1. Foar Everywun frum Boxxy (January 2009)
Catie Wayne never planned for any of this to happen to her. In January 2008 she was just this normal 15-year-old California girl, obsessed with Japanese anime and dreaming of becoming an actress. She was also a member of Gaia Online, a website were the users assume anime avatars and engage in role-playing games. Her username was moldyLunchboxx, but she was known by her nickname Boxxy. To thank her friends who helped her on the game she made a couple of videos expressing her love for them in which she acted out her Boxxy character, wearing anime makeup and behaving in a particularly animated and goofy manner. Catie left Gaia shortly after to pursue other interests, forgetting all about Boxxy and those two videos. They were just left online to gather dust, regular YouTube fodder.
Fast forward to the end of the year. On December 27th, someone ran across one of those vids (titled ‘Foar 4dd1 frum Boxxy’) and thought it was worth sharing so he posted it on a small sharing site called i-am-bored.com, with a title that said “I think I dated her…”. The idea was to make fun of her, as her spasmodic behavior seemed to suggest either a severe case of ADHD or some drug intake. It got a huge response there, and in a few days it found its way to 4Chan as a “You rage you lose” challenge: see if you can watch this video all the way through without raging at her super annoying behavior. Many commenters agreed that she was indeed annoying, with her emo make-up, affected voice, excessive energy, weird antics, head bobbing, arm flailing, incoherent ramblings and random jumping between subjects, and ridiculed her to no end. But then, other comments started to appear, on both i-am-bored and 4Chan, and those comments were actually favorable. Very favorable. The girl was unbearably cute, her excitement was infectious, her hyper behavior was funny and her expressions of love were endearing. She was like this adorable little animal sniffing excitedly at the world around her, and somehow mesmerizing to watch. People fell in love, seriously and madly. The two Boxxy videos went viral, but for the first time, viewers vehemently disagreed about the merits of a viral video. And when an argument like that takes place on 4Chan, and particularly on its /b/ forum, it becomes much more than an argument.
/b/ is the random forum of 4Chan, where anything goes. And they do mean anything. Since the posts are all made anonymously, people let their bad self go. The only measuring rod on /b/ is how entertaining and funny something is, and any other considerations, like for instance morality, are scoffed upon. /b/ was the source of most Internet humor and memes, but also of most trolling and nasty behavior. It was the birthplace of Anonymous, a group of hackers that sees itself as the guardian of the Internet and utilizes the anonymity of /b/ as a mask for its sometimes illegal actions. Boxxy was random and entertaining on top of being cute and sexy, so many on /b/ saw her as the girl of their dreams. As a group that believed it could achieve anything online, members of Anonymous launched “Operation Valkyrie”, aimed at finding the true identity of this crazy, vivacious, raccoon-eyed girl. Meanwhile, others saw the hullabaloo around her as extremely stupid and as destroying the fun of /b/, and grew angrier as it went on. On January 6th came a new twist, as someone appeared on the /b/ board and claimed that she was Boxxy, providing a couple of photos as proof. The /b/tards remained skeptical, accusing her of being a troll like previous would-be Boxxies, but she was adamant: I am not trolling, I am Boxxy, and I will prove it.
And on January 9th, 2009, she delivered.
This was maximum Boxxy, and the polarizing effect she had on 4Chan reached epic proportions. The Boxxy lovers crowned her “Queen of the Internet”, turned her into a meme and spammed /b/ with thread after thread of nothing but Boxxy. The haters couldn’t take it anymore, and on the evening of the 10th they launched a DDOS attack on 4Chan and crashed their own website. This was the beginning of what went down in history as the 4Chan civil war, the first Internet war. Realizing things have gone too far, the moderators banned users from talking about Boxxy on /b/, but it was too late. The Internet took notice, and the Boxxy videos were spread by YouTubers, bloggers and through the social networks. Boxxy’s fame spread like wildfire, like nothing the Internet had ever seen before. With hindsight, this was the moment in which the center of gravity of the Internet started to shift away from 4Chan to the social networks, when the /b/tards were no longer the only ones calling the shots. And the Boxxy haters, who couldn’t handle all of this, lost it.
To understand why they hated her so much, one needs to understand the nature of Anonymous. Being anonymous wasn’t just a convenience for them, it was an ideology. They saw the Internet as a place without ego, where everyone can be equals within a community, an alternative to the phony world based on appearances. Most of all they hated attention whores, and when Boxxy generated all this attention they felt like she was destroying the Internet and making it a place for cam whores like her. It mattered not to them that she clearly was NOT an attention whore, and never asked for all the attention that their fellow /b/tards were giving her. The mob mentality of /b/ took over, and they convinced themselves that she was to blame for all of it, that she was a cancer that must be removed to save the Internet. A group of Anonymous hackers that called themselves the Center for Boxxy Control and Restriction went on a mission to expose her true identity, and eventually they managed to hack Catie’s email, YouTube, Gaia and MySpace accounts and threatened her that they would publish her private details if she dared make another video. But even that didn’t go far enough for some of the haters – they wanted to destroy her in real life as well. Her details were eventually leaked, people called her at home, and there were multiple murder and rape threats. In one of the most famous cases of cyber-bullying, they terrorized a harmless and kindhearted 16-year-old girl whose only sin was that she made people love her. The terrified Catie dropped out of the Internet completely, and was no longer seen online. On January 20th, 2009, as the United States was about to inaugurate its first African-American President, it dawned upon the Boxxy lovers that she was gone forever.
