After @CWalken, the fake Christopher Walken, was banished from Twitter on Friday, Twitter gave him a chance to comply with their “impersonation policy.” It reads:
“Pretending to be another person or business as entertainment or in order to deceive is impersonation. Non-parody impersonation is a violation of the TOS, specifically article 4 which states: You must not abuse, harass, threaten, impersonate or intimidate other Twitter users.”
The standard for defining parody is: Would a reasonable person be aware that it’s a joke? An account may be guilty of impersonation if it confuses or misleads others — accounts with the clear INTENT to confuse or mislead “will be permanently suspended.”
So @CWalken changed the feed’s name to “@CTrelvixWalk,” changed the avatar to match the one on his personal Twitter feed and wrote a bio that stated he was not the actor. He added a few new tweets, like this one (cheeky!):
“I was as shocked as anyone by my ouster from Mrs. Liebowitz’s water aerobics group. Somewhat relieved, I won’t lie. But it surprised me.”
A few hours later, Twitter decided he had not gone far enough to divorce the new feed from the actor and took it down, too.
But fans of @CWalken are not going away quietly. They’ve started a feed called BringBack Walken, which calls out to “all fans of @CWalken. PLEASE POST @bringbackwalken — lets bring him back. so funny, so harmless, we love and miss him!”
There are 200 followers as of Wednesday morning. The tweets include heartfelt pleas and rallying cries: “ladies and gentlemen, show me your passion, post about @bringbackwalken, and when we number enough we shall go to @twitter with our campaign.”
Meanwhile, the person behind the account is still tweeting away on his own Twitter feed, which sounds much like the Walken-inspired voice he created. It’s called Trelvix. He’s got a little over 1,000 followers so far. The bio reads: “Banalities, indiscretions and occasional blasphemy.”
To that I’d add: mastery of the literary form of Twittering.
Yes, I do think it’s fair to call it a literary form, if Twitter is being approached in a literary way, which is clearly Trelvix’s intention. He’s figured out how to write epigrammatic 140-character tweets and to add them to a feed at regular intervals, so that the result feels like a long open-ended poem, made up of smaller poems.
Sample Trelvix post: “She said, ‘Spiderman.’ I said, ‘Booty shorts.’ She wonders if I’m really taking the team-building exercises seriously. Maybe I am.”
It’s as if the @CWalken voice were now commenting on a different kind of life, one that features a corporate job, a wife and kid … but the same dark humor and perfectly calibrated tweets.
Or do we only want to enjoy that kind of thing on Twitter if it’s attached to a celebrity?
(A little reality-check: The power of celebrity is why “The Reader,” a heavy, German “novel of ideas” that probably sold a few hundred copies before Kate Winslet starred in the movie, is now on the bestseller list.)
Trelvix sent me a final thought about the @CWalken saga:
“I do hope that this has helped Twitter — in whatever small way — to look at and to mature their policies on parody, satire and impersonation. I hope it helps to bring some consistency to their enforcement models as well — that is — maybe they can find a way to eliminate the "free laptop" spam accounts and worry a little less about the accounts that bring real-world first-time users to their service. Just a thought.”
In the meantime, there’s more of Trelvix’s work at this site. Whoever you are, Trelvix, I salute you!