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Star Wars Kid Cuts a Deal With His Tormentors 865

An anonymous reader writes "Ghyslain Raza, who gained instant online fame as the 'Star Wars Kid' settled this week with the families of the three classmates who posted his two minute Lucasfilm screen test on the Internet. No details were released but the suit sought damages of $351,000. A victory for the victims of cyber-bullying, or missed chance by thin-skinned Ghyslain to cash-in as the next William 'She Bangs' Hung?"
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Star Wars Kid Cuts a Deal With His Tormentors

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  • Hindsight is 20/20 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by suso ( 153703 ) * on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:12PM (#15084939) Homepage Journal
    It may not be always obvious what the right thing is to do when you're in a situation like Ghyslain's. How was he to know that the reaction to how he and his parents handled his situation would be overall frowned upon. He had a chance to make something that was embarrasing work out really well for him. But nobody likes a whiner. I only hope that other kids can learn from his situation and make the most of their own problems.
    • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:18PM (#15084993)
      > It may not be always obvious what the right thing is to do when you're in a situation like Ghyslain's.

      Well, we can thank him for this much. Next time any of us is in a situation where we're dancing around playing "air lightsaber" (or even just air guitar), at least we can safely scratch "videotape it" off the list of "right things to do".

      Schadenfreude: The joy of learning from other people's mistakes.

    • by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:19PM (#15085012) Homepage Journal
      I would hope for the other way round, but unfortunately it won't happen.
      The kids who posted this without thinking how it would affect his life are the ones who should be learning from this.
      Fame is a fickle thing, some people try their whole lives to get it, others try to stay away from it. Being forced into a difficult situation IS bullying, and I hope this kid can grow out of his stereotype.

      Everybody does stupid things, but to be reminded about them every single day must be hell.
      • I'm sure everyone here knows that the best way to deal with "bullies" is to call their mother and get them in trouble.

        Oh wait..
        Now instead of being "the kid who dances with a lightsaber," beloved around the world. He's "the crybaby who can't take a joke" This isn't about standing up against bullies, internet fame is measured in minutes and his is long since passed. This is about money. If he was so concerned about getting past this embarrassing momnet he wouldn't have brought about a year long court cas
    • by Moby Cock ( 771358 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:19PM (#15085013) Homepage
      I only hope that other kids can learn from his situation and make the most of their own problems.

      That lesson is: Temporary embarassment can lead to huge cash rewards!
  • by windowpain ( 211052 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:12PM (#15084945) Journal
    But first get a settlement.
  • by Jay Maynard ( 54798 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:13PM (#15084953) Homepage
    It's certainly possible to turn the lemons of Internet infamy into lemonade, but it takes a certain psychological makeup to ride that tiger. I'm pretty sure Ghyslain did what was right for him.

    I'd like to sit down and talk with the guy, though...
  • Wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by pHatidic ( 163975 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:13PM (#15084956)
    That was so long ago. That kid must be like 30 by now.
  • by parasonic ( 699907 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:14PM (#15084964)
    ...if only he'd found an agent or studio wanting him. It's much much easier to become famous if millions are already familiar with you...
  • Overreaction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by yog ( 19073 ) * on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:15PM (#15084971) Homepage Journal
    A victory for the victims of cyber-bullying, or missed chance by thin-skinned Ghyslain to cash-in as the next William 'She Bangs' Hung?
    I vote for missed opportunity by Raza. I don't expect a high school student to have a well developed ability to laugh at himself, but surely his 15 minutes of fame could have been put to better use than merely to sue a few classmates. Still, what they did wasn't very nice.

    Furthermore, I doubt that it will prevent so-called cyberbullying; it will just remind the more intelligent bullies to wreak their mischief anonymously.

