DEAD GIVEAWAY: The Seven Stages of Charles Ramsey
The Internet has made our lives easier in so many ways.
Thanks to the Internet, we can now Christmas shop without having to leave the comfort of our own homes, Johnny Manziel can take an entire semester's worth of courses at Texas A&M without leaving his apartment or even putting on pants, and no longer do junior high boys have to sneak copies of Playboy out of a convenience store in order to look at naked women.
And perhaps most important, the Internet has allowed us to accelerate at breakneck speed our viral hero worship of vigilante dishwashers in Cleveland.
In 2013, Twitter, Facebook and streaming video are the Hollywood talent scouts, and guys like Charles Ramsey are the stars.
Not that he doesn't deserve the accolades.
For practically a decade, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were held captive by three Cleveland-area brothers, and for practically a decade, day in and day out, they had unspeakable acts committed upon them. For whatever reason, reasons that will become clearer as the days go on, Monday was the day that Amanda Berry was finally able to break free long enough to scream loud enough for someone to hear her.
That someone was Charles Ramsey, a dishwasher at a local restaurant who happened to be sitting at his house within earshot while chowing down on a Big Mac. He helped free Amanda Berry, he made a now legendary call to 9-1-1 and he did this interview with a local news affiliate:
What transpired over the next 48 hours (in tandem with the really important part of the story, the actual rescue of the three women) is the textbook evolution of a viral hero, or as we will call it for our purposes "The Seven Stages Of Charles Ramsey."
STAGE 1: FAKE TWITTER ACCOUNTS You may think you're famous, but you're not truly famous until somebody creates a fake Twitter account with your image, channeling and satirizing all of your verbal idiosyncrasies. The presence of a fake Twitter account is honestly a more accurate gauge of whether or not someone is a celebrity than their having the blue "verified" check mark. Well, a handful of fake Charles Ramsey accounts have surfaced in the 48 hours since he became part of our lives. The best one, in my opinion, is @YaBoiCharlesRam:
If you're kidnapped tweet me. I'll rescue you bro.
— Charles Ramsey (@YaBoiCharlesRam) May 7, 2013
STAGE 2: ANDERSON COOPER INTERVIEW Interviews on an international stage are a must, and landing a spot as a subject of an Anderson Cooper live interview is like winning the viral hero version of American Idol. (For the record, winding up on The Today Show is the equivalent of winning The Voice, winding up on Good Morning, America is like winning Dancing With The Stars, and winding up on Entertainment Tonight is like getting rejected on Elimidate.)
(Side bar: Is there anybody in the television media better at their job than Anderson Cooper? Tragedy and/or historical news breaks, and within hours he's right in the middle of it, conducting gripping, unscripted interviews with victims, family members, rescue workers, or government officials. He's amazing.)
STAGE 3: VEILED ENDORSEMENT OFFERS Product placement in any business is a key to branding, and unwittingly (I think) Ramsey placed McDonald's front and center by mentioning the seemingly superfluous detail of exactly what he was eating at the time that a kidnapped girl was screaming for her freedom at the top of her lungs. That good branding deed did not go unnoticed:
After thousands of people contacted McDonald's regarding Ramsey's rescue, on Tuesday, the corporate Twitter handle, @McDonaldsCorp tweeted: "We salute the courage of Ohio kidnap victims & respect their privacy. Way to go Charles Ramsey- we'll be in touch."
A spokeswoman for McDonald's said on Wednesday that the company, including a local franchisee, is planning to "reach out to Mr. Ramsey directly," but does not have specific details at this time.
"We saw an overwhelming response on Twitter calling on McDonald's to do something," said the spokeswoman. "As we committed, we will be in touch."
The lesson here is obvious: if you're going to unknowingly solve a crime that authorities have been investigating for a decade, be sure to mention that you were smoking an expensive cigar, sipping the finest scotch, while working on your Bentley in the driveway. You never know who will send you free shit.
STAGE 4: MERCH I'm part of Team Ramsey! You're part of Team Ramsey! How do you let your friends know that you're part of Team Ramsey? Well, by sporting some Charles Ramsey merchandise, of course. Already, we've seen numerous Ramsey t-shirts. (I'll choose to link to the one that purports to benefit the kidnapping victims.) If Ramsey was enterprising enough, he could create a short-term t-shirt empire. The dude has more catchphrases than The Rock. Are you telling me you wouldn't wear a "DEAD GIVEAWAY" black t-shirt? Or a "TRIPLE LIFE" hoodie? Or a flat-brimmed baseball hat that just says "Bro..." on it? You would, you know you would. Don't lie.
STAGE 5: BACKGROUND DISSECTION The only bad wrinkle in this whole Ramsey saga (other than the fact that three women had to be kidnapped for ten years for it to occur) is that inevitably people were going to start doing some digging on our new hero, and I guess not totally shockingly, they found some dirt:
MAY 8--The Cleveland man credited with helping free female captives from a house of horrors is a convicted felon whose rap sheet includes three separate domestic violence convictions that resulted in prison terms, court records show.
Charles Ramsey, whose 911 call and subsequent TV interviews have made him a microcelebrity, was once a repeat spousal abuser whose marriage ended in divorce following a 2003 felony conviction for battering his wife.
The article goes on to detail trips in and out of jail before the eventual divorce from his wife. These incidents, while deplorable if true, don't detract from the heroism Ramsey showed on Monday, and that will be the part I choose to glorify. (Not to mention the fact that he has paid his dues to society, has glowing references from coworkers and bosses the last five years, and might just actually be a rehabilitation success story of our penal system.) STAGE 6: HATERS TRYING TO SCOOP YOUR HEAT I hate when people try to take credit for the work of others, especially when that work is freeing captive women in sketchy Cleveland neighborhoods. Yet, that's exactly what Ramsey neighbor Angel Cordero is trying to do:
A second neighbor of the West Cleveland home where three captive women were freed Monday says he, not Charles Ramsey, was the one who helped the trio break out of the ramshackle house of horrors.
"I helped her and I was first," neighbor Angel Cordero told local NewsChannel5, referring to Amanda Berry, the 27-year-old hostage who signaled for help.
"Ramsey arrived after she was outside with the girl," Cordero told the reporter in Spanish.
"But the truth who arrived there, who crossed the street, who came and broke the door, it was me."
Whatever, Angel. "It was me." That's all you got as a catchphrase? Get some real catchphrases, and then maybe we'll believe you...bro.
STAGE 7: MUSICAL TRIBUTE Finally, once you've been paid tribute in the form of Twitter and t-shirts, there's only one thing left. With that, I give you "Dead Giveaway":
At this rate, Charles Ramsey will probably win a Grammy for that. No other words are necessary. That video is awesome in a million different ways.
As Finch said in American Pie, God bless the Internet.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and nationally on the Yahoo! Sports Radio network Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon CST. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.