Paul McCartney

A bunch of teens trolled the media by pretending not to know Paul McCartney

The phrase “Who is Paul McCartney?” spread across Twitter. But did anyone really mean it?

Jul 20, 2020, 12:15 pm*

Internet Culture


Miles Klee

Right as we rang in 2015, Kanye West released “Only One,” a keyboard ballad about his wife, Kim Kardashian, and daughter, North West, cowritten with Sir Paul McCartney. And, in an outpouring of confusion we’ve come to expect in moments like these (see also: Arcade Fire, “Bonnie Bear,” and OutKast), the phrase “Who is Paul McCartney?” spread across Twitter.

But did anyone asking the question really mean it? 

Major media outlets seemed to think so and were ringing their hands accordingly, but embedded observers recognized many of these tweets as winking one-liners intended to enrage old fogies. Soon enough, the backlash to the backlash had reached peak reflexivity. (On top of which, like, who actually cares?)

If you want the honest answer, though, you’ve got it, thanks to a curiously similar shitshow over the 54th Annual Grammy Awards in 2012:

Glad we could clear all that up. And the next time you want to suggest that civilization is dying because a handful of 12-year-olds don’t yet know about a musician who made his greatest contributions to the medium half a century ago, do us all a favor: don’t.

Photo by Eduardo Pelosi/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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*First Published: Jan 5, 2015, 2:34 pm