TwitterLit: @MayorEmanuel Author Comes Clean

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Filed under: Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Literary Hoaxes, Political Pranks

Submitted by Erin:


Revealing the Man Behind @MayorEmanuel
by Alexis Madrigal
The Atlantic
February 28, 2011

It was the best fake Twitter account ever, deftly satirizing Rahm Emanuel, and elevating the Tweet and the f-word to the level of literature. But the mystery writer was never revealed – until now.

There were many storylines in Rahm Emanuel’s romp to the Chicago mayor’s office: a powerful presidential aide leaves the White House; a mayor’s race without a Daley or even an incumbent; a candidate with a hazy claim on residency; the meltdown of former senator Carol Moseley Braun; the terrible voter turnout; and more.

But for networked Chicagoans and political insiders across the country, the performance and identity of @MayorEmanuel, a fake Twitter account, captured the imagination nearly as much as the real politics.

Caricaturing the notoriously dirty-mouthed former White House chief of staff, the Twitter account was a sensation as the election came to a close last week. @MayorEmanuel wrote nearly 2000 tweets in five months and collected several times as many followers as Rahm Emanuel’s real account. Since its last — and apparently final — update on Thursday night, some 1500 Tweets have been issued about the fake account . Daxid Axelrod himself, a frequent character in the stream, responded to a tweet Friday asking whether he missed the account, “You’re freakin’ A right I do.”

The real Rahm Emanuel offered to donate $5,000 to the charity of the anonymous Tweeter’s choice if the creator of the account would out himself (Update: even now, the offer still stands). The Chicago Tribune’s editorial board begged the account not to stop, saying, “The fun is just beginning,” and comparing the mystery of the account’s author to the “intrigue surrounding the identity of “Anonymous,” the author of the 1996 novel “Primary Colors,” a devastating insider take on Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign.

If that seems like a lot of fuss over a Twitter account, you probably haven’t been following @MayorEmanuel. The profane, brilliant stream of tweets not only may be the most entertaining feed ever created, but it pushed the boundaries of the medium, making Twitter feel less like a humble platform for updating your status and more like a place where literature could happen. Never deviating too far from the reality of the race itself, @MayorEmanuel wove deep, hilarious stories. It was next-level digital political satire and caricature, but over the months the account ran, it became much more. By the end, the stream resembled an epic, allusive ode to the city of Chicago itself, yearning and lyrical.

For weeks, journalists and insiders have urged the person behind @MayorEmanuel to reveal himself, but he (or she) demurred. Until now. After a protracted email negotiation, the author has outed himself to The Atlantic. He’s receiving no compensation.

The genius behind @MayorEmanuel is Dan Sinker, who has a heart made out of Chicago and balls of punk rock.

Read the rest of this story here.

images: 1) Alex Hoyt 2) Daniel X. O’Neil

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