On Tuesday, my Twitter notifications cranked way up. “Oh fun!,” I thought to myself, “maybe people really like the Superman Returns Honest Trailer!” I’ve been writing for Screen Junkies, so occasional fan response has been common, and a lot of fun. Or maybe the world has finally come to accept my 100% accurate opinions about April Nardini? What a glorious day in Star’s Hollow!
Weird. All of these tweets and followers were French. I clicked the translate button. I made a weird face.
Apparently a Joe Starr in French did something bad and now French Twitter is real mad at me. Day 2 of French hate. pic.twitter.com/2BeJKCJJX7— Joe Starr (@joestarr187) April 20, 2016
Nothing can prepare you for a small shitstorm of poorly translated internet rage. Seriously, Google translate makes even run of the mill angry tweets sound terrifying. France, it seemed, was very mad at a rapper named Joey Starr. He slapped a TV personality, and when one Joe Starr does something bad, all of the Joe Starrs suffer.
@joestarr187 quel bouffon tu mérite pas ta place— kikitoooo (@ameliedupont567) April 19, 2016
Now, technically I am Joey Starr. I was Joey Starr until the first grade, and also for a few years in college when my roommate Nannie would call me Joey Bear. My Aunt sent me kangaroo stuff every Christmas as a small child, because joeys. I wonder if this Joey Starr had been sent the amount of baby kangaroo stuff I was as a child if he would have grown up to be a slapping kind of person?
So, I decided to just go with it and pretend to be Joey Starr. I mean, people are already biting, so why not crack open Google Translate and announce my love for Brotherhood of the Wolf or my intentions to move to Montreal, the best French city?
je suis joey starr et mon film préféré est la fraternité du loup #JoeyStarr— Joe Starr (@joestarr187) April 20, 2016
paysans français stupides ne peuvent pas me déporter . mauvais jamais revenir à Montréal #JoeyStarr— Joe Starr (@joestarr187) April 20, 2016
Now, this isn’t the first time I’ve been misjoestarred. There’s another comedian in New York named Joe Starr. We’ve never met, but I know a lot of his friends because they’ve mistakenly come to see me do shows. I can only hope that they liked my ten minutes on an alternate reality where JFK was assassinated by Furries and that New York Joe Starr does not have a similar bit. Even though I know one day he and I will have to try and highlander each other, none of my encounters with his friends have ended with people shouting ‘bouffon!’ at me.
Of course, it escalated, because it’s the internet and of course it did. Several French news outlets have picked it up, which has intensified things on Twitter. Now there are French people either apologizing to me, still shouting at me for being Joey Starr, or shouting at me because they know I am me but are angry that I said some things about berets and Brotherhood of the Wolf. Mostly they are apologizing- but the wave of overwhelming French niceness still seems vaguely threatening through the filter of Bing Translate.
Look. The internet is a weird, dumb place. It’s a study in what anger can make us do. We get a split second of ‘GRR!’ and then we type the name ‘Joe Starr’ into a Twitter search bar, see a picture of my cat Stewart and say ‘there he is! The rapper who slapped a man! Rage! Bouffon!’
I know three things: 1. That if I was a lady these tweets would mostly be pictures of dude’s baguettes, 2. Bing Translate is terrible, and 3. I have never been to France and I feel like someone owes me a trip now.