So here’s a question: what do you do when you’re a 23-year-old female pop superstar, you hold a contest to identify your biggest fan, and the winner is a 39-year-old man who promises to smell your hair during the photo op?
Simple: you cancel the contest on a technicality.
That’s precisely what happened with Taylor Swift this week when a man known simply as “Charles” won Boston’s Kiss-108 FM “Taylor Swift’s Biggest Fan Contest.” The contest, based on Internet votes, was apparently hijacked when anonymous posts on 4chan and Reddit called on fans to vote and help the “fat old guy creep on Taylor Swift” in order to “crush the dreams” of the many teenage girls who had also entered the contest for the chance to meet-and-greet with Swift and attend her concert.
The radio station offered this statement as an explanation: “Disappointingly, we have determined that the integrity of the ‘Taylor Swift’s Biggest Fan’ contest has been compromised. In accordance with our contest rules, effective immediately, the contest has been terminated. We apologize to all of our loyal listeners who have participated.”
It is not actually known whether “Charles” is an actual person, nor was it immediately known whether Swift herself made the decision to pull the plug on the contest (though we could scarcely blame her if she did). What is apparent is that the troll patrol was enlisted to deliberately affect the outcome of the competition, and that “Charles” rose to the top of the vote list as a direct result of the pleas on 4chan and Reddit. Hence, the “compromised integrity” of the contest.
So “Charles” won’t be meeting Taylor Swift, nor sniffing her hair, anytime soon. But the trolls accomplished their goal, nonetheless: the dreams of many have no doubt been crushed. Hope they’re happy.
Meanwhile, lest the public see fit to add this debacle to Swift’s list of negative publicity marks, E! Online is quick to point out that she’s scored some positive points, too. Last Friday, during a meal with Ed Sheeran and Austin Mahone at Ralph’s Italian Restaurant in Philly, Taylor Swift reportedly took pictures with the head chef, provided tickets for the chef and his autistic son to see her show, and dropped a $500 tip.