A Twitter parody needs a few things to be successful: it needs to ape its subject (or at least public perception of the subject) well, must stick within Twitter’s parody rules, and has to be original.
@bill__murray was none of those things.
Before its timely demise, the parody of actor and comedian Bill Murray snapped up more than 150,000 followers by ripping off other comedians’ work.
While the plagiarism may have been evident to comedy fans, the account’s thievery gained more attention after Tim Siedell (better known as @badbanana) tweeted about the lack of originality in its tweets. In a series of tweets, Siedell complained about the parody to his 595,000 followers:
“I haven't said anything about the fake @Bill__Murray because I thought people would catch on. 157K followers later, apparently not. … Every funny tweet by the fake @Bill__Murray is stolen from someone who took the time and effort to write something original. … Go ahead. Cut and paste a tweet by the fake @Bill__Murray and Google it to see the original author. He/she is a thief.”
Siedell was upset that @Bill__Murray had many more followers than some of the comedians who were being ripped off, and encouraged followers to create original work that called out @bill__murray, promising to retweet some of the best to help the creators receive more attention.
The rant caused anger among other prominent tweeters including comedian Rob Delaney, himself a victim of Twitter plagiarism. Eli Yudin, the creator of popular parody account @NotTildaSwinton, criticized @Bill__Murray too.
Mainstream comedians such as Bo Burnham, Demetri Martin, and even Stephen Colbert were also plagiarized by @bill__murray. A Tumblr blog called Fake Bill Murray attempts to reveal the joke thieving by discovering the originator of each joke
The account also fell foul of Twitter’s parody rules, since its bio did not clearly mark it as a spoof, and the handle and name were the exact name of the subject of the parody. It didn’t help matters that the tweets sounded nothing like Murray himself.
Shortly after the firestorm, the original owner of @bill__murray switched the handle to @Takashimi_Hiro. Now, it seems that the handle has been changed again to @Dotbizzle. Meanwhile, an enterprising Twitter user swooped in and re-registered the newly available @bill__murray handle.
Though the parody caused a ruckus, the trouble could perhaps have been avoided if the parody had stuck within Twitter’s rules and actually did a good job of impersonating Ghostbusters star Murray.
That said, the idea that Murray, an actor who doesn’t even have an agent and uses a voicemail box to deal with professional matters, would have a Twitter account seems a little odd in the first place.
UPDATE: Apparently plagiarism isn't the only questionable behavior Twitter's fake Bill Murray has engaged in. Tweeter @AdamMiguel pointed out that @Bill__Murray solicited followers for donations (and, allegedly, nude photos). Adam sent the Daily Dot a screenshot of one request for donations, which listed an email address that contains the name of the account's current @Dotbizzle handle.
Photo via YouTube