Great Moments in Online Ownage: Reddit Hilariously Destroys Wyclef Jean
Welcome to the first, and potentially only entry in Great Moments in Online Ownage. It’s a new column devoted to historic moments in online culture where some unfortunate soul or institution got destroyed by the denizens of the net. It’s inspired by Wyclef Jean’s notorious 2016 Reddit Ask Me Anything, where the disgraced songwriter, politician and fraudulent charity proprietor was Ethered by the smart-asses of Reddit to such an extent that it is a goddamned miracle that he’s able to wake up each morning and doesn’t immediately roll into a fetal ball and weep uncontrollably out of embarrassment.
Wyclef clearly imagined that he was in for an hour or so of softball questions that’d satisfy the fans and move some units. Wyclef naively, adorably imagined that his Reddit interrogators would see him the way he sees himself—as a humanitarian, great artist and cultural icon, a modern day Bob Marley—and wants to be seen.
Instead the gleeful trolls of Reddit treated him like the con artist, deranged narcissist and comically oblivious caricature of an egomaniacal celebrity he actually is.
The top question (from a user named skybrew), in the righteous bloodbath gives a good idea of the enraged tone of the rest of the AMA, which threatens to give cold-blooded online pile-ons a good name:
"I have a question for you, how do you sleep at night knowing that the money people were donating to your charity Yele could have been spent improving the lives of "your people" but instead you spent it on yourself and your celebrity friends? How do you justify $600,000 in donations went to Yele's headquarters, which have since been abandoned, $375,000 to cover 'landscaping' costs, $470,000 spent on food and beverages, you paid yourself $100,000 to perform at a "Charity" event for your presidency bid, $100,000 to your mistress, $30,763 to fly Hollywood Lindsay Lohan from New Jersey to Chicago. You have stolen a total of $9 million dollars of the $16 million donated to Haiti. Do you feel like the biggest douche bag on earth or do you like stealing from the mouths of the poor and needy?"
Wyclef did not answer that question, understandably, but he did have the exquisitely terrible judgment to answer the loaded, “With all that money you stole from those poor Haitians, why couldn't you help Lauryn Hill out with her tax bill?” with a breathtakingly weak, “its so important that u understand that if u fully do real research u will understand that whenever u decide that u are going to do more then sing and dance u have to be ready for the lies that comes with it i have never stolen from my people i brought Haitian pride to my people and despite what they tried to do i am growing stronger everyday and will continue to do my part as i can see you are doing your part as well”
Redditors, needless to say, were not “feeling” Wyclef’s E.C Cummings-meets-Prince-meets Corey Feldman after a night of binge drinking approach to grammar and capitalization.
Nor were they impressed by the arrogance, entitlement and pathetic self-mythologizing of Wyclef’s non-answer as to why he can’t help a sister out with some of the ill-gotten loot he purloined from a charity ostensibly set up to feed and clothe and clothes the suffering souls of Wyclef’s beloved Haitian homeland, a country he theoretically loves so much he ran for President even though he wasn’t eligible!
It did not escape Redditors’ attention that Wyclef's defense of his actions in regards to criminal and unconscionable acts of thievery from his own charity was a combination of narcissistic self-promotion mixed with unearned self-pity. He’s getting stronger every day? He brought Haitian pride to the Haitian people by robbing them?
Reddit sharpened their pitchforks and their wits and peppered the understandably uncommunicative superstar with questions like the following:
- As a young songwriter myself, I have a question for you. What's a good fake charity I could start up to rob people of money who really need it?
- Hey Wyclef, I hope you have time to answer this what with how busy you are answering the other ones but anyways, what's the first thing you're going to do when you get to hell?
- Why are you amoral?
- What was a better detriment to Haitian culture? You or the Earthquake?
- What was the worst decision you've ever made: doing this AMA, embezzling money from a charity for your own personal enrichment, or crossfit?
