “What if a diehard Subway fan expressed his feelings about the sandwich chain through the use of pro wrestling GIFs?”
Of course, the account isn’t real, per se. It’s one of Twitter’s many many many parody accounts.
There’s the twitter account of a pigeon. There’s Medieval Reactions, which combines medieval art with more relatable modern-day captions. For Star Wars fans, there’s Emo Kylo Ren (the twitter account of Kylo Ren if he was an angsty teen who painted his fingernails black), and Arrogant BB-8 (reimagining the adorable droid BB-8 as a huge asshole).
There’s Bored Elon Musk, which boasts 157,000 followers and posts the idle, random thoughts of what a bored Elon Musk might be thinking when he’s not busy running one of the hottest car/tech brands or going to space. Of course, even his bored, cocktail napkin-worthy thoughts are laced with genius potential:
“[Musk’s] mom, who is a dear, follows my account and frequently favs tweets,” the account’s author told me, wishing to remain anonymous. “The real Elon Musk remains silent, but I’m 100% he knows of the account and 80% sure he secretly loves it.”
One account I not-so-secretly love: Los Feliz Daycare, the Twitter account of a fictional daycare in hipstery Los Feliz that touts an extremely, ridiculously, almost militantly progressive approach to childcare and education.
Like a lot of the best satire, the humor here rings true. The account perfectly skewers modern-day parenting trends, which so many parents out there can relate to (and why I think it resonates so much with people).
“I was working in a writers room with mostly parents and I was always very surprised and entertained listening to them talk about the ridiculous daycares that their kids went to,” says comedy TV writer Jason Shapiro, who runs the account. “One day when one of the writers read us an email she got scolding her for sending white bread in her daughter’s lunch, I knew I wanted to start the account.”
Then there’s the less satirical, and more just-all-out-ridiculous.
“Making an account that rates dogs was an idea that really did seem to come out of nowhere,” says Matt Nelson, the 19-year-old business student who runs WeRateDogs, which rates dogs that users can send in to the account.
At over 200,000 followers, the account commands a fair amount of attention. Nelson told me celebs like Cole Sprouse, Sara Bareillas, Josh Groban, and Madison Beer follow the account, and he notches up to 2,000 new followers each day. They follow along as Nelson rates dogs (and sometimes other animals pretending to be dogs) on a 10-point scale, accompanied by his hilarious, offbeat commentary.
When it comes to offbeat, WWE Subway certainly delivers. One of my favorite all-time parody accounts, it makes no sense and makes complete sense all at the same time. It’s hard to explain…
“Honestly, we started the account with pretty low expectations and have been pretty blown away with how receptive people have been,” says Nick, an office manager for a small oilfield company and one of the account’s authors. “We do it because it’s funny to us and we’d still do it on our personal accounts even if the account tanked. It means a lot to us that people like you have laughed and shared with others.”
So what’s in it for these parody accounts? Why spend time and energy combining wrestling gifs with captions about Subway?
For starters, there’s the prospect of turning these accounts into bigger, more lucrative projects.
There are book deals, as is the case for Birds Rights Activist, a parody account from a bread-loving bird advocating for the rights of fellow birds everywhere.
Los Feliz Daycare’s Shapiro told me he’s currently developing a TV pilot based on the Twitter feed, so that’s pretty cool.
Then, as a lot of these parody account authors told me, there’s also the simple joy of entertaining others.
“I occasionally get messages on WeRateDogs, or even on my personal Twitter, telling me that my accounts brighten their day or that they look forward to every post,” WeRateDogs’s Nelson says. “That’s the only reason I do this. The only reason I dedicate so much time to social media is because I’m lucky enough to have an audience that truly appreciates my content.”
Ask the brains behind WWE Subway, and he’d agree: “The coolest thing for me is that we’ve reached a few wrestlers and comedians who I look up to, [Hulk Hogan, Mike Foley, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Hannibal Buress and Will Sasso]. It’s been kind of strange thinking that I’ve made people laugh who have made me laugh.”
Of course, others have bolder ambitions:
“My only goal for the account is to trade ownership of it for a Tesla Model S,” Bored Elon Musk told me. “I doubt this will happen, so I’ll settle for entertaining you.”
Back at my desk again, I’m trying to control my laughter as I scroll through WWE Subway’s tweets. I turn to my coworker and tell him to stop what he’s doing and check out the account.
A few minutes later, he’s laughing at his desk, too.
Now I’m not the only one addicted.
In Case You’re Interested…
My obsession with parody accounts inevitably inspired me to try my hand at one, as well. (Because if Twitter needs anything right now, it’s another parody account, right?!)
BabyCMO is a parody account from the perspective of a Chief Marketing Officer who’s also a 3-week-old infant.
If you’re in advertising/marketing/media, I think you’d enjoy it, so come follow along! Googoogaga!
Or if parody accounts aren’t your thing, follow my (real) personal account on Twitter.
Anything I Missed?
If you have any parody accounts you love, please help keep my obsession going and share them in the comments below!
I, and the Medium community, would greatly appreciate it! XOXO