    When I think of all the bullies I had to deal with growing up, back in the pre-Web days, and the revenge I could have gotten by spoofing them on a website, well, I guess I'm glad I didn't have that opportunity to do something so easy that would haunt me the rest of my life. It would have been fun, though.
    • A minute or two in the fleeting spotlight vs 300K+... hmm, I know what I'd pick,
  • by swestcott ( 44407 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:15PM (#15084975) Homepage
    That is the main difrence the kid had this put on him not buy his own choice

    I still think got lemons bla bla you know
  • by irritating environme ( 529534 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:15PM (#15084976)
    Did this kid?
  • He had been known for his Slash-dotting...they'd cheer "Slashdot Kid Slashdot Kid Slashdot Kid" and every hot chick in school would be all over him like the geek that he is!
  • Is the $350,000 for no one paying him to use the video? Or is it for the humiliation?
  • by EraseEraseMe ( 167638 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:19PM (#15085011)
    When you hear what his life was like after the fact. I doubt some of the more mal-adjusted /.ers would have a different reaction to being harassed 24/7 for something you didn't really want anyone to see. Let's not forget he's a kid; a nerdy, overweight kid (Much like many of us were). It's hard to live with that kind of notoriety so soon in life.

    For the record:
    He had to drop out of school due to harassment.
    He still gets approached by people on the streets about it.
    His parents had to hire a private tutor for him.
    He ended up on anti-depression medication.

    It's not funny, don't laugh.
    • Oh, get over yourself. I had heard about the "Star Wars Kid" many times before a friend introduced me to the videos (I didn't have broadband). The videos are just wonderful, and are NOT bullying to people like me. Sure, it must have been a good deal of embarassment, but now we have a set of videos that allow people to laugh WITH the Star Wars Kid, not at him. It's now part of the species fan filmia, which anyone can go out and capture when they feel the need for a good laugh.

      The SWK will simply have to get over it all, and in fact should proudly take credit for his (unintentional) participation. Nerdy and overweight, he STILL did what he did out of his sheer love of the genre, and to a significant extent I'm sure the video producers did the same. As the years pass I hope he'll come to understand all that, and that it will take much of the sting out of the embarrassment he experienced. He's already made some money off the deal, so perhaps the maturing process has begun.
      • "now we have a set of videos that allow people to laugh WITH the Star Wars Kid, not at him"

        Obviously he's not laughing; thus you're not laughing WITH him, you're laughing AT him. Is that really hard to understand?
        • Obviously he's not laughing; thus you're not laughing WITH him, you're laughing AT him.
          Reminds me of a situation at my old middle school. Our teacher reached up to pull down the overhead projector screen and accidentally pulled down the whole unit form the ceiling. She started laughing, so we joined in. All of a sudden, she turns, glares, and yells "Why are you lauughing at me?" One brave soul said, "Ma'am, we're not laught at you. We're laughing with you." to which she replied, "Do you see me laughing?"
    • by Zspdude ( 531908 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:44PM (#15085289) Homepage
      Who modded the parent funny?

      This reminds me of previous story about the difficulties of employers reading personal blogs and making employment decisions based on what they find on the Net.

      We're looking at a medium where what is put up will last for many many years (verging on forever, possibly) and while you can control what you post yourself, you can't control what others share. (You can go retroactively to the courts and get mocked mercilessly for it though.) People (even many here on slashdot) don't realize what a powerful medium it is.

      I don't think that many people realize the tremendous potential for abuse that the internet holds. Sure the kid got 15 minutes of fame out of the deal, and he arguably didn't make the best use out of it, but this will dog him his entire life. He's one extreme example of how someone can leverage the internet to abuse someone else and cause irrepairable damage.

      My guess is that whoever modded the parent funny didn't *really* understand how serious the problem is.
    • by gad_zuki! ( 70830 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @01:15PM (#15085674)
      What bugs me is the lack of scope here. Okay so they sue the parents of some kids who released a video. Obviously these families are fucked for life because of this incredible debt. Who has 100k to laying around? Guess little Johnny isn't going to college now because of a childhood prank. That seems highly unfair.

      Now in the real world, people at sites like fark, ebaumsworld, etc sold a whole lot of banner ads with this video. Why aren't they being sued? Or the graphics professionals who took a boring video of a fat kid from some website and added in effects and sounds, hosted it, and promoted it? Its one thing for me to release a video and its another for the video to get picked up by commercial interests and artists and turned into this week's crazy meme without permission. Ebaumsworld still hosts it now. Why are they free from litigation?

