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'Star Wars Kid' Becomes Internet Star
Guardian Unlimited ^ | Thursday August 21, 2003 | MARTHA IRVINE

Posted on 08/21/2003 2:23:08 PM PDT by Mad Dawgg

'Star Wars Kid' Becomes Internet Star

Thursday August 21, 2003 6:59 PM

By MARTHA IRVINE

AP National Writer

It was a moment of unadulterated goofiness, the kind of thing anyone might do with no one watching: A teen from Quebec videotaped himself as he pretended to wield a light saber ``Star Wars'' style.

But that private moment went public, very public, when classmates at his high school found the tape in a cabinet and uploaded it onto an Internet file-sharing site this past spring.

Now Ghyslian Raza is known far and wide as the ``Star Wars Kid,'' with a fan base that only seems to be growing - even though he doesn't want the attention.

The video shows the slightly portly teen awkwardly twirling a golf ball retriever like ``Star Wars'' bad guy Darth Maul, and has been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times. Web sites have been dedicated to the youth. Supporters have raised money for him. And several techies have created their own ``clone'' versions of the video, adding sound and visual effects or placing his image in any number of backdrops - from ``The Hulk'' to ``The Matrix.''

Many teens who post their images on the Web would probably be thrilled to get this kind of attention. But Ghyslian, who made the video while doing a school project when he was 15, has said he didn't intend for it to be seen by his classmates, let alone people across the world.

``I want my life back,'' he said in an e-mail interview with the National Post newspaper, a Canadian daily.

Claiming that their son has been humiliated, his parents are suing the parents of the teens who put the video on the Web.

Some say the case may become a step toward setting privacy standards on the Internet, which has been difficult terrain to police. But in the meantime, Web surfers are having a field day with Ghyslian's image on any number of sites.

Elizabeth Murphy, a production manager for a Web design company in New York, says she finds herself visiting one of the sites often.

``Contrary to popular belief, I think it is not the Jedi kid's awkwardness that keeps him in people's hearts but his undeniable enthusiasm for what he is doing,'' Murphy says. ``While I feel bad for him because he hates his new found popularity, I revisit the site anytime I am feeling down. It just cracks me up. I love this kid!''

Experts say it's no wonder the video has only increased in popularity.

``It resonates because we all know what it is like to have moments like that,'' says Patricia Leavy, a sociology professor at Stonehill College in Easton, Mass., who specializes in popular culture.

``Personally, I sing and bop along to TV theme songs,'' she adds. ``Embarrassing, yes. But also a part of being human.''

Ghyslian's lawyer, Francois Vigeant, declined to comment, citing an upcoming court hearing. He said the teen and his parents, who live in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, also were declining interviews.

Meanwhile, the teen's supporters are working on his behalf.

Andy Baio, a 26-year-old computer programmer from Santa Monica, Calif., helped lead a fund-raising campaign for Ghyslian - and claims to have purchased an iPod music player and gift certificates for him.

Others have started a petition to get him into the next ``Star Wars'' movie, which Lucasfilm Ltd. is currently filming in Australia.

A spokeswoman at the California-based film company would not say whether filmmaker George Lucas is considering the request.

``We are deeply saddened by this current situation and any difficulties this uninvited publicity might be causing (Ghyslian) and his family,'' spokeswoman Jeanne Cole said. ``We have no other statement.''

Regardless, many ``Star Wars'' fans hope Ghyslian will learn to enjoy his newfound fame.

``I guess I can feel his pain because it's so big,'' says Joshua Griffin, editor of TheForce.net, a Web site of ``Star Wars'' trivia and gossip. ``But part of me thinks he should enjoy this. Drop the lawsuit and embrace this.''

Griffin admits that he enjoys watching the video clips of Ghyslian.

``I definitely want to respect the kid's privacy. But...,'' he says, starting to laugh, ``It's so funny. He's the 'Star Wars Kid' in all of us.''

Still others applaud the lawsuit, and hope it will help set stricter Internet privacy standards.

``We need to ask 'What kind of culture are we going to have?''' says Lynn Schofield Clark, director of the Teens and the New Media @ Home project at the University of Colorado. ``I'm hoping we're able to be a society where we do provide people's right to privacy and dignity.''

But Baio warns that the lesson is ``if you don't want to risk being the next Star Wars Kid, you should be very careful about what you videotape and where you keep it.''

