Getting to know Fake Chancellor Wrighton
Of course, even if they had been upset, to whom would they have directed their anger? Fake Wrighton is, well, a fake. His Twitter account is run by a handful of Wash. U. students. Student Life caught up with two of the shadowy figures behind the account to talk inspirations, lawsuits and what it’s like to have a secret identity.
Student Life: OK, usually we start interviews by asking you for your name and year, but that’s obviously not how we’re going to do it this time. So here’s the idea. Let’s come up with some fake names. What do you want me to call you?
Tequila Mockingbird: Call me the Tequila Mockingbird.
SL: Alright, you’re the Tequila Mockingbird. And you are?
TM: He’s J-Smoove.
SL: J-Smoove: “Smoove”?
SL: “Smoove”? With a “v”?
JS: I’m J-Smoove.
SL: Alright, it’s great to meet you Tequila Mockingbird and J-Smoove. Why did you start the Fake Chancellor Wrighton Twitter account?
JS: Actually, I’d say the big inspiration for it was this fake BP Twitter account that was pretty funny. BP Global PR, I think it was called. I thought it’d be fun to have a funny Twitter account, anonymously. I thought, “What could I do?,” and then I thought, “Chancellor Wrighton. He doesn’t have a Twitter, so…”
SL: How’d you come up with the character? He’s kind of a megalomaniac, but he’s also really immature.
JS: Part of the reason he has different personalities stems from the fact that there are several different people posting to it. (Laughs) I guess I’m the main one and the start of it. But as for where the personality came from, I don’t know what to say about that. I guess it’s inspired by, you know, obviously he’s very wealthy and has a lot of connections with some evil companies like Monsanto…so we like to make fun of just how wealthy he is…and just how disconnected he is…we almost make him more accessible and less disconnected, and it’s almost ironic when he talks about student issues like sorority recruitment. He was concerned about who was going where, and obviously the Chancellor doesn’t care about that, so it’s just sort of funny because it’s so unrealistic.
SL: He’s almost like a student in a suit.
TM: Also, I feel like it just sort of mentions things that we think about every day and things that are just glaring issues. You take sorority recruitment, and a lot of people think it’s a messed up system, but it’s something that doesn’t even get touched on every year.
JS: Yeah, I guess he talks about taboo subjects. Fake Wrighton’s pretty pissed off about the banning of Four Loko nationwide. I’m trying to think of some other topics we’ve talked about…like smoking outside the library.
SL: When did you start the account?
JS: It was over the summer. I just kind of made it and started sending messages from it. And then I sent the password out to a few friends, said try this out and sort of kept it up.
SL: And why Twitter?
JS: I think it’s perfect because it’s just these short messages that can be anonymous, you know? It’s one-way.
TM: It’s also non-threatening. You can’t really really trash someone in 140 characters. It’s not an angry Twitter account. It’s just a funny thing that people can be like, “Read it,” or be like, “Yeah, that’s so true” or like, “How come this hasn’t been changed.”
SL: So you haven’t thought of expanding it to Facebook?
JS: Not really. In some ways, we don’t want to make it too official. We made it really clear that it says, “Fake Wrighton” on the name. We don’t want to do any sort of identity theft or anything like that. We don’t want people to Google “Chancellor Wrighton” and our stupid stuff to come up.
SL: So that’s why you guys explicitly call it, “Fake Wrighton,” even though it’s pretty clear that it’s a fake.
JS: Yeah, I know. Wash. U. is pretty good about [starting] lawsuits, so I was worried about that…Because I’ve done things before that’ve pushed the envelope, and I was contacted pretty quickly.
SL: If Wrighton and Fake Wrighton met in a bar, what would they say to each other?
JS: The first thing they’d say to each other is, “Nice suit.”
TM: (Long pause) I think a more important question is—what are the things the student body doesn’t know about Chancellor Wrighton?
JS: That’s a different question. (Laughs)
TM: He actually summited all seven peaks in Missouri, too.
JS: Art Hill. Snow Way.
TM: The top of the Village. But he’s an accomplished person—
JS: The spires on top of Brookings.
SL: Do you have a favorite tweet?
JS: I’ll look at the ones that were retweeted. That’s the best way to gauge feedback. (Loads Twitter on his phone.)
SL: Do you get a lot of feedback?
JS: Yeah, I’d say most tweets get retweeted. A lot of this [the tweets] is based on my daily experiences. Like here, “Just tried to workout, but I forgot we don’t have a real athletic complex.”…I went to the gym and couldn’t find an open treadmill or machine…“We’re changing the University’s name to Washington University in St. Louis, Clayton and partially in University City.” It’s hard to say my favorite.
TM: I like this tweet. “My favorite freshman so far is wearing a yamulke and carrying a pinata around campus.”
SL: Is that an actual person?
JS: Someone actually said that to us, and we just retweeted it. I used to be more active and search for any news involving Wash. U. I’d just search Google News, “Wash. U.” or “wustl” and make fun of some of the headlines. I haven’t done that a lot lately.
SL: If Fake Chancellor Wrighton were in charge of Wash. U., what would change around here?
JS: I think it might be a more fun place, but it might not be as high-esteemed. It might be more fun, like it was 10 to 20 years ago, but we might never break into the Top 10 if Fake Chancellor Wrighton was in charge.
SL: What are your plans for Fake Chancellor Wrighton going forward?
JS: I don’t think it’s going to change. It’ll stay the same.
TM: He might go public.
JS: I think Fake Wrighton might be looking for a job at “StudLife” as a columnist.
SL: Oh yeah?
JS: Or maybe “WUnderground” would be better.
TM: That’s the opposite of going public.
SL: Does it ever feel like you’re a superhero with a secret identity?
JS: It has felt cool the couple of times we’ve overheard other people talk about it, or even talk about it to us, not knowing that we’re behind it. It’s kind of cool.
TM: I’ve always felt that I was a superhero.