Reddit is now home to two communities fanatically devoted to a cause. One believes it memed a bloviating fascist into office as the soon-to-be leader of the free world. The other wants to save Brendan Fraser.
The former is, of course, the_donald—one of the largest internet meeting places for Trump supporters which Gizmodo discovered last month to be systematically gaming Reddit. With help from an associated chat server, users of the_donald employed aggressive brigading tactics to rig online polls, harass dissenters, and dominate the conversation on the site. Borrowing similar tactics, r/savebrendan is trying to save the former star of campy and beloved films like The Mummy and Blast From the Past.
Although savebrendan is not a new community, it seems to have drawn a flood of interest this week with the majority of its moderators joining within the past five days. Ignoring the persistent images of That Guy From Encino Man, the subreddit is basically indistinguishable from the_donald (and, to that end, a spin-off community called the_brendan has already been created.) Users regularly call on each other to help Make Brendan Great Again.
It’s difficult to tell if the newfound concern over the wellbeing of washed-up actor Brendan Fraser is genuine, a parody of Trump supporters, or if that distinction even matters—Because either way, what savebrendan is doing is working.
IMDB lists the Bedazzled lead as having jumped 149 places on the site’s Starmeter this week, reentering the top 500 for what is likely the first time in decades (I do not have and refuse to pay for an IMDB Pro account.) A week old change.org petition to “please consider Brendan for any upcoming shows/movies that are planned” has topped 33,000 signatures. Moving forward, the community is planning coordinated Twitter actions around hashtags like #savebrendan and #UnfuckBrendansShit.
While some of us may have fond-ish memories of watching George of the Jungle, Fraser has been the subject of a long and rich meme history that helps explain some though not all of the recent interest. Several years after a divorce from his wife Afton Smith he made headlines when he petitioned to have his $900,000 annual alimony payments reduced following a major back injury. Notably this event featured a photo of Fraser, bleary-eyed, seemingly unwell, and ripe for meme fodder. Sad Brendan was—by the magic of Photoshop—given the ugly haircut of an unrelated internet joke, became associated with the phrase “just fuck my shit up,” and a meme version of the Sinbad: Beyond the Veil of Mists lead was born.
Not content to let Fraser be remembered as a sobbing wreck—or using his shattered career as a vessel for Trump-parodying cultural warfare—savebrendan are breathing new life into memes about a man best remembered on screen as a lovable doofus. Whether they’re able to effectively #unfuckhisshit and Google bomb Monkeybone 2 into production though remains to be seen.