Meet Kanye West’s No. 1 Online Troll: Loser.com Owner Brian Connelly on Shaming Kanye
Brian Connelly registered the domain www.loser.com in 1995. Since then, he’s redirected the site to the pages of Barack Obama, WikiLeaks, Reddit, and most recently: Kanye West.
Brian Connelly is having a ball. You see, ever since Kanye West’s Beck-dissing stunt at the Grammys, Connelly’s website www.loser.com has redirected to the Wikipedia page of the musician/entrepreneur. It took a few weeks for the media to catch on, but over the past week, much ink has been spilled over the trolling seen ’round the world.
“That was sarcasm at its finest, right?” he exclaims.
It all started on the toilet. Connelly, a 44-year-old systems analyst in South Carolina, was watching the Grammys with his wife when he felt the need for a bathroom break. A self-confessed “geeky guy,” he has a tablet set up on the wall, and he observed Kanye crashing the stage after Beck won the Grammy for Album of the Year.
“Watching that man bully Taylor Swift on national television? That was horrible,” says Connelly. “And watching it happen a second time at the Grammys, I thought it was a scripted part of the show. When I realized it wasn’t, I was like, ‘Oh, this motherfucker.’”
Connelly hadn’t logged in to www.loser.com in quite some time, but he decided to seize the moment—Beck’s most famous song, after all, is called “Loser.” After logging into the site, Connelly found that the architecture had changed a bit. A tech support window popped up, and he wrote that he wanted to send www.loser.com to Kanye’s Wikipedia page. The tech support people were very enthused.
“The tech support guy said, ‘Give me five minutes. We’ll make this happen. This needs to happen,’” Connelly recalls. “And at one point it was taking a while, so I said, ‘Oh, I’ll just not do it,’ and the guy on the other line said, ‘No! Don’t give up! You can’t give up!’”
After the redirect went viral, Connelly received an email from a Hotmail account whose author claimed to be Kanye himself. “It said something to the effect of ‘I’m a good guy, and I’m just making music to make people feel better, and what you’re doing isn’t right. You’ve had your five minutes, now please correct it,’” says Connelly.
As of this writing, www.loser.com is still sending visitors to Kanye’s Wikipedia page.
This isn’t the first time Connelly has trolled someone or something through www.loser.com.
Back in 1993, as a college student, he started an Internet company, South Carolina Super Net, which became one of the first Internet service providers in South Carolina. He would interface with clients, and at the end of those soul-draining meetings, he’d always be handed a business card. So he decided to post the worst people he encountered on the “Loser Wall.” Connelly would always gab about the “Loser Wall” with his wife, so eventually she registered the domain www.loser.com for the grand sum of $35 as a joke.
“I am the original registrar of www.loser.com and have owned it since 1995,” he says. “I’ve never really tried to monetize it, per se. I’ve used it for fun and games over the years. It’s a universal term that’s known in every language, not just English.”
The site, which he says was getting about 30,000 views a day when Connelly last checked, tends to go viral every few years—usually when he targets a politician or a popular website for kicks.
In 2000, he directed www.loser.com to the website of Bill Daley after he lost the governor’s race in Tennessee (“I think he was anti-gay”) and, in 2002, to a site opposing South Carolina Gov. Jim Hodges (“No comment”). Connelly stepped things up in 2008, when the site redirected to Obama’s 2008 presidential election website. “That wasn’t against Obama’s election!” he says. “That was just getting people to register.”
Since the site generates pretty sizable traffic, Connelly sometimes redirects it to places he supports to give them more eyeballs, like the Obama site, or the WikiLeaks site in 2010.
“That was a positive,” he says. “I redirect to things that are positive sometimes, too, and what was leaked in that case could be considered pretty bad. Bringing light to situations and educating people is pretty positive, I think.”
He’s also had his site redirect to Google.com because he thought it was funny to have it just be a mirror of Google, and in 2012, the Reddit homepage, which ended up landing his site on the Reddit homepage. “I like Reddit!” he says. “It was just a joke.”
But the Kanye West redirect has a bit of a backstory, and was definitely intended as a burn.
Connelly says that he has a pair of teenage daughters, one of whom is 16 and is “fascinated by pop culture.” He adds, “She likes the one that was trying to break the Internet, Kim Kardashian, and we’re big music appreciators in our family. My wife blares out Kanye stuff all the time.”
While his wife is on Team Kanye, Connelly is decidedly not—and it mostly goes back to a bad experience he had watching Kanye perform at last year’s Bonnaroo.
“I went to Bonnaroo last year, and Kanye got up onstage and just started bitching at the audience because I think someone had spray painted ‘F--- Kanye’ on a porta-potty or something,” says Connelly. “Then he started yelling, ‘Where the press at? Point out the press!’ and started going crazy and yelling at everybody about how they didn’t respect his genius. Then he started naming names of people he should be compared to—George Washington, Henry Ford, etc. My wife was really enjoying it, but I wasn’t. We’re a paying audience showing him respect, and he launches into us with this egocentric f---ing bull---- rant, and it was insane.”
Connelly pauses. “And he didn’t even play ‘Gold Digger.’”