This post is in response to the interview conducted by CNN correspondent Drew Griffin of an Arlington man who lost his job after being outed as an infamous internet troll. The interview was aired by Anderson Cooper on his television show Anderson 360. The link to the first part of the video is included below.
While we have covered this story in class already, I decided to revisit it after a night at the bars in downtown Fort Worth. Let me explain, some friends and I were out at Bar Louie off of West 7th street a couple Fridays ago when I looked up and saw this on the flat screen above the bar…
I was completely surprised to see Anderson covering the story since I have not yet seen any of our other articles gain national attention. I proceeded to tell my friends the condensed version of the story. I think they were only mildly intrigued because the guy ended up being from Arlington.
I, on the other hand, decided to go back and watch the video of the interview as soon as I got home since no one, of course, could hear any of the interview at the bar. What struck me first was Brutsch’s attitude. The reader of the article we read in class does not get the sense of the detestable attitude of this man. I was taken aback by the award that Brutsch received from Reddit.com for his “contributions” to the website. I could not believe that this award was nominated by his peers as well. This individual actually got accolades for posting violently explicit material listed under the categories of “Jailbait,” R-rape Jokes,” and most detestable of all – “Dead Children.” There could be a special level of hell for those who make so called “gallows humor” at these kinds of subjects. Brutsch was so apparently proud of this trophy. Without being prompted to or asked to, he brought the trophy to the interview to show it off. He didn’t have to but he wanted to. He wanted to show the world that he had been congratulated for his “work” so that the consequences of his actions might seem a little too harsh. Reddit has since expressed its regret for awarding Brutsch the trophy, but there is no taking it back now.
Brutsch says he has a knack for pushing people’s buttons. In fact he claims to have a “gift.” He glorifies and builds himself up in this way. He prides himself on possessing this gift and seems to delight in the suffering of others. He gets some sort of high. I believe this urge comes from a deeper place. Brutsch craves attention that he would never get otherwise. This part of him that lacks affection and craves attention acts out much like a child would do. Not only does Brutsch like pushing people’s buttons to get attention, he thoroughly enjoys enraging people. In my opinion, this man has dark demons inside of him.
I couldn’t help but wonder how this man lives with himself. As I watched and listened to him during the interview, I noticed a technique that he was using. He never refers to himself posting these explicit pictures or doing the acts that he does. Instead, Brutsch says that his pseudonym “violentacrez” did the act. By not admitting directly that he – Michael Brutsch – did these acts, he separates and distances himself from the acts that he is accused of doing. Almost as if this is a person he does not know. This hearkens back to the Robert Louis Stevenson story Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This story is actually an excellent metaphor for how people interact online. You can be one person in public and a completely different, warped other person online. One does not have to feel the guilt of one’s actions if one places the guilt on another person. However, just as Mr. Hyde encounters his fall at the end of the novel, Brutsch’s alternate identity was eventually his downfall.
Throughout Cooper’s coverage of the story, his loath for Brutsch is apparent. He is very critical of Brutsch’s character or lack thereof. In some moments, Cooper’s analysis is too emotionally driven that he comes off as hateful. But for the most part I agree with Cooper’s statements in which he says that Brutsch is a small person and that he is solely responsible for the vile online activity.
A pivotal moment in the interview is when Drew Griffin asks, “Are you apologizing for what you did or are you making an excuse for what you did?” Brutsch hesitates and replies, “Well I – I am to some degree apologizing…” Wait, what? To some degree? Not completely? Not wholeheartedly offering an apology to those affected? Where is the much needed sincerity and humility? No doubt these qualities are buried under Brutsch’s brutish character flaws and lack of moral fiber.
My outrage climaxed when Brutsch said that one of his motivations for making the Reddit pages was that he was playing to an audience of mostly college students. This boldly implies that college students in general are wildly immature and can be amused by vile and excessively explicit subject matter such as rape jokes and images of deceased children. I loudly object to such a depiction of college students. Shame on you Michael Brutsch for calling out an entire age group or category of people and making any sort of assumption about their collective interests. The majority of college students are very positively motivated people who are working to be contributing members of society, unlike how Brutsch has ended up. He is not a contributer to society. He is a detractor to society and has robbed countless of their innocence. I shudder to think how many young adolescent, impressionable, pre-pubescent teenage boys that Brutsch has warped the minds of. Young teenage boys are stereotypically already very immature at that age and these kinds of Reddit webpages online would fuel that fire and warp these young men’s minds about women and how to treat women even more. Again, shame on you Brutsch. You truly are a very small person of incredibly despicable character.
(walks away from the computer and calms down)
I actually found Brutsch to be somewhat well-spoken and that surprised me to an extent. There’s a part of me that thinks that Brutsch expected to be caught one day and had this all planned in his mind. He mentions this genre of humor labeled “gallows humor.” Brutsch claims that this is the genre that he published his materials under. To me there is no humor at all in what he posted.
Just like a cheating spouse, Michael Brutsch is not sorrowful for his actions and for the ramifications of his actions… he is only sorry for getting caught.