What happens when you accidentally become internet famous | Page 162

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Celebrities on Being Famous But Not Happy



Elena Creci @elenacresci Mon 3 Nov 2014 18.39 GMT Last modified on Tue 21 Feb 2017 18.23 GMT


Fist clenched, a look of pure determination on his face, Success Kid is the boy who can do it all. You may have seen his face posted when someone’s particularly proud of an achievement.

Success Kid’s real name is Sam Griner and the photo is one of many his mother Laney, a photographer, took of her son and posted on her Flickr page. She still remembers the day and the moment she snapped this picture.

“He was so funny, crawling through the sand and then trying to eat fistfuls of it. He would move so quickly then, it was hard to snap shots of him sitting still,” she said.

“I only got that one shot of him, and going through my camera on the drive home, I immediately loved it. I posted it to my Flickr account as soon as I got home, and it was an immediate hit.

“It’s funny because so often people, usually those with little experience with toddlers, assume it’s a posed photo. Good luck trying to get a toddler to pose like that.”

The picture was taken in 2007, but it wasn’t until two years later Griner began noticing it around the internet. Initially, someone had photoshopped a crying child in the background with the title “I hate sandcastles”.

Griner admits: “I didn’t like it at all then. It was at the beginning of the whole meme thing. Sammy was still a baby and I didn’t even know what a meme was at that time, I just didn’t like him being portrayed as a bully.”

Fortunately, a year later, the meme changed and Sam became Success Kid, which Griner says she thought was “just adorable”. This led to Sam starring in commercials for Virgin Media in the UK and in the US in commercials for Vitamin Water.

And does Griner have any tips for parents whose children inadvertently become internet-famous? “Now it’s maybe a little different because memes and internet stardom is more widely known,” she said.

“But still, it’s got to be a surprise for most anyone who finds themselves in this situation. I think the best thing to do is accept it, because once the internet has it, it’s really out of your control, for the most part.

“Most importantly, retain the copyright to your photo, because the internet has now made it marketable. Not that you must now seek to market it, but it’s nice to have some control over how it’s used, and the right to take legal action over unauthorized use for commercial purposes.”

As for Sam, who turned eight this year, Success Kid is something he’s grown up with and is fully aware of.

“It’s strange to think he’ll never remember a time he wasn’t. He mostly really likes it. We’ve only done a couple of appearances, so it’s mostly just the photo. He likes it and it sort of embarrasses him.

“All of it is pretty awesome. Just that it happened to us. I took a photo of my kid at the beach, like any parent might, and posted for friends and family to see. Who could’ve ever known what would happen next? It’s been full of fun experiences and financially has helped quite a bit. I have no real complaints. I feel pretty fortunate.”

Adapted from What happens when you accidentally become internet famous? Elena Creci @elenacresci Mon 3 Nov 2014, Technology, The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/nov/03/alex-from-target-what-happens-if-you-accidentally-become-internet-famous

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