Since they arrived with the dawn of Reddit, AMAs have become the internet’s veritable Roman Coliseum, where online commentators come to cheer or jeer at whatever challenger dares wander in; the emperor’s thumb controlled by the mighty power of upvoting.
There have been some gory decapitations in the past, like when Creed’s Scott Stapp was bludgeoned with endless Nickelback comparisons, or when Woody Harrelson limped onto the hallowed Reddit sands clearly unaware and not briefed about the forthcoming chaos and frantically demanded for all questions to be about his current movie, Rampart. Remember Rampart? There weren't many questions about Rampart.
Yet, because of the sheer crowds you get at the Coliseum, plucky young publicist after publicist still encourages their stars to saunter in there, plastic shield and wooden sword, pan on head, ready to embrace the arrows. Over the weekend, Wyclef Jean hosted a Reddit AMA to celebrate the 20th anniversary of hip-hop classic The Score by The Fugees. Incase you haven't noticed where I'm going with this, it didn't go so well.
Back in 2010, Jean was the subject of a criminal investigation into the finances of his Haitian aid organisation Yéle Haiti, which went out of business in 2012, leaving a trail of legal disputes and unpaid debts, amidst reports that the non-profit organisation had spent £10million in public donations in just two years, and repeatedly failed to file tax returns. The New York Times alleged that Yele spent $9million in 2010 alone, and that “half went to travel, to salaries and consultants’ fees and to expenses relate to their offices and warehouse.” Wyclef has always denied any wrongdoing in interviews.
Still, if a post-mortem on any disastrous AMA was to identify cause of death, it would always be the moment the commenters identified an achilles heel. From the word go, question after question probed Jean what the hell actually happened with Yéle, as the AMA descended into the kind of calamity you have to just step back and admire. The upvoting thumb burst into action, pushing all of these questions straight to the top, so that the entire interview seemed to only consist of unanswered questions about Jean's charity.
If that wasn't bad enough, then everyone started tactically upvoting the AMA itself so that it landed on Reddit's frontpage, so that more and more readers could flood in and leave there thoughts.
I guess the lesson here is: the Internet is written in ink. Or: you shouldn't dance with wolves if you have steaks stapled to your butt. Or: don't do Reddit AMAs if your name is Wyclef Jean. Maybe one day Reddit will do: I'm a Publicist Who Was Sacked for Suggesting a Disastrous AMA, Ask Me Anything!! Anyway, you can view the entire murder scene right here, and perhaps pray for Jean's publicist on your lunchbreak.