Over the last few days, yours truly has been wading through the murky waters of his hard drives, filtering out some debris in the form of unused downloads and old, forgotten, cobwebbed files. It was then that I stumbled over the extended left leg of a dancing girl named “Sam” — or “Little Sam” as she is known to friends and family (according to her defunct myspace.com/littlesamxxx profile).
Everyone else on the interwebs knows her as “Moshzilla”.
Therefore, at the risk of flogging a horse that’s been dead for well over three years and continuing my previous discussion about internet culture and memes in general, allow me to regurgitate the sordid tale of the unfortunate soul sometimes also dubbed “Skankzilla”.
It all started when 19-year old student Alex Stram took his new Canon PowerShot SD10 camera to a Righteous Jams concert at the Che Cafe in San Diego, California on January 3, 2005. He snapped a slew of pictures and posted them to his now-defunct site alexstram.com/gallery
Soon enough, “one funny but arguably less-than-flattering picture of a young woman moshing sparked the imaginations of viewers, who photoshopped the mosher into a range of poses, including dancing in an iPod ad, walking on the moon, and duking it out in the boxing ring with Homer Simpson. Creative, to be sure. But some images were less innocuous, depicting the girl, for example, in sexually compromising positions.”
“After releasing that picture on this site, it became an ‘internet phenomenon’, and advertently, many ‘photochops’ of the picture were made. Some messageboard threads dedicated to photochopping Moshzilla recieved over 1/4 million views [sic];” Stram writes, “I thought it was all in good clean fun. I didn’t post a picture with any malicious intent.”
This image, for instance, was surely the one that finally earned her the Moshzilla monicker.
Sam, or rather, her parents weren’t too thrilled. “Some of the pictures that were photoshopped were amazing; some were pretty malicious and cruel,” she said in an interview on Moshzilla.com, a site that was set up by a mosher other than Stram as a tribute to the phenomenon.
“Some of the pictures that were photoshopped were amazing, some were pretty malicious and cruel. So even though some of those pictures i laughed at hysterically with my boyfriend, you cant help but realize that you are being humiliated across the country. in a nutshell, i feel shitty.” [sic]
Not just the country, girl — across the whole world.
Nor (without belittling Sam’s plight) is the humiliation limited to the world’s favourite mosher but it’s come to include the innocent bystanders — especially the unidentified, shocked-looking guy behind her, one who is often pitted as some sort of nemesis or, in extreme cases, a sexual partner.
As a result and as is the mischievously quasi-anonymous nature of the internet, the pictures have appeared on a wide range of sites, forums, galleries, and blogs. But the brighter the internet star, the sooner it tends to fade, thanks to another trait of the internet population: a short attention span.
People tend to get bored very soon.
Following threats of legal action, Moshzilla.com has taken down the pictures, and Stram no doubt remains “amazed that a random picture he took at a Righteous Jams concert has spawned an Internet craze.”
The irony of Moshzilla’s reported distress is that a friend of his whose picture is posted in the same gallery would love nothing more than to be Internet-infamous. “We were like, ‘If my picture was all over the Internet, I would be proud of it,'” Stram said.
Sure thing, kiddo! On the internet, everyone will be world-wide-web-famous for 15MB.
Moshzilla has become so firmly entrenched in our online vernacular that it’s already become source material for subsequent photochops lampooning the shenanigans of other esteemed members of our wonderfully diverse human race.
Virals tend to feed on themselves and/or build upon each other and for now, this one continues to live on in the happy dumping grounds.
To be continued…
Photo credits: Alex Stram, moshzilla.com et al