'Star Wars Kid' suffered years of harassment after 'first ever viral video' and doesn't even like Star Wars
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The man who was at the heart of the famous ‘Star Wars Kid’ clip suffered years of harassment after it became the first ever viral video. You can take a trip down memory lane and watch the viral vid below:
Back in 2003, a then-14-year-old Ghyslain Raza was mucking about with a video camera in high school when he was met with technical issues.
Rather than get annoyed, he decided to step in front of the lens to have some fun – the result being what ended up sending him viral.
Speaking in Star Wars Kid: The Rise of the Digital Shadow, a documentary made by filmmaker Mathieu Fournier and the National Film Board of Canada that dropped earlier this year, he recalled: “I get in front of the camera, and out of my exhaustion or frustration, or both, I think, ‘No, this’ll be more than just one last take.’
“I decided to have a little fun. After working for several hours, I was fed up and wanted to mess around. And that ended up being the video that you all know.
“It was never supposed to be serious. It was a slapstick video that was meant for my eyes only. It was never meant to be shown to anyone else. I was really just blowing off steam.
“Once I was done, I switched everything off, I grabbed my stuff and went home.”
But his life changed forever when his classmates got hold of the tape and uploaded it to the internet, unwittingly turning Raza into the ‘Star Wars Kid’.
As we now all know, viral fame is rarely an easy ride, something Raza learnt the hard way.
You can watch him talk about the experience below:
According to CTV, who spoke to Raza in March about the new documentary, this is the first time he has opened up about the ‘harassment’ he faced, and his family’s legal suit against his classmates and the media.
"Those were hard times to go through," he told the outlet in his first English-language interview, later explaining: "On top of the harassment at school or the harassment on the internet, there was a form of harassment by the local media, especially – they tracked me at school, they tracked me at my parents’ home, they tried to take pictures through the window blinds.
"I mean, there was a point where it was well beyond what was acceptable even back then."
A priority for Raza, who CTV says was ‘never a Star Wars fan’, was to bring some ‘normalcy’ back to his life - which was one of the reasons he decided not to speak to press or go public at the time.
He added: "I would not have been interested in a documentary strictly focused on what happened to me or take a melodramatic tone.
"To go beyond the story, to go into reflection, to make something useful out of it, that's what convinced me that it would be a good project to be a part of."
Andy Baio was the person who posted the now-famous video in 2003, and dreamt up the nickname ‘Star Wars Kid’.
In the documentary, he expresses regret for what he did, saying: "If I knew what I know now, I never would have posted it.
"I can't diminish it. I provided a place for people to watch it in that initial spread. I have enormous regret about posting the video."
But Raza appears to be fairly forgiving of Baio’s actions, describing him as an empathetic person who simply had a lapse in judgement.
"In the documentary, you can tell how much of a good person he is, how empathetic he is and that provides a beautiful lesson of humanity that a good person can make a mistake and that mistake can have very important consequences but that, at the end of the day, Andy could be like any one of us," Raza told CTV.
"That's part of self-awareness, today we know that you have to be careful even if you're in the spur of the moment. With these technologies, the consequences are quickly amplified."