      The real problems with these lawsuits is that they just get the easy money while fark and ebaumsworld and the rest continue this kind of nonsense. They dont ask permission, they don't ask the source, they just link and host and put all the banner ad money in their pockets. They're laughing all the way to the bank while some canadian families are now expected to get the 300k other people have made off this kid.

      So "cyberbullies" get some sort of lesson, which probably won't resonate to the rest of the culture of bullying and website profiteers get off scott free. That's justice?
  • cry some more (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tachikoma ( 878191 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:24PM (#15085057)
    had made of himself and left on a shelf in the school TV studio
    case solved. plantiff guilty or embarrassing himself. we should not reward stupidity or accomdate it. the more accomodation, the more it appears. now this child/moron has learnd when things go against you, sue

    "It's no fun what happened here, but that's the problem with the Internet. Things travel fast."
    i believe thats a feature, not a problem. if it was as slow as the postal mail no one would use it for what it was quickly transmit data

    at the risk of sounding un-sensitive, life sucks then you die. deal with it like everyone else or fast forward to the end
  • Good for Him! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gambit3 ( 463693 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:24PM (#15085060) Homepage Journal
    Without knowing terms of the settlement, the fact that he got something (hopefully) makes me feel good. Bullying is not a harmless little fun like the mod seems to think, judging from his comment ("suck it up kid"). It affects people years down the road, causes relationship problems that take years of therapy to fix. I myself was never bullied, but I have close friends who did, and it's a serious issue, not something to be mocked.
  • by CFTM ( 513264 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:26PM (#15085079)
    Having been a rather akward teenager myself, I can understand why he decided to file suit against them. I don't know anything about this kid or how he feels about himself or even what he went through on an every day basis before this occured but I remember being in high school and feeling invisible to the rest of the world. Suddenly, one day to have myself posted all over the internet and being the subject of laughter, at the age of 15, would have been psychologically devestating to me. It is easy, for those of us who are adults, to be critical of his choices but we weren't the ones treated this way. We never walked in his shoes and never suffered the embarassment that he suffered.

    On the outside, since we have no emotional attachment to the situation, it's easy for us to say "I'd ride that money train all the way to the bank" but that fails to give the situation its true weight. Being 15 is tough enough for most kids without having themeselves publically humilitated by their peers just for a few laughs. I'm not a huge fan of law suits in general, but in this instance I am. The action of these kids was not criminal but it was a terrible thing to do and there needs to be consequences.
    • by rehtonAesoohC ( 954490 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:41PM (#15085255) Journal
      ... that way, when you realize how much his life sucks, you'll be a mile away from him, and you'll have his shoes.
    • Having been a rather akward teenager myself, I can understand why he decided to file suit against them.

      Yeah, because he's a little bitch unprepared to deal with the real world. I think we can blame that on his parents, though. Maybe if they'd dialed back the food a little, he wouldn't have been such a tubby little fucker. (I, too, am overweight; unlike this kid, I can handle it.)

      I don't know anything about this kid or how he feels about himself or even what he went through on an every day basis be

      • by kansas1051 ( 720008 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @01:40PM (#15085981)
        "If it was not criminal, why is the law involved? That's my basic problem with this whole thing."

        A basic tenant of all legal systems (western and eastern) is the separate existence of "civil" wrongs (torts, contracts, etc) and "criminal" wrongs (murder, robbery, etc). For nearly 1,000 years western civilization (English common law at least) has recognized the right of an individual to bring suit against another individual even if no criminal law was violated. Most people are exposed to this concept in high school, I'm surprised it wasnt on the CHSPE.

        The star wars kid sued under tort for intentional infliction of emotional distress (among other claims). This cause of action has been recognized in some form for hundreds of years and suing people for tortious actions is nothing new.

      • "(I, too, am overweight; unlike this kid, I can handle it.)"

        Not very well, it seems. If you feel the need to deride others in a similar situation as you, then obviously you feel the same way about yourself, and you're using "It's all his own fault" to justify your own self-loathing (since everything bad that happens to you is your fault).

