Like many evanescent stars, the 16-year-old Canadian pop sensation and tween
heartthrob Justin Bieber
is a ripe target for jokes. But when Gawker and The Guardian both took the bait, it touched off a slightly more serious conflict. Gawker
's Adrian Chen gently accused Guardian writer Marina Hyde of aping, if not ripping off, the jokes in the March 19 Gawker post "The
Justin Bieber Guide for Old People
." On March 26, Hyde ran a piece in The Guardian entitled "Justin
Bieber: an Old Person's Guide
." A sampling of the
similarities alluded to by Chen:
Bieber is in
fact the first real YouTube sensation to cross over to the mainstream,
and much of his appeal comes from this grassroots creation myth. (No,
Susan Boyle doesn't count since the only people who enjoy her sincerely
are you Old People.)
Put briefly, Justin's story
is this: he is Canadian, comes from good Christian stock, and he's the
first genuine YouTube sensation to cross over into mainstream pop
stardom. (Unless you think Susan Boyle is a popstar, in which case, how
old are you?)
While Chen's post started off politely,
he pulls no punches at the end:
Now, we believe
that jokes are not really "owned" by anyone. They exist in the cultural
ether—small nuggets of funny truth that writers can only hope to grasp
long enough to make a reader laugh. This is why we do not use the "P"
word. But, seriously, Hyde: Write your own damn material. They weren't
even very good jokes!
Or if you insist on ripping other writers
off, please consult our new guide:
The Marina Hyde Guide to Not
Getting Caught Stealing People's Jokes
DON'T: Make the headline
of your piece almost exactly the same as the one you're ripping off.
Go fuck yourself.
Hyde responded in an email to Chen, swearing
that she hadn't read the original post. She claimed she came up with the
same jokes by sheer coincidence. After lauding Chen for his "much
funnier" comments, she chided him for poor journalistic etiquette:
the end, your post appeared before mine and in my view is much funnier
than what I wrote. In fact, the bits I found far funnier were the many
things I didn't think of, and were I in the business of nicking jokes I
would have taken other ones entirely. So I can also see how you might
think I had ripped you off, but I can honestly tell you I didn't, and I
hope the above points have gone some way to convincing you of that. If
they haven't, feel free to call me and I will gladly continue to try do
I think it might have been reasonable to ask me
to respond before you posted inviting me to fuck myself, but perhaps you
might now consider appending my response to your original post?
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