Meme curator Josh Ostrovsky, who goes by the self-afflicted nickname “The Fat Jew,” has had a rough couple of months. After years of shameless joke-stealing finally caught up with him, damaging his career and tanking a ramen festival, he embarked on a short apology tour, claiming he didn’t realize that he wasn’t allowed to steal the creative work of others and profit from it, and vowing to properly credit the sources of his jokes.
In his interview with Vulture, he said,
“I will never again post something that doesn’t have attribution, because I realize now that when the stage is large enough, and the voice is large enough, these things matter.”
So, how’s he doing so far?
— Ricky Montgomery (@rohmontgomery) September 8, 2015
Nice. After Montgomery emailed him to complain, Ostrovsky replied to apologizing, adding the proper credit. Then, he asked Montgomery to delete his tweet.
This isn’t the only instance. Ostrovsky’s sourcing has been consistently sloppy, more a shallow attempt at PR damage control than anything else.
If you look at some of his recent posts following his Vulture interview, he continues his former practices, only making an appearance of properly crediting their original creators. He’s still cropping out usernames, and often credits the wrong person, by using their Twitter handle on Instagram, where users often go by different names (even @fatjew, who goes by @thefatjewish, so he should know better).
If you click the user name, you get linked to an unrelated user named “YoJordan.” Whoops.
Though Ostrovsky seems to be responding to angry emails and updating his posts and this is certainly an improvement, it should not be up to his victims to yell “thief” in order to receive credit for their work. And though in some ways this is an infrastructure problem — Instagram doesn’t allow links outside of bios, which makes it almost impossible to cite people — this doesn’t justify his tactics. Really, he should stop stealing shit and try to post his own original material. The danger is, of course, that more people might suddenly discover that he’s not actually as funny or interesting as other people’s work makes him appear.