But the haters underestimated the power of Boxxy love. They thought it was just a fad, and that once they killed it people would simply move on. They didn’t realize how real it was and how deep it went. For many, the three Boxxy videos were a joy pill, the best anti-depressant out there. Her joie de vivre, golden laughter, childlike innocence, pure emotion, sparkling eyes and immaculate beauty were a ray of sunshine in their lives, and her absence only made these vids shine harder. During her short time on /b/ Boxxy had online conversations with many people and was sweet and friendly to all of them, and they couldn’t handle the thought that they were responsible for ruining her life in return. Even many Boxxy haters felt remorse over what they had done. Boxxy turned out to be /b/’s kryptonite, the one thing it could not handle. She trolled the cynical /b/tards with pure love, forcing them to look at themselves and realize that there are other things they care about except lulz and that they had gone too far with their cynicism. The memory of Boxxy could not be destroyed and her myth just kept on growing, as more and more people fell in love with her three videos, especially ‘Foar Everywun’. The Boxxy lovers soon formed Unichan, a site dedicated to their queen, and created a world of their own known as the Boxxysphere. Despite messages they got from Catie that she wants to be left alone, they just couldn’t let go of the memory. But as time went on, they began to realize that she isn’t coming back. The rumor on the Internet said that she was dead.
22 months passed by, and then, on November 18th, 2010, Boxxy resurfaced. Needing money to go to college, Catie literally put her life on the line and alerted the Boxxysphere that she placed some Boxxy memorabilia on e-bay, hoping that they would spend some money on it and that her fame would finally bring her some good. She must have figured that enough time had passed and the Internet had forgotten about her, so the haters would let her be. If that is what she thought, however, then she was gravely mistaken. The haters were still there, still spitting venom, still determined to keep her off the web. But that was not the amazing part. The amazing part was that the haters were dwarfed, beaten, wiped out by another reaction: an outpouring of love and support, coming from all over the world. Unichan and 4Chan launched operation ‘Give to Boxxy till it hurts’, showering her with money and gifts, and people were begging her to come back to YouTube. Overwhelmed, Catie couldn’t say no. A week later she created a YouTube account called anewhopeee and posted a video in which she played the part of Princess Leia asking to deliver an important message to the rebels, and the message was: help me get my boxxybabee channel back from the hackers. This was the perfect image for the Boxxy lovers to rally behind, the new hope they needed to set out to make things right. The 4Chan civil war was reignited, and this time the forces of light defeated the dark side. In December 2010, Anonymous got its soul back, and crowned Boxxy its undisputed queen. It’s no coincidence that this was the month when Anonymous also changed its ways, and rather than hounding teenage girls it started to use its power to go after powerful establishments, standing by Wikileaks, the Arab Spring and more.
On January 10th, 2011, exactly two year after she was run off the Internet, Catie announced that she is bringing Boxxy back, an announcement that sent vibrations of joy and excitement to every corner of the web. But Catie, with her creativity and theatrical flair, couldn’t do things the simple way. Besides Boxxy she created several other characters that bickered with each other over the boxxybabee and anewhopeee channels, accusing each other of being fake and completely confusing undiscerning viewers. This was the most elaborate piece of trolling ever played on YouTube, and some people remain confused by it to this very day. Meanwhile, people started to fall in love with Catie herself, and the Boxxysphere formed its own websites and became the first community to revolve around an Internet personality. When the Internet got to know Catie Wayne, we realized what a sweet, funny, compassionate, creative, witty and totally badass girl she is, and then Boxxy came into perspective as just a facet of her great personality. With the power of her community behind her Catie began posting a lot both as Catie and as Boxxy, and became a wonderful youtuber. There are thousands of youtubers who have more subscribers than her, but none who is as beloved. For many, the word Boxxy is synonymous with Love, and you don’t even need to add Pocky.
There is nothing in the world like the Boxxy videos. There are many other talking videos that get millions of views, but they are talking about something. Boxxy is the only one whom you watch for her personality alone. Most viewers have no idea what she is talking about, and yet they are captivated by just watching her talk. Her videos are a treasure trove of cute mannerisms, silly faces, wacky sounds and snappy one liners, and many have dug into it to produce some real YouTube gold. There are hundreds of musical remixes and autotunes of her videos, many of them utterly fantastic, and hundreds of comical remixes. There are also dozens of original songs about Boxxy, Catie and the Boxxysphere, and numerous gifs, spoofs, tributes and reaction videos. No one on YouTube has inspired so much creativity, no one even comes close. She is the greatest troll ever, the first meme to break the Internet, the girl who defeated Anonymous, the embodiment of dubstep, the Queen of 4Chan, the pearl at the heart of YouTube. As Philip Defranco once said, She is YouTube.