---

Martha Irvine can be reached at mirvine(at)ap.org

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003


TOPICS: Extended News; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: starwarskid
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Interesting that this may lead to a big law on internet privacy. I wonder how Canadian Internet Laws will affect those of us in the USA?
1 posted on 08/21/2003 2:23:09 PM PDT by Mad Dawgg
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To: Mad Dawgg
Nerd-boy needs to lighten up.
2 posted on 08/21/2003 2:25:54 PM PDT by Guillermo (Proud Infidel)
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To: Guillermo
The spoofs and the original are hillarious...there's entire sites out on the 'net dedicated to this kid..
3 posted on 08/21/2003 2:28:29 PM PDT by Michael Barnes (carpe ductum)
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To: msdrby
ping
4 posted on 08/21/2003 2:30:23 PM PDT by Prof Engineer (HHD: Middle Earth First, We'll Electrify the Rest Later)
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To: unix
Where can I see them?
5 posted on 08/21/2003 2:31:13 PM PDT by Guillermo (Proud Infidel)
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To: Mad Dawgg
If this kid and his parents had any sense they could make a mint off this. See here for more.
6 posted on 08/21/2003 2:31:59 PM PDT by isthisnickcool (Sobig stinks...)
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To: Mad Dawgg; Texaggie79
Old news.
7 posted on 08/21/2003 2:32:34 PM PDT by Sir Gawain (According to Ashcroft, Al Capone was an alco-terrorist)
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To: unix
"The spoofs and the original are hillarious...there's entire sites out on the 'net dedicated to this kid.."

Yeah this kid could turn this all into a quick buck if he and his family would just think on it!

Hell I've seen people stand in line for autographs and pictures from extras-actors on Star Trek and Babylon five at 5 bucks a pop.

Why not the Star Wars kid? I bet plenty of people would pose with him in a mock light-saber battle for a fiver!

8 posted on 08/21/2003 2:33:59 PM PDT by Mad Dawgg (French: old Europe word meaning surrender)
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To: Mad Dawgg
Lets see if this works:


9 posted on 08/21/2003 2:35:23 PM PDT by Brett66
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To: Sir Gawain
"Old news."

I prefer the term "updated news" with new comments on the lawsuit... thank you very much!

10 posted on 08/21/2003 2:35:43 PM PDT by Mad Dawgg (French: old Europe word meaning surrender)
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To: Brett66
"Lets see if this works:"

Apparently not, unless your goal was to post a little white box with a red X in it.

11 posted on 08/21/2003 2:37:20 PM PDT by Mad Dawgg (French: old Europe word meaning surrender)
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To: Sir Gawain
Have you seen the different movie trailer parodies with this kid superimposed as the star of the movie?
12 posted on 08/21/2003 2:39:02 PM PDT by Rebelbase
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To: Rebelbase
DOES ANYONE HAVE A LINK TO THE VIDEO?. THANKS in advance!
13 posted on 08/21/2003 2:39:50 PM PDT by hawaiian
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To: Brett66
http://www.petitiononline.com/Ghyslain/petition.html
14 posted on 08/21/2003 2:40:38 PM PDT by BurbankKarl
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To: Mad Dawgg
I've been laughing so hard I coughed up a lung.
15 posted on 08/21/2003 2:44:12 PM PDT by theDentist (Liberals can sugarcoat sh** all they want. I'm not biting.)
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To: Mad Dawgg
The lord of the onion rings is my favorite.
16 posted on 08/21/2003 2:44:15 PM PDT by big_Rob (www.aguynamedrob.com)
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To: Mad Dawgg
"Apparently not, unless your goal was to post a little white box with a red X in it."

You got something against the Swiss flag?

17 posted on 08/21/2003 2:44:40 PM PDT by Batrachian
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To: hawaiian
I have to wait for my kid to get home to find the link.
18 posted on 08/21/2003 2:45:32 PM PDT by Rebelbase
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To: hawaiian
Look at post #9. That's basically it. There are several variations that I've seen, but you get the gist of it. I can't find any links that work right now.
19 posted on 08/21/2003 2:45:56 PM PDT by GSWarrior
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To: Rebelbase
Not sure. I've seen a few from jedimaster.net.
20 posted on 08/21/2003 2:46:02 PM PDT by Sir Gawain (According to Ashcroft, Al Capone was an alco-terrorist)
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