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Zach Anner is a fine young man from Austin, Texas, who in mid-2010 decided to take part in a contest held by Oprah Winfrey to win a television talk show. Zach was also born with cerebral palsy (the sexiest of the palsies) and confined to a wheelchair, which makes everything he does at least 100x more hilarious. The online contest was structured as such that each contestant had to submit an entry video, which would then be voted on by the online community, with the top five contestants then being flown to LA to be judged by God of Feminazi's Oprah and her sycophantic followers. The rules of the online contest allow individuals to vote an unlimited amount of times, however bot-voting is frowned upon.
The internets immediately approved of his entry (and his entire persona) and rallied full force behind him, with the likes of /b/ and John Mayer very vocally throwing their approval to his corner. In fact, support for Zach is one of the few things (aside from a hatred of niggers and love of loli) that /b/ has ever been nearly unanimous on.
This overwhelming support rapidly built a significant amount of online buzz, and was reported first in the blogosphere, then by old media outlets, who always love a story about a retard making good. Google search results were rife with Zach Anner stories. The buzz quickly translated into votes, and within a week Zach was comfortably in first place, with a gap of over a million votes separating him from his closest competitor. Mission accomplished.
But the story does not end there. In mid-June of 2010, the then-third-place contestant who went by the name of black person (who happens to be black), mysteriously began rising in the votes at an alarming and inexplicable rate. She rose from third place to second place inside of two days, and then began closing in on the beloved Zach, despite what had seemed just days before like an insurmountable lead. Finally, she overtook him (and then some), by adding well over a million votes inside of just one day. This was particularly remarkable as literally nobody had ever heard of 'Dr. Phyllis' (aka Phyllis Tucker-Wicks), including Google.
This of course alarmed anonymous, who, strongly suspecting foul play, immediately donned their tinfoil hats and launched an investigation. Amazingly enough, this time it seemed that they were actually on to something, as it was discovered that an additional script had been placed in Dr. Phyllis' vote button which may have radically increased her vote count. Additional research into the vote patterns' raw data seemed to corroborate this theory, and anon proceeded to go completely ape shit over the discovery that Zach was in fact being royally screwed out of first place, and more importantly the fact that for the first time in internets history, one of their conspiracy theories may have actually been correct.
The first plot hatched by anon was intended to bring down the website which was hosting the contest. The legions of anon amassed their LOICs and prepared to DDoS the shit out of myown.oprah.com with a barrage of righteous firepower. Unfortunately, it turned out to be little more than a barrage of fail, as Oprah's tech team fully have their shit together and not a dent was made. It was also speculated that a good portion of anon were hitting the wrong IP address, which probably didn't help matters. Either way, not a fucking dent.
Moving along to plan B, it was decided that anon would fight cheating with more cheating, and quickly organized a massive bot-voting effort in order to bring Zach back up to his rightfully deserved first place position. This effort was decidedly more successful, as Zachs votes grew like the mighty oak, and although Phyllis' votes were also rising to now-absurd levels, anon finally managed to push Zach back into first place once again.
At this point, anon was also Google bombing search terms like 'Oprah rigs votes against Zach Anner', and 'Oprah hates the disabled', with media outlets both online and offline beginning to pick up this story as well. With even more buzz building around Zach and the contest, this time related to the alleged vote-rigging, anon discovered that the vote script had been removed from the 'Dr. Phyllis' button and her vote rate dropped significantly, returning to the level it was at before the script had been added in the first place (nowhere near enough to compete with Zach).
Shitstorms, Shitstorms Everywhere
The immediate result of these valiant efforts was of course that Zach regained his top spot. But the blowback from the implication that an Oprah contest may have actually been rigged (against a super-cool disabled person, no less) was significant. The Oprah people quickly released a vague statement of acknowledgment:
—The Oprah PR machine in action. Money well spent.
Meanwhile, the rest of the internet was alight with lively discussion regarding the legitimacy of the contest and its rules, the likelihood that team Oprah had hand-picked 'Dr. Phyllis' as a forgone conclusion, as well as the suspicion that the entire controversy was nothing but a big hoax being perpetrated by those all-powerful internet gods at 4chan (This is particularly funny, as its been scientifically proven that 94% of 4chan regulars aren't even qualified to tie their own shoe laces. The other 6% don't leave the house enough to even warrant ownership of shoes). Despite this, some consensus seems to have developed:
1. The rules of this contest are completely fucked.
2. Team Oprah never expected the contest to get much attention beyond her core fan base of fat soccer moms and gay black men.