        (Or do you feel that you copping to your own failures somehow makes them better?)

        Of course, just because you may have the same build as him doesn't mean there are pictures
    • No, I'm sorry, this is all idiotic and stupid.

      A) School sucks. People ridicule you. You get embarrased. Then you grow up and realize that apart from the education itself, none of it matters AT ALL. If there's one thing I'm going to pound into my kids' head as they're growing up, it's this. I learned this, everybody learns this. Granted, this is on a different scale, but it's the same principle. (And I doubt that now he even looks anything at all like he did three years ago so he can't fall back on that, "bu
  • by spidergoat2 ( 715962 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:28PM (#15085107) Journal
    He never really had a chance. Note to parents: Start with Bill or George or Steve when naming a son.
  • by mmell ( 832646 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:33PM (#15085146)
    [Comment deleted to prevent offending /.'ers]
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:43PM (#15085274) Homepage
    ... I would DEEPLY enjoy seeing bullies getting sued for their actions and seeing it stick. The problem lies in the fact that we're already an overly litigeous society and this would only make it far worse. I would like to see true bullies face some serious, life-changing, consequences for their actions, but I'd hate to see some skinny punk-ass kid think he (or his enterprising parents) could go around suing people for causing emotional distress.

    I'd also like to lay a [un]healthy amount of blame on this kid's parents. First of all, if he weren't fat, I'd say that this might NEVER have happened. And even if not being obese could have prevented some of it, it's unquestionable that his obesity exacerbated the situation greatly. And whose fault is a child's obesity? Without a medical excuse, it's the parents. And only recently has the media started to actually pay some attention to the problem. ( []) The damage done to a child who is obese is not just physical, but mental and emotional and the scars last for life. The damage resulting from childhood obesity alone could have been the root cause that made him so vulnerable to being bullied in the first place.

    Nothing on the planet will stop all kids from potentially being bullied and/or being bullies themselves. It's actually part of the natural human condition. But adding to it through parental neglect is more than just a shame, it's child abuse and should be addressed criminally just as other forms of abusive/criminal neglect are.

    There's not a single law possible to force someone to actually care about the feelings of other people.
  • It wasn't funny (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sjonke ( 457707 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:51PM (#15085355) Journal
    This kid's life had to have been hell since. Odds are it wasn't exactly gravy before either. Why does any child deserve this kind of public humiliation? We should be genuinely proud of him for not taking another approach that some horribly bullied kids take of late: a shooting rampage and suicide. And you wonder why that type of thing happens. It isn't an accident, folks. They weren't fucked in the head to start with. If you torment a child to the extreme, there's no telling what direction they will go - they are too young for this stuff. I have two young boys and I worry about what they'll encounter as they go through school. There was nothing funny about this public humiliation. Nothing at all. Everyone reading this thread should be required to rent the film Welcome To The Dollhouse [].
  • No (Score:3, Insightful)

    by katorga ( 623930 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @02:39PM (#15086534)
    "He had a chance to make something that was embarrasing work out really well for him. "\\

    Not everyone wants to debase their self respect just for cash.
  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @02:45PM (#15086596) Homepage doesn't really seem to me that those involved wanted to create this. For one they didn't create that, he did that of his own free will. The first guy found it, second guy digitized it, it got spread around a little on e-mail. Third guy says he didn't know the two others, just saw a funny clip passed around and made a website which got insanely popular. No, it wasn't nice. Yes, I probably would have done the same myself (and I got harassed at school so don't go all "you don't know what it's like" on me).

    I mean, if these three had been working together to create this, then maybe. But this was more a case of pebbles starting an avalanche. Now I'm sorry the avalanche landed on Mr. Raza, but well... I don't think you should be punished for more than you intended to do, or reasonably could expect of consequences. It would be quite another thing if they were harassing him right up to the point where he freaked. But they dldn't, in fact they were as powerless to stop it themselves. Yes, someone found a funny tape and showed it to a buddy or two. That's not a $350000 offense.
  • I've been a victim of bullying almost my entire life. From grade school to work to the Internet. If some bully cannot dig up dirt on me, they just make stuff up. Now that I am an adult I can handle it better and decide not to be a victim and let it get to me, yet the damage has already been done.

