In these self-made days of self-publishing, self-improvement, self-harm and selfies, there’s no need for a middle man to make us all famous. This is the digital age, the age of blogging and vlogging. Do or say something stupid enough and the whole world will know your name by teatime.
Of course, that’s not a new phenomenon. It’s been going on for a long, time, it’s just that the 21st century’s online nature makes it quicker and easier for people to become known for whatever it is that they do. Back in the day, there wasn’t any such thing as a reality TV star or a YouTube or Instagram celebrity. People could still became famous just for having had sex with other people, but it had to be with royalty or a president or something ridiculous like that.
And then there are those who managed to become famous - or infamous, notorious, even legendary - through a little lateral thinking, through being more than a little off the wall, or through having something bloody terrible happen to them.
Here are ten of the most bizarre things anyone’s ever been or done that have brought them fame, given them prestige, renown… or just a peculiar worldwide reputation.
10. Ryan Beitz
This is the peculiar story of Ryan Beitz, the man attempting to own every VHS video copy of the Keanu Reeves/Sandra Bullock action flick Speed ever made.
Beitz is a slacker savant, a millennial that chose to step outside of traditional ways of making your way in the world. One Christmas he was unable to buy presents for his family, and rather than sift through dumpsters to find dog-eared copies of books to give them (which was plan A), he purchased six second/third/fourth hand copies of Speed on VHS, largely because he thought it would be funny.
However, it was later that it became an obsession: when he visited a pawn shop and found thirty copies of the movie on video cassette for a pittance, Beitz decided that it would be ‘fascinating’ to have a vast number of identical copies of one useless item. He bought them all, for a total of three dollars and ten cents.
Deciding to spend the rest of his days (or, you know, until he got bored) hunting down every copy in existence, Beitz successfully marketed a kickstarter campaign to have his sh*tty van painted like the bus in the film, in order that he would have the appropriate transport to take him on his mission. Jesus.
If you’re wondering whether he’s serious, he is and he isn’t… he’s not really bothered about recording his exploits, or even counting the copies he has. However, Beitz seems to be itinerant, with no real fixed abode, and travels wherever he wants, picking up copies of the film as he goes.
By now, you either think he’s your new hero or you want to punch him directly in his post-modern slacker’s face. Either reaction is the right one.