3. Because of this, they never in a million years expected a guy like Zach to actually win, and have no idea what to do with him.
4. Zach totally deserves to win, and earned the votes that put him into first place originally.
5. Did I mention the rules of this contest are completely fucked? Because they are.
6. It's not beyond the realm of possibility to imagine that an overzealous flack on Team Oprah had the votes tampered with in order to help push a more brand-friendly contestant into first place.
7. 4chan did something, somewhere. Nobody can explain what though. Especially not Geekosystem.
8. Dr. Phyllis is a good cure for insomnia.
So ultimately we're left with Zach back in first place, Dr. Phyllis pretty much in hiding as she's made no statement whatsoever on the controversy (probably in fear of lynching at this point), and Oprah is left with the stench of a horribly tainted contest which she now has to see through to completion. The online community is also maintaining the status quo of batshit and never ending flame wars, the most entertaining of which can be found over at the Huffington Post of all places, where they've helpfully concluded that Oprah was NOT rigging the votes, because of the aforementioned Google bomb (???). This of course completely ignores the embedded vote script (as well as the fact that a Google bomb has no effect on, you know, voting). All that aside, however, the truly entertaining part of that article is a particularly epic troll in the comments by the name of WhiteKnight123, who has literally been all up in that article 24 hours a day since it was written on June 22, posting nearly immediate anti-Zach and anti-anon comments in response to anyone who even vaguely sounds suspicious of Oprah or 'Dr. Phyllis'. Worth a visit for epic counter-troll lulz.
The video that started it all.
Success! Operation SyPhillis did exactly what it was supposed to do; call attention to the voting irregularities and simultaneously get Zach back into the first place position, where he should have been all along, as well as embarrass the fuck out of Oprah. Anon was not 'cheating' in that 'Dr. Phyllis' was never truly a first place candidate, and Zach was. Anon did not tamper with the original voting... fact is, John Mayer and all his other publicity got Zach more votes than 4chan ever could have thought possible at that point; anon simply corrected a wrong. Unfortunately, having done their good deed, now the only thing worse than a Dr. Phyllis reality show will be the perpetual handjob anon will be giving themselves over the fact that they were actually successful at something for the first time in their collective lives.
The voting has officially ended, and the following message has been added to the contest pages:
I guess we'll have to wait and see just how badly Zach gets screwed.
'Surprise' Results - 7/11/2010
On July 9, 2010 the OWN network released their final vote tally, revealing the winners and losers of the online contest. To the shock of many (but not all), Zach finished not in first or second, but rather seventh place (and essentially out of the running), having been stripped of over six million votes. On top of this, the top two contestants (whom nobody has ever heard of), seem to have actually had votes ADDED to their totals after the voting was closed. black person and Jacqueline Wattimo (who were the top two after Zach during the contest) were awarded the top spots, keeping every single obvious automated vote that they managed to rack up during the contest and then some, with 8,453,803 and 9,360,096 respectively.
This is of course completely batshit, and a transparent and seriously hamfisted way to get Zach out of their contest once and for all. Automated voting was obviously rampant throughout the last couple of weeks of the contest, with all the top contenders getting their positions padded with outright ludicrous numbers of votes. Why was Zach the only contestant to be penalized for this? Why would they want to take the ONLY person in their contest with a built-in following and a ton of publicity and simply discard him? Wouldn't it be better for their contest and ultimately their show to embrace this sort of thing and, you know, take advantage of it? Why attempt to downplay his popularity?
Zach isn't 'on-brand' for Oprah, and they have no idea what to do with him.
The Oprah brand consists of pandering to soccer moms who hate their lives and gay black men who worship Oprah like she's some empowering, kitschy goddess. This means shows about things that no sane human could possibly be interested in, interspersed with cheap stunts like free cars for her audience. Zach is a quasi-hipster smartass in a wheelchair. He's totally random and awesome (and seems like a really nice guy too), but the deep thinkers over at the OWN network would probably rather poke their own eyes out with a rusty pocketknife than try to figure out a way to market him to their current demographic (and have no interest in, or ability to, expand that demographic).