    This boy didn't ask to be bullied, and he apparently did the screen test and didn't want anyone else to see it. The bullies stole the video and released it on the Internet, now they are paying for it.

    Not everyone can handle bullying, and it puts a lot of emotional and psychological damage on a person. It takes a lot to learn to be a survivor rather than a victim as well. For me, it was well over 30 years before I finally came to terms with it and started to try to be a survivor. Only to suffer mental and physical illnesses so bad that I cannot work for a living. I only hope to heal up and get better and get back to work one day.
  • by nick_davison ( 217681 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @03:55PM (#15087228)
    Star Wars Kid Cuts a Deal With His Tormentors

    You mean he sued Krispy Kreme for the way all those donuts endlessly tormented him?

    I wouldn't normally make a cheap fat joke but something in the article got to me:

    He said the situation left him feeling drained of energy, and that he let himself go and no longer lifted weights to keep fit.

    Watch that video again sometime. Imagine how the ripplingly muscled greek adonis of that video must look now.

    Oh, wait... He was a fat, dorky, clumsy idiot before the video ever got distributed. And distributing the video made him a fat, dorky, clumsy idiot?

    I'm not saying it's cool that kids get bullied in highschool but one look at him tells you there's probably not a highschool on earth where he wouldn't have been the butt of endless jokes.

    He was overweight, had a lousy haircut, was so mal-coordinated he couldn't stand upright when wiggling a broomstick, and was evidently an affirmed StarWars nerd. This is a kid who, whether bullying is acceptable or not, I think we can be pretty certain was bullied long before this video ever came out.

    The one thing that changed was he got a degree of celebrity from this one which shifted it in to something OK to wallow in.

    Most kids manage something utterly humiliating during their school lives. They wet themselves. They get dumped in public. They get their asses handed to them by a kid several years younger. Their yearbook picture catches them adjusting themselves. Their dad goes to jail. Whatever the case, they become the talk of the school for a couple of weeks. Their parents give them the tough but true advice, "Don't show that it bothers you and wait it out. In two or three weeks, someone else will have done something stupid."

    In his case, the net gave him just enough celebrity to truly wallow. Instead of laughing and saying, "Yeah, it was pretty dorky, wasn't it." then leaving it two weeks to quieten down, he was pulled out of school. Instead of weathering it and waiting for it to die down, he gave interviews. Instead of being told, "Yeah, damn straight it sucks but it happens to everyone. You're just going to have to tough it out." this became "The Internet" and he was handed a great excuse to wallow. The really sad thing is, it's the wallowing that's likely done him the most harm.

    Yeah, he'd have always got the odd joke about being the Star Wars kid but it would have died down. Instead, being allowed to wallow, he was able to completely sever all ties with normal teenage society. Instead of being allowed to cry at home every night for a week or two and then slowly face it, he was taken to a doctor and given meds, being told it was a reasonable response to be so upset. Instead of slowly accepting that, yeah, life does suck but you have to deal anyway, he was taught that his problems were someone else's fault and so he didn't have to take any responsibility in moving through them and coming out stronger on the far side.

    I hate the bullying I faced as a kid. Some of it still hurts a huge amount. I'm also vastly more successful in life now because I had to come back from it and find a way through rather than was allowed to stay home, get home schooled, and wallow in how unfair everyone else was.

    And so, when I hear how a fat kid who didn't exercise was so traumatized by his bullying that he "stopped pumping iron and really let [himself] go," I have to question how much of the problem was the same bullying that sucks utterly but toughens up most of us and how much was him getting a damned convenient excuse for many things that were already true.

    How many guys out there "could have gone all the way" in their chosen sport before the got some terrible injury. And how many of them, if totally honest, never would have made it and the injury was a damned good excuse to stop trying and instead talk about what they could have been?

    Is he any different other than that one video, that almost certainly wasn't the first time he was bullied, gave him a good excuse to stop trying in life and blame someone else for where he was, most likely, going to end up anyway?

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.