Earlier this week, I noticed that there had been a lot of activity on my Flickr photos. Someone named "furgurl" had commented roughly 50 times, and the comments themselves were pretty unusual. Most were lengthy, not the standard "OMG!" or "nice shot!" or whatever. They were also all lower-case, filled with misspellings and weird punctuation, and in almost every instance, pretty cruel. Cruel comments! On Flickr photos! Weird, huh?The examples above are the only halfway clever comments, and they were the only ones I kept. (Apologies to Nathaniel, Adlai, and my mom's sausage fondue).The rest focussed on just a few themes: the absence of make-up ("try wearing eye-liner!" was a common refrain when women were in the picture), out-of-date clothing ("was this picture taken in the 70's?" or "who wears THAT?"), beards ("that one is clearly a member of the Taliban"), receding hairlines ("take some of the hair from your face and put it on your head!" appeared in a few places), hair in general (people with curly hair were criticized for curling their hair too much; I was often advised to wash my hair) and the overall perception that no one in any of the pictures had ever been on a date. Lots of them were unintentionally funny in that (a) no rational person would have ever noticed whatever "furgurl" was pointing out, (b) the criticism often betrayed, let's say, a misplaced fixation on superficial stuff, and © each included all the makings for a sarcastic comment except the sarcastic tone, which actually kind of made it even more funny.I didn't really want to delete "furgurl's" comments. On the other hand, I didn't want the heckling to go unanswered. But the problem was that "furgurl" had no Flickr profile, no public photos, and didn't respond to the Flickrmail that I sent. I could handle anonymous public cruelty, really, but only if the playing field was level. She never responded to my message, so I took them down.Here's where it gets weird, though. When I Googled "furgurl," many of the results involved the same person, one Anne Bartee. (Behold, she has a website). When I clicked around the site, I found this, a letter she wrote to a hypnotherapist/advice columnist in the Tolucan Times. In it, she describes herself as an "international pop artist," and asks some provocative questions:
I've been on TV and radio all over the world, and also in "Billboard" magazine. Can you tell me if there is a link between "bad culture" and public misperception of what is truly good? Rap and hip hop and simplistic drum and bass beats have dominated music for far too long, encouraging the public to embrace yet lower standards. But surely the public cannot believe that this is good music. I wonder; is this an example of the saying, "You can sell them garbage if you paint it gold?"
The tone, not to mention the reasoning, sounds familiar. Here's a tip for all you hip-hop stars: Wash your hair! Try some eyeliner! And wear some fashionable clothes once in a while, for crying out loud! Anne, if you ever read and comment on this, I'm expecting your A‑game. Don't pull any punches.