In 2010, the Huntsville, Alabama, native was interviewed on the local news after a stranger broke into his house in the projects and crawled into bed with his sister. She screamed, Dodson ran to her room, a brief struggle ensued, and the stranger escaped out a window. A very exercised Dodson took to the airwaves, waggling a bus schedule in front of the camera and warning, “We have a rapist in Lincoln Park. He’s climbin’ in your windows, he’s snatchin’ your people up, tryin’ to rape ’em. So y’all need to hide your kids, hide your wife, and hide your husband cause they’re rapin’ everybody out here.”
Not long after this very compelling rant started making the rounds, it was converted into an even more hilarious song by the Gregory Brothers of Autotune the News. “Bed Intruder Song” (YouTube views: 101,883,932) lodged in the Billboard 100 and hit number one in Sweden. Dodson was a bona fide celebrity. And all the celebrity spoils have ensued: reaping profits from a Bed Intruder Halloween costume, endorsing a “Sex Offender Tracker” iPhone app, working on a rap album, getting busted for pot possession.
At ROFLcon, he vamps it up for well-wishers who throng him, even singing along with the boombox guy when the latter gives Rick Astley a rest and puts on Antoine’s song, which is not really Antoine’s song, but rather Antoine speak-singing something he never knew would become a song. At a Q&A, Dodson, contemplating the weird life-turn that has brought him to MIT, seems bashful and ghetto fabulous all at once. He’s reluctant to put himself all the way out there (though everyone at this conference stresses the importance of embracing your meme -you don’t want to be like Star Wars Kid), while obligatorily playing the sassy black sitcom character that white hipsters so clearly enjoy. It’s hard to tell if they’re laughing with him or at him when they ask questions like, “Do you not have a wife, or are you just hiding her?” (Dodson is openly and flamboyantly gay, hence the joke.)
I ask a straightforward question: What was it like when he saw himself autotuned because his sister had nearly been raped? As the words leave my mouth, I can feel the room turn slightly against me. Someone nearby tsks. How dare I pop the irony bubble? Allowing real-world concerns to intrude on the memesphere is considered bad form.
Dodson gamely responds, “I was upset, you know what I’m saying, due to the fact that [it] happened to my sister. But when they kept showing me the video, I just kept laughing.” Sometimes in the memesphere, if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry. Or worse, get talked about disapprovingly by the hive, like Star Wars Kid.
Frankly, we’re appalled. 2