The first presidential debate of 2012 was a landmark date in the storied history of parody Twitter accounts. No more than fifteen minutes after Mitt Romney vowed to cut off PBS despite an avowed love of Big Bird, @FiredBigBird materialized, along with almost a dozen other variations. Not long after, Jim Lehrer’s inability to moderate inspired @SilentJimLehrer. Both now belong to the Twitter pantheon, along with a plethora of other news- and pop-culture-inspired feeds. Who could forget @AngiesRightLeg, or @LebronJamesEgo, or @GingrichIdeas?
Well, in the spasmodic news cycle, just about everyone, which got our social media team thinking: What becomes of parody Twitter accounts when the Zeitgeist recedes? Do they fade into retirement (thanks for the good times, @NBCDelayed) or seek a middle-aged career change (@BronxZoosCobra is covering the NFL, at last tweet)? Here are the alumni updates on a few that sat at the cool kids’ table, if only for fifteen minutes.
Author: Anonymous 28-year-old man in Washington
Created within minutes of Romney’s swipe at PBS in the first presidential debate, the account quickly garnered 40,000 sympathetic followers. The plight of Sesame Street’s beloved bird was the single most-tweeted-about event of the night. Twitter suspended the account on Thursday, prompting an Internet outcry, but @BigBirdRises is continuing the fight.
The venerable PBS newsman and debate moderator Jim Lehrer drew fire from all sides for his inability to control the first debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Nearly 10,000 people followed @silentjimlehrer within twelve hours. We anticipate a short shelf life for this one, as long as no one lets Lehrer get anywhere near a moderator’s table again.
Author: Ian Schafer
Clint Eastwood’s inane RNC stunt — speaking to an empty chair purportedly occupied by the president — created the fastest-growing parody account in Twitter history. Registered within five minutes of Eastwood’s speech, @InvisibleObama skyrocketed to 50,000 followers in just 40 minutes. Nearly a month later, it has just under 70,000 followers, and somehow managed to make the transition from instant-parody sensation to sustained Twitter personality.
Author: Jason Filiatrault
Created by Canadian screenwriter Jason Filiatrault, the Mars Rover adopted a hipster-esque POV, tweeting that he wished he had a sweater, left a girl back home, and is now the first mayor of Mars on Foursquare. Sarcastic Rover remains active, with over 98,000 followers, and snarks on politics and science from about 54.6 million kilometers away.
Whispering sweet nothings to almost 65,000 followers since August 2012 via the now-ubiquitous “Hey Girl” Ryan Gosling trope, @PaulRyanGosling was created shortly after Mitt Romney announced Paul Ryan as his running mate. The anonymous author tweets daily, with suggestions like, “Hey girl, to better enjoy the debate, put it on mute.”
The resurrection of Newt Gingrich in the GOP primaries prompted the creation of the gold standard for political parody accounts. Inspired by the former speaker’s reputation for ambitious, off-the-wall ideas (most notable, building a base on the moon), @GingrichIdeas broke character as the GOP primary slogged on for months. Its author went out on top, giving up the gig when Gingrich left the race in May.
This much-loved Twitter feed, now on hiatus until at least the next Winter Games, tapped into an Olympic torrent of rage directed at late-stage network television capitalism, largely from people who don’t even own a TV. Despite tweeting only 64 times and bowing out when the games ended, @NBCDelayed is stilled followed by over 26,000 people.
Ann Romney’s Olympic horse became a rich source of comic fodder for Obama supporters, despite a disappointing performance in the dressage (Rafalca finished in 28th place). In the months since London, the account has morphed into an advocate for liberal causes, albeit with a thoroughbred horse as an avatar.
Author: Andy Borowitz
The ascension of the mini-golf-loving son of the late Kim Jong-il was feted by comedian Andy Borowitz with a parody account that has a staggering 200,000 followers. Faux Kim vents in equal measure about failed North Korean rocket launches and the U.S. presidential debates, along with questionable attempts at famine humor.
The leg that launched a thousand photo-bombs at the 2012 Oscars became a real-world meme before the ceremony was even over, when writer and Community co-star Jim Rash imitated Jolie’s pose (in tuxedo pants, natch) onstage when he collected a statue for co-writing The Descendants. The Twitter account, creator unknown, has 42,000 followers and still updates intermittently.
The adventures of Lindsay Lohan’s alcohol-intake monitor lasted until Lohan’s October 2011 house arrest. It’s been mostly silent since, but there’s always hope for a sequel, especially given Lohan’s latest dust-ups.
Author: Rachel Figueroa
Inspired by Bloomberg’s awkward Spanish at City Hall’s Hurricane Irene press conference in August 2011, Rachel Figueroa-Levin (@jewyorican) still disseminates garbled Spanglish new daily. Aside from features on Buzzfeed, Time, the New York Observer, and Huffington Post, among others, El Bloombito’s biggest coup was the shout-out it received from El Jefe himself.
New York City breathed a collective sigh of relief (albeit virtually) when the Bronx Zoo’s escaped Egyptian cobra “took” to Twitter to reassure everyone, “[I’m] super-venomous, but not poisonous, so don’t worry.” A year and a half later, the wily snake now tweets just a few times a month, yet still boasts over 200,000 followers, including Marie Claire fashion editor Nina Garcia, Bergdorf Goodman, and Madison Square Garden. (To Daily Intel, he’ll always be Shawsnake.)
In 2002, Nick Nolte’s DUI arrest resulted in the mug shot shared ‘round the world. The actor’s Medusa-like, GHB-fueled appearance spawned introspective missives like, “Aw, hell, who put a cat turd in my scotch? Eh, f*ck it.” The eternal Nolte-on-a-bender parody continues to provide 39,000-plus followers a chance to live vicariously through Nolte’s fictional days and nights.
Author: Chris O’Shea
Conceived after James announced he’d be “taking his talents to Miami,” the first tweet (“TWEETING WHAT MY MOUTH CAN’T SAY”) pretty much sums it up. Written in all caps — because lower-case letters simply would not do — its author, Chris O’Shea, retired it on July 15, 2011 but not before acquiring 29,286 followers. A shame — we’d have liked to see Ego’s humility after winning the NBA championship and MVP title.
Did we miss any? Got updates on others? Let us know in the comments.