Oprah has a grudge against Anonymous.
Zach was obviously the favorite of anon. They helped a great deal in getting his buzz started, and really like him. Despite reports that anon was just promoting him for the lulz of getting a dude in a wheelchair on TV, the fact is that (much like cats), Zach is one of the few things anon has embraced unironically.
Now, Oprah likely has a huge grudge against anon, because she was the victim of an epic trolling last Thursday when she announced on national television a claim by a particularly gifted anon that 'over 9000 penises were raping children'. To be sure, neither her nor her staff appreciated that very much, and one wouldn't be surprised if they were using Zach as some kind of retribution. The ultimate irony of this, however, is that originally Oprah was just a random target of opportunity, which anon quickly moved on from. The Zach situation is an escalation which is likely to maintain anon's attention for a while.
This 'contest' was engineered from the start, and Zach was just a distraction.
The entire 'contest' was likely a sham from day one, with the results a forgone conclusion. How else can you explain the hundreds of entries, with a few getting millions of votes, and the rest being virtually ignored? With the exception of Zach, can anyone honestly say that there is a vast difference between the winner, Jacqueline Wattimo, and pretty much any other random soccer-mom video that was submitted? How did she get ten million votes? The only way to get those kinds of votes would be to go viral, and the only video from that entire contest to go viral was Zach's. None of the others got any publicity or buzz at all, so how do you explain it? Unless of course the contest was rigged from the start and Zach was an unexpected (and unwelcome) distraction.
The bottom line is that this 'contest' was always designed to just be some smoke and mirrors to entertain the Oprah core audience, not an internet phenomenon (or even a real competition). The OWN network had zero interest in making their website a treehouse for 4chan or John Mayer fans or the rest of the random internet ether. As soon as Zach started to get serious numbers of votes and viral internet publicity, the marketing wizards who were running things began to sweat, as they were clearly losing control of their creation. And if there's one thing that the Oprah brand enjoys, its control over its message. So they took the clumsy and obvious action of rapidly jacking up Dr. Phyllis and Jacqueline's votes artificially, and when that didn't work, they just cut Zach's total in the final count. Why wouldn't they? Her audience views Oprah as their God anyway, so if she says the contest is fair, its a safe bet that they'll all just nod in agreement. The ability and intention to manipulate the votes was of course built into the contest from the beginning, as no good marketing person would ever leave something like this up to the internet alone, but had Zach not entered the contest and brought all this scrutiny with him, they would not have had to do it in such an obvious way and nobody ever would have known.
Oprah hates disabled people.
Yes, I'm afraid this is true. You can spread the word on this truth by Google-bombing the search term plzkthx.
The internet of course is somewhat aghast at this gross miscarriage of justice, with some calling for a boycott of Kohls (the sponsor of the contest) and others just being generally pissed off that for once it looked like an underdog may actually pull through, but ended up inexplicably crushed anyway. It remains to be seen if any real action will come of this, either on the part of anon, or from the general media.
—Jennifer Gleason, oblivious of Oprah's massive gas chamber
—anon, being smart
—anon, saying what we're all thinking
Is It Over?
No. Technically, it seems like they're going to allow Zach to participate in the finals, despite being dicked out of the top five (along with two others who finished out of the running), for a total of eight contestants from the online contest. However, because OWN has demonstrated such obvious hostility towards Zach and his fans
- Serious Business
- Old Media
- Internet Hate Machine
- Zach's vote page
- Zach's Facebook Fan Page
- Oprah's community forum. SPAM PLOX
- Zach's YouTube channel
- Huffington Post shitshow
- Complete Examiner coverage of Zach Anner - Best coverage so far.
- Geekosystem's Zach Anner coverage (take the good with the bad)
- Entertainment Weekly
- We report, you decide, motherfuckers
- Even the Indian press wants in on the action
- Videogum coverage
- Time Magazine
- (There's literally like 1000 pages of this stuff, so just Google it you lazy bastards)
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|Featured article August 12, 2010|
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