‘Star Wars Kid’ Speaks, Recalls ‘Dark’ Side of YouTube Fame
In an Internet-obsessed age when it seems as though too many people seek fame via viral videos, it's easy to forget that there are plenty of people out there who didn't intend for certain videos to end up online and became Internet famous for something deeply embarrassing. Case in point the "Star Wars kid," Ghyslain Raza, who was made Internet famous ten years ago when a video of him yielding a gold club retriever as a lightsaber hit the Interwebs.
A viral video star was born, but with less-than-happy results due in large part to the fact that the then-14-year-old never meant for the video to end up online. Raza, now a 25-year-old law school graduate, has finally spoken out about his ordeal in an effort to bring more awareness to the harmful effects of cyber-bullying.
"What I saw was mean. It was violent," Raza recalled in his first-ever interview with French-Canadian magazine L'actualité, which also appears in English in the new issue of Maclean's. "People were telling me to commit suicide."
The Quebec native revealed that he was forced to change schools because of the negative attention and endless taunting from his peers, and that he lost the few friends he had in the fallout.
"In the common room, students climbed onto tabletops to insult me," he told the magazine of the very "dark period" in his life. "No matter how hard I tried to ignore people telling me to commit suicide, I couldn't help but feel worthless, like my life wasn't worth living."
Raza said that he wants other victims of cyber-bullying to know that no matter how negative the unwanted attention or unsolicited commentary from anonymous Internet commenters and/or real life bullies, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
"You'll survive. You'll get through it," he said. "And you're not alone. You are surrounded by people who love you."