Cary Elwes and Me
If you’re anything like me, you spend an unhealthy amount of time compulsively checking the Analytics for your website Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place. If that is the case, I’ve gotta say: that’s pretty weird. It makes sense for me to care way too much about the ebb and flow of page-views on this site: it’s my business and my livelihood. I have no idea why that would matter to you.
But if you have been paying attention to the Analytics for this site, you’ve undoubtedly that the single most popular article of the last month wasn’t a My World of Flops piece, or a Scalding Hot Take on a big new release, or the Control Nathan Rabin 4.0 articles I wrote about Tropic Thunder or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind but rather a Clickbait spoof I wrote parodying the ubiquitous plague of mercenary articles promising to reveal the shadowy, secret reasons once popular and ubiquitous actors and pop icons have faded from the public eye.
I thought it would be amusing to posit that the reason an actor has all but disappeared from pop culture is because he was furtively murdered by the author of a Clickbait article about him not being in movies anymore. Other people must have found it at least moderately amusing as well because “Why Hollywood Won’t Cast Cary Elwes Anymore” didn’t just do well: it’s the top-read article for August despite being over six months old. And it’s not just the top-read post by a slim margin. No, “Why Hollywood Won’t Cast Cary Elwes” has been read over twice as much as the most-read new August article, the aforementioned Control Nathan Rabin 4.0 article on Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
The second-most read article of August was another Clickbait parody whose enduring popularity I find encouraging, depressing and a little odd all at the same time, a tongue-in-cheek “expose” about “The sketchy side of David Hyde Pierce” that people don’t know about (another obnoxious and ubiquitous cliche of mercenary, page-view-chasing sites) being his unfortunate, career-long predilection for murdering student nurses.
I recently found out that one of the reasons the David Hyde Pierce article is so maddeningly, consistently popular. If you Google “David Hyde Pierce” my silly little bit of ghoulish pop satire is one of the first articles to pop up. On a similar note, if you Google “Cary Elwes” you’ll get over a million results and the fourth result, after his IMDB entry, Twitter account and Wikipedia page, is my silly article about Elwes being murdered and then buried in an unmarked grave in New Jersey by a frustrated, failed freelance writer as bloody revenge for him sleeping with his girlfriend.
My article shows up on Google even before the slightly more legitimate and non-fictional news of Elwes joining the cast of beloved cult TV show Stranger Things. Thanks largely to Google, the reach of my Elwes article is far longer than anything else on the site.
“Why Hollywood Won’t Cast Cary Elwes Anymore” has consequently been read by people who have no idea who I am. They’re not familiar with the site, or my sense of humor, or my ghoulish, absurdist take on Clickbait and online calculation and desperation. And because the piece is read by people who lack an appropriate context for it I have received a steady stream of emails and comments taking me to task for being jealous of Elwes and his success as an actor, and writing a hit piece from an ugly place of jealousy and anger.
I am genuinely bewildered by these comments. After all, the article begins in a straight-faced, deadpan way but by the end the formerly anonymous, impersonal writer of the article is bragging about having murdered the Prince Bride star and dumped his corpse in an unmarked grave. I don’t understand how anyone could see the article as anything other than fictional satire but that hasn’t kept folks from getting angry on Elwes’ behalf and venting their rage at the fictional murderer/frustrated clickbait-writer I created for the article.
I picked Elwes pretty much at random. The whole point of the article is that the celebrity and their career didn’t matter. It literally could have been any celebrity who is not as popular or ubiquitous now as they once were. Only the psychotic rage of the murderer folding an explicit confession of committing a horrible, violent felony inside bland Clickbait matters within the context of the piece. Yet angry commenters nevertheless seemed convinced that it was motivated by ugly personal jealousy towards Cary Elwes of all people rather than irritation with the obnoxious tropes and ploys of bottom-feeding celebrity sites.
I’m grateful for the attention and page-views my deathless piece on the violent death of a still-living actor attracted, even if it means that I will continue to field angry responses from commenters who may not have understood the article, its satirical target or its intentions but feel duty-bound to express their incoherent rage at it all the same, for that is the way of the Internet.
I make my living mainly through Patreon, so if you would be kind enough to consider pledging even a single dollar a month over at https://www.patreon.com/nathanrabinshappyplace it’d be groovy, and my good friend Cary Elwes sure would appreciate it.