Scumbag Steve: Expelled two years ago, still hangs around parking lotNSFW language in links.

Scumbag Steve is your douchebag roommate. He borrows your lighter -- permanently. He leaves a mess in your kitchen. He might even daterape.

Scumbag Steve is a character invented on Reddit's Trees subforum and developed on the AdviceAnimals subforum, which features pics of animals or people with a line of text above and below them, like the one of Steve here.

But unlike most of those animals, Steve is a person -- represented by a photo from a real person named Blake Boston. And Blake Boston is really pissed off -- depending on which Blake you believe.

Scumbag Steve was (apparently) born on January 20 with a Reddit post titled "I hated this dude." The post linked to a picture with different douchey captions. A commenter named the guy "Scumbag Steve," over 300 users upvoted the name, and Reddit had a new meme (similar to the recent Hood Dad). Some of the best, via BuzzFeed:






They also invented spinoffs like Siberian Steve:


And Renaissance man Scumbag Stefano:


The original Scumbag Steve picture (as Redditors were delighted to discover) came from the MySpace page for Mista Boston, AKA BZB, AKA Blake Boston, a member of BZB and the Beantown Mafia (a rap group with uninspiring music). Blake's profile is packed with hilarious -- unintentionally, I think -- photos of Blake and his friends. They chill topless! They wear white suits on a golf course! It's great!

Blake and Beantown's MySpace pages now have a few taunts in the comments, like "YOU SCUMBAG! VOMITED ON MY SOFA AND DISAPPEARED!" and "Aaaaww sh**eett, scumbag steve. How ya doin' maaan?"

Someone on Reddit found Blake's Facebook, where he voiced his disapproval of the meme:

Blake Boston says that people need to watch their mouths with the Scumbag Steve, uh, crap


Reddit was amused. Hood Dad loved his meme fame and thanked Reddit, but Blake's vicious reaction was much more fun. "So now he's Butthurt Blake?" asked a commenter. "I thought Scumbag Steve was quite amusing, now it's f*cking hilarious," said another. "Haters gonna hate. Keep it real Steve." They were starting to sound like the users on 4chan. And Reddit prides itself on not behaving like 4chan.

So soon, a popular Reddit thread asked, "Why do we harass 'Scumbag Steve'?" One of the top comments on the thread answered, "It seems as if internet users are taking out a lifetime of anger, from being manipulated, out on this person as though he's personally wronged them." Another said, "This is just a classic case of the bullied doing the bullying." (A popular reply said, "That dude is a total d*ck. Just look at him.")

The best explanation may be this:

It's because he's not handling it well. It boils down like this:

  1. Person becomes famous meme.
  2. Said person is pissed about becoming a meme, tells everyone to stop.
  3. NOBODY TELLS THE INTERNET WHAT TO DO.
Yeah, that sounds about right.

But Angry Facebook Blake might have been fake.

Somewhere, Blake posted a pic of himself (archived but unsourced here) with a sign: "Feb 1, 2011. I'm Blake Boston AKA Scumbag Steve. My Facebooks private f*ckers. My twitter is @BlakeBoston617. Any FB pages/websites are fake unless I say so."


Looks legit. And check out the BlakeBoston617 Twitter feed:


He likes it! Reddit celebrated. "Real Scumbag Steve's Twitter," said one post title, "and he finally does have a sense of humor." (The poster must have missed that Twitter Blake claimed Facebook Blake was fake.)

But the Twitter account didn't start until January 31, days after Scumbag Steve appeared. His first tweet read, "@jakefogelnest follow me f*cker Im the real scumbag steve blake boston." The next few asked several other Twitter users to follow him. If this is really Blake, he jumped right into self-promotion, and he got savvy to the language fast. And I couldn't tell if Twitter Blake was also behind this self-promotional Facebook fan page.

I contacted Blake on Twitter and emailed him to see if he could help verify his identity. He replied,

sorry i was watching the bruins. huh? so you dont think its me? this sh*ts kinda whack though. ill get my sister to skype you and i'll hold up my licence and what passport and what else? i get it though ,i just went to fb and there are so many fake blake bostons aka scumbag steve sh*t. wow guess my names out there now.hahaha oh and ive got like 2000 emails now. and I dont mean to be a d*ck but im not going to give you my phone number til ik youre legit too. fake emails and sh*t.

The censoring asterisks throughout are mine, by the way.

But then Blake found a post on my personal blog, where I asked my readers if they could recognize a shot of Blake. He saw a comment from my colleague Chris Menning of BuzzFeed, saying Blake was "emailing everyone I know trying to figure out how to cash in on his fame." Blake got pissed and emailed me:

Tell chris menning hes a f*cking asshole and a lier. and you posted this sh*t. f*ck you too. emailing every one? you think that maybe thats not me? I havent email anyone you f*ckers. two people have tried talked to me about putting something together. and i didnt even talk to them , tonight I asked dan at knowyourmeme if he thought i should get something out of this. that IS THE ONLY F*CKIN TIME IVE TALKED ABOUT MONEY. REPOST DO WHATEVER THE F*CK YOU WANT YOU F*KIN C*CKS*CKING LIERS.IM DONE. menning youre a b*tch. twitter this f*ck head

Maybe Blake has been overrun with would-be talent management. Maybe he just has an anger management problem. For a while I thought he was fake, because he was weirdly savvy and self-parodic. I asked Chris. He said no:

He's actually pretty clueless about what he's doing and how to go about it. But he's throwing around meme terminology that he learned from KYM [Know Your Meme] to try to sound confident.

I don't know where it's gonna go. I mean, if he hadn't tried to be so public about how he LIKES the meme, he could still try to play up the character, like coppercab did.
Scumbag Steve isn't the first advice meme star to hate his fame. After a Tumblr invented "Privilege Denying Dude" (using a stock photo of a smug-looking white guy) and the meme spread to large blogs like Jezebel, the stock photo model lobbied Tumblr to shut down the blog. The internet, as with Blake, largely went "screw you." Jezebel added a note to their Privilege Denying Dude posts, pointing out that the model did not share the opinions of the fictional character, and that the model had been insulted in real life by people who confused fiction with reality. And then another guy volunteered to be the new face of straight white male privilege and everybody went home happy.

But with Blake "Scumbag Steve" Boston as a second data point, we should see a trend forming. The internet will continue to use real people to make fictional memes. And those real people will react in the many ways that real people do. Eventually someone will get rich off a meme that wasn't even really about them. And, well, eventually someone's life might be ruined because someone turned them into a bad guy on the internet.

I hope it's more of the first, less of the second. Because if the internet stands for anything, it stands for people getting rich and famous just for showing up.