This being Reddit, there’s a lot of banter about where this will fall in the pantheon of epic AMA shit-shows, with many users/Wyclef abusers agreeing that it ranks right up there with an apparently disastrous AMA Woody Harrelson did in connection with Rampart which apparently went Pete Tong spectacularly and is consequently destined to join this as one of the all-time great online train wrecks.
It’s not that Wyclef is completely averse to answering questions from his adoring public. He just prefers to answer softball questions briskly and blandly.
Wyclef doesn’t appear to be too big on periods or capitalization so perhaps it’s not surprising that many of his non-snappy answers to fawning questions tend to be sentence fragments.
True, Jean did answer another relatively tough question in, “On August 5, 2010, you announced you were running in the 2010 Haitian presidential election, but you did not meet the residency requirement of having lived in Haiti for five years before the November 28 election. What would you have done if you were allowed to run and/or elected?” but his answer, “well i think its starts with Education and jobs over 50 percent of our population youth .... Haiti do not need hand outs it needs job creation” gives a good sense of how little of a fuck Jean gives about this enterprise and the peons roasting him relentlessly for their own malicious amusement.
The blandly open-ended “What are you doing these days?” gets an upbeat, idiotic “well for all my super fans music will start coming out in three weeks followed by a tour i have been in the studio with everyone enjoying the new sonics from from the knocks to afro jack! to my brother D j Khalid AND Avicii so get ready the Carnival man is back baby” that would be impressively lame even if he didn’t misspell his “brother” DJ Khaled’s name.
It’s a good thing Wyclef wasn’t elected President of Haiti. Can you imagine a President who can’t spell basic words and ran a fraudulent charity? What an embarrassment that would be!
The only remotely newsworthy moment of the AMA occurred when Wyclef answered a question about Bernie Sanders by gushing, “i think he is a voice that the youth have been waiting to hear” but even that prompted a Redditor to note that Wyclef might be the first person in history to get down-voted for praising Bernie Sanders.
The rest of Wyclef’s answers give a sense of the bland, promotional mass interview that might have been. What was it like being on The Chappelle’s Show? “One of my best memories that guy is smart and funny.” Who was your favorite person to work/collaborate with? Michael Jackson or Whitney Houston. What would you do if you weren’t a pop star? Teach music theory. If someone had never heard your music before, what would you want them to begin with? “Gone Til November.”
All perfectly polite and professional. All incredibly boring. Instead of having his enormous ego carefully buffed Wyclef ended up having it destroyed by a public that was feeling its own malicious power and rejoicing in its ability to make a grade-A show-business creep feel as low as humanly possible.
A Redditor outlined how Wyclef conceivably could have not humiliated himself when he wrote, "Literally the only way he could've saved face here was to come on, be completely humble and either accepted responsibility, or just say that he's under instruction from his legal team not to discuss it and try to steer the AMA towards music. But nope, he just posts incoherent, poorly-typed answers and just generally sounds like a crackhead. Really, really shouldn't have bothered."
Alas, Wyclef was too oblivious and too arrogant to do anything to try to save a public relations fiasco of historic proportions.
It’s a far fall from an intro that gushes, “The music that Wyclef Jean has written, performed, and produced — both as a solo superstar and as founder and guiding member of the Fugees — has been a consistently powerful, pop cultural force for over two decades. In 1996, the Fugees released their monumental album The Score, which inspired notoriously prickly rock critic Robert Christgau to write: "so beautiful and funny, its courage could make you weep.”
The hilariously over-the-top hyperbole of Wyclef’s introduction makes the massacre that follows even funnier and more deliciously rich in schadenfreude. The snark of the Reddit Ridicule Brigade was so beautiful and funny, its courage could make you weep, particularly if you’re unlucky enough to be Wyclef on this fateful day of unexpected and brutal reckoning, when his sins would not only be exposed but used to relentlessly hammer away at the pop star and his bloated self-image.
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