Viral violence | The Press

ang Star Wars who?

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child, it seems Star Wars Kidnamed one of the most viral sequences on the internet, from the paleolithic era of the internet, since 2002. To this day, it remains a cult clip, the founder of a particular digital virality.

ang Star Wars Kid became – reluctantly – a celebrity on what is still called the information highway at the beginning of the millennium.

I remember the sequence: we see a teenager, dressed like a teenager, awkward as teenagers, engaging in front of the camera in an imaginary lightsaber fight, solo, with a funny abandon .. .


Ghyslain Raza, 15, in the video Star Wars Kidreleased in 2002

The teenager was Ghyslain Raza, 15, from Trois-Rivières, PQ

He knew he was being filmed, he told me in an interview in the area of ​​the National Film Board (ONF), which is producing a documentary on his life, to be released next week. He knew because he was the one who activated the camera.

“I’m involved in a project at school, I need a sequence to rehearse using editing software …”

The footage is not intended to be “available” to the public. However, he traveled around the world when he was found by a classmate who showed him to other teenagers …

And one of them uploaded it to the Kazaa file-sharing site. The sequence has been, in sharing, Star Wars Kid.

It went viral, because we didn’t say at the time. And this virus attacked young Raza in three fields, ruining his existence in the process.

The media front: media from around the world have had an interest in the virality of Star Wars Kid. ang New York Times spoke about the phenomenon, on the front page. Quebec media, they mainly want to talk to the teenager, his family, in search of the scoop.

The digital front: “internet users”, as they are called, commented on the teenager in the video, from Tokyo to Cabano … With all the craziness needed to make someone’s life hell, in particular this case is a man who is only 15 years old.

The face of reality, of real life: Ghyslain Raza became the laughing stock of some comrades, who openly mocked him. You know how nasty teenagers are …

Young Raza is one of the first victims of these web slippages that erase the boundaries of real and virtual: “The shame that made you to live doesn’t stop, it follows you everywhere …”

He became a distraction for his private school.

“Seminary asked me not to come back after the summer …

“Because you’ve been a distraction?”

– Yes. »

She has that smile of hers. He didn’t want it in the Séminaire Saint-Joseph, the establishment. Moreover, in the documentary In the Shadow of the Star Wars Kid1, focused on his trial, we see him talking to teenagers from Séminaire about the dangers of digital technology. But for more than 10 years, Ghyslain Raza hid. In 2013, he gave an interview to journalist Jonathan Trudel, from the magazine News2who introduced him as “the first victim of cyberbullying on a planetary scale”.

After this interview, Ghyslain Raza closed the hatches again: no interview, no comment, thanks for your call…

Ghyslain Raza was particularly angry with the media that followed him in 2002. The documentary sends a chill to the impact of the pack that can take over the media, when they want news, when they want an interview, when they follow “ good “story.

He, 20 years later, is still wondering where the “news” is, in the order in which he starred: “We’re talking about a 15-year-old boy. Is it okay to recognize him, say the name of his school, broadcast his image? I, I think not. Why did the media talk about it? Is it for the public good? »

Twenty years later, being viral is a fact of life, not just virtual life. The virtual is embedded in the real, and vice versa. But you can’t imagine how, 20 years ago, in 2002, these things were new, unusual. We can’t imagine how abnormal it would be for you to be “viral” for a child – yes, a child – of 15 years old, in 2002… Abnormal and violent.

I’m not saying it’s necessary, normally, now. But the children grew up in a digital era, where everyone was filming themselves, everyone was putting themselves on stage. There is an understanding of codes that did not exist in 2002. In fact, there were no codes in 2002.

And the virality bar is higher now: we watch Ghyslain play Star Wars in the footage, and it’s clear now the video is unlikely to get 1000 views on YouTube. But in 2002, Ghyslain Raza was the canary in the digital mine, he was cannon fodder for virality.

When the village became global thanks to the WWW, 15-year-old Ghyslain Raza from Trois-Rivières had to isolate herself to protect herself from the world, real and virtual. Her parents had to pick up the phone (there were calls from all over the world, in all languages, for interviews), they had to leave the house for a while (a photographer tried to take her picture between the curtain in the living room) and he was alone in his fourth high school, with a private teacher (the Seminary asked him never to return to disturb the students) …

Twenty years later, he said: “I was a victim of that, but in my environment, in Trois-Rivières, there was a strange change. As my parents chased the parents of the teenagers who broadcast the sequence, I went from victim to executioner. They said I wasn’t suffering. That my parents wanted to earn. It’s twice as hard… ”

No one, says Ghyslain Raza, be it the media, or Internet users, or his own school, has seen what is hidden behind Star Wars Kid : the life of a 15 year old child delivered throughout the virtual and real universe. And this is an impossible violence, a violence predicted on modern social media.

“No one supported you?

“Apart from my parents, apart from my lawyers, Kathleen Rouillard and François Vigeant, no. Mat Vigeant sent a press release, at that time, to remind me that I was still young… ”

I ask him to tell me about his parents. And there, imperceptibly, I feel Ghyslain Raza approaching, I feel I am walking to a safe place:

“I won’t speak for them. They went through a lot. But they were my rock during those times. They didn’t let me down.

“Did they like the documentary?” »

Ghyslain smiled, searching for his words.

“I will keep their reaction to myself, but … They like it.»

Ghyslain Raza agreed to participate in the documentary to go beyond his own story of stigmatization, to launch a social reflection. We see him in the documentary talking to teenagers his age, in 2002. He liked their openness, their kindness: “Young people have new reflexes, they have better awareness. »

But the purpose of this documentary, what is it? What he wants to provoke in public space, incl In the Shadow of the Star Wars Kid ?

“You need to know how to bring back sympathy to what you’re doing. It’s important to maintain empathy and compassion in public discourse.

– Not just media, because we are all media?

– Exactly. »

I note, I looked at this colossus with a calm, subtle tone. And I thought there was some miracle in front of me. How can we survive this? Bullying is something. Global bullying? This is another thing, next level, as young people say. What Ghyslain Raza did not kill himself was a kind of miracle.

How, then, to trust Others?

Ghyslain thinks so. He replied that it took a year, before he trusted himself to start trusting others again. I tell him it was small, a year, because of the trauma. Answer: “I cannot say whether it is a short time or not. But I was well surrounded. There was a teacher who gave me private lessons, between the Seminar and high school… ”

And Ghyslain Raza explained to me the impact of this personal teacher, his superiority over her, seeing that he was something other than this viral sequence, that he was not the Star Wars Kidthat he was a self-constructing teenager.

“I owe him this lesson in life, to this teacher,” he told me. Relationships with others are the best thing in life. I owe him this life lesson that you have to risk trusting others… ”

With a reflex of exactitude, I asked Ghyslain who this teacher was. Answer: this teacher who gave him private lessons for a year does not want light, so … he will remain anonymous.

“But without this teacher, will you miss the lesson in this life?”

– I do not know. But I’m glad I didn’t miss it … “

I ask him if he is on Facebook, more or less convinced, by asking, that he is not there: Facebook is the place of all the lights, of all the self -presentation, of all the fights and, likewise , of all modern threats. Response. “I am here, under my real name. But all the security settings on my Facebook account at the max, he said with a smile. I mainly use it to communicate directly with people… ”

And then, he notes, anyway, he’s not the type to spread his life on social networks. He does not judge the makers. It wasn’t just his cup of tea, Ghyslain Raza, 34, doctoral student in law, survivor of the first virtual pack.

“I tend to, to put it silly and flat, prefer the real thing. I’d rather have a phone conversation, than consulting a Facebook feed. I tend to keep my life social. down to the ground. »

Has she ever met people who, as teenagers, decided to convey her moment of authenticity on the internet without her permission?


Has he forgiven yet?

“I told this to the director Mathieu Fournier, in the film: forgive, you have to ask.»

He remembers that day, in Seminary, when he mimicked a frantic battle with a lightsaber. Editing software is buggy. At first he mimicked the scene carefully, slowly, without neglect. The software was always bugged, which gave birth to a sequence that was too slow.

“I decided to do it one last time, faster. It was a frustrating night. I decided to let go of my crazy. I let myself go and that’s what contributed to being viral: everyone projected if what do they like about these pictures … ”

By the way, Ghyslain, your relationship is Star Warswhat is that, are you a fan?

Ghyslain Raza’s answer was very ironic: “Of course not. »

1. The documentary will air on Télé-Québec on Wednesday night, 8 pm

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