The popular forums on Reddit known as AMAs (“Ask Me Anything”) offer site users the opportunity to pick the brains of those who choose to take part in a candid, unfiltered question-and-answer session. Participants range from anonymous people with an interesting story to tell, to authors and politicians, to athletes and — as AMAs become part of the mainstream media circuit — entertainers and Hollywood celebrities promoting their latest film or show. Some are excellent, featuring thoughtful answers to insightful questions, while others simply flop.
Here are 10 of the biggest AMA fails in history of the website:
“I am the founder of Digg, the website killed by Reddit!” said Kevin Rose in so many words. “Ask me anything, and I’ll leave you hanging for the next 24 hours before I return to provide a few half-assed answers!”
Back in 1999, then-25-year-old John Rocker of the Atlanta Braves had this to say about New York City:
“It’s the most hectic, nerve-racking city. Imagine having to take the 7 Train to the ballpark looking like you’re riding through Beirut next to some kid with purple hair, next to some queer with AIDS, right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time, right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids. The biggest thing I don’t like about New York are the foreigners…Asians and Koreans and Vietnamese and Indians and Russians and Spanish people and everything up there.”
Nearly 14 years later, Rocker seemed determined to prove that he remains the king of delusional xenophobic redneck assholes, and took to Reddit to masterfully retain the throne.
There was a time, on Reddit, when the adulation of Morgan Freeman — or, at least, the idea of Morgan Freeman — or, at least, the idea of the sound of Morgan Freeman’s voice — was equaled perhaps by only Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye, and bacon. That suddenly changed on April 11, 2013. The supposed Morgan Freeman, with the username “OblivionMovie,” provided a series of bland, one-line answers, and Redditors determined unanimously that it was a PR agent posing as Freeman. The next day, a user even posted video proof that the entire ordeal was a sham.
Psy’s first AMA is as dull and unreadable as his song is torturous. I can think of about two billion people who might disagree with me.
Television show host and political commentator Rachel Maddow’s AMA probably would have fit in better in the r/cringe subreddit than in r/IamA. As one user stated, “This AMA seems like it’s just a list of things she doesn’t want to be asked,” especially since the top five (and seven of the top nine) upvoted questions — regarding topics such as Bradley Manning, Maddow’s role in partisan bickering, and LAPD shootings of civilians during the Christopher Dorner manhunt — went unanswered. The Reddit backlash was so severe that an MSNBC representative felt compelled to send out a statement in defense of Maddow’s AMA performance.
Among many other factoids offered during Canseco’s AMA, he confirmed that “my nuts shrunk but my penis grew” due to steroid use, “i still have sex 5 times a day with 7 different objects,” and “I am wearing an old underwear with poop stains.” Whether this was one of the worst AMAs of all-time or one of the best depends on your point of view.
Reading an AMA with Trent Reznor is about as close as you can get to watching a legendary egomaniac get his dick sucked by a million fans at once. To be fair, Reznor’s answers are pretty thorough when he gets to expound on his genius — but when presented with a question that actually calls out his hypocrisy, the gloves come off.
Back in 2007, Reznor blasted major labels for not only poor treatment of artists, but of consumers as well — and his gallant defense of his fans was refreshing:
“The climate grows more and more desperate for record labels; their answer to their mostly self-inflicted wounds seems to be to screw the consumer over even more,” he stated, urging fans at a concert to steal his music online: “Steal and steal and steal some more, and give it to all your friends, and keep on stealing.”
Five years later he crawled back to the majors, and when a bitter fan asked, “As millionaires, why did you sign up with a record label to promote your new album?” Trent replied, “Sorry, the wifi on our yacht is having issues, we can’t get your full question to load. Try sending me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.” In an earlier AMA with Reznor, a user posed a lengthy question pressing Reznor on the major label issue, stressing, “You spent years being trashed by these kinds of entities. Not only you, but your fans.” Reznor’s one-word response: “Poop.”
Here’s President Obama playing baseball. And here he is playing softball. Obama’s 30-minute stop on his virtual campaign trail in late August 2012 crashed Reddit’s servers, but the hype wasn’t justified. To see the brief list of questions he answered, click here.
Yes, the OP set himself up in the post title for a war of words. Yes, some nasty comments were made. That aside, even in the most civil exchanges, the Tea Partier did little to convince anyone that his knowledge of American politics or current events was anything exceptional; rather, even for a relatively literate and well-meaning member of America’s looniest political fringe cult, he still proved to be factually misinformed and inconsistent in beliefs. The whole thing ends up being kind of depressing to read, like most of r/politics.
When it comes to failed AMAs, Woody Harrelson‘s set the bar almost impossibly high. Harrelson logged onto Reddit in February 2012 to let Reddit “ask him anything” — at least, anything about his new film, Rampart. Unfortunately for the actor, one of the first questions asked (and the one that received the most upvotes) asked him about the time he allegedly crashed a high school prom in LA and took a female student’s virginity.
“Do you remember any of this and can confirm,” asked user AndyRooney, “or have you been so knee deep in hollywood pooty for so long that this qualifies as a mere blip?”
Had Woody and his team of PR people simply ignored the question, it likely would have sunk in the thread. However, he made the mistake of not only acknowledging it, but scolding Redditors en masse: “First of off, its not true, and second off, I don’t want to answer questions about that. Lets focus on the film people.”
Yes, let’s focus on the film, indeed.
“You said AMA,” explained user joetoc. “That means ‘Ask Me Anything.’ Not ‘Ask Me Anything with regards to this movie I’m pushing.'”
“So it’s more of an advertisement, not ask you anything?” asked user Rasalom.
After the disastrous start, his PR handlers attempted to answer a few questions and salvage Harrelson’s reputation — while shoehorning Rampart into the answers as frequently as possible — but the damage had been done.