Have you ever posted a picture online, only to discover years later that it had become a sensation in a totally different country?
Ten years ago Florida-resident Allen Rout posted a picture of his newborn son, Stephen, on the Internet. Then just two month ago, while googling his own name, he was shocked to discover that his son’s picture had become a sensation in Japan. It was on dolls, in game shows, and even in video games. It was essentially being used as an “open-source stock image.”
According to KnowYourMeme, it all started back in 2004 when a user of 2chan.net, a Japanese imageboard, discovered the picture and added an interactive cartoon talk-bubble to it so users could have the unknown baby say anything they desired. Soon after it was picked up by the Japanese media, and a sensation was born! Nowadays Stephen’s photo is even used to censor explicit images on television!
Surprisingly enough, Stephen’s father, Allen, isn’t at all disturbed by the phenomenon.
“The meaning that a piece of work has, comes as much from what the observer brings to it as it comes from what the artist put into it,” he said. “I’m perhaps over-dignifying baby pictures when I talk about them as art, but I think the abstraction applies.”
As for his Stephen himself, he thinks it’s all pretty “cool.”
It’s certainly not the ideal path to fame, but hey… enjoy your time in the limelight